Conrad Harrison, former mayor, dies

Published: Thursday, Feb. 14 2008 12:02 a.m. MST

Conrad Bullen Harrison, 96, Salt Lake City mayor from 1974-76, a four-term Salt Lake City commissioner and a former Deseret News music editor/reporter, died Feb. 12, 2008, at his Salt Lake City home from causes incident to age.

Mr. Harrison was appointed as Salt Lake City's 28th mayor in 1974 to fill the unexpired term left by Jake Garn, who resigned to join the U.S. Senate. Mr. Harrison ran for mayor in 1975, but lost to Ted Wilson.

Salt Lake Mayor J. Bracken Lee had appointed Mr. Harrison to fill an unexpired term on the Salt Lake City Commission in 1960. That involved heading the department of water supply and waterworks in Salt Lake City.

"I did not seek this office, nor ask for appointment," Mr. Harrison said in 1960 after taking three weeks to decide to leave the newspaper business and take the post. "But there is such a thing as public duty to perform ..."

Lee once referred to Mr. Harrison as "very fair, honest, intelligent and capable."

Mr. Harrison won seats by vote on the City Commission in 1962, 1966 and 1970. He lost to Garn in the 1972 Salt Lake mayor's race.

He served as the managing editor of the Logan Herald from May 1934 to October 1938, before joining the Deseret News staff. He was music editor at the News from 1941 to 1960, and music was his hobby. He also doubled as a general reporter, covering government affairs for 15 years — with eight years at the state Capitol and seven at the City and County Building.

The Saturday Review Magazine gave him its "Mr. Cross Section Award" in 1957 for his outstanding musical reviews.

William B. Smart, former Deseret News editor, joined the News in 1948 and said Mr. Harrison could do a very good job on any task.

"He was a very good workhorse," Smart said. He said Mr. Harrison was a "real public servant, who cared for good government."

Smart also described Mr. Harrison as courageous and willing to do whatever he was asked to do.

He reviewed hundreds of concerts and records over the years, saying he was "always trying first to be an honest reporter."

Mr. Harrison had been a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for several years. He also had been a member of the Utah Symphony Orchestra Board, the Imperial Glee Club in Logan, the Orpheus Club of Salt Lake and the old Deseret News Troubadours group.

He was a former executive secretary of the Utah State Bowling Proprietors Association, chairman of the Utah State Institution of Fine Arts and a charter member of the Utah Concerts Council.

After his mayoral service, he helped Gov. Scott Matheson with some government projects. He also sold real estate and served as the Bonneville Knife and Fork Club executive director.

He wrote a book on the history of the Utah Symphony, "5,000 Concerts," in 1986.

Born on July 15, 1911, in Logan, Mr. Harrison attended Logan public schools, graduating from Logan High in 1929. He was editor of the Logan High Grizzly newspaper. He earned a bachelor's degree from Utah State University in 1937 and had been editor of the Student Life newspaper there.

He married Ruth Annie Layton in the Salt Lake Temple in 1935. The couple had five children.

A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he served on the high council in the Parleys Stake and on the Logan Stake MIA Board, among other callings.

Funeral services will be held Feb. 21, noon, at the Parleys Ward, 2350 S. 2100 East. A viewing will be held Feb. 20, 6:30-9 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2350 E. 1300 South, and again the morning of Feb. 21 at the church from 10:30-11:45. Burial will be at the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

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