Scott M. Matheson lay in state in the Capitol rotunda Wednesday evening as thousands passed by his casket, saying their last farewells.
The former two-term Democratic governor died early Sunday in the University of Utah Hospital from multiple myeloma, a bone cancer that stops the blood-forming system. It's possible the rather-rare cancer was caused by radioactive fallout from open-air nuclear bomb tests that dusted southern Utah in the 1950s, an ironic twist since as governor Matheson fought long and hard for studies of the fallout's effect on Utah residents.Matheson, 61, lived in Cedar City for several years in the early 1950s when he was just out of law school and starting his legal practice.
Matheson will be buried Thursday in the Parowan City Cemetery, next to his mother and father, in a private family service. While he was born in Chicago and grew up in Salt Lake City, as a child and teenager Matheson spent most summers in Parowan and surrounding communities with his cousins.
A public memorial service will be held Saturday at noon in Symphony Hall for the former governor.
Matheson served as governor from January 1977 to January 1985. His cancer was diagnosed last December, but he and his family kept it quiet until several weeks ago.
Matheson was proud of his Scottish heritage, and the wreath on his casket had a bit of the Matheson tartan tied on. His official gubernatorial portrait, which normally hangs on a Capitol wall 50 feet away, stood next to his casket.
The former governor's wife, Norma, his three sons, Scott Jr., Jim and Tom, and daughter Lu Matheson Sweeney, grandchildren and other close relatives met the casket on the front steps of the Capitol.
Gov. Norm Bangerter, who succeeded Matheson, and first lady Colleen Bangerter also greeted the casket, hugging and consoling Norma Matheson.
The Matheson family stayed in the rotunda for about 45 minutes, greeting friends and relatives. A large crowd gathered and waited quietly until allowed to walk past the casket about an hour later.
Flowers were sent from admirers and friends from throughout the state and nation.
Those close to Matheson referred to him as "the gov." One wreath carrying a ribbon reading "To Our Gov" came from members of his former gubernatorial staff.
Indeed, those who paid their respects immediately after Matheson's family left the Capitol make up a political Who's Who of the state, Republicans and Democrats alike. Many of Matheson's close personal aides were in the long line, as were the members of the Utah Supreme Court, all appointed by the former governor.
Matheson's two brothers, Alan, a law professor in Arizona, and Steve, a local dentist, stayed behind and greeted many who filed past the casket.
The former governor's casket was carried out of the Capitol at 9 p.m. as a group of local bagpipers played traditional Scottish tunes.