Nine-year-old Darin Lopez of Ogden didn't know much about former Gov. Scott Matheson until his mother took him to the public memorial service held for the late leader at Symphony Hall on Saturday.
After listening to the family and friends of the state's most popular governor evoke both tears and laughter from the gathering of more than 1,000, Darin understood why Utahns are mourning Matheson's death."He must have been a good governor," the young boy said.
Darin's mother, Barbara, said she wanted her son to know that Matheson was a decent man who cared about people, "especially at a time when that seems to be becoming devalued."
Barbara Lopez said she came to say goodbye to someone she never met because she has admired Matheson since moving to Utah in 1981. "I just felt it was something I needed to express, my appreciation of him."
During the 90-minute service, Matheson was remembered by his brothers, Stephen and Alan; his son, Scott Matheson Jr.; former Arizona Gov.Bruce Babbitt; and state Supreme Court Justice Michael Zimmerman.
Matheson, who served as Utah's 12th governor from 1977 until 1985, died Oct. 7 in Salt Lake City of multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood-forming system. He was buried Thursday in the Parowan City Cemetery in a private ceremony.
Matheson's widow, Norma, sat with dozens of family members in the first occupied row of the hall. Many wore ties or other garments made of the bright red, blue and green Scottish tartan of the Matheson clan.
Seated in a balcony above them were many government and community leaders, including Gov. Norm Bangerter, members of Utah's congressional delegation, and representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Catholic Diocese of Utah.
Scott Matheson Jr. pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and touched it to his eyes before talking about his parents' relationship. "My mother meant everything to him and he everything to her," he said, adding that the Matheson children would take care of their mother now "because our father taught us well."
Matheson also became emotional when he read a passage of a letter from a Logan family to his mother that said, "You and your children will have to finish his shortened life." He then closed his remembrance of his father by repeating the lines, `It is now our time and there's much to do."
Babbitt said his fellow Democrat served as a teacher to him after his election as governor of Arizona and to the leaders of other states as well. "He began to make us understand our job was larger than dealing with numbers and dollars. It was dealing with people's lives."
Matheson's younger brother, Stephen, drew laughter from the audience when he told of how he had to warm his brother's bed in the basement bedroom they shared as children.
"Scott was my big brother. He was my mentor and he was my hero," Stephen Matheson said.
Alan Matheson also praised his brother. "When it came to matters of principle, he refused to compromise no matter what the cost," Alan Matheson said. "Scott Matheson knew the value of hard work and I believe he was the hardest-working man I ever met."
Justice Zimmerman said Matheson did not manage people, he led them by example. "Any government employee driving by late at night and finding the lights on in the governor's office felt a little bit guilty and a little bit inspired," he said.