Continuing on with your life after the death of a loved one - especially a spouse - is difficult enough to accomplish, but imagine having to follow in the spouse's footsteps.

Christine Fox had to adjust to that when her husband, Merrill, was killed in a farm accident shortly after being elected to the Utah House of Representatives - taking over for her husband in the Legislature in addition to raising six children, balancing part ownership in a dairy farm and convenience store and attending college part time.Fox, 43, was appointed to fill the rest of her husband's two-year term for District 57 - encompassing part of northern Utah County, including Lehi - in August 1987. Though the Republican is starting her third term in the Legislature - after winning election in 1988 and re-election this year - she said her initial appointment came as something of a surprise."It didn't really occur to me that I would win the appointment, but after I did, I found that I enjoyed it very much."

Also surprising was the fact that the House allowed Fox to fulfill her husband's position on the Rules Committee, probably one of the most powerful positions in the Legislature, she said.

"I was very fortunate indeed to sit on Rules. The appointment to the House itself was very unusual, but this was an honor. It really helped me to get into what was happening there."

Evidently, Fox filled the position well. She won appointment to Rules again in 1988 and was named House majority assistant whip this past week.

Fox said her appointments and elections, as well as the success other women have had in local and municipal positions of authority, is especially gratifying. "I'm far from being a feminist, but I think we women have a lot to offer, especially maybe our different viewpoints and ways of looking at things."

Her political and home activities have caused her to leave management of the dairy farm and convenience store in other hands as well as get back into life full swing, she said. "If I sit around the house, I get frustrated - even after 3 1/2 years - and that's not good for me. I just don't want to wallow around in sorrow."

During that time, Fox said she's raised her children - four of whom are girls ranging in age from 8 to 16, in addition to two boys, who are older - and managed to begin her formal education again.

Fox and her husband were married after high school, and though she attended Utah State University, she was unable to complete her education there. However, after her children were older, she completed an associate degree at the former Utah Technical College (now Utah Valley Community College) and is working toward a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Utah.

"I'm working toward going into law school. That's always been my goal."

Another goal, she said, is to raise the children in a home "that isn't just doom-and-gloom."

"I think Merrill would have wanted me to teach the children - learning to overcome some of the things life brings and being able to choose happiness for themselves."

The self-proclaimed "Lehi girl" said she has lived in Utah her whole life and that she will continue to run for office as long as she believes she has something to offer to her constituency.

"I haven't really set any timetable for myself in office. As long as I still feel there is a challenge there, I'll probably continue."