SALT LAKE CITY — Gerald R. Sherratt, former Cedar City mayor and Southern Utah University president, died Friday. He was 84.
"He was the greatest promoter the university ever had," said Scott Wyatt, current SUU president. "His mark is everywhere on campus, the city and the state."
Sherratt was a Cedar City native. He was born on Nov. 6, 1931, and has family tracing back to pioneer homesteaders who helped settle Cedar City. He graduated from the Branch Agricultural College (now Southern Utah University) in 1951, according to a press release from SUU.
Sherratt went on to receive a bachelor's degree in elementary education and a master's of educational administration from Utah State University, then worked as vice president of USU's university relations before returning to southern Utah.
Sherratt served for 16 years as the 13th president of the Cedar City school from 1982 to 1997. His passion and dedication is credited for the institution's largest period of growth, as enrollment increased from 1,800 to 5,500 students during his tenure.
During his time as president, Sherratt advocated for 16 new buildings on campus and raised the status of the athletic program.
He also successfully lobbied for university status and in 1991 the then Southern Utah State College became Southern Utah University. The Gerald R. Sherratt Library on the SUU campus is named after him.
"The SUU family mourns the loss of a great leader, mentor, friend and visionary," said Stuart Jones, vice president of advancement at SUU. "Jerry left an indelible legacy upon our campus, community and state. He will be dearly missed."
Three years after serving as president, Sherratt was elected mayor of Cedar City at age 70 in 2001.
"He's been an icon here in town with all the things he's done for the university as president and then as mayor," said Sen. Evan Vickers, R-Cedar City. "It's a great loss for our community."
Vickers recalled running against Sherratt in his first bid for mayor and losing, but going on to maintain an amicable friendship with Sherratt as he led the city. During his two terms, Sherratt donated his mayoral salary back to Cedar City, Vickers noted.
Sherratt is credited with launching a number of projects and festivals for the small southern Utah community. He trademarked the name "Festival City USA" for Cedar City to promote events that fill the city's calendar each year, including the Utah Shakespeare Festival.
"Jerry Sherratt was probably one of the great influences on the lives of Cedar City residents, because he thought larger than life, and made the impossible seem possible. He helped shape Cedar City into 'Festival City.'" said R. Scott Phillips, Utah Shakespeare Festival executive director.
Cedar City community members and SUU students and alumni posted condolences and their memories of Sherratt on social media:
"A true giant in our community passed away this afternoon. As the former president of Southern Utah University and our former mayor his hand print is on much of what makes Cedar City the wonderful community it is," Maile Wilson, an SUU graduate and current Cedar City mayor, wrote on her Facebook page.
Michael Bahr, adjunct theater professor at SUU, praised Sherratt's lasting impact on the school in a Facebook post.
"Legacy is the word. The literal look, character and personality of the campus was defined by this man's vision. We are all inheritors!" Bahr wrote.
"He always had burnt bacon, scrambled eggs, tomato slices, a burnt English muffin with strawberry jam and an ice tea," wrote Whitnee Garfield on Facebook. "Such a fun man! We sure will miss him at the (Main St. Grill)."
"I don't think any of us will ever truly grasp Gerald R. Sherratt's generosity towards and pure love of SUU," wrote Emily Burt, an SUU alumna, on Twitter.
Funeral services will be held in Cedar City. Details about the service will be released by the family.
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