Bill Orton dies in accident

ATV rollover in Juab kills the former 3-term Utah congressman

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  • William Gabriel "Billy" Orton
    July 15, 2009 1:09 a.m.

    i am just seeing this now, and honestly i have never heard of him in my life, but i am amazed that a guy with the same name as me did so many great things and was such a good person.

    And after reading about it makes me feel inspired and motivated to do good in life and make a difference.

    RIP and my condolences to his family.

  • Ilima Lokan
    May 13, 2009 10:20 p.m.

    Uncle Bill is what we called him... we are his extended family from Maui, Hawaii. A great man an inspiration for most and a family man none the less. He helped my family through some hard times in the past. We will forever be grateful. All our love and prayers to his family.

  • Mike Thomas
    May 3, 2009 6:02 p.m.

    Bill Orton was one of several great Utah Democrats who inspired me to public service. He was a credit to his State and his country.

  • Karla Josephson Tucker
    April 27, 2009 10:38 p.m.

    I grew up with Bill in North Ogden. I went on my first date with him. He has always been a man of kindness and integrity. I spoke with him when he was a single Congressman and know how much he wanted a wife and children. I pray that at this difficult time you can feel his love for each of you and for his extended family.

  • Stay Strong
    April 27, 2009 6:57 p.m.

    Bill was a great man from what i have heard about him. My sorrow goes out towords his two boys Wes and Will. I can't imagine what you feel right now. Stay strong and never forget how much your father loved you.

  • Thank you all
    April 20, 2009 9:02 p.m.

    for the excellent, civil, and considerate comments. I'm not used to this on desnews' comment board. I didn't know Bill at all, but after all I've read tonight, I wish I had. It's truly unique to find and respect politicians, on either side, who truly are "for the people" and eschew party line politics. That we can all disagree on points is inevitable. But when we disagree upon ideas and not republican versus democrat it is so very refreshing and invigorating. God bless Bill for his legacy and life.

  • Ronald Fox
    April 20, 2009 2:28 p.m.

    Bill Orton was a fine man, a dedicated public servant, husband and father. He was easy to talk too, warm and friendly and he represented his views clearly and directly.

    After serving the people of his district in congress he was dedicated to serving his family's needs while still being involved in the political causes he believed in.

    He will me missed by all, but no more so than by his boys and dear wife. As Theodore Roosevelt would have said of Bill, he was in the arena. It was not for the timid but the courageous. He did not shrink away from the challenges of office or life. His sons have a great example for them to follow.

    May God Bless Bill, now that he has departed this earth and watch over his wife and two boys.

  • Wm J. Monahan
    April 20, 2009 9:58 a.m.

    Bill was in my study group at law school. From those early days he was self-assured and knew what he wanted out of life. He was studious, hard working and a gentleman through and through. Bill had a wonderful laugh and understood the balance between serious work and not taking oneself too seriously. Our prayers and sympathy go out to his family. May he enter into the rest of the Lord.

  • Best wishes at this time!
    April 20, 2009 9:33 a.m.

    Bill Orton always came across as a sincere and honest man. I thought him to be a good man, and better than many who supposedly represent the people. He will be miss greatly! I'm very sorry for his wife and boys...the thought of the loss tears at the heart. Whom of all of us, can imagine the loss to the children! Remember your father as a good man, and live to that goal!

  • Travis
    April 20, 2009 9:22 a.m.

    I was sad to hear of Mr. Orton's passing. I attended BYU when he was in Congress. As a politically active student, I campaigned against him, but I also met him in 1996 when I worked in Washington as part of BYU's Washington Seminar. He was a very nice man and certainly someone worthy of respect. I was especially saddened because he was so young and left behind a young family. My condolences to them.

  • soakblue
    April 20, 2009 9:07 a.m.

    So sad. This man was a class act, and a great representative. Rest in peace.

  • Craig L. Foster
    April 20, 2009 7:13 a.m.

    There were many things I did not agree with Bill Orton politically, but I always had a great amount of respect for him and consider him to be a good man who served Utah well.

    My heart goes out to his family at this difficult time.

  • A better place
    April 20, 2009 6:00 a.m.

    I have to say I do find it remarkable how many people are maimed or killed by four wheelers.

  • Anonymous
    April 20, 2009 5:00 a.m.

    To Liberty: I'm deeply saddened that you considered the FACTS about Bill Orton's election and subsequent defeat an "attack on the dead." It was NOT in any way an attack. It was a statement of FACT. Apparently, you don't have the personal knowledge about the events that I do. Bill Orton was a good and decent man, but the FACTS are the FACTS. I'm sorry if the truth offends you.

  • Bryan
    April 19, 2009 11:58 p.m.

    I have always really liked Bill Orton and felt he was a very genuine human being. I am very sad and want to give my best wishes to his wife and family.

  • Aric
    April 19, 2009 10:49 p.m.

    I was in Jr. High when Bill Orton was first elected. Orton's post-partisan approach to politics has had a profound impact on my political views. He may have been elected due to a fluke, but he was re-elected because of the integrity and dedication with which he carried out his work. It's hard to find heroes among politicians, but Bill Orton is one of mine. If we are ever fortunate enough to have another candidate in the mold of Bill Orton, I hope Utahns will have the wisdom to elect him/her.

    My deepest sympathy to the Orton family.

  • Soul
    April 19, 2009 9:40 p.m.

    "Bill Orton equals Integrity!"

    To wife and sons, may you find peace and reassurance during this difficult time.

  • Derek Roney
    April 19, 2009 9:17 p.m.

    I am saddened by the news of Bill's passing. He was a good man. But he also was a great Priesthood instructor. You knew what he was teaching was a part of his fabric and beliefs because he lived in a way that he emulated what he taught. He also was very giving and caring. Though he was a busy person and gone often out of state, he always had friends, acquaintances, and ward members over to his house at Sundance and made you feel very welcome. And the Sundance desserts that he knew the recipes for and would make were yummy too.

    My condolences to Jacquelyn and their children and family. My prayers will definitely go out to you.

  • UtCoPatriot
    April 19, 2009 8:58 p.m.

    I'll never forget a call I made to Bill Orton's cousin, on behalf of Dixie Thompson's campaign. I was working for a Utah County telemarketing company.

    Upon answering the phone, I made my scripted speech, supporting Dixie Thompson. The response was something totally supportive. The lady informed me that although she was a registered Republican, she was voting for Bill Orton, her cousin, to which I replied that I was, too. The lady asked me what I was doing, working for Dixie Thompson. I replied that I wasn't working for Dixie Thompson. I was working for extra money! She laughed and promised to tell Bill, the next time she saw him, of our conversation.

    I so hope she did. I was honored and priviledged to say that and cast my vote for him then, and I'd do the same today, if we were so lucky as to have him running for office, once again.

    God bless Bill Orton's family and friends. He is a legend in Utah and I, for one, will never forget him and his contributions to our lifestyle here.

  • djt
    April 19, 2009 8:50 p.m.

    I don't remember the "family man" ad. I do remember looking at his record and voting for him. I also remember Cannon running against bill clinton and not saying a word against Mr. Orton. I had been wondering where Bill Orton has been since then; I have no doubt about where he is now.

  • Grateful former constituent
    April 19, 2009 8:38 p.m.

    I was shocked when I heard this news last night. I have held all public representatives (wherever we have lived since) up to the standard he set when he was our representative. None--I repeat very sadly, NONE--have measured up. He was the first I can remember that would take the issues to the people, explain the different sides, make sure they understood the results of each path, and then say "how do you want me to vote on this?" and then he would represent our wishes back in Congress. Truly amazing! He was a true representative of his constituents, and full honor is due him for his integrity. He was a deeply honest public servant, and one I felt could be trusted absolutely. Our state and our nation see too few of his caliber.

    My heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. We mourn with you, and our prayers are with you. To Jennifer and sons: I am saying nothing here that I would not have told Bill himself, and I did tell him much of this many years ago at a town meeting, where I also thanked him for his service. God bless you all.

  • Anonymous
    April 19, 2009 8:28 p.m.

    Bill Orton was my instructor for Business Law about year ago and he was a very interesting knowledable Man. His political stance was not always in line with mine but he had fantastic ideas on how to fix some of the poblems our country is faced with during this economical crisis. My best wishes go out to his wife and children. God bless

  • Liberty
    April 19, 2009 6:36 p.m.

    Anonymous 2:19 wrote:

    "He was not representative of the people in his district and he was eventually defeated for that reason."

    You could not be more wrong about Bill Orton or the history of the event. Please don't attack the dead.

  • Education Could Have Used You
    April 19, 2009 5:16 p.m.

    I believe the state of education in Utah would have been much healthier had you won your last contest, Bill. Thank you for your service and for calling attention to important issues.

  • Rebecca
    April 19, 2009 5:10 p.m.

    Its all been said here. What a rare and wonderful example - a public servant of courage, graciousness, and integrity.

  • LindaJan
    April 19, 2009 4:41 p.m.

    Condolences to the entire Orton family in their loss. So sorry to hear about the accident, and blessings in the days ahead as you take time to honor Bill's memory.

  • Jeff in AZ
    April 19, 2009 4:06 p.m.

    I remember going to his rival's convention in UT and planning to vote for his GOP rival. Then that ad came out, and I like thousands of others, voted for Orten. Was there ever a more powerful ad that went the WRONG way???????? Thank you Utahns despite being in a family friendly state for not discriminating against a single person and judging that person's values. Thank you Orten for voting per ones beliefs instead of tied to a political party.

  • Anonymous
    April 19, 2009 2:19 p.m.

    To Dropping By: I just couldn't let this pass. You need to know that Karl Snow was not responsible for the nasty ad that was run against Bill Orton. Two guys who are known in this state for dirty politics were responsible for that ad. Unfortunately, Karl Snow paid the price for it. Karl Snow is actually a very good and decent man who has served the state for many years in many capacities.

    I have nothing against Bill Orton. He was a decent guy. But, he was elected on a weird fluke that was caused by a couple of dirty people who were involved in the campaign and lack of unity in the Republican Party at that time. He was not representative of the people in his district and he was eventually defeated for that reason.

    My condolences go out to his wife and children. It's a very sad day for them and certainly a shock. May God bless them.

  • Patrick Gibbs
    April 19, 2009 1:26 p.m.

    I did not know Bill Orton - I never met him. But he had a great effect on me. I grew up as a staunch Republican, and was one until I was about 20 years old, and I didn't think very highly of Democrats. But Bill Orton's passion for his causes, his willingness to buck the system and to cross party lines and his sheer stubborness and idealism kept catching my attention, and I grew to respect and admire him. Now, everyone who knows me now knows that I am a proud Democrat and very passionate and idealistic. I crecit Bill Orton with playing a huge role in planting that seed with his love of people and his sincerity, something that cn be rare in any poltyical party or goverment office. He will be sorely missed. Rest in peace, Representive Orton - but at the same time, if you find something you disagree with up there, lobby against it.

  • J Nelson
    April 19, 2009 1:04 p.m.

    I didn't know Bill Orton personally but I did have the honor of voting for him. I'm so glad I did, as he represented Utah and my views beautifully and with class. As a true statesman, which is so rare, he showed us an example of how to interact in even the most contentious circumstances.

    My thoughts and prayers are with the family of this special man.

  • Instereo
    April 19, 2009 12:56 p.m.

    Living in Eureka, near the Sand Dunes, it's always sad to hear of the accidents there. It was extremely sad though to read today that it was Bill Orton involved. My prayers go out to his family and also that the ideals he stood for will someday be realized.

  • Janet Thaeler
    April 19, 2009 12:23 p.m.

    I just read about this shocking and heartbreaking news a few minutes ago. An amazing man who I have a lot of respect for. My prayers go to his wife and sons.

  • Citizezn
    April 19, 2009 12:23 p.m.

    I can understand Karen Hale's tears. Not only was Bill her associate, but her daughter and another collegue (Pete Suazo) were both killed in ATV accidents a few years ago. This must be a terrible reminder of that pain.

    My prayers go out to the Orton's and others who have suffered similar losses.

  • Tekakaromatagi
    April 19, 2009 11:49 a.m.

    A great man. A Democrat in the best American tradition.

    This is a great loss.


  • Staunch Republican
    April 19, 2009 11:36 a.m.

    Bill Orton was a man of complete integrity and honor. He won me over. Sincere sympathies to his widow and children.

  • mom of five
    April 19, 2009 11:28 a.m.

    Bill Orton was the first representative I voted for on moving to Utah 20 years ago. I am greatly saddened to hear of his passing, and I send condolences and love to his wife and children and all his extended family. He will be missed.

  • Desert Storm Family
    April 19, 2009 11:25 a.m.

    Bill was one of only two people serving in the state who went out of their way to support a family event for the 144th Evac (Utah National Guard) during Desert Storm. He was compassionate and caring. In just that brief time we came to respect him and love him. He will be missed.

    April 19, 2009 11:07 a.m.

    What a tragedy and great loss to his family, friends and the State of Utah. I too remember Bill Orton as a man with conviction, desire to serve and make things better. He certainly did his best in all he set out to do.

  • Henry Drummond
    April 19, 2009 10:57 a.m.

    I was sad to hear of Bill's passing. I think he went into politics for the right reasons and was an effective member of congress. I knew Bill professionally and I admired his public spirit. It does seem strange because I was just thinking about him the other day and I'm very sorry to hear about this accident. My heart goes out to his family.

  • MoJules
    April 19, 2009 10:49 a.m.

    I am sorry to hear of Bill Orton's passing, in such a tragic way. I wish the best for his family during this time of loss and sorrow. He was a man I respected back when he was in office.

  • Nathan Hadfield
    April 19, 2009 10:32 a.m.

    The only personal encounter I had with Bill Orton was when he visited my high school 17 years ago. I can't remember exactly what he said, but I remember feeling impressed by his intelligence, integrity, and generosity, and grateful that a man with so many obligations would make time to speak with us. He was an exemplary leader and public servant, and he will be missed.

    My deepest sympathies are with his family.

  • Joel Lawson
    April 19, 2009 10:29 a.m.

    It was an absolute honor to work for Bill Orton in Congress. He took his duties very seriously, yet didn't take Washington seriously at all. As his press secretary, I had to write explanations for Bill's positions that didn't always translate well inside Congress' echo chamber, but which aligned with his obligation to his constituents. He knew what mattered. Additionally, in co-founding the Blue Dog Democrats, Bill made his mark on congressional history.

  • Mary
    April 19, 2009 8:55 a.m.

    I am proud to have been able to call Bill my cousin. I did not know him as a polician but as the cousin that was a bit older then me and was willing to push me on the swing at the family reunion. What his running mate may not have taken into consideration is that Bill has a HUGE family. Maybe not one that he had produced but none the less a family that stood right beside him all the way. Thank you for your kind words about Bill. I know he made his parents proud and there is a larg void in the family with his loss. I know the Lord will bless and comfort his family. (HUG)

  • dave
    April 19, 2009 8:53 a.m.

    Bill was a true statesman. He will be missed.. RIP

  • Merrill Cook
    April 19, 2009 8:11 a.m.

    Bill Orton was one of the finest men I ever knew in politics and a very good friend. Camille and I are heartsick, just absolutely heartsick to hear the news. Our prayers are with his wonderful wife and family.

  • Doodles
    April 19, 2009 8:10 a.m.

    I attended several caucuses sponsered by Congressman Orton in southern Utah and his insightful and honest presentations were wonderful.

    One meeting was at Snow College where he patiently and carefully answered question after question from young and eager students who were not very careful in asking or understanding his answers. He did not lose his cool, but kept finding another way to explain the budget until they understood. He fianlly took loose change out of his pocket and divided up the national budget for them using nickels, dimes and quarters until they could grasp the concept of governmental financial responsibilities and choices. He is a great teacher.

  • Amanda Thorderson
    April 19, 2009 8:08 a.m.

    Utah lost a great man yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jackie and her boys at this difficult time.

  • ER
    April 19, 2009 6:53 a.m.


    When was the last time we read a comments board that everyone agreed on the issue being discussed? Rarely does it happen and this time it is because he was such a rare man. Bill was a man of the people and he truly was a representitive.

  • M. Bowen
    April 19, 2009 4:53 a.m.

    Bill will certainly be missed. Deepest condolences to Jacquelyn and their sons.

  • Kevin Alspaugh
    April 19, 2009 4:12 a.m.

    I am shocked by this news. Bill Orton was a true man with integrity and honor. He was a true democrat. He beleived in his agenda. He was proof that no matter what side of the political isle you are on, you can be an uncompromising Latter-day Saint. He was a man of action and not of flattery. My hope and prayer is that more youth aspire to follow the legacy of this man and seek true solutions to the people's needs in this nation. Bill Orton, may you rest in peace. Until we meet again.

  • Rudy D.
    April 19, 2009 3:11 a.m.

    I moved from Utah 13 years ago and count myself a Republican. However, if there were more public servants like Bill Orton in any political party I would join it. I have always admired Democratic politicians in Utah like the late Gov. Scott Matheson, Ted Wilson and Bill Orton who served their constituents and conscience first and foremost.

    It is indeed a sad day for Utah. My heartfelt condolences to his family for their great loss.

  • D Shields
    April 19, 2009 3:07 a.m.

    Condolences to his family and all who loved him. I respected him as a person and as a politician. Such a loss.

  • PDX
    April 19, 2009 2:15 a.m.

    Thank you Bill Orton for a life well-lived. You helped take away the "party" glasses we all wear.

  • I wish...
    April 19, 2009 2:10 a.m.

    I wish there were more men like him. If there were more like him here, this would be a better place. If there were more like him in Washington D.C., this would be a different and much better world.

  • jan12
    April 19, 2009 2:06 a.m.

    He was not a politician, he was an elected representative. He set a standard that few in political office will ever understand.

    Condolences to his friends and family.

  • VegasBob
    April 19, 2009 2:01 a.m.

    I voted for this guy in 2000. I have never seen any one that was so willing to cross the party line for what he saw as right. If the Democratic Party (not to mention the Republicans) in Utah would take a page from Bill's book, they'd own the state again. This guy was total class.

  • CP
    April 19, 2009 1:27 a.m.

    Our thoughts and prayers to the family of Bill Orton. He was a great person and did much for the state of Utah.

  • Dropping By
    April 19, 2009 12:56 a.m.

    I voted for Bro. Orton during his first run for Congress, even though I am a conservative Republican. I had seen the shocking, odious ad run by his Republican opponent who was all but assured of winning (polls were at something like 80-20 just days before the election -- Orton had NO CHANCE).

    But even though I was absolutely certain that I was throwing my vote away, I waited in line and voted for Orton, because I was so disgusted by the smug, holier-than-thou campaign tactic of a BYU professor (and administrator) who should have known much, much better than to do anything like that. I was just about to graduate from BYU Law School, and I had loved my time there and my professors, but that Republican congressional candidate crossed. the. line. Words can't describe how excited I was the next morning to learn that tens of thousands of others had clearly felt the same way and had repudiated such an ugly display.

    It's rare in life when arrogance and elitism are so roundly beaten back so easily. RIP, Bro. Orton.

  • I can't believe it
    April 19, 2009 12:47 a.m.

    What a shock. I can't believe it. Life is fragile.

  • Graig Larsen
    April 19, 2009 12:45 a.m.

    Having known Bill since we were kids, this news is sad indeed. He was a good young man who used his skills to become an accomplished professional and civil servant. We moved to California well before Bill was elected to Congress, but I followed his career with interest. Our hearts go out to his family, his wife and sons, and his many friends and former constituents who will surely miss him. This is a sad day.

  • Andy Wilson
    April 18, 2009 11:46 p.m.

    Bill Orton was the first Congressman I ever voted for when I turned 18, and the first campaign I ever volunteered on. His example made me want to be engaged in politics even when the average teen was certainly apathetic about politics, and helped inspire me to a life of public service.

    My best memory of him was during the 1994 impasse over the budget when they shut the gov't down, Bill and another moderate Rep. Congressman proposed an alternate budget that met all of the criteria that both the Dems and GOP had set for what they wanted. No one paid attention, as partisanship won out over progress and reason.

    The world was a better place for him being here, and is a worse place without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family during this impossible time.

  • Chris Cannon
    April 18, 2009 11:20 p.m.

    Tuffy wrote: That a Democrat could be elected by one of the most Republican districts in the nation speaks volumes about his integrity and commitment to his constituents. If Clinton had not blindsided him and hung him out to dry with the Grand Staircase debacle, it's likely that this good man would have represented us for several additional terms....


    Bill was one of the "Good Guys." I will miss him. Utah will miss him. My heart goes out to his lovely wife and wonderful sons. You will be in our prayers.

  • the Pugs
    April 18, 2009 11:17 p.m.

    Bill Orton was a politician for the people not the party. Hence so many of us republicans voted for him. He still has the photo in his office of him kissing our newborn along the July Fourth Parade route. He was a single man seeking office in Utah County! He later worked with our young daughter as a poster child for the March of Dimes. He will be missed. Condolences and peace to the family.

  • Les
    April 18, 2009 10:58 p.m.

    I once had a chance to interview Bill Orton when he was running for the congress the first time. I was a rookie newspaper reporter and he was kind and patient in my stumbling and took time to answer my very simple and basic questions. It was an honor to have known him.

  • Tuffy Parker
    April 18, 2009 10:56 p.m.

    Congressman Orton represented and served Utah well. That a Democrat could be elected by one of the most Republican districts in the nation speaks volumes about his integrity and commitment to his constituents. If Clinton had not blindsided him and hung him out to dry with the Grand Staircase debacle, it's likely that this good man would have represented us for several additional terms.

    May God bless his family in this difficult time.

  • Chris
    April 18, 2009 10:52 p.m.

    A man of wisdom and integrity, Bill Orton was one of the greatest congressmen in our state. We need more leaders like him. As we remember his life, may we be inspired to seek out and elect leaders with such integrity in the future. Our sympathy goes out to his family.

  • With Sympathy
    April 18, 2009 10:33 p.m.

    My heart goes out to the Orton family. Bill Orton was a great representative of Utah. I always admired his willingness to vote for what was right and fit the needs of Utah, even if it wasn't within party lines. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  • Time...
    April 18, 2009 10:32 p.m.

    I met Bill Orton on two occasions. Both times he took time out of his schedule, once when he was already running incredibly late, to meet with groups of high school kids. I've had politicians in my class who did nothing but jockey for position on issues and try to spin issues. Bill Orton was not like that. He was a kind hearted/do what's best for people human being. He served genuinely with honor and integrity. It was a sad day for Utah when he was defeated, but it is a far sadder day today.

  • jdd
    April 18, 2009 10:24 p.m.

    What a gentleman, what a wonderful individual. I'm so sad for his family. I'm very grateful for his contributions to our state and nation.

  • David Bresnahan
    April 18, 2009 10:22 p.m.

    Bill Orton was a great statesman who served Utah well. I was shocked and very sad to learn of his untimely passing. His family will all be in our prayers.

  • Rebecca Cressman
    April 18, 2009 10:09 p.m.

    I'm so sorry for the Orton family. Life is so fragile. Bill worked hard to be selfless, ethical, and just as a politician and as a public servant. So sorry.

  • Great man
    April 18, 2009 10:09 p.m.

    Bill was a great man and probably one of the greatest congressmen Utah has had in a long time. He truly votes his conscience. Something I doubt many representatives have today.

  • Bill will be missed
    April 18, 2009 10:08 p.m.

    I loved Bill Orton when he represented Utah. I was one of those Republicans who first voted him in. My condolences and prayers are with his family. God Bless.

  • Dave J
    April 18, 2009 10:07 p.m.

    I remember Bill Orton as a man of integrity and as an assett to Utah. My condolances go out to his family in this their time of need. He was a strong man, with strong convictions. My only regret is that he didn't defeat Leavitt for governor.

  • BYU Law Student
    April 18, 2009 10:03 p.m.

    A great Utahan and an even greater man. He represented what was best about our state. My condolences to the family.

  • Brad B
    April 18, 2009 9:44 p.m.

    My condolances go to Bill Orton family in their time of loss. He was a great a great man and will be missed.

  • Laura Wall
    April 18, 2009 9:37 p.m.

    A terrible loss for Utah. Thoughts and prayers with his family...Jacquelyn, we are here for you.