Goodbye to an Old Friend

by Senator Mike Dmitrich
Senate Minority Leader
District 27

Last month, my old friend, former Representative Gerald Woodmansee passed away at the age of 77. Since I’ve been on the Hill for 40 years, I believe I am the only current legislator who served with Jerry. He was a fellow House Democrat from 1969-1978.

Representative Woodmansee
Representative Gerald Woodmansee
Click here for Jerry’s obituary.

Jerry was a visionary legislator, promoting futuristic ideas long before their time. So visionary were his ideas that he sometimes had a hard time passing his bills. In 1973, he sponsored HB 45 to create the office of Lieutenant Governor. In 1975, he sponsored legislation to allow Court discretion in granting visitation rights to grandparents in divorce cases.

In 1976, he sponsored and passed HB25, Utah Indoor Clean Air Act, which prohibited smoking in public places or public meetings except in designated smoking areas. When designated, existing physical barriers and ventilation systems shall be used to prevent the toxic effects of smoke in adjacent nonsmoking areas.

Several times, Jerry sponsored legislation to provide funding for the purchase of the Devereaux House, and finally in 1978, HB 1, Devereaux House Appropriation, passed. After lobbying his colleagues for several years, he had the support he needed for the purchase. (Believed to be the first mansion constructed in Utah, the Devereaux House was the venue early Utah Territorial leaders used to entertain visiting VIPs. It was built in 1857.)

While serving with Jerry, we often played handball and I could NEVER beat him. Now I know the reason why. In Jerry’s obituary, it states, “…he regularly visited the Deseret Gym where he…gained recognition as a state handball champion.”

Representative Woodmansee was a wonderful friend. I will miss him.

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