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Up Close: Utah Artist Paints Portrait Of Missionary Killed While Serving In Canada

Sep 25, 2019, 6:13 PM | Updated: 8:33 pm

LAYTON, Utah – A Colorado family whose missionary son was killed in a car crash in Canada is getting a special portrait from a Utah artist.

Elder Bryant Keck, from Sanford, Colorado, was killed in British Columbia while serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on September 13.

Church officials said Keck and his companion, Elder Dallin Thompson, were involved in the crash. Thompson was still listed in critical condition.

Local artist JR Johansen was featured on KSL TV earlier this month and said he paints portraits of missionaries who pass away while serving.

I can’t do a lot of service projects that require physical strength or stamina, but I can sit here and put oxygen on my face and paint and love every minute of it, he said.

When Johansen received the order on Sunday, he painted a portrait of Keck in three hours. He said it was the 85th painting he has completed.

I felt he was directing me as I was painting this, Johansen said.

The portrait will be driven from Utah to Colorado and given to the family at Elder Keck’s funeral.

I know the family is going through tremendous pain where its been a recent death, Johansen said. So, Im thinking of the family [while Im painting] how are they dealing with this and hoping this portrait will take the edge off that paint for just a moment or two.

KSL caught up with Johansen at Pintura Fine Art framing shop in Layton. Thats where he met Marcy Garlitz, whose son Jaxon just returned from the Canada Vancouver Mission.

Jaxon served with Elder Keck and will be speaking at the funeral in Colorado. 

Just kind of a shock. The person was alive for me three weeks before, now that person is gone, Jaxon said. There is a sense of Im out here doing the things I’m supposed to be doing. Im out here doing the Lords work Im going to be protected, and thats not always the case, the Lord makes those final decisions.

For those wanting to get in touch with Johansen, they can call Cindy Thredgold at 801-400-0168.


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Up Close: Utah Artist Paints Portrait Of Missionary Killed While Serving In Canada