Willard COVID-19 Victim Remembered For Making Everyone Feel Special
Apr 20, 2020, 8:26 PM | Updated: 9:15 pm
WILLARD, Utah – A northern Utah community has been mourning the death of a former Box Elder County educator who fell victim to coronavirus, just months into a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Elder Dee Pace became ill mid-March and was officially diagnosed with COVID-19 in early April. He then traveled to a nearby state to be cared for by his wife and daughter. He was 68 years old.
Pace, and his wife, Nedra, left Willard, Utah in December to serve their mission in the Detroit area.
Long before that, Pace earned a reputation as a well-loved educator – especially for his time as a drama teacher at Bear River and Box Elder High Schools.
Boyd Rogers was a student back in the 1980s but remained friends with Pace ever since – even showing up for his mission farewell.
Pace went well beyond the role of a teacher, Rogers said. He was a major influence in the lives of many of his students.
A couple of people told KSL he had a way of making every person feel special and important.
Dee Pace was a beloved father & husband, but also well-known for his reputation as a drama teacher, vice principal, and overall enthusiast for people and the arts. He died from complications, related to COVID-19. What friends and students remember most, on @KSL5TV at 5&6:30 pic.twitter.com/Da5srw7gAA
— Mike Anderson (@mikeandersonKSL) April 20, 2020
Rogers said both Dee and Nedra always made time for students, even keeping their home open to them on some holidays.
Pace’s example and the attention he gave to each of his students still sticks with Rogers, he said.
“I was, by far, not the only student who stopped in for a pep talk, or for a smile and a laugh,” Rogers said.
“He just loved the kids, like he knew how to bring out the best in each one,” said Michelle Hess Withers, who now lives in Washington state.
She said Pace always made you feel important.
“He was incredible, and his talent made you want to be better, so he was bigger than life, but he didn’t steal the show. He made you a part of it,” she said.
“I think his two passions in life would be theater and people. Being in theater let him combine those two together,” said Terry Haws, Heritage Theater’s chairman of the board.
Haws did several shows with Pace.”I feel like I was one of his favorite people, but reading all of the things on Facebook, I can tell everyone felt that way,” he said.
One of Pace’s daughters, Mickey Larson, said her dad was thrilled to see every single person he met, was everyone’s biggest fan, and had a razor sharp wit.
Larson said he was also an incredibly loving father and grandfather.