From Nikki Koontz
SUU Marketing Communication
CEDAR CITY— Anne Leavitt, along with her husband Dixie, have long had a love for Southern Utah University and the community of Cedar City. They both attended SUU when the school was called Branch Agricultural College and they attribute their knowledge and success to the education they received there. In just two weeks, Anne Leavitt will address Southern Utah University’s Class of 2018 as keynote speaker for the University’s 119th annual Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 4, at 9 a.m. in the America First Event Center.
Anne Okerlund Leavitt came to attend what is now Southern Utah University in 1949 and joined a student body of 443. A farm girl from the tiny town of Loa in the Capitol Reef country of south central Utah, she had excelled in the language arts, music and theater at Wayne High School and would continue to thrive on the Cedar City campus for a year before marrying and starting a family.
Along the way, she and Dixie would begin an insurance business that has now grown to be among the country’s largest privately owned brokerages. They also raised six sons, all valuable contributors to our world, who have embodied their parents’ commitment to service. Anne and Dixie’s family now includes 38 grandchildren and 44 great-grandchildren.
Anne’s contributions to Utah and its people, spanning generations, have been impressive and include membership on two state task forces, as well as valued leadership in the Utah Endowment for the Humanities, for which she was the first chairperson.
She also served on the board of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, an agreeable corollary to her portrayal of Ophelia in a campus production of Hamlet in 1950. And, over the years, she and her family have contributed much to the University, in funds and service.
In 1978, to cement her love of the institution and of learning, she returned to school to earn a degree in English and Spanish, graduating with honors. Her excellent study habits and contributive and nurturing spirit elevated the education of all around her.
While a considerable measure of her gifts to the quality of our collective life has been as an influential inspirer and exemplar, she is justifiably esteemed for her authorship of the definitive history of this institution, published in conjunction with the 1997 Centennial of the University, and which has since served as a valuable resource and enjoyable fare for many. That she produced the work in a scant two years is a tribute to her skills as well as to the respect of her among those who were happy to aid in the undertaking.
Her vast and diverse experience and study, combined with her character, have helped make her a popular public speaker, as she has spent many years in great demand across the western U.S. to deliver addresses and presentations on a variety of subjects and specific topics.
Open to the public, SUU’s annual Commencement festivities on May 4 will begin at 9 a.m. in the America First Event Center.