Prominent Utah activist Bettye Gillespie has died


OGDEN, Utah (ABC4) – A Utah civil rights activist has died “after a long illness,” according to her family.

Bettye Gillespie died in her home in Ogden on July 2.

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A statement shared with by her family says Bettye was born in Fort Worth, Texas, but moved to Utah when she was young when her father went to work for Union Pacific Railroad.

At 15, Bettye graduated from Ogden High School. She then received a BA in Political Science and a Minor in Sociology from Howard University in Washington, DC. She went on to earn a master’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in human resources management from the University of Utah.

Bettye was the Director of Equal Employment Opportunities at Hill Air Force Base for 20 years. She was the only director and the only female equal opportunity officer in Air Force Logistics Command.

According to her family, Bettye was among Hill’s highest ranked black civilian employees for four decades.

Bettye’s family say that she and her husband, Jim, “have fought to break racial, economic and gender stereotypes for almost 50 years.”

“They were both life members of the NAACP and served the organization at the local, regional and national levels. Bettye has made an impact on the lives of many young activists as the Ogden NAACP Youth Director. She led voter registration campaigns and often took her own young children door to door to register voters. “

Bettye has also been involved in YCC (formerly YWCA), League of Women Voters and Habitat for Humanity.

In 1974, Bettye became the first African American to be appointed to the University of Utah Board of Trustees. She held this role until 1981.

According to her family, “Bettye received the Black Pioneers in Utah Award from the Ogden Area Community Action Agency in 1995. She was appointed to the advisory committee of the United States Civil Rights Commission in Utah. in 1998. She received the Juneteenth Legacy of Freedom award; Minority Bar Association Community Service Award; Delta Sigma Theta women make the difference; NAACP Rosa Parks Award and University of Utah Merit of Honor Award. Over the years, Bettye has received several awards from Weber State University (WSU), including the 2013 WSU Salutes Distinguished Service Award.

A Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established in honor of Bettye at the University of Utah.

There will be a 6-8 p.m. visit on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, at Myers Mortuary, 845 Washington Boulevard, Ogden, UT 84404. Bettye’s sisters of Delta Sigma Theta will lead the Omega Omega ceremony, a final rite of bye bye for all the sorors of Delta.

A Celebration of Life will take place on Wednesday, July 14, 2021 at The Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, 2374 Grant Ave, Ogden, UT 84401 at 1 p.m. The viewing will take place from noon to 12:45 p.m. posted on YouTube. The link is:


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