Three impactful residents inducted into Midvale Arts Council’s Hall of Honors
Aug 29, 2019 10:22AM
● By Sarah Morton Taggart
Members of the Litster family perform during a ceremony to induct Allen and Jan Litster to Midvale Arts Council’s Hall of Honors on Aug. 7. (Sarah Morton Taggart/City Journals)
By Sarah Morton Taggart | [email protected]
From Harvest Days to the “Messiah,” each of the three 2019 inductees to the Midvale Arts Council’s Hall of Honors has made a lasting mark on Midvale.
Allen and Jan Litster and Albin “Mickey” Ross were inducted in a ceremony held at the Midvale Performing Arts Center on Aug. 7.
Ross was inducted posthumously, having passed away in 1977 at the age of 64. But Midvale residents still enjoy his legacy each year at the annual Harvest Days festival, which he helped grow as a member of the Midvale City Council and the Kiwanis Club. Ross was an entrepreneur who founded many businesses in Midvale at a critical time in the city’s development. He was active in the Midvale Volunteer Fire Department and involved in completing the landscaping at the I-15 interchanges at 7200 South in Midvale.
Ross is also remembered for his portrayal of Santa Claus at local schools, churches and community celebrations. “As his children, we got to chauffeur him around during the Christmas season and see the joy he felt seeing the donations that others had made,” said Mike Ross, speaking on behalf of the family. “He was always willing to help anyone in need.”
“When I first came to Midvale, Mickey was one of the first people I knew,” said Allen Litster during his remarks at the ceremony. “He was so kind to me and so easy to like.”
Litster came to Midvale as a young man to learn the trade of undertaking. During his remarks at the Hall of Honors induction ceremony, David Litster recalls asking his father why he chose that profession. “He said (he chose to be a mortician) because when someone’s loved one passes, they’re in need of comfort and he wanted to give that peace and comfort,” said David with emotion in his voice. “The thread of service is woven throughout his life.”
Allen Litster later changed his line of work and spent the rest of his career employed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in addition to his volunteer work with the church. “With these callings he seeked to serve anyone in the community who was in need, not just members,” David said. “He taught us to pray for others and he taught us to go out and work to help those we had prayed for.”
Allen has an impressive history of community service, including serving as chairman of the Midvale Police Department Citizens Advisory Committee, Chairman of the Citizens for a Safe Future for Midvale (monitoring the EPA’s cleanup of the tailings sites), and participation in the Midvale City Council, Midvale Planning and Zoning Commission, Salt Lake County Community and Economic Development Advisory Council and the Utah State Board of Education.
But, according to his son, Allen’s greatest service was as a husband and father. Allen and Jan Litster raised seven children in Midvale. While Allen was a transplant, Jan is a Midvale native.
“I thoroughly enjoyed growing up in Midvale,” said Jan during her remarks at the ceremony. “I love the diversity of this community. The friends we had, the people we met.”
Jan’s many contributions to the community include instilling a love of music in others. She began teaching orchestra as a volunteer at Copperview Elementary School in 1986 and her efforts led to an elementary school orchestra program being adopted throughout Jordan School District. She organized a community orchestra to play with the Midvale community performance of Handel’s “Messiah” and has co-directed the annual event for more than 20 years.
Jan has also served actively in her church and in leadership roles as a member of Daughters of the Utah Pioneers. She is currently spearheading renovation of the DUP’s Drown cabin, the oldest existing structure in Midvale.
At one point the Litsters were on the verge of outgrowing their own house in Midvale and began shopping for another place to live. “We looked from Bountiful to Draper, but kept saying to ourselves that we really like Midvale,” Allen said. “Where can we be of most help? Where can we serve people? We settled on Midvale and never looked back.”
All three of the 2019 inductees to the Hall of Honors exemplified service in everyday life. “It is our duty to serve others, but it’s also a labor of love,” Allen said. “We have reaped far more than we have sown. May all of us link arms and do good.”
Applications to nominate individuals for the Hall of Honors are available on the Midvale Arts Council’s website at the beginning of each year.
“This is an honor to have such wonderful citizens in our city, past and present, who have made Midvale a great place to live and work,” Mayor Robert Hale said. “This city needs the best leadership to keep it moving forward.”