Gordon Merl Lofthouse

Merl was born in Logan, Utah, to Preston and Elva Lofthouse on Dec. 26, 1941. He was an active high school student, playing football at South Cache High. His fondest memory is playing defense with the biggest rival, North Cache, and taking on Merlin Olsen.

Merl married Edith Louis Brown in 1964. They had three children, Tonya (Eric) Stene of Austin, Texas; Wade (Melissa) Lofthouse of Evanston; and Benny (Tonja) Lofthouse of Jensen, Utah; 12 grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. They later divorced and Merl married Tamara Sorenson. Her children are Thad (Tori) Nielson and Allen (Savana) Nielson; she has six grandchildren, three great-grandchildren. They later divorced. Merl loved all of his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 

Merl was proud of all his children in different ways. He said Tonya made him proud for her decision to go to college and complete it. He was proud of Wade for winning the high school nationals in saddle bronc riding, and he was proud of Ben for following his passion in raising successful bucking bulls. He was proud of Thad for his wrestling, and he was proud of Allen for being in the armed services.

He is survived by his children, his brother, Boyd (Joan) Lofthouse of Logan, Utah; and his sister, Maurine Jessop of Ammon, Idaho.

Merl started riding broncs at a young age and it seemed to fit him very well. He would practice riding on a bronc called Hyrum Special #21 — little did he know at the time #21 Hyrum Special was chosen to go to the NFR. Merl was the champion saddle bronc rider in 1989 for the RMRA. He rode in the PRCA and just about any rodeo he could find. He had a long career in rodeo either riding broncs or being a pick-up man for multiple stock contractors.

At the age of 55, Merl was bet he couldn’t ride a bronc so he took that bet and won! Merl always liked to see a good rodeo wreck and big long-legged fancy horse that was a little broncy to boot. Merl was named the pick-up man of the year for Western States Rodeo Association. It wasn’t uncommon for Merl to pick up cowboys then turn around and be a contestant at the same rodeo.

Merl had a strong passion for horse trading. “He would buy one on Tuesday, so he had something to trade on that Friday!” There was a softer side of Merl that only some folks got to see; he would always cheer for the underdog in fights and he never turned his back on helping a friend in need.

Merl is preceded in death by his parents; sister, DeAnn; brothers, Cordell and Lyle; and his grandson, Colby Lofthouse.

A viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, at Crandall Funeral Home, 800 Uinta St. in Evanston. A viewing will also be held from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 27, at Blackburn and Sons Vernal Mortuary, 15 E. 100 North, Vernal, Utah. Graveside services will be held at the Jensen Cemetery at 11 am. 

Compassionate services by Jensen Ward Relief Society will be immediately following services at the Jensen church. Services entrusted by Blackburn and Sons Vernal Mortuary and Cremation Care.


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