WEST VALLEY CITY — Former West Valley City mayor and police chief Dennis J. Nordfelt died Saturday at age 71.
Nordfelt, a member of the Utah Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission, died at home. He had been battling a lingering illness. He attended an alcohol commission meeting this past Tuesday.
"He was recovering so well," said West Valley City Mayor Ron Bigelow, who has known Nordfelt for many years. "It's a sad day for our city."
Nordfelt served as mayor of the city from 2002 to 2010, and as its police chief from 1987 to 1998. Before that he worked at the Utah Highway Patrol for 20 years, including six as superintendent starting in 1981. He also served as West Valley's Olympic coordinator.
Bigelow said people looked up to Nordfelt because of the things he did for West Valley and for the person he was.
"He spent many years serving this community and his efforts helped shape our city and made it stronger. His positive influence was also felt far beyond our city in programs, events and especially in the lives of many people in our state. He leaves a tremendous legacy for all of us," Bigelow said in a statement.
The City Council appointed Nordfelt as mayor after Mayor Gerald Wright died in August 2002.
In filling the vacancy, the father of nine children said at the time that he would focus on how city decisions affect families and emphasize whenever possible the importance of a traditional family.
Picked, in part, for his understanding of the city's strong city manager form of government, Nordfelt vowed to represent the residents in his new role.
"The government should only do what its citizens want to have done but cannot do for themselves," he said.
During Nordfelt’s tenure with UHP, the agency received national recognition for innovative programs.
In 1983, Utah and Arizona opened the nation’s first joint-state port of entry, a program duplicated around the country. The following year, the UHP received a United States Senate Award for Achievement for the effort, according to agency's the website.
Nordfelt was born in Salina and grew up in Moab. He leaves behind his wife, Glenda, and his children and grandchildren. His son Lars Nordfelt was elected to the West Valley City Council in 2013.