Desiree “Des” Cooper-Larsen
Our beloved Des, the heart and soul of the Ogden Pioneer Days celebration, passed away from complications related to Covid 19 in February 2021.
She was a passionate teacher, leader, mentor, advocate and friend to all. She devoted her life to her husband Kurt, her family and community.
In her youth, she qualified for the National High School Rodeo Finals in barrel racing. Then danced her way on stage to win Miss Lehi, soon followed by the title of Miss Rodeo Lehi. In 1979, she went on to become Miss Rodeo Utah and then went on to win the coveted speech award at Miss Rodeo America. Des was known for her sense of style, strong determined spirit and larger-than-life presence.
Des earned her masters and bachelors degrees from Utah State University in Marketing Education. As a Professor of Professional Sales at Weber State University (WSU), she was twice honored with the Utah Association of Marketing Educators Teacher of the Year Award. Des shared her expertise with thousands of students during her 36 years as a professor, and provided customer service and sales training to national and local Fortune 500 companies.
Des worked endlessly for over thirty years to build a world class PRCA Hall of Fame Rodeo. She will be remembered for her successful efforts to make the Ogden-based rodeo a Top 5 PRCA Rodeo of the Year. Des is the one and only woman to chair the celebration in its 86-year history and was President of the Miss Rodeo Utah Executive Board, as well as a member of the Miss Rodeo America Foundation Board.
This year’s Ogden Pioneer Days will be especially meaningful as we return to celebrate the great pioneer spirit of our community, and the memory of our Grand Marshall honoree, Desiree Cooper-Larsen.