The Ogden Pioneer Days Committee is proud to present
Desiree “Des” Cooper-Larsen
Our 2021 Grand Marshall
Our beloved Des, the heart and soul of the Ogden Pioneer Days celebration, passed away from complications related to Covid 19 in February of 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 master's and bachelor's 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 the 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.
The Selection Process
The Ogden Pioneer Days Foundation Board of Trustees, and the leaders of its numerous committees, select a favored honoree from among many nominations received each year. This highly prized honor is given annually to well-known and highly respected individuals or couples who have distinguished themselves through:
Dedicated service to the people of Northern Utah
An exemplary history of volunteerism
Active promotion of the pioneer heritage and western lifestyle
View Previous Years' Grand Marshalls
Dave Howells was born in Salt Lake City, Utah in 1942. He attended schools in Salt Lake and was raised in the western lifestyle on a ranch in Summit County. “I’ve been around animals all of my life.”
He proudly served our country in the Air Force National Guard.
Dave and his wife, Carole, were married in 1964. They have four daughters (“all of them are horse enthusiasts”), 14 grandchildren, and are also blessed with 8 great-grandchildren.
Dave has been involved with Ogden Pioneer Days for more than 40 years, officially joining the committee in 1978. He served as chairman for 3 years in the late 1990’s and was instrumental in the creation of the Ogden Pioneer Heritage Foundation to continue the celebration.
"Ogden Pioneer Days and rodeo have been a part of my life for forty years. I was 10 years old, at the rodeo with my family, and saw a buckboard with a team of black horses. It was Otto Dover. Otto and his two friends were playing banjo, guitar and violin. That was the beginning of my interest and involvement with the rodeo and Ogden Pioneer Days. I later bought that buckboard from Otto and used it at the rodeo with my team of paint horses to take dignitaries into the arena. The carriage we are using is a Glenn Falls three-seat surrey. I restored it 35 years ago. I have used it many times in the parade. The horses are owned and driven by Eugene Bailey from Eden. For 35 years I have provided carriages for parades and events in Ogden and Weber County. Joe Surrage and his family would provide the horses and drivers. It has been a pleasure to be part of the Ogden Pioneer Days, and I cherish these memories. To be asked to be the 2018 Grand Marshall of 24th of July Parade is an honor!"