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May 17, 2016 > Lila Jean Bringhurst

Lila Jean Bringhurst

October 26, 1938 - May 7, 2016

Lila Jean Bringhurst, a treasured member of the Tri-City community, passed away on May 7, 2016. She was tireless in her devotion of time, energy and resources to heighten public awareness of local heritage and protect it for future generations. Lila was born in Vernal, Utah as the sixth of eleven children. Her family had been severely impacted by the Great Depression. She grew up in relative poverty, which taught her the importance of hard work and frugality.

An ardent love of learning led Lila to attend University of California, Davis on a scholarship. Following a transfer to UC Berkeley, Lila graduated as class valedictorian in Home Economics. Her curiosity and adventurous spirit complemented an urge to travel and explore. She was warm and outgoing with special talents for asking searching questions and listening attentively. NobodyÕs life was insignificant to Lila.

Although Lila had many prospective suitors as a young adult, there was one handsome young man that won her heart. She married Deon Stout Bringhurst, DDS September 9, 1960. He was her opposite in that he was a man of few words, but his integrity and diligence spoke volumes. They raised two sons and four daughters including a set of twins. Lila was a dedicated mother and homemaker. Her refined aesthetic sensibilities enchanted beholders on holidays. She prepared special crafts with her children and taught them the value of visiting friends and neighbors regularly.

LilaÕs life became a love story between a woman and her community. Fifteen years after moving to Fremont, Lila embarked on a road trip to New England with her six young children. They visited nearly every museum along the way, fueling her passion for US history. Having enjoyed the experience so much, Lila became more active in learning about and promoting the history of Fremont.

Her first big endeavor was to restore the Mission San Josˇ. She began as the grant writer and successfully raised funds for the reconstruction. Lila went on to become president of the restoration committee. She met regularly with the architect, contractor, and Father Norcutt for four years until the restoration was completed. Lila was just getting started.

She saved the wooden church adjacent to the Mission from demolition by selling it to a group in San Mateo for one dollar and coming up with the money required to move it. The Saint Joseph Parish rectory also needed to be relocated so she and her husband moved it to Anza Street in 1979. It took nearly a year and a half for the Bringhurst family to restore it. Later, they restored the Alfred. O. Rix house in Irvington in 1989. These projects were a family affair. The long days of manual labor instilled strong work ethics in the Bringhurst children and taught them to appreciate the history of their community. LilaÕs meticulous attention to detail is evident in the restorations of these historic buildings.

She was delighted to discover a rich history of Mormons in the Bay Area. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she quickly took interest in and studied the history of the cargo ship Brooklyn that brought Mormon pioneers to the area in 1846. Lila collaborated with. Lorin K. Hansen to write a book titled ÒLet This Be ZionÓ. She wrote several more pamphlets and articles on the subject, including a plaque that can be viewed at the Oakland LDS Temple.

LilaÕs list of accomplishments includes: President of Mission San Jose Chamber of Commerce, local history columnist, Director of LDS San Jose Multi-stake Public Affairs Council, the initiation of Las Posadas at the Mission (an annual Christmas celebration), Pioneer Day fundraiser celebrations for the Mission, President of Mission San Jose Rotary, Assistant Governor of Rotary District 5170, Rancho Higuera Adobe restoration, President of the Local History Museum Guild and many more.

LilaÕs efforts to commemorate FremontÕs history culminated in a vignette depicting a transcontinental railroad station in Niles, with a family waiting for an 1800Õs steam train. The sculptures convey a deep respect for historical accuracy, but with a bit of whimsy. The likenesses of local historic figures can be found at the throttle and caboose. Lila commissioned famed sculptor Mario Chiodo and his team of artisans to construct the train and sculptures at her own expense. Behind the display, is a mural; they can be viewed where Mowry dead ends on Mission Boulevard.

Lila Bringhurst is survived by her children, Eric Bringhurst, MD, Eron Bringhurst, Margo Layton, Amy Crane, Glinel Bringhurst, Alaina Stewart and twenty-one grandchildren.

Memorial Service
All are warmly invited to attend a memorial service in LilaÕs honor Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 4 p.m. at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 810 Walnut Avenue, Fremont, CA 94536. Please visit to RSVP and share a favorite memory of Lila.

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