Jay Dennis Southwick, 77, died on January 2, 2022, at Alta View Hospital, surrounded by his family. He had fought the debilitating effects of Parkinson’s disease for 14 years.
Jay was raised in Burbank, California, the adored youngest child of Lavan and Mary Maybelle Southwick. From a young age, Jay loved any activity that involved being outside, spending time with friends, and playing with a ball. Jay graduated from Granada Hills High School in California where he received a “Most Likeable” award and lettered in football.
After spending one year at Brigham Young University, Jay served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Gulf States mission from 1963-65. He represented his family and the Church with honor and loved serving the people in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi. He then returned to BYU where he received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Public Administration. In 1970, he earned an additional master’s degree in Hospital Administration from the University of Colorado Medical Center.
Soon after returning from his mission, Jay reconnected at BYU with Starla Colarusso from his hometown. They were married in the Los Angeles LDS temple in 1966. Together, they created homes in Provo, Utah; Denver, Colorado; Ogden, Utah; Sandy, Utah; and Holladay, Utah. Starla brought Jay stability, purpose, and happiness.
Jay and Starla had two children: Brady Jay Southwick and Juliana Jean Southwick. As a father, Jay was high energy and fun. His motto was “work hard, play hard.” He always had major projects going on in his yards, and his kids were expected to help. As a father, he loved spending time and riding horses with Julia. If Snowbird had a bluebird ski day, he would take Brady out of school to ski with him. Jay also spent significant time with his family boating on Lake Powell and fly-fishing on the Green River, often accompanied by his brother-in-law Paul Colarusso and his nephews.
Jay began his professional career in Denver as the director of a psychiatric hospital on the University of Colorado Medical Center campus. In 1976, he was hired by Intermountain Health Care to be an assistant administrator at McKay-Dee Hospital in Ogden, Utah. Four years later, he was selected to be the head administrator of the new Alta View Hospital in Sandy, Utah. He was responsible for overseeing the construction and completion of the hospital. As the new administrator, he prioritized relationships. He believed that successful hospitals needed to have the best doctors, nurses, and staff, so he focused on people.
He left hospital administration after co-founding Megadyne Medical Products Company, a medical device company that was eventually purchased by Johnson & Johnson.
Jay was a creative thinker who was always forward-looking. At Alta View Hospital, he worked to establish a stand-alone Women’s Center, acquired a satellite clinic in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and was a founding partner of the Life Center Athletic Club. He tried to create things that would better the health of his community. For much of his life, Jay served in leadership positions in the LDS Church where he found purpose and meaning while serving others.
In 1996, after 30 years of marriage, Jay and Starla separated. Now retired, Jay spent the next few decades of his life living between the Southern California beaches of his childhood and his Utah home. He focused on his friends and generously helped those around him. In 2013, Jay married Jeannie McCagno. Jay appreciated Jeannie for giving his life renewed purpose. He later adopted her twin children, Roman and Sasha, who brought him joy.
As Jay aged and his health declined, he was grateful to live out his life in a cabin situated in a peaceful, natural area that he had spent many years beautifying in the Dimple Dell area of Sandy. He enjoyed attending Roman and Sasha’s performances, receiving visits from his dear friends, and having Sunday dinners with his grandchildren. He will be remembered by them for his warmth, good humor, and kindness.
Jay is preceded in death by his parents, Lavan and Mary Maybelle Southwick, by his two oldest siblings, Keith Hamilton and Phyllis Macko, and his sister-in-law, Mabeth Southwick. He is survived by his wife, Jeannie Southwick, and his four children: Brady (Kristen), Julia, Sasha, and Roman. He is also survived by Jeannie’s parents Beverly and Richard Crangle and sister-in-law Annette York (Carl). Jay is survived by his brother Steve Southwick, brother-in-law Paul Colarusso (Martha), sister-in-law Sondra Latham (Dennis), and many nieces and nephews. Jay and Starla Spears (Gary) have six grandchildren: Claire, Eliza, Benjamin, William, Jarreth and Toby Southwick.
Funeral Services will be held at the Dimple Dell Park Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, 9880 South 3100 East, in Sandy at 12 pm on Wednesday, January 5, 2022. Services can be viewed via Zoom at the following Link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81819809905.
There will be no public visitation prior to the service, and the family has requested those in attendance wear masks.