Michelle Rhodes had been a widow for about eighteen months when she joined a Facebook group for Latter-day Saint widows and widowers that several people had suggested she join.
Within days, one individual out of the five thousand members in the group caught her attention.
“I noticed right off that Stan Lockhart was very active on the site,” she says. “I decided that he was everyone’s home teacher in the group because every time someone would post something—a question or problem—he would reply with the best advice and sweetest support. He provided links to other resources and places where people could go for help. He was a strong presence on the site, and he was literally making a difference in people’s lives.”
Making a difference is one of the things that Stan Lockhart does best—although he usually doesn’t deliberately set out with that in mind. “Wherever I’m at, things change,” observes Lockhart, who graduated from BYU Marriott in 1987 with a degree in business management with an emphasis in marketing. “I’m not about the status quo, but I don’t necessarily think about how to make things happen—it’s just something I instinctively do.”
From Small Town to Big Campus
Making and following a deliberate plan hasn’t been a Lockhart hallmark. Lockhart grew up primarily in the small town of Lyle, Washington, which he says “had a few more than five hundred people in it when I went to school.” As a high school student, Lockhart had no idea what he wanted to do after graduation. “I was busy participating in every sport and every extracurricular activity available,” he says. “You can do that in a small town.”
He applied to BYU on a whim, although he was certain he wouldn’t get in. “I had substandard grades and a substandard ACT score,” he acknowledges. “But I was student body president of my high school—there were one hundred students—and so I was accepted based on my leadership qualifications.”
He calls his acceptance a miracle and remembers that on his first day, as he walked across the Quad to his 9 a.m. class, he felt claustrophobic. “The sidewalks were jam-packed,” he recalls. “I’d never been around so many people, and all I wanted to do was go home.”
Our trials prepare us to be the person God wants us to be, prepare us to do what He wants us to do. I know from the core of my being that when we go through adversity, it is for our experience and our good. It isn’t the adversity that matters, it is the way we respond to it that matters. If we will trust God and turn to Him, everything will be all right.
But he managed to adjust to his new surroundings by settling in, making friends, and even finding a job at the Cannon Center serving food. “The job wasn’t glamorous, but I got a lot of dates that way,” he adds.
Sales and Problem-Solving
Another challenge Lockhart faced in college was choosing a major. “When I was growing up in Lyle, I didn’t understand that there were thousands and thousands of job options out there,” he says. “In my mind, there were about a dozen careers to choose from.”
Lockhart figured he could be a lawyer, a doctor, a dentist, a police officer, a firefighter, or an educator like his parents. “When I got to BYU, I couldn’t figure out why so many students were majoring in engineering,” he recalls. “I thought that engineers were the guys who rode at the front of the train.”
Initially, Lockhart decided to take the lawyer route, so he opted for a political science major, figuring that would be a good way to prepare for life as an attorney. However, after serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he returned to BYU and changed his major to business management, ultimately becoming what he describes simply as a salesperson.
“I enjoy sales,” says Lockhart, whose first job after graduation was selling computer software that he knew nothing about. “When you think about it, sales is all about problem-solving, and I love to solve problems.”
Lockhart remembers learning the scientific method in elementary school. “As young kids in about the fourth grade, we’re taught how to come up with a hypothesis then test that hypothesis,” he explains. “And then we don’t do much with that idea until we get older. Hopefully, at some point in our lives, we realize the value of the scientific method. And if our first hypothesis doesn’t work, we continue to make adjustments to find the best outcome. That fundamental fourth-grade idea is at the root of problem-solving.
“That’s really what we do on a daily basis,” he continues. “Some problems are easy, and some are difficult. Much of my ability to solve problems came from my experience at BYU—the classes I took, the professors I met, and the experiences I had.”
A Job and a Wife
That innate desire to solve problems has led Lockhart down many paths throughout his life—often without the end goal in sight. Two weeks before graduating from BYU Marriott, Lockhart had no job and no idea what should come next in his life. His mother called him and told him she’d been prompted to tell him to stay in Provo and find a job. At that point, Lockhart said, “Mom, you just want me to get married! We’re done with this conversation.”
But on a whim, he stopped by the job board at the Career Advisement Center one last time and noticed that Clyde Digital, a small software company in Orem, had posted a job opening. “I knew nothing about the company or what they did, but I signed up for an interview,” he says.
The first question Lockhart asked during the interview was, “What position are you interviewing for?” The interviewer—who happened to be the CEO— explained it was for a technical support position. “I’m sorry, that’s not something I would be interested in,” Lockhart responded. “But I would be interested in a job in sales.” Apparently he sold the CEO during the interview, because Lockhart started in sales at Clyde Digital the Monday after he graduated.
A job wasn’t the only thing Lockhart found when he followed his mother’s advice. Two weeks after Lockhart graduated from BYU, a new freshman showed up in his student ward. “I was sitting about five rows from the back of the room, right in the middle, when this brunette in a dark red dress walked in,” he recalls. “My head swiveled, and I knew I needed to find out who she was.”
Before long, Lockhart and the brunette—Rebecca Tower—found themselves in the same friend group. After a fateful game of Truth or Dare when Becky named Lockhart as one of three men in the ward she’d like to date, they started going out. “We saw each other every day for three months,” Lockhart says, “and then we got engaged. We were married four months later, and Becky and I spent twenty-seven wonderful years together.”
Something of Eternal Significance
The Lockharts shared a passion for politics. After Lock- hart and the couple’s three children—Hannah, Emily, and Stephen—were onboard, Becky ran for and was elected to office in the Utah House of Representatives, where she served for sixteen years, including a four- year stint as Utah’s first woman Speaker of the House. She ended her service at the end of 2014 and unexpectedly died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease within weeks after leaving office.
“I’m sad not to have her here, but it’s not a sad story,” says Lockhart. “Here’s what I learned: Death is as much a part of life as birth. We tend to have this kind of idealistic idea that we’ll find the love of our life, get married, have kids, then grow old together. But that’s not necessarily what mortality is.
“There’s something essentially important about the challenges and adversity that we face, something of eternal significance,” he explains. “Our trials prepare us to be the person God wants us to be, prepare us to do what He wants us to do. I know from the core of my being that when we go through adversity, it is for our experience and our good. It isn’t the adversity that matters, it is the way we respond to it that matters. If we will trust God and turn to Him, everything will be all right. That’s the key.”
Walking Through Unknown Doors
While Becky served in the political arena, Lockhart became involved in politics as well. Through the years, he has served in several key positions, including as a member of the Provo City council and chairperson of the Utah County and Utah Republican Parties. He has also served on numerous boards, including the Provo Planning Commission, Provo Board of Adjustment, Provo Library Board, and Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Lockhart’s community service includes significant involvement with the Boy Scouts of America, Thanksgiving Point, Lone Peak Hospital, and the Utah Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs.
He was equally involved in the business. After seven years, during which Clyde Digital became Raxco Software, Lockhart went to work for Spire Technologies before finally landing in a job where his love for politics and problem-solving came together: as the government affairs manager for Micron Technology and IM Flash.
“Much of what I did was done while Becky was serving in the state legislature,” observes Lockhart. “When an opportunity presented itself, we would ask ourselves, ‘How in the world are we going to do this?’
Then we’d pray about it, talk about it, and follow the prompting to say yes. When we walked through those unknown doors, almost always initially we’d feel overwhelmed, and then we’d always find the great joy that comes from helping others.”
Recently, Lockhart has discovered another place where his passion for helping others has been especially effective: as an advocate for STEM education opportunities. He helped create Utah’s STEM Action Center, and in 2015 he was appointed to fill a vacancy on the Utah State Board of Education.
“Stan and I have worked together on STEM education,” says Val Peterson, a state legislator and the vice president of finance and administration at Utah Valley University. “When we first started talking about the action center, we had seen it in other states. Stan laid out a plan and asked for my support, and I ended up sponsoring the legislation.
“He’s passionate about our students getting the type of education they deserve so they can make a way for themselves in the world,” Peterson continues. “When you talk about Stan Lockhart, that’s one of the things he works on wherever he goes—making sure that people have opportunities to develop and grow and become better. He works hard to be the best he can be, and he is dedicated to helping others be the best they can be as well.”
As I have gone through life, I’ve simply tried to pitch in wherever I was needed. When someone asks if I can help with something, I have faith and say yes and then walk through doors I’ve never walked through. And almost always when I walk through those doors, good things happen.
No Longer About Politics
That propensity to become the best he can be has led Lockhart on new adventures since Becky’s death. He started running marathons, recently qualifying for the Boston Marathon by setting a personal best of three hours and twenty-seven minutes—“and I think I can get faster,” he opines. He started reffing high school basketball games, something he’d done decades ago but stopped because of the heavy demands on his time. And three and a half years ago, he ventured out on his own, becoming the founder and principal of the Lockhart Group, a consulting and lobbying group.
“People have pretty diverse opinions about lobbyists, and I understand that,” Lockhart notes. “But I feel like our form of government is designed to encourage every citizen to be a lobbyist. A representative form of government gives each of us an opportunity to identify what we’re interested in, and then talk to our elected officials and share those thoughts. Every individual should be engaged in our government, but since we’re all involved in our own lives, not all of us can or do. Then we feel disenfranchised when decisions are made that we don’t agree with.
“Lobbyists present different sides of issues to elected officials when an issue comes up,” he continues. “I look at it as helping inform and educate our elected officials to the merits of the issues. But I get it—we love lobbyists we agree with, and we hate lobbyists we disagree with.”
Lockhart doesn’t relish the conflict that often accompanies lobbying, but he does enjoy the opportunity to bring people together. “It’s all about connecting to people,” says Lockhart, who has taken Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People course three times. “One of the principles the course teaches is the abundance mentality, which says there is plenty of opportunity for everybody,” says Lockhart. “When we give freely of our time and talents, it will come back to us a hundredfold. I’ve seen that happen.”
Peterson has too. “Even when Stan is advocating for a client, he keeps what’s best for everyone at the top of his mind,” notes Peterson, who has been friends with Lockhart for more than twenty years. “The thing about Stan is he’s just a genuine, good person. He wants to do what is best for everyone involved. I’ve watched him work with people who had vastly different opinions and views, and he does a wonderful job of making sure everyone feels like they are heard and respected.”
A Friend for Life
Lockhart’s genuine care and compassion for others is what earned him the title of Everyone’s Home Teacher in Michelle Rhodes’s mind as she watched his interactions on the Facebook page. This same genuine care and compassion is what prompted her to say yes when Lockhart asked her out several months later, even though she’d vowed never to remarry.
And Lockhart’s care and compassion were clearly evident when the couple married in 2017—and almost one thousand people waited in line for hours at their reception to extend their well wishes to the newlyweds.
“Twenty or thirty of those people were there for me,” Michelle says. “Everyone else was there for Stan. Prior to that, I sensed that he was a loved person, but I got a glimpse into his character that night, which confirmed what I already knew. These were people who had mourned with him when he lost his first wife, and now they wanted to celebrate with him. When Stan becomes your friend, he is a true friend—a friend for life.”
And that part of his life is deliberate and planned. People are what matter most to Lockhart. Helping others in whatever capacity he can is his life’s work.
“As I have gone through life, I’ve simply tried to pitch in wherever I was needed,” he says. “When someone asks if I can help with something, I have faith and say yes and then walk through doors I’ve never walked through. And almost always when I walk through those doors, good things happen.”
Article written by Kellene Ricks Adams
Photography by Bradley Slade