October 26, 1938 ~ May 7, 2016
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. Nobody's 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.
Lila's 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 José. 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. Lila's 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 'Let This Be Zion'. She wrote several more pamphlets and articles on the subject, including a plaque that can be viewed at the Oakland LDS Temple.
Lila's 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.
Lila's efforts to commemorate Fremont's history culminated in a vignette depicting a transcontinental railroad station in Niles, with a family waiting for an 1800's 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.
All are warmly invited to attend a memorial service in Lila's 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 LilaBringhurst.com to RSVP and share a favorite memory of Lila.
Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle
We are saddened by the loss of this Great Lady. She was an example to one and all of a true follower of Jesus Christ. We send our deepest condolences to all her family.
I just learned of Lila’s passing and send my sympathies and condolences to her family. Lila and Deon were good friends and I have always admired them over the years. Deon was my dentist for a time and Lila was always an inspiration and good friend. I appreciated the authorship and research of her book “Let this be Zion”. Since I grew up and lived in Fremont for a period of my life I was always impressed with Lila’s love of Fremont and the LDS influence of surrounding cities. Lila was truly a great lady and I will always remember her.
I’m sorry to hear about your loss. May you find consolation in the hope of being together again one day in perfect health and to never suffer this loss again. (Revelation 21:4) (Psalm 37:29)
I loved Lila. She was such a woman of exemplary character! I remember so well when she convinced me to nurse my next child. I figured if she can nurse 2 twins for 6 months with no supplements, I can certainly nurse one child. I also remember her delicious egg parmesan she served at a dinner at her house & what a gracious hostess she was. Deon was our family dentist for over 20 years & that was always such a pleasure to go there a visit with him. Lila had decorated the office so well & the environment was charming there. She was a great lady and will be missed very much!