Glenna Sanderson

Glenna Sanderson (Cottam)

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Our beloved sister, aunt, mother and grandmother, Glenna Claire Cottam Sanderson passed away peacefully August 6, 2020 at age 99. She has reunited with her husband Ivan Lavon, son Stewart Cottam, daughter Steffanie, grandson Jonathan Daniel Graham, and great-granddaughter Evelyn Marisa Sanderson. Glenna is survived by her three sisters:
Margery Osborn, Josephine "Jo" Day (Doug), and Carolyn Stevenson Dodd; four children: Ivan Douglas (Venna Rowley), Eric Martin (Joan Whitaker), Jan Taylor (Harry), and Jon Robert (Jihong); 11 grandchildren; 26 great-grandchildren; and 4 great-great-grandchildren.

Born March 1, 1921, to Clarence and Margery Brown Cottam in Alamo, Nevada, where her parents taught school. As a young child, her grandmother, Lucinda Stewart Brown, who she dearly loved, lived with them and took care of her. At age 8, her family moved to Washington, D.C., where her father worked as a conservationist under U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ezra Taft Benson. Her father later served as the first Dean of Science at Brigham Young University (BYU), in Provo, Utah, where Glenna studied dance and met and married Ivan Lavon on August 27, 1941 in the Salt Lake Temple. For the first few years, Ivan and Glenna lived with his family in Draper, Utah, to see the birth of Stewart. In 1944, Ivan was deployed to the Pacific theater of World War II. Glenna was pregnant with Ivan Doug before he left, who would not meet his father until he was 18 months old.

Upon his return home, Ivan and Glenna moved to Provo, where he worked as the store manager for the BYU Bookstore, and where they had four more children. Steffanie, just younger than Ivan Doug, sadly died of cancer at age 17, which was something the family never fully recovered from. In 1968, they moved first to Palo Alto and later to Atascadero, Calif., where Ivan served as store manager of the student bookstores for Stanford University, San Francisco State, and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, respectively.

They served two missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The first was to Baguio, Philippines, and their second was to Durban, South Africa, which they served concurrently with Glenna’s three sisters. Upon retirement, they moved to St. George, Utah, and built a cabin in Pine Valley, a snow-peaked mountain about 45 minutes north of there, where they spent much of their summers. She also served in the St. George Temple. Glenna has many family roots in St. George and, in addition to the Cottams, is related to the Jarvises, as well as the Stewarts from Kanab.

Prior to Ivan’s death on Christmas Day in 2003, they sold their condo and cabin. They built one home along the Santa Clara river in St. George, which was destroyed by the epic flood of 2005. Glenna would later move to the Salt Lake Valley, where she would spend the remainder of her life close to family.

Ivan studied art at BYU and was an avid post-impressionist and cubist painter, but he never sold any of his paintings; instead, he gave them away as gifts. He taught Glenna to paint as well, and the two spent much of their retirement years interpreting memories and the world around them in art. Glenna was an excellent listener and loved people, especially her family. She was generous with her time and talents and gave intuitive and insightful advice one-on-one. Glenna was also active physically and regularly walked and took hikes until late in life. She could tell you the names of all the birds and foliage around us.

Glenna’s son Stewart passed away in 2016 of ALS, and that was an especially difficult blow to Glenna, whom she relied on heavily for every-day sorts of things. Around that time, she was diagnosed with dementia. Early last year she broke her hip and required hospitalization, but she recovered until she broke her hip again. Family members took turns staying with her. When the Covid-19 epidemic hit earlier this year, we were unable to see her for a period, and that was difficult. She was able to meet her newest great-granddaughter, Athena Claire, just prior to her death. Grandma always said that she had the best marriage in the world, and over the past 17 years, Glenna has missed Ivan very much. Her family is grateful they are together again.
Private family graveside services will be held. Condolences may be offered to the family online at
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