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Sterling David Sessions

Feb 2, 2024

1925 – 2024

Sterling David Sessions, former dean of the School of Business & Economics at Weber State University, passed away of natural causes in Salt Lake City, Utah on Jan. 22, 2024. Born on Dec. 16, 1925 in Kamas, Utah to Charles David and Ruth Davies Sessions, he grew up in Provo, Utah. He attended the Brigham Young University laboratory school and graduated from BYU after serving in the US Army during World War II. Sterling married Barbara Bickmore on Dec. 17, 1948, and her love and support were essential to his success.

Sterling earned a master’s degree in business administration from New York University in 1950. He returned to Provo to work in the family business while teaching part-time at BYU. After a brief career in retail merchandising at Broadway Department Stores in Los Angeles, he earned a doctoral degree from Harvard Business School in 1962. Subsequently, he joined the business management faculty of BYU, where he was department chair and director of the MBA program. In 1966, Stanford University appointed him dean of ESAN, a premier graduate school of business in Lima, Peru. Upon his return in 1968, Sterling was appointed lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he taught and directed international programs.

In 1975, Sterling was appointed Dean of the School of Business & Economics at Weber State College, where he forged strong bonds with community and business leaders. He led the effort to fund and construct the Wattis Business building, supported student scholarships, and created the Willard L. Eccles Chair, the first endowed chair at Weber State. In 1983, he returned to teaching and research and co-authored A History of Utah International: From Construction to Mining (2005). Sterling lent his expertise to Utah businesses, serving on the boards of Blue Cross and Blue Shield (Utah), Ogden First Federal Savings, Tunex, Research Medical and also served as an advisor to the board of Browning Corporation and KSL, Inc. He was an officer of the Ogden Rotary Club, Ogden Symphony Association, and on the BYU Alumni Board. Near the end of his career he lectured part-time at London School of Economics, the University of Utah, and the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. In retirement Sterling took up landscape painting, traveled with his wife Barbara to visit grandchildren, and wrote his memoir, Where Safety Lies (2010).

He was a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and as a young man served a mission to Texas. He served as bishop of the BYU 11th Ward while on faculty, and was bishop of the Palo Alto First Ward (1972-75). He was appreciated as a gospel doctrine teacher and remembered for his tender acts to those who needed his care. Sterling was intellectually curious, read widely, and had a remarkable command of aphorisms. He developed life-long friendships and was adept at writing a thoughtful personal note. He possessed an innate aesthetic sense, and enjoyed organ music, fine art, and the well-cooked meal. He loved to sail.

Sessions was preceded in death by his wife Barbara, who succumbed Nov. 13, 2022. He is survived by all seven children: Christine Petty Taber (Douglass), Cynthia Lippincott (Gary), Susan Rugh (Thomas dec.), Elizabeth Eastmond (David), David Sessions, Scott Sessions (Julie) and Andrew Sessions (Rachelle), as well as 25 grandchildren and 58 great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his sisters, Naomi Derr Goodman and Charlene Jenson Ainge. He will be laid to rest in a private service at the Paradise, Utah cemetery. A public memorial service at Wasatch Lawn Mortuary in Salt Lake City will be held at a later date.