Jodie Lynne Laybourne Bennion, age 77, died peacefully on July 10, 2021. She was in her Salt Lake City home, overlooking her beautiful garden – and following a splash of her favorite cocktail, Maker’s Mark and Diet Coke. If you knew her, you were lucky. She was vivacious, gorgeous, caring, charismatic, magnetic, intelligent, athletic, competitive; a driven woman of integrity, love, grit and talent. She had a heart of gold and was larger than life.
To know her was to love her.
Jodie loved deeply and cared intensely. She had the best sense of humor and was well-known for her famous “Jodisms.” She was beautiful inside and out and made this world a much better place.
Jodie was born in Ogden, Utah, on Dec. 23, 1943, to Jon Dale and Marilyn Laybourne. Her father was a career serviceman. She grew up in Ogden and was raised by loving grandparents—Laurence (Gigi) & Kathrin (Mammie) Taylor and aunt-- Mollie Jo. She graduated from Ogden High and ultimately attended the University of Utah. Jodie pledged Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority, making friendships that lasted a lifetime. During her freshman year, she was crowned the sweetheart of Sigma Chi fraternity, yet would marry a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity, Rick Bennion. She and Rick later divorced but remained close friends for the rest of her life. From this union came two beautiful children, Lisa and Scotty.
Jodie graduated from the U with a degree in history and French in 1966 and launched her honors history teaching career at Olympus High School in Salt Lake City. As teaching was her first love, she made quite the impression on students and colleagues. A tough cookie in the classroom, students coined her “Bulldozer Bennion.” Jod took no prisoners and was tough as nails – but, as her former students will tell you, she made an impact that lasted a lifetime.
In 1976, Jodie launched her successful real estate career at Gump & Ayers. A natural saleswoman and a pioneer in Salt Lake residential real estate, she sold and listed more houses than we can count. Her clients adored her; feelings were mutual. She took every client under her wing and introduced them to the city she loved so fiercely. A lifetime member of the Million Dollar Club, Jodie was recipient of Saleswoman of the Year in 1980 (after just three years in the business).
Jodie ultimately had the vision to create a powerhouse real estate brokerage with Salt Lake City’s most successful female agents. Together these women formed Ramsey Group Real Estate. In 1984, these six women paved the way for women in business, later receiving the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award.
An advocate for community service, Jodie served on many boards and volunteered countless hours. She was involved with the Junior League of Salt Lake, the Utah Judicial Nominating Commission, the Salt Lake City and County Police Departments, the University of Utah Alumni Board, the Utah Diabetes Center, the American Diabetes Association, Town Club and various political campaigns.
The first female to join on her own, as an equity member and the first female board member of the Salt Lake Country Club, golf was one of her biggest passions. Always a competitor, Jodie played on club golf teams, loved being captain, set a few course records and made a hole-in-one four times – at three different courses. She kept track of everyone’s putts, strokes and wagers. (And if you were too slow, she’d tell you in her signature Jod voice-- “pick it up, honey!”)
Jodie was a trailblazer in more ways than one. She was an advocate for women in business; she voiced her opinion with honesty, integrity and passion. Always the life of any party, Jodie lit up a room and knew your life story in the first three minutes. She knew where you lived, how much you paid for your house, whether or not you paid too much and would gladly tell you how she felt about your agent -- good or bad. A chef worthy of a James Beard award, she delivered thousands of homemade meals to clients, friends and family. Her laughter was contagious.
About eight years ago, Reid Barton became her devoted partner and best friend. He was her advocate – loving her unconditionally. Reid gave Jodie the best years of her life and she was the happiest during this time. The Barton family became extended family and provided unwavering support – especially after Jodie suffered a major brain hemorrhage three years ago. Though her condition was critical, in typical fashion, she defied the odds. Even with her setback, she still lived life to the fullest.
In the end, amyloid angiopathy caused her to have a bleed in her brain. Jodie’s family thanks her amazing medical team at the University of Utah. We are forever indebted to Dr. Peter Hannon, Dr. Adam DeHavenon, Dr. Anna Beck and Dr. Carol Osborn. We also thank Community Nursing Services and Right at Home for making her last few days comfortable.
Jodie is survived by her pride and joy, daughter, Lisa (Baby Wisa) Bennion Rasmussen (Mike Rasmussen), son, Scott Bennion, partner Reid Barton, brother Larry Laybourne and brother Bart Laybourne (Shelly).
A celebration of life will take place for her family and close friends on Thursday, August 5th from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the Salt Lake Country Club. Bring your dancing shoes because this is going to be a celebration of a very well-lived life.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Community Nursing Services, University of Utah Department of Neurology and Stroke Center or your favorite charity.