Nov. 10, 1932-Nov. 25, 2023

Dr. Douglas D. Alder, beloved husband, father, grandfather, professor and college president, passed away at home on Nov. 25, 2023, surrounded by family with his beloved Elaine holding his hand. He was 91.

Born Nov. 10, 1932, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Georgia Ellen Payzant and Linden Benson Alder, he became loved by many as an enthusiastic mentor, community leader, teacher, scholar, historian, speaker and author whose exuberant presence instantly filled nearly every room he entered.

Doug graduated from Salt Lake City’s East High School (1951) where he developed a love of learning and established enduring friendships with many, including some who became prominent Utah political and ecclesiastical leaders.

At the University of Utah, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history and met the love of his life Elaine Marie Reiser, daughter of A. Hamer Reiser and Elizabeth Robina Baxter. The two married Dec. 20, 1958, a few months after Doug’s father died of a heart attack.

While attending the U of U’s LDS Seminary, Doug met legendary teacher Lowell Bennion, whose commitment to a life of service had a life-changing effect. Bennion and A. Hamer Reiser became Doug’s father figures. Their influence inspired Doug to adopt lofty and profound ideals.

Doug’s commitment to a life of service further developed while serving as an LDS missionary in the Swiss-Austrian mission from 1953-56 and the National Guard from 1959-62.

After his passion for history ignited at the U of U, Doug continued studying at the University of Oregon, where he received a Ph.D. in European history and was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the University of Vienna. In 1963 Dr. Alder began a 23-year-long teaching career at Utah State University in Logan, including 12 years as Honors Program Director. In 1967 he was named Professor of the Year.

In 1973, the Alders spent a sabbatical year at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, supported by an American Council on Education’s Leadership Fellowship. This experience inspired Doug’s pursuit of the presidency at Dixie College (now Utah Tech University), where he served from 1986-93. His leadership enabled improvements via endowments, academic program expansions and record student enrollments and graduations. His inclusive style inspired increased community engagement and institutional support.

Doug is fondly remembered by his students for conducting “The Interview” through which he quickly established his ambitious, customized recommendations for their academic futures. He shunned “get by-ism” and inspired many students to believe in themselves more than they previously knew possible. Thousands of these students credit him with offering profound advice that decisively altered their paths–toward greatness.

In both Cache and Washington counties, Doug served on many boards focused on supporting city/county libraries, historic preservation and arts/cultural events. Doug also served tirelessly in the LDS church. He was an important bridge between people of other faiths and Latter-day Saints. He loved teaching Sunday school, being a home teacher, singing in choirs, working for the Correlation Committee at the LDS church office Building, nurturing the community of church historians, sitting on high councils, serving as bishop (twice), serving with Elaine in the St. George Temple Presidency (1998-2001) and for 25 years as a temple sealer.

Doug and Elaine raised four children, who, in their youth, helped build a modest cabin overlooking Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah. Dubbed “ALK Haven” (meaning All Little Kids Haven), the cabin is now the Alder’s cherished multi-generational gathering retreat. Doug loved marveling at the beauty of Rich County, which became the setting for his novel “Sons of Bear Lake.”

During his final 15 years, Doug valiantly danced around the debilitating effects of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and then in 2023, bladder cancer. Until his final two months, he faced each day with unquenchable purpose and limitless drive while being blessed by Elaine’s constant care and attention.

The Alder family expresses deep gratitude for the outpouring of love from family and friends during Doug and Elaine’s stay at The Covington of Lehi and tender service from the caregivers of Dignity Hospice who made his last two months more bearable.

Doug is preceded in death by his parents, two infant brothers, Richard Jerome and Daniel Blaine, a sister Judith Alder Saxey, and brother-in-law Kent H. Saxey. He is survived by his devoted wife,Elaine and his children Scott (Betsy Hepworth), Elise (Russell) Clark, Nathan (Laurel Cannon), Lin (Pam Sunshine), and 14 grandchildren: Rebecca (Nick) Bjorkman, Benjamin Alder, Elizabeth (Brandon) Anderson, Ethan (Lindsey) Clark, Catherine Alder (Tim Russell), Jacob Alder (Zoe Morgan), Caleb Clark (Rachel Benson), Madeleine Alder, Emily Clark (Hunter Brannen), Clara Alder (Clayton Holdstock), Jonathan Alder, Eli Wilcox, Abby Wilcox, Avery Alder, and eight great-grandchildren – Alexis, Elle, Nixon, Adabella, Rosett, Nova, Carolly and Milo.

In lieu of flowers, consider sending a donation to the Douglas and Elaine Alder Scholarship in Honors Endowment at Utah State University (Logan),, or to the Juanita Brooks Lecture Series at Utah Tech.

A memorial service will take place Saturday, Dec. 2, at noon. at the Lehi East Bench Chapel, 1631 East 900 North. Click here to access via Zoom, passcode 272146. There will be a visitation prior to services from 10-11:30 a.m. at the church.

 Interment will follow at the Lehi City Cemetery, 1100 North 400 East.

Click here to read an article about Doug’s life.

Click here to read a more biographical obituary.

Arrangements are under the care of Metcalf Mortuary, (435) 673-4221. Visit the Metcalf Mortuary website for condolences, complete obituary and funeral listings.