Gilbert Woodrow Scharffs
1930 - 2015
Holbrook Mortuary
3251 South 2300 East
Salt Lake City, UT
Gilbert Woodrow Scharffs died at home from age-related causes on February 26, 2015, a few months shy of his 85th birthday, after a magnificent life filled with faith, love and service to others.
Gil was born on June 27, 1930, the eldest child of Fritz Carl and Gertrude Louise Barth Scharffs, who had each emigrated from Germany after World War I and met at an LDS Ward for German immigrants in Salt Lake City. He was preceded in death by his father and mother, as well as his younger sister, Virginia Rasmussen (married to Jack Rasmussen), and is survived by his sister Donna Waters Hunt and brother Joseph Scharffs (married to Marjorie).
Gil lived a rich life. After graduating from West High School, he earned a bachelor's degree in marketing at the University of Utah and a master's degree in advertising from New York University. He served in the Army during the Korean War, mostly safely behind a typewriter in Japan, and a mission to Germany, where he served as the editor for publications and in the mission presidency.
He began teaching in the Church Education System as a seminary teacher at his alma mater, West High School, and later earned a PhD in Religious Studies from Brigham Young University, writing a dissertation that was later published by Desert Book, "Mormonism in Germany." Gil taught briefly at the Institute of Religion at Arizona State, before beginning a long tenure at the Institute adjacent to the University of Utah. He taught there for 27 years, teaching generations of students in almost every imaginable area of church doctrine and history, including a stint as Director. Seldom was there an outing to the theatre or a restaurant where a fond former student would not come up to say hello and express gratitude.
Throughout his life, Gil fostered a great love of the written word. He published a number of other articles and books, including "The Truth About the Godmakers," "101 Reasons Why I Like to Go to Church," "The Missionary's Little Book of Answers," and "Mormons and Masons: Setting the Record Straight."
Meanwhile, his love of travel and teaching made him a popular BYU and LDS Travel Study tour guide to Church history sites, Europe and the Holy Land. In addition, for nearly 40 years he moonlighted as the editor and publisher of the concert program at the Utah Symphony, for years with the help of Virginia and Calvin.
He served faithfully in numerous church callings, including often as Gospel Doctrine teacher, as a Branch President and Bishop at the University of Utah, where he also served in a Stake Presidency, and later as Bishop of his longtime home ward, the East Millcreek 11th, where he lived from 1968 until his death.
In 1959 Gil married Laura Virginia Smith, daughter of Calvin and Lucile Smith, and granddaughter of President Joseph F. Smith, in the Salt Lake City Temple. Virginia was one of thirteen children who grew up on a farm on Redwood Road. Gil and Virginia had four children, Yvette Scharffs Ungricht (married to Albert Lon Ungricht, with children Andrew, Mary, Emilie, and Amy), Brett Gilbert Scharffs (married to Deirdre Mason Crane Scharffs, with children Elliot, Sophelia, and Ella), Lisa Scharffs Kasteler (who was married to David Kasteler, who died in 2011, with children Lauren, Maegan, and Spencer), Calvin Karl Scharffs (married to Cheri Branham Scharffs, with children Emma and Greyson). After forty years of marriage, Virginia died in 2000. Gil was very proud of his family, and was pleased to have three of his grandchildren serving missions at the end of his life, Elliot in Japan, Emilie in California, and Lauren in Florida).
In 2001 Gil married Judy Short in the Salt Lake Temple, and began a second (or perhaps it was third) act with an energy and enthusiasm that surprised many. He and Judy taught for several years at the BYU program in Nauvoo, and served a public affairs mission to Edinburgh, Scotland. They loved traveling and spending time with an impressive circle of friends and family. Gil is survived by Judy, who cared for him with great patience and love to the end. Judy thanks Wendy and Elizabeth and the other wonderful caregivers from Inspiration Hospice, who gently cared for Gil almost daily for over a year.
Over the past few years, Gil gradually slowed down, with a typical litany of physical challenges, small and large, and finally a relentless, quiet battle with Alzheimer's. In his decline, he could often be found working crossword puzzles in a favorite easy chair, resting peacefully, which seemed entirely appropriate after a lifetime of working so energetically.
The words could have been written for him, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." (Matthew: 25:21) He leaves a legacy of love, service and faith that will be felt for generations.
The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, March 3rd at 11:00 a.m. at the East Mill Creek 11th Ward building, 2702 East Evergreen Ave (3535 S.), Salt Lake City. A viewing will be held at the Holbrook Mortuary, 3251 South 2300 East, on Monday, March 2nd, from 6 to 8 p.m. and at the church Tuesday morning 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. prior to the service. His burial will be in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Messages to the family can be posted at:
Published by Deseret News on Mar. 1, 2015.
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6:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.
Holbrook Mortuary
3251 South 2300 East, Salt Lake City, UT
9:30a.m. - 10:30a.m.
East Mill Creek 11th Ward building
2702 East Evergreen Ave (3535 S.), Salt Lake City, UT
Funeral service
East Mill Creek 11th Ward building
2702 East Evergreen Ave (3535 S.), Salt Lake City, UT
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Holbrook Mortuary
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16 Entries
Judy, my dear-sweet Tuesday morning temple friend; I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. May you feel the love and comfort of our Heavenly Father at this time.
Much love,
Loreen Barney
March 18, 2015
Dear Judy and family,

We want to express our love and sympathy to you at the passing of this remarkable man. We were so fortunate to get to know Gil and Judy as we worked together in Scotland. He was a special and sweet man. We loved to discuss the gospel with him and we shared many fond adventures as misssionaries. We extend our love and warmest regards. Tom and Barbara Fredrick
Tom and Barbara Fredrick
March 16, 2015
I was fortunate to have had Brother Scharffs as an Institute teacher at the University of Utah during the mid to late 1970's. The thing I remember the most about him and his classes was how enthusiastic and excited he always was in teaching and promoting the gospel. In this regard he reminded me a lot of Elder LeGrande Richards! I'm sure that his excitement and enthusiasm has now reached fruition as he has completed his journey home to the realm of eternal light and truth and love-- where he fits in so well.
Reid Swenson
March 7, 2015
Dear family, The Samuel & Jeanette family wish to send their love. Joesph, Hyrum, John, Esther, & Gladys. Gilbert lived a great life. I remembered him being unassuming & humble.
Gladys Smith Brown
March 3, 2015
Our condolences to the Scharffs family. I worked with Gil as a student at the Institute and was blessed by his open and faithful approach and personal warmth. He always took the Gospel and his students seriously without taking himself too seriously. We were later in parallel stake presidencies at the University and enjoyed that collaboration. Our best wishes. Jim Jardine and Family
March 3, 2015
I was fortunate to have Bro. Scharffs as my Institute instructor and branch president while at the University of Utah, and later worked with him at the Utah Symphony. What a wonderful person he was! My deepest sympathy to your family at this time. What a legacy of love he has left for us.
Debbie Barker
March 3, 2015
To Judy, Yevette, Brett, Lisa, and Calvin,
During my studies at the U of U, Gil routinely had me over for Sunday dinners. That was always a wonderful part of the week. I also had a world religions class from him that I appreciated. I could never beat him in chess however. My deepest sorrow at your loss. I wish you all the best.
Scott Grover
March 3, 2015
Dear family,
Sorry about your loss. We know that you will miss him. We are Virginia's cousins. Gladys Smith Brown, Kent Brown, & Joan Smith Scott
Gladys Smith Brown
March 2, 2015
Dear Yvette,Brett, Lisa and Calvin,
You are all in my thoughts as I read the obituary for your father. I Know how proud he had to be of all of you and I send you my condolences on your loss. I have fond memories of times we spent together as a family and Gil's generosity with concert tickets. I send this message with love and sympathy.
Richard Wrathall
March 2, 2015
We have fond memories of Gil by serving with him and Judy at the JSMB. He was always friendly and with a smile. He had a life with many accomplishments. It is well said in Matthew 25:21. May God comfort you all. Our sincere sympathy, to you dear Judy and Family.Jerry a. Elisabeth Coombs, and Anna Lee De Fries too.
Jerry & Elisabeth Coombs
March 2, 2015
To the Scharffs Family:
President Scharffs was my first Branch President (then Bishop) at the University 7th Ward. He was a great example, teacher and friend. He was a deeply spiritual man with a remarkable sense of humor and quick wit.
I also remember a few ward pool parties at his home in Millcreek. He was always the first to welcome you home'.
We met with him several times when he was in the stake presidency with President Swinton and President Welch. His insight, direction and camaraderie with that group were amazing.
My family sends their love and support at this time. He will be deeply missed.
The Sparks Family
Randy Sparks
March 2, 2015

I came to Salt Lake City for the first time in my life in late September, 1979. I came to attend the U, and I knew no one in Utah and I had no place to stay. So upon arriving that evening, Gilbert Scharffs--the Institute Director--came out to the airport with his son in a station wagon to pick me up. He then drove me over by the U and arranged with the owners of a small house that was fairly close to the school--and that was being renovated--for me to stay there a few nights until I lined up my apartment.

Thank you Brother Scharffs for your service to me.

Richard W Hodges--Portland, Oregon

Richard W Hodges
March 2, 2015
Judy and family, we were so sorry to hear of Gil's passing and know that you must miss him terribly. We enjoyed reading his obituary and learning more of his remarkable life. May you feel our Savior's arms about you now and in the coming days.
Elder John and Sister LeeAnne Wynn, Chile, Concepcion Mission
"Q.D.E.P. - Que descanse en paz. May he rest in peace."
March 1, 2015
I was one of his early West HS Seminary students. He was wonderful and I felt he was a true friend. He will be missed by hundreds. May the Lord bless you with His love and comfort.
Shirley Johnson
March 1, 2015
Dr. Scharffs, was one of my LDS Institute professors at the U of U. He was a wonderful scholar, teacher and friend. He made a difference in the lives of many college students. My sincerest sympathies to the family.
Jan La Bard
March 1, 2015
The "Good Old Days" at the old "West" Institute building will never be the same. Thank you for everything way back when, Brother Sharffs.
Sid Jeffs
March 1, 2015
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