AMerican Veteran 11

Paul Vern Mangelson

March 19, 1943 ~ November 28, 2020 (age 77)


Paul Vern Mangelson, age 77, died peacefully at home on November 28, 2020.  He was born in Levan at the home of Leah Bosh, the town mid-wife, on March 19, 1943. The second child of Vern and Vivian Mangelson, Paul learned the value of hard work working alongside his parents and sisters on the family farm.  They raised pigs, milk-cows, and eventually purebred Polled Hereford cattle.  Paul also stocked the shelves of the family store, Vern’s Store, where their slogan was: “We sell most everything.”  Paul delivered the store’s weekly ad on horseback to all the people of the town. Paul attended Levan School through the 9th grade and then Juab High School where he graduated in 1961.  After graduation, Paul attended the University of Utah and Utah Barber College.  In 1964 he enlisted in the Utah National Guard and completed boot camp in Fort Polk, Louisiana.  

Paul married Sandra Lee Jackson on May 27, 1967.  Their marriage was later solemnized in the Manti LDS Temple on June 10, 1980. Together they raised 6 children in Levan, 5 daughters and 1 son.

In 1967, Paul was hired by the Utah Highway Patrol and completed 14-weeks of training at Camp Williams Police Academy. His first post with the UHP was in Monticello, Utah at the Port of Entry.  He was then transferred to Gunnison, then Utah County where he became Sergeant, and finally Juab County.  In his 40 years with the UHP, Paul had a knack for getting tons of illicit drugs off the road and out of the market.  Paul made hundreds of felony drug arrests and recovered 146 stolen vehicles and loved to recount each one. 

Among the words used to describe Paul Mangelson are “hard working”, “courageous”, “honest”, “friendly”, “loyal”, “humble”, and “professional”.  Affectionately referred to as “Buffalo Head”, he was also called the “John Wayne” of the Utah Highway Patrol, and the “Michael Jordan” of the winning team.  

Many officers refer to Paul as a great example whom they idolized, as well as a true friend. Through his enterprise, Smugglers Blues, he travelled throughout the United States, training and instructing other police officers in the techniques he used in drug interdiction as well as other areas of law enforcement expertise.  Always concerned about the safety of fellow officers and the public, Paul took great care in fulfilling his duties and obligations. He loved the Highway Patrol like a second family.  He also gave presentations at the annual meetings of the Utah State Bar and at the Annual Judicial Conference. Paul was touted by the U.S. attorney’s office as a “legend”, and an officer with “unprecedented success in the area of drug interdiction”.

Paul received many prestigious awards including the Golden Beehive for 8 years, Silver Beehive for 6 years, Patrolman of the Year - 1978, Utah Peace Officers Association Officer of the Year - 1982, National Exchange Club Peace Officer of the Year - 1982, Distinguished Service Medal – 1989, Robert B Hutchings Memorial Award – Narcotic Officer of the year - 1992, and “We Believe in Heroes Award” - 1996.  Paul was instrumental in the Utah Senate passing Bill 101 Disarming a Peace Officer in the 1999 general session. He was honored to have the UHP Paul V. Mangelson Interdiction Award named and awarded after him.

Levan was his personal heaven on earth. Paul was happiest when he was home and loved serving the town he grew up in.  While on the Town Council Paul headed up many projects to beautify Levan, including planting trees at the cemetery and the church and constructing the new bowery at the Levan park.  At the time of his death, Paul recorded the weather for Levan for the National Weather Service and the Nephi Times News. When he wasn’t patrolling, he was always busy working at the coal yard, or hauling hay.  Paul was honored to be the 2020 Grand Marshal of Levan’s 24th of July celebration.  He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and served in the Bishopric and as a high councilor.  

Some of his favorite past times were working in his garden, Gator rides visiting community members of Levan, hunting golf balls, yard work, and playing horseshoes; even winning the Ute Stampede Tournament one year. He was a master at chess.  He loved playing strategy games with his grandkids. He was a great handyman, and his famous one liners, jokes, and quick wit were second to none.

Paul is survived by his children, Molly (Scott) Brenchley of Spanish Fork; Amy (Jason) Roper of Taylorsville, Paula (Casey) Nielson of Alpine; Emilee (Joseph) Eyre of Levan; Charles Mangelson of Provo; Annie (Jim) Nielson of Spanish Fork; 20 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren and one on the way; sisters, Mary (Vaughn) Matthews of Murray and Nancy McPherson of Sandy; sisters-in-law, Judy (Morris) Wright, Barbara Cowan, Lisa (Morris) Blackett all of Nephi, and Fawn Steele of Provo. Brothers-in-law Scott (Eve) Jackson of Ferron and Bart (Carmen) Jackson of Nephi.  Many wonderful nieces and nephews.  Preceded in death by his wife, Sandra J. Mangelson and his father and mother. 

Public viewing will be held Sunday, December 6, 2020 from 4:00 – 7:00 pm at the Anderson Funeral Home, 94 West 300 North Nephi, Utah.  Due to Covid-19, please wear a mask and follow all state and local social distancing guidelines.

Graveside services will be held Monday, December 7, 2020 at the Levan Cemetery, Levan Utah at 12 noon.  The public is invited to attend; please bring your own chair.

There are many Paul Mangelson stories, some of which have become legend in Central Utah.  If you have a story you would like to share, write it down and place in an envelope or email to


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Recording of Service


December 6, 2020

4:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Anderson Funeral Home
94 West 300 North
Nephi, UT 84648

December 7, 2020

12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Levan Cemetery
600 East 400 South
Levan, UT 84639

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