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Saul Luther Hedquist

09/16/1980 - 11/04/2018
Service Date: 01/05/2019

Saul Luther Hedquist, 38, Archaeologist, Husband, and Father       

Saul L. Hedquist passed away peacefully at his home in Tempe, Arizona, on Sunday, November 4, 2018. Saul was born September 16, 1980 to Nona Meyer and Paul Hedquist and grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. He graduated from Hoover High School in 1999 and from the University of Northern Iowa in 2003. Saul was always enamored of history, culture and the outdoors. In college, he channeled these interests into an anthropology major. His dedication to anthropology brought him to Flagstaff in 2004, where he received a master’s degree in anthropology from Northern Arizona University. He continued doctoral studies in anthropology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where his research focused on the cultural significance, exchange, and many uses of turquoise to prehistoric and contemporary Pueblo peoples of the American Southwest, particularly the Hopi and Zuni. In May 2016, he received a PhD in Anthropology.

Saul was passionate about his academic work. He was a rising leader in the field and garnered great respect not only for his superb scholarship, but for his enthusiasm for working collaboratively and across disciplines. His great success stemmed in part from his genuine love for interacting with people. Saul had a natural ability to be fully present during even the most casual of conversations with both colleagues and friends.

As a friend, Saul was incredibly supportive and engaged, and he could be counted on to show up when he was needed. Beyond his steady presence in their lives, Saul’s friends will remember how much fun he was. He was the guy you called if you wanted to grab a beer or needed a runner on your relay team. He was a strong runner, always happy to pick up the toughest legs, and sure to be present at every hand-off to cheer on his teammates. Saul had a wealth of knowledge on society, history, pop-culture, and sports (particularly of his beloved Cubs and Packers), making him a crucial member of any pub trivia team. He was a musical aficionado—as long as the music was classic rock. Saul especially loved the Beatles, the Kinks, the Band, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Led Zeppelin—all with the volume turned up loud. Most of all, Saul loved being with his family and friends. He was an avid outdoorsman and spent many happy days hiking, camping, fishing, running, and playing disc golf with friends and family.

Saul wanted nothing more than to make other people happy and to do good in the world. On both fronts, he was tremendously successful. He is survived by his wife Leigh Anne Ellison; daughters Chelsea and Leila Hedquist; his mother Nona Meyer; father and step-mother Paul and Meg Altmix-Hedquist; brothers Seth Hedquist and Zach and Jake Simmons; and his mother and father-in-law Sandy and Jeff Ellison.

All are welcome to attend a celebration of life planned for the afternoon of January 5th, 2019, in Phoenix, Arizona. Details will be posted at http://bit.ly/2DlL4rb as they become available.




  • Saul, an extraordinary man, left us far too soon.
    My most sincere condolences to his lovely family and to the many, many people fortunate enough to have known him and to feel deeply his passing.

  • Dear Leigh and family, I’m saddened to hear of the passing of your beloved husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law. I regret not getting to know this fine man, who was my neighbor since you moved to your Fairmont home. I could have told him about my Uncle, Dr. E. A. Hoebel who shared a love of Anthropology

  • Dear Leigh and family, (pardon if this is redundant, I may have previously sent this unbeknownst to me) I mourn the loss of your beloved Saul. While I didn’t know him, despite living next door to the family since you moved to Fairmont Dr. it sounds like he was an incredible father, husband, father, and son and scholar. Didn’t we always know our neighbors? Sadly for us, we missed getting to know you Saul. That is a loss for me. God Bless you as you mourn for this terrific amazing man.

  • dear leigh anne,sandy and jeff. becca and i were saddened to hear that saul had passed away. from what you told us in the past, he fought a heroic but loosing battle against cancer. it leaves us wondering why good people die young. we want to send you our heart felt condolences and prayers. please stay in touch, aloha peter&becca

  • Dear Leigh Anne, Chelsea and Leila: I share your sadness. I worked closely with Saul on the turquoise project and will forever miss his creativity, his energy and his curiosity about the world and its people (modern and ancient). He was kind, he was generous and he was fun to be around. There’s a Saul-sized hole in my universe that will never be filled.

  • Thoughts are with Saul and has family. He was on his way into college as I was on my way out, but I will remember always connecting with him late at night after some beers and listening to music while other friends around us joked at us for about our love for classic rock 20 years our junior. Great man and will be missed.

  • Sending my thoughts to Saul and his family. I went to junior high and high school with Saul and though I hadn’t seen him in close to 20 years, his passing brings great sadness. The Saul I knew in high school was a good dude: funny, engaging, intelligent, approachable. As the father of a near 2-year-old myself, my heart hurts for Saul and his family. Fairness isn’t expected, but this seems brutally unfair. Sending peace to you during this painful time and hopefully the knowledge that Saul’s impact on people in his far-too-brief 38 years extended beyond what you could ever know gives you brief respite from the sadness.

  • Krisrin Olson (Sokugawa)

    Dear Hedquist family,
    I was so saddened to hear about the passing of Saul. I am notoriously awful at keeping in touch but loved seeing the photos of his sweet family on social media.
    I had the privilege of knowing Saul in middle and high school. Many memories of laughter and maybe a little trouble. He was one of the kindest, brightest people I have ever known.
    “Life is not measured by its length, but by its depth.” I know that Saul’s life reached far and wide in the vastly too short time he spent here. Thinking of you all and hoping for peace for your family. He will most surely be missed but never forgotten.

  • Dear Nona, Paul, Seth, Leigh anne and the girls – my heart goes out to you. Saul and I shared many laughs and fond memories in high school, he taught me to drive a stick shift, teased me constantly for my silly habits and made me laugh a lot. He was a loyal friend, always present and gave 100% of himself. We are all lucky to have known him. I am kicking myself that we never had the play date for our girls when I was in Phoenix in 2016. However, this is not about me. May you all be wrapped in love and joyful memories of our dear Saul.

  • My heart and thoughts go out for the ones closest to Saul. The world has lost one of the best guys it has ever known. Damn brother, we used to hold down that defense from the beginning. When I got beat on the outside, I always knew you had my back. You, and your speed, would save that goal every time. We used to tear up your mom’s front yard playing tackle football in the mud. She never complained one time. I apologize for loosing contact with you over the years brother. Everyone that was fortunate enough to know you is a better person because of it. It’s not always about the amount of time you are around but the impact that you had. That impact will outlast all of us my friend.

  • Dear Leigh,
    I am very sorry to hear about your husband passing away. Unfortunately, I did not know your husband, but knowing you, I am certain he was special. I am sorry that you have lost your soulmate so early in life, but may your fond memories ease the pain of your loss.

  • I was friends with Saul in elementary and middle school. We drifted apart in high school and lost touch after that, but he helped to shape me in ways I’m still grateful for. He was one of those people who had a way of making everyone around him feel good. He was kind and super sharp and hilarious, and he had an energy for living that I remember wanting to emulate. There were summers where we played football or home run derby in his mom’s yard almost every day. In second grade we spent the entire year co-writing (in tiny handwriting that was practically illegible to anyone else) a series of stories about two characters named Fox and Bear. I don’t know where those stories went but I have no doubt they hold up. Sending warm thoughts to Saul’s family and friends.

  • I got to know Saul when I was his anthropology professor at the University of Northern Iowa in my early days there. He was passionate and very animated. After a few years I looked him up on Facebook and discovered that he had accomplished so much. I am very proud to see how much he did academically and especially within his field of interest – anthropology. I send my deepest condolences to the family he left behind.

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