Lawmakers on Monday honored Jon Huntsman Sr., the late billionaire philanthropist who rose from poverty to become one of Utah’s wealthiest businessmen before he died this month at age 80.
While discussing a resolution that passed the House and Senate, lawmakers recalled what they said was his love, patience and guidance for his family, friends, politicians and the patients at the cancer institute that bears his family’s name.
Rep. Edward Redd, R-Logan, told his colleagues he’s undergoing cancer treatment at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. He spoke of the institute’s impact in attracting cancer researchers to Utah and the ensuing benefit for patients.
“The coolest thing about it for me is that when I go there,” Redd said, “I leave the place realizing that a lot of people support me.”
Members of Huntsman’s family sat in the House and Senate galleries while each chamber discussed and passed the resolution. They were accompanied by Mary Beckerle, CEO and director of the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Huntsman, who briefly worked for President Richard Nixon, became a personal adviser and friend of Utah politicians in his later years, including House Speaker Greg Hughes.
“Mr. Huntsman refused to retreat in the face of adversity. Talk about an understatement,” Hughes said. “He was a friend of mine, and I always felt like he looked out for the little guy. And he looked out for me as well.”
“It wasn’t contrived, it wasn’t a technique, it was heartfelt from beginning to end,” Hughes said. “If you met with him you had a friend.”
Paul Huntsman, a son of Jon Huntsman Sr., is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune.