“Wealth isn’t always measured in dollar signs. We each have time, talent and creativity, all of which can be powerful forces for positive change. Share your blessings in whatever form they come and to whatever level you have been blessed.”
— Jon M. Huntsman Sr.
Jon Huntsman is the poster child for the American dream.
In true rags-to-riches fashion, he started with nothing and built a corporate empire worth billions by age 59.
He could have stuck to business and hoarded his fortune, keeping to his family and wealthy peers. He could have ignored politics, community problem-solving and hands-on service. He could have comfortably insulated himself from all manner of misfortune and pain.
But he didn’t.
Instead, throughout his remarkable life, Jon Huntsman remained a doer who took risks, gambling on ideas, erring on the side of compassion and choosing to lift humanity bruised by poverty, disaster and disease.
Huntsman poured his energy and considerable wealth into the many altruistic causes he believed in. He quietly set up a fund to benefit The Road Home and Utah’s homeless. He devoted time and resources to his spiritual base, frequently loaning his private jet to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to bring sick missionaries home and transport church leaders to pastoral assignments throughout the world.
He donated millions to the University of Utah, the University of Pennsylvania, Utah State University and other colleges for new facilities and scholarship. He celebrated Utah teachers with annual prizes and sponsored an annual international sporting event that attracts thousands of senior athletes.
He worked for a president, ran for public office, funded political candidates across party lines and weighed in on numerous policy issues, from seeking to heal Utah’s religious divide to legalizing medical marijuana.
Significantly for this newsroom, Huntsman spent nearly five years negotiating to buy The Salt Lake Tribune, a deal that his son Paul finally inked in 2016. He loved shooting the breeze with reporters and editors, and we loved hearing him express full confidence in Utah’s independent voice.
Above all, he cherished his beloved wife Karen and their large family — all nine children, 56 grandchildren and 26 great-grandchildren — building meaningful relationships and spending as much quality time as he could with each of them.
But outside of his family, his greatest passion was the Huntsman Cancer Institute. Cancer claimed his parents and, after successfully fighting the disease himself, he vowed to find a cure. Not only did he donate hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a world-class research facility, but he regularly made the rounds at the hospital, encouraging the staff and hugging and comforting cancer patients and their families. And he defended the institute with fiery determination.
During his 80 years, Jon Huntsman shaped Utah’s history in a way few others have. His imprint on business, medical research, politics, education, journalism, public service, philanthropy and spirituality will last for generations. His personal warmth and authenticity will remain with anyone lucky enough to have met him. And his magnanimity should inspire all to give more and be more.
We’ll deeply miss our chairman emeritus.