SALT LAKE CITY -- Many prominent Utahns paid tribute to Jon Huntsman Sr. Friday after his death at age 80.
While the Huntsman Cancer Foundation confirmed Huntsman died Friday, details about the cause and manner of his death were not immediately available.
Utah leaders paid tribute Huntsman, his legacy of charitable giving and his efforts in the fight against cancer.
Mitt Romney said Huntsman was "relentlessly devoted to helping others."
With Jon Huntsman’s passing, we lose a Lion of Utah. Jon raised an extraordinary family, built one of America’s most prominent corporations, and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to heal the sick, provide relief to the injured, and bring hope to future generations. From providing care and employment to people in earthquake-ravaged Armenia to building libraries of learning here at home, Jon was relentlessly devoted to helping others.
Jon Huntsman’s greatest legacy will be as a healer of men. In founding and personally guiding the Huntsman Cancer Center, he opened the path to cures that have extended life for thousands and may someday defeat cancer for millions.
Jon and I have been friends for decades; our families have been friends for generations. He generously gave to the Salt Lake Olympics and provided me with essential counsel. He was the first to volunteer financial support for my campaign for president of the United States. Ann and I will profoundly miss our good friend’s broad smile, his hearty handshake and his example of faith, honor, and integrity.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Huntsman was not only a champion of business and philanthropy, but also a champion of the sate of Utah:
"Jeanette and I are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our friend Jon M. Huntsman, Sr. Jon was a successful businessman and a tremendous philanthropist.
Jon was not only a champion of business and philanthropy, but also a tremendous champion of our state. His loyalty to Utah was remarkable.
He loved his family and was fiercely loyal to them. You would be hard-pressed to find someone with a more closely knit family than the Huntsmans. In this regard, Jon was an especially good example to all of us.
A visionary man with a strong personality, Jon was not afraid to wade into the issues of the day. That drive was personified in his battle against cancer. Not only did he fight his own personal battle, but through the establishment of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, he gave his vast resources to help others wage a battle against cancer as well.
We have lost a giant in our state history. His influence is felt far beyond the borders of Utah. He is one of the greatest Utahns ever to live.
Our hearts are with his wife Karen, and the entire Huntsman family."
Senator Orrin Hatch released a statement, calling Huntsman a trusted confidante and dear friend.
“Jon Huntsman Sr. was a committed public servant, a visionary businessman, and perhaps the greatest philanthropist our state has ever known. He was also a trusted confidante and a dear friend. Utah has lost a lion today. Elaine and I send all our love to the Huntsman family at this difficult time.”
Rep. Mia Love said she was deeply saddened by the news.
“I am deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr. I knew him well as a friend, family man, and a mentor and will miss him dearly. I thank him for the advice, love, and support he provided both to me and to our state. My family and I have been deeply blessed by his friendship and owe him a debt of gratitude.”
“I know Jon will rightfully be remembered as a giant in the state of Utah, across the country, and around the world. His story exemplifies the American dream: He came from humble beginnings, and founded one of the most successful businesses in the nation, now known as the Huntsman Corporation. He was generous and compassionate with his success, investing personally in efforts to eradicate cancer and establishing the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Thousands of lives have been blessed by that investment. I send my heartfelt thoughts and prayers to his family at this difficult time.”
Rep. John Curtis also released a statement, saying while his legacy will live on the loss is heart breaking.
"Words fail to describe the impact of Jon Huntsman Sr. Through his legacy of service, charitable causes and commitment to cancer research will live on his loss is heart breaking. Something I love about him the most is how generous he's been and how philanthropic even before he came into his wealth.
Sue and I send our love and prayers to the Huntsman family during this difficult time. Utah and this country are a better place because of Jon."
Rep. Chris Stewart said Huntsman's dedication to service and charity will not be forgotten.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr. His legacy of service and charity along with his dedication to cancer research will not be forgotten in our community, across America or throughout the world. My thoughts and prayers are with the Huntsman family."
Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes said he was devastated to learn of Huntsman's death.
"I am devastated by the news of the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr. He has been a dear friend and an incredible mentor. He counseled me often and taught me the true meaning of service. To say I will miss him, his grit & his incredible compassion would be a gross understatement."
Utah House Democrats released a statement through House Minority Leader Rep. Brian King:
“Jon Huntsman Sr. was not just an inventive businessman and entrepreneur. He was a compassionate philanthropist who improved the quality of huge numbers of Utahns, Americans, and citizens of the world. He was wise, passionate, and committed to the commonwealth. We are grateful for his life. We will miss his influence very much. He leaves a remarkable legacy.”
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes said Huntsman was a friend, an iconic leader and a man of great faith:
"I am brokenhearted to hear of the passing of John Huntsman, Sr. - a friend, an iconic leader, and a man of great faith dedicated to his family and his work. Most know him as a titan of business, philanthropy, and his church. Few realize, however, his incredible service to our country, from his time in the White House as a young man to advising multiple presidents throughout the years. He also possessed numerous other talents and engaged in countless other acts of service that were not public.
"I have always appreciated Mr. Huntsman's willingness to take time out of his busy schedule to call or meet with me. His personal advice, wit, wisdom and encouragement will be dearly missed. I will never forget one night he took a detour from his scheduled appearance, to take me by the arm, walk slowly around the Grand America and provide his perspective on several issues as a mentor. The legacy that he leaves as a businessman, philanthropist, and committed servant is a testimony to his character of kindness, goodness, and his deep love of community and country.
"My wife, Saysha, and I express our sincere and deepest condolences to the entire Huntsman family and all those grieving. Utah is a much better place because of John Huntsman, Sr., and we are all profoundly grateful."
Mary Beckerle, CEO and Director of Huntsman Cancer Institute, praised Huntsman's devotion to the cause of eradicating cancer.
“Jon M. Huntsman, Sr., was a great man who led a profoundly inspiring life. Other than his family, his goal to eradicate cancer from the face of the earth was the greatest passion of his life.
He has left this world knowing that all of us are equally committed to this goal and to the founding principles of Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI): The Patient First, United Effort, and Excellence in All We Do.
I can still hear Mr. Huntsman’s words: “Cancer moves fast…and we have to move faster.”
Together, we can best honor Mr. Huntsman and contribute to his legacy by committing to work ever faster to advance the mission of the great Institute that bears his name, to provide hope and healing to all who are impacted by this disease.”
The University of Utah stated Huntsman was a passionate supporter of the U and that his efforts will benefit many people far into the future:
"We're deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr.
He was a passionate supporter of the U and his generosity and vision will benefit students, faculty, researchers and people throughout Utah and the Intermountain West far into the future."
U of U President David Pershing said Utah and the nation "lost one of its truly great citizens."
“Utah, and indeed the nation, has lost one of its truly great citizens with the passing of Jon M. Huntsman Sr.
Jon was a passionate supporter of the University of Utah, and his vision and generosity will benefit cancer patients, students, faculty, researchers and people throughout Utah and the nation for generations to come.
I am grateful for my friendship with Jon, which spanned more than two decades. He was a devoted husband, father and grandfather; a faithful member of his church; and a compassionate member of our community.
Jon never forgot his humble beginnings nor the help he received along the way to becoming a giant in business and philanthropy. He said “good fortunes and blessings must be returned by helping others.” And that is what he did.
Jon and Karen gave enthusiastically to support our basketball programs, our student scholarships and the creation of 26 presidential chairs — including 12 established last fall for our medical school — to support the work of talented faculty members.
But curing cancer, the disease that so cruelly affected Jon’s own family, was his ultimate goal, and Jon saw his entrepreneurial success as a means of facilitating this fight.
Jon established the Huntsman Cancer Institute and lived to see his remarkable dream fulfilled with the opening of its fourth phase last year — the Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center. The institute is home to talented faculty and staff who share his vision to pursue first-rate research, provide excellent cancer education and ensure exceptional care for cancer patients.
Jon’s fight to defeat cancer goes on, but by any measure it can be said Jon achieved his vision. The Huntsman Cancer Institute is a world-class facility, and the University of Utah is fortunate to be a partner with Karen and the entire Huntsman family in this continuing and noble endeavor. We remain committed to Jon’s goal of eradicating cancer and the success of the remarkable institute that bears his name. It is his legacy and one that will benefit generations to come.
On behalf of the entire university community, I offer our condolences to Karen and the Huntsman family.”
U of U Athletics released a statement through Director Chris Hill:
"I am deeply saddened by Jon Huntsman's passing and I speak on behalf of our entire Utah Athletics Department when I say that our hearts and prayers are with the Huntsman family. Jon has been an incredible friend and contributor to the University and community at large for many years. His philanthropy seemed to know no bounds. I have personally known Jon for more than 40 years and consider him a close friend. I will miss him greatly. I am overwhelmed by his passing and this is a sad day for all of us—and there are many—whose lives he touched. He was a good man who made the world a better place."
The Sutherland Institute praised Huntsman's legacy of faith and humanitarian service.
“On behalf of Sutherland Institute, and personally, I would like to offer deepest sympathy and heartfelt condolences at the passing of Jon M. Huntsman Sr.
“His ‘barefoot to billionaire’ story of success and leadership is unparalleled, but his true wealth is to be found in his legacy of faith, humanitarian service, his crusade against cancer and his outspoken advocacy around important issues of the day. Our hearts are with his family and loved ones.”
Mayor Jackie Biskupski said Huntsman had an "immeasurable impact" on Salt Lake City:
“Jon Huntsman, Sr. had an immeasurable impact on Salt Lake City, Utah, and the world as a whole. His personal commitment to philanthropy saved lives and inspired others to do the same. Our deepest sympathy is with the Huntsman family, and with all of those who were personally touched by Jon’s legacy.”
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams said Huntsman was "a man who loved his family, his church and his country and gave generously of his time and talent.
"I’m saddened to hear that Jon Huntsman, Sr. has passed away. I knew him as someone who was very engaged in what happened in our community, our state and our country. I appreciated that he would pick up the phone occasionally and share his thoughts with me on topics of the day. Jon, Sr. was a man who loved his family, his church and his country and gave generously of his time and talent. Julie and I offer our deepest sympathies to Karen Huntsman and to the entire Huntsman family."
Lane Beattie, President and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, issued a statement on behalf of the chamber:
“Utah, and in fact the world, has lost an icon, a generous champion and example to all businesses, communities and individuals. Jon and Karen Huntsman, with their commitment to Utah, have been a stimulus to many families, businesses and corporations that make our State their home. Their compassion and care has given people the confidence and determination to succeed. Their generosity has lifted the needy, blessed the sick and inspired us all. Jon was a true beacon on the hill, and his passing is a loss to so many of us that called him a friend. Jon wasn’t only a Giant in our City, he was a Giant to all mankind.”
In 2005, Jon M. Huntsman Sr. was awarded the Salt Lake Chamber “Giant in Our City” award, for his exceptional and distinguished public service and extraordinary professional achievement."
The Miller Family released a statement, noting the close friendship between Huntsman Sr. and Gail Miller and Huntsman's support for the Miller family after Gail's death.
“Jon was a close friend, advisor and confidant to Larry and me as well as our family. He and Larry spent countless hours discussing items both business and personal. After Larry passed away, Jon continued this support and met with my family and me many times. He was also a faithful supporter of the Jazz and his presence in our lives and at the arena will be greatly missed. Jon added so much to our family and faith.
Jon was thoughtful, kind and generous with his time and resources and has had an immeasurable impact on our family as well as countless people around the world. On behalf of the entire Miller family and my husband Kim Wilson (whose long friendship with Jon precedes our marriage), we express our profound love to Karen and the entire Huntsman family. We are deeply saddened at the loss of such an incredible friend.”
Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera stated she is blessed to have known Huntsman Sr. and is grateful for his support over the years.
"Jon M. Huntsman Sr. was very dear to my heart as he was my biggest supporter and mentor. I am deeply saddened to hear of his passing. He was kind and devoted to helping others. He was a true example of integrity, honor and faith. I have cherished his advice and wisdom throughout the years. I feel blessed that he was able to attend my swearing in as Sheriff, it was apparent that he was not feeling well but he made it a priority to be there. I will always be grateful for his friendship and support. I am so blessed to have known him. My love and prayers go out to Karen, Markie and all the Huntsman family."