Jon Huntsman, Sr.
Huntsman grew up in poverty, graduated from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania|the Wharton School, worked as a staff member in the Richard Nixon administration, and finally worked for Dow Chemical Company. "In 1970, Huntsman founded the Huntsman Container Corp., which focused on food packaging and pioneered the clamshell container used for McDonald's Corp.'s Big Mac hamburger. He formed Huntsman Chemical Corp. in 1982 and more than a decade later, consolidated his companies as Huntsman Corp., producing materials used in a wide range of products, from textiles and paints to plastics and aviation components. before starting his own business in 1982. That business grew into a multi-billion dollar company, Huntsman Chemical."
In 2007, Huntsman co-founded a new private equity firm, H&G Capital Partners, joining former Bain Capital executive Robert C. Gay to focus on investments in middle market companies. Among Huntsman's partners is Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
He was a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as an Area Authority Seventy and as a member of the Fifth Quorum of the Seventy. He has also served as stake president and as mission president in the Washington D. C. Mission.
Huntsman had been an important donor to several causes, both locally in Utah and nationally. One of his most notable causes is his co-founding of the Huntsman Cancer Institute. His namesake HCI building holds this quote "Selfless giving unto others represents one's true wealth."
Other notable causes include: his co-operative fundraising initiatives for his fraternity, Sigma Chi; the Wharton School, which named its main building after him; the University of Utah, which named its main arena, Jon M. Huntsman Center, after him; a new law library at Brigham Young University, which at his request was named after Howard W. Hunter; notable family philanthropy in earthquake ravaged Armenia and a new library at Southern Utah University, which he also requested be named after someone else; and the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University. He and his family also gave generously to Utah's homeless shelters.
Huntsman met his wife, Karen, after moving to California during his teens. They were married in the 1970s, and they are the parents of nine children. Karen Huntsman is a daughter of former Church apostle David B. Haight. Their oldest son, Jon Huntsman, Jr., was elected governor of Utah in 2004 and 2008, ran for president of the United States in 2012, and serves as U.S. Ambassador to Russia (he is former Ambassador to China and Singapore). Their second oldest son, Peter R. Huntsman, is president and CEO of the Huntsman Corporation; his wife, Brynn, is a daughter of Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve M. Russell Ballard. Huntsman's daughter Jennifer is married to one of Bonnie D. Parkin's sons (she was Relief Society general president from 2002 to 2007) and she oversees the Huntsman Education Awards. Daughter Christena Durham heads The Road Home, the homeless endowment, and helps oversee the Huntsman World Senior Games. Son David is currently mission president in Washington, D. C. Paul Huntsman is over the Huntsman Family Investments and is the owner and publisher of The Salt Lake Tribune (acquired in 2016). Son James, who was kidnapped for ransom at the age of 16, but was rescued by the FBI, works in the distribution side of the movie business. He produced two films which his father played a cameo in each one. Son Mark suffered brain damage at birth and plays a role in the family empire. Daughter Kathleen died in 2010.
In addition to working for the Nixon administration, he briefly ran for Utah's governor in 1988, served as finance chairman for Mitt Romney's 2008 presidential campaign, and worked for his son's 2012 presidential bid. Huntsman authored and published the book Winners Never Cheat: Everyday Values We Learned as Children (But May Have Forgotten) in 2005, published by Wharton School Publishing. In the book, Huntsman conveys moral lessons drawn from his life's experience.
Time Magazine identified Huntsman as the sixth largest philanthropist in the United States in 2000. In 2007, Huntsman gave $750 million in contributions and donations, placing him second on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's list of the nation's top 50 givers.
At his passing, leaders of the LDS Church and political leaders paid tribute to his life and work, including:
Utah Governor Gary Herbert called Huntsman "one of the greatest Utahns ever to live" and "a tremendous champion of our state." Herbert said Huntsman was fiercely loyal to his close-knit family and did not shy away from wading into issues of the day. Through the Huntsman Cancer Institute, he helped others battling the illness that he also faced himself, Herbert said.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement that it shares the Huntsman family's grief following his death. Huntsman, who died Friday at age 80, was a former Area Seventy for the church. "We honor Jon as a cherished husband, father and friend, esteemed as a leader for his exceptional capacity, commitment, philanthropy and service throughout the world," the statement reads. "We express our love to Karen, to their children and family. Jon's legacy of faithful leadership, generosity and goodness stands as a beacon for the entire Huntsman family and many others throughout the world."
Mitt Romney, former GOP presidential candidate and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics, similarly called Huntsman "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." Romney said Huntsman's greatest legacy will be as a "healer of men."
Harry Reid, the former Nevada congressman and U.S. Senate majority leader, said he has "never known anyone more generous with his time and resources."
(Tributes courtesy Deseret News).
- Huntsman Cancer Foundation.
- Jon M. Huntsman from Utah History Encyclopedia.
- Huntsman Corporation
- Philanthropy videos of Jon Huntsman from Salt Lake City to Armenia GoodTube.org