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Businessman, philanthropist Jon M. Huntsman Sr. dies at age 80.

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, grandfather and great-grandfather; a faithful member of his church; and a compassionate member of our community.

Jon never forgot his humble beginnings or 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.

President David W. Pershing