The founder of the Huntsman Cancer Institute, Jon Huntsman, Sr. has died. The billionaire chemical industrialist and philanthropist passed away Feb. 2 at age 80.
In a statement released by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation, Huntsman, Sr. “did not just create a cancer institute. He created a movement that stands as a dare to cancer.” The research center is located in Salt Lake City and is “dedicated to finding a cure for the disease through human genetics.”
Huntsman was the founder and longtime executive chairman of Huntsman Corp., a $13 billion company that refines raw materials that go into thousands of products.
Athletes at the University of Utah have come to know the name well. The school’s arena, which houses the men and women’s basketball teams, gymnastics and volleyball, was named after Huntsman, Sr. in 1987.
Condolences continue to pour in from athletes, lawmakers, and longtime friends. We at BlockU will add the tributes to this story as we continue to receive them.
Jake Conner, a junior guard for the Runnin’ Utes tweeted the following:
Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jon Huntsman Sr. He devoted his life to helping others, and I am fortunate enough to say that he personally influenced my life, as well as my teammates and the University of Utah. He will be missed!— Jake Connor (@jconnor04) February 2, 2018
Very hard to hear to about Jon Huntsman passing away today. Always used to love going to his house while in college with the squad. Remember him telling me I was one of his favorite players to play at Utah and that will forever stick with me #RIP— kuz (@kylekuzma) February 3, 2018
Was a Joy to meet you and listen to your words of wisdom. Was a joy to shake your hand before games. RIP Mr. Huntsman.— Justin Bibbins (@jbibbs21) February 3, 2018
I am truly heartbroken by the news of Mr. Huntsman’s passing. I’ve never met more generous and kind person in my life. He treated all of us, at Utah basketball, like his family. It was truly an honor to play at Huntsman Center for all those years! Rest in peace Mr. Huntsman.— Hanno Möttölä (@HannoMottola) February 3, 2018
Jon was incredibly influential in my life. After our Final 4 run we met privately a few times as I was trying to decide to serve a mission. He gave me the best advice and that was to make the decision for myself, & that either way he was always there for me. ❤️to the Hunstmans! https://t.co/0hlt0Grdr3— Britton Johnsen (@Brittonhoops) February 2, 2018
Statement from Utah Director of Athletics Dr. Chris Hill:
I am deeply saddened by Jon Huntsman’s passing and I speak on behalf 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.
Statement from University of Utah President David W. Pershing:
“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.”
Gov. Herbert statement:
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.