Business leaders Rhoda Worley Ramsey and Kendall D. Garff were honored as "People of Vision" by more than 350 Utahns who gathered on Thursday night to celebrate the honorees' distinguished and foresighted service to their community.
Tributes to Ramsey, president of the Ramsey Group, and Garff, chairman of Garff Enterprises, were presented at the annual fund-raising dinner of the National Society to Prevent Blindness-Utah Affiliate.The dinner, at the Salt Lake Marriott, was one of the most successful in the affiliate's history - netting thousands of dollars for the society's programs, including glaucoma and preschool (amblyopia) screening tests and eye safety education in industries and schools.
"In Proverbs it reads that `where there is no vision, the people perish,' " said dinner chairman Wm. James Mortimer in his tribute to the two honorees.
Mortimer, editor and publisher of the Deseret News, praised Ramsey as someone who "gets along with everyone." Her friendliness and hard work have won her kudos in the highly competitive real estate industry - a career she embarked on at the encouragement of a friend, Marjorie Gump.
"I feel I'm an ambassador of goodwill for Salt Lake," Ramsey said. "I love talking to out-of-town buyers and showing them all the beauties and advantages our city has to offer."
Ramsey, the first graduate of the University of Utah School of Journalism and former "news hen" at The Salt Lake Tribune, has excelled for 25 years in real estate - a career she undertook to "earn a little extra money for the family."
She became the first woman to win the Salesman of the Year Award and is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Club, in addition to being active in the community to which she said she "owed a debt of gratitude."
She has been a member of the board of directors of Holy Cross Hospital for eight years, the U. Museum Board, and the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce. She presently serves on the board of directors of KSL and West One Bank.
Garff, who's also had a distinguished history of service to Salt Lake, is well-known for the automobile dealership he founded. After making a $50 profit on his first car - a 1926 Model T Ford for which he paid $100 - he decided there was a future in the business.
Then he proved it.
Also known for his hard work and graciousness, Garff went from a small Shell Gasoline station on the corner of 500 South and 200 East to the used car business, driving and trailing automobiles from the Midwest to Utah, to being the largest mobile-home dealer in the world and operating a large ranch and livestock business.
"And he's been able to build businesses without debt on any of his properties," said Mortimer, who also acknowledged Garff's loyalty to and respect for his customers. "He has not engaged in the razzle-dazzle advertising common to so many automobile promoters."
Like Ramsey, Garff also was praised for his devotion to his community, especially to the U., where he has served as a principal fund-raiser for the Medical Center expansion program, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, athletic programs, Alumni Center and College of Business. Active in politics, he spent two terms as Republican National Committee Man for Utah.
But for both Ramsey and Garff, their love for their work and community is surpassed only by the devotion to their families, to whom they paid tribute Thursday night.