Four "extraordinary fathers" were honored at a Salt Lake luncheon Thursday for their devotion to home and family while managing successful and challenging careers.
The 1999 Utah Father of the Year Award recipients, W. Lowell Benson, Spencer F. Eccles, former Sen. Jake Garn and Blake M. Roney, were recognized by the Father's Day Council-Utah in the Little America Hotel grand ballroom.The council presented a check for $93,000, the charitable contributions from the event, to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.
Ten-year-old Abbi Larsen, who was diagnosed with insulin-dependent juvenile diabetes last year, spoke to the large audience about her struggles with the disease and how important it is to find a cure.
-- Benson began employment with O.C. Tanner in 1970 and is currently senior vice president of finance and operations. Benson is a member of the Brigham Young University Management Society, the National Steering Committee for the Management Society and currently serves as national chairman. He is also a board member of the Utah Opera and the Utah Symphony. Benson also currently serves as a stake president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He and his wife, Ann Balmforth Benson, have five children.
-- Eccles joined First Security Bank after a banking career that began in 1959. He was elected chairman of the board and chief executive officer of First Security Corp. in 1982. He is also a trustee for family foundations that provide funding for several hundred social service programs, cultural arts and educational institutions, athletics, medical research, environmental groups and historical preservation organizations. Eccles is also currently a member of the Management Committee and the Board of Directors of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics.
He married Cleone E. Peterson in 1959 and they have four children.
-- Garn served as a U.S. Navy pilot and is a retired brigadier general in the Utah Air National Guard. Prior to his election to the U.S. Senate in 1974 he was an insurance executive and served as mayor of Salt Lake City. Garn retired from the Senate after serving three consecutive terms.
He currently serves as vice chairman with the Huntsman Corp. and also serves on the boards of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, United Space Alliance and the U.S. Space Foundation. He received the prestigious aviation award, The Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, in 1992.
Garn married Hazel Thompson in 1957 and has four children. After the death of his first wife, he married Kathleen Brewerton, who had a son from a previous marriage, in 1977. They have two children.
-- Roney is chairman of the board for Nu Skin International Inc. In 1984, Roney founded Nu Skin with less than $5,000 in startup capital and without incurring personal or corporate debt. His business now accounts for $1 billion in annual product sales and is now the parent company for three separate product organizations. Nu Skin organized the Force for Good Foundation to provide Nu Skin employees and independent distributors opportunities for involvement in worthy causes.
He and his wife, Nancy Roney, have six children.
All award recipients expressed the importance of fatherhood and family values.
"Make sure your children know they are loved," Roney said. "You can't teach children values unless they know you care about them."