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Eccles named mayor of Olympic Village

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Spencer Eccles, CEO of the Intermountain Region of Wells Fargo and Co., will be honorary mayor of the Olympic and Paralympic Villages, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee announced this week.

As mayor, Eccles will welcome the village's 3,500 athletes and dignitaries and host all village events. Eccles will also motivate Olympic volunteers who will staff a computer center, 24-hour dining services, mailing services, dry cleaning, a bank, a salon, a coffee house, a florist and entertainment and recreation activities at the village.

Forty-three "Mayors of the Day" will aid Eccles. Each mayor will be responsible for village activities during a single day of the Olympics and Paralympics.

The group is a mix of politicians, athletes, entertainers and philanthropists, including former Salt Lake City mayors Deedee Corradini, Palmer DePaulis and Ted Wilson. Other standouts include performer Gladys Knight, former Miss America Sharlene Hawkes, singer-songwriter Kurt Bestor and former Jazz star Thurl Bailey.

SLOC worked to ensure diversity in the group. The mayors are divided nearly evenly between genders and one-third are members of an ethnic minority. Half of the mayors come directly from Salt Lake City, while the other half are from surrounding venue cities.

Eccles, sporting a 110 % lapel pin and matching belt buckle, said that he was "daunted" by the task but promised "the best is yet to come."

The appointment hardly came as a surprise to Eccles who accepted it some two years ago when SLOC President Mitt Romney first offered it too him. Eccles only accepted after Romney assured him he was asking for a commitment, not a donation, Romney said. However, "after he accepted the job he also made a contribution." Indeed. Thus far Eccles has donated over $8 million to the Games, $2 million of which went toward the Olympic caldron.

Eccles comes particularly well prepared for the position. Due to his son Spencer's ski racing career he is already familiar with many of the athletes and coaches.

Eccles himself was a silver medallist in the slalom competition at the U.S. Nationals in 1958 and was first alternate on the U.S. Ski team for the 1958 World Cup ski event. He also raced for the University of Utah.

As a former member of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid and Organizing Committees, Eccles says he is happy to be a part of the event he helped bring to Salt Lake City.

"I told the city, 'build it and they will come.' " Well they are coming and Eccles will be the one to welcome them.

Eccles' term will begin when the village officially opens Jan. 29.

E-MAIL: joliver@desnews.com