Crisp suits and elegant gowns filled the Grand America Hotel ballroom Thursday as droves of people gathered for the Salt Lake Chamber's presentation of the 43rd Giant in our City award.
The annual award — given to an individual who showcases exceptional and distinguished service and who has reached extraordinary professional achievement — is widely regarded as the most prestigious business award given in the Beehive State.
This year, that honor went to recently retired WCF Insurance director and CEO Ray Pickup.
"Ray is a big part of making Utah a great place to live," Natalie Gochnour, director of the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, said in a video congratulating Pickup. "It's been wonderful getting to know you better, watching your career (and) seeing the way you make our community a better place."
Despite his retirement from WCF Insurance, Pickup is still heavily involved in the Salt Lake City community, serving on an array of boards including the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Directors, the Economic Development Corporation of Utah Board of Trustees as the audit committee chair, and the Junior Achievement of Utah Advisory Board as well as the University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute Advisory Board.
"There are many individuals in our community who, time and again, step up to support the greater community and within this select group Ray Pickup is first among equals," said Derek Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance, in announcing the award. "Whether he is contributing time at the local food bank or raising funds to save local businesses during the pandemic, Ray is always among the first to lend a helping hand and say, 'What can I do to help?' This is at the heart of Ray's very nature, recognized by everyone who knows him. We are delighted to be able to recognize him as a 'Giant in our City.'"
During his acceptance speech, Pickup doled out credit to those who supported him along his path to receiving the Giant in our City Award, specifically his wife, Janet Pickup.
"She has dedicated her life to creating a wonderful, faith-centered home for our family," Pickup said. "She has been so supportive of me and I am grateful for her, our five exceptional children and their husbands and wives and for our extraordinary grandchildren."
Giving credit to others isn't uncommon for Pickup, as many speakers spoke of his extreme generosity and caring nature that shines through in his leadership style.
"He's able to move the agenda forward and include everyone in that agenda," Janet Pickup said.
During the ceremony, Pickup — a grilling and fly-fishing aficionado — was gifted a top-of-the-line fly fishing rod for an upcoming trip to Alaska as well as a brand-new Traeger grill.
"I am overwhelmed and honored to receive this recognition," Pickup said in a statement. "I'm grateful to live in the great state of Utah and to associate with all of the amazing people who make Utah a great place to live and do business. I especially appreciate the Salt Lake Chamber for the outstanding work they do in representing Utah business."
Past recipients of the award include former Sen. Orrin Hatch; Gail Miller, chairwoman of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies; former Utah Gov. Michael O. Leavitt; businessman Kem Gardner; and Gordon B. Hinckley, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, among others.
During Thursday's ceremony, the Salt Lake Chamber's social impact foundation, Utah Community Builders, honored Aden Batar, director of migration and refugee services for Catholic Community Services of Utah, with the fourth annual Lane Beattie Utah Community Builder award.