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Jon Huntsman Sr., philanthropist and world businessman, dies at 80

SALT LAKE CITY — He went from a poor Idaho boy to the head of a multi-billion-dollar business empire. Jon Hunstman, Senior, died today at the age of 80.

The business mogul served in the Nixon Administration, he founded a giant packing company and created a foundation that has poured money into cancer research and other public programs. (More on his accomplishments here)

It didn’t come easy. Huntsman struggled as young man to get business experience and financing while simultaneously supporting a young family and serving in his church.

“Throughout these early years the thought came to me repeatedly, the difficulties in life are designed to make us better not bitter,” Huntsman said in a 2009 devotional at BYU, “God did not put us on this earth to fail.”

Reaction continues to pour in as news of the man’s death spreads. Among the tears are words of respect and admiration for the man.

Governor Gary Herbert released a statement calling Huntsman a “visonary” man who was a champion for the state, “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.”

Several other Utah politicians also tweeted their appreciation for the man and his life work.

Fred Esplin, Vice President of Advancement at the University of Utah, said he first met Hunstman while serving as an intern in D.C.

“I could not have imagined at that time in the 70’s what he would go on to accomplish in life,” Esplin said, listing the Huntsman Cancer Institute as his greatest legacy. “It’s really due to his vision and persistence that has created this world class treatment center and facility.”

Huntsman’s son, Peter, released a statement as well today, saying the best way to honor his father is to continue the fight against cancer until it is completely erradicated.

“His vision for philanthropy went well beyond his own life. That’s clear.” Esplin said.

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