Robert ‘Bob’ Garff, 77, businessman and Church leader, dies of COVID-19

Robert and Katharine Garff Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, in Bountiful. Credit: Tom Smart, Deseret News
Robert Garff Credit: Photo by Shaun Stahle

After a life of dedicated service to his family, the community, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Robert H. Garff, 77, died March 29 of COVID-19.

Garff served the Church as an Area Seventy, England Coventry Mission president, Bountiful Utah Temple president, bishop and stake president. He was the speaker of the Utah House of Representatives from 1985 to 1987 and chairman of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

“He is a great man, a great friend, and a great loss to the community and to our family,” said President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In addition to being a close friend to Garff, President Ballard’s son, Craig, is married to Garff’s daughter, Melissa. The two men shared six grandchildren.

Robert Garff
Robert Garff | Credit: Photo by Shaun Stahle

“I have had a front-row seat to watch how he handles family — to see how he relates to his children and grandchildren,” said President Ballard. “I have observed firsthand the many meaningful things he accomplished here.

“He is a man of action.”

Melissa Garff Ballard posted on Facebook that her father “lived a long and happy life, full of vigor and love for our state and our families.”

A businessman, Garff was chair of the Ken Garff Automotive Group.

Sheri Dew, executive vice president and chief content officer of Deseret Management Corporation, worked with Garff when he served as chairman of the board for Deseret Book Company. “Great leaders — leaders who do not think their leadership is about them — are rare,” she wrote in an article published in the Deseret News. “Bob Garff was one of those leaders.” 

Garff is survived by his wife, Katharine, five children and 21 grandchildren.

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