Wharton honors philanthropist

PHILADELPHIA — President Gordon B. Hinckley joined U.S. Vice President Richard B. Cheney and other Church and educational leaders in dedicating a $140 million academic business building named in honor of Elder Jon M. Huntsman, Area Authority Seventy.

The eight-story building, located on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania in the Wharton School of Business, was named Huntsman Hall in tribute of Elder Huntsman's philanthropic contributions throughout his life.

In a private dedicatory ceremony Oct. 25, President Hinckley, who was accompanied by Elder David B. Haight and Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, spoke of Elder Huntsman's rise in the business world by saying, "In the boardrooms of the world's largest institutions, and in the columns of the world's most prestigious business publications, his story has been told and retold."

A 1959 graduate of the Wharton School, Elder Huntsman organized a small company 30 years ago to make clamshell containers in which to package hamburgers. "From that modest beginning, the Huntsman Corp. has grown until it is the largest privately held petrochemical and plastics business in the world," President Hinckley said. "I do not know of another story to match it."

But his success in the business world is only half the story, President Hinckley said, describing how, during Elder Huntsman's adolescence, his parents probably knew their family was poor, "but the three boys did not know it."

President Hinckley told how Elder Huntsman, as student body president at Palo Alto High School, used his meager funds to buy ties to honor the school custodians. He also told how a young Jon Huntsman saw a sickly boy, who would not live long, eating alone in the school cafeteria. He "left his friends and went to eat with this boy. His friends followed and the boy soon found himself to be a very popular young man which brightened his days for as long as he lived."

"He did not become a philanthropist when he grew rich," President Hinckley said of Elder Huntsman. "He gave freely when he was poor."

President Hinckley spoke of when the Huntsmans were a young married couple with little money themselves, and Sister Huntsman noticed that $50 was missing from their budget every month. "When she raised the question about where it went, he brushed it aside.

"One Sunday," continued President Hinckley, "a widow who was trying to rear a family tearfully said in Church that each month $50 was placed in her mailbox, and she had no idea from whom it came. For her, that $50 spelled the difference between getting by and disaster.

"He knows that there is purpose in wealth greater than the building of more wealth," President Hinckley said. "I have known many generous people in my long lifetime, but I have never known another man as generous as Jon Huntsman."

In his comments, U.S. Vice President Richard Cheney said: "My highest hope for this building is that every person who goes through its doors will know something about the man for whom it is named, about his life of great accomplishment and purpose, and about the values that define it.

"I've known Jon for more than 30 years, going back to our days as young staffers in the White House. We worked together on business projects and we'd get a little fishing done together out West from time to time. In every setting, public, private and personal, I found him to be one of the people I most admire, a man of discernment, of character, and humanity."

University President Judith Rodin said: "This man who has come so far from such modest beginnings and who has overcome much adversity has never lost touch with his roots, his faith, or his deep sense of gratitude to the people who have touched and transformed his life."

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