Fraternity Brothers Honor the Legacy of Jon Huntsman Sr.
When those who were close to Order of Constantine Sig and Significant Sig Jon Huntsman Sr., PENNSYLVANIA 1959, remember him, they recall his compassion for others, his integrity and how he made them feel important.
Huntsman Sr. passed away today at the age of 80 after entering hospice care earlier in the week. Jerry Nelson, UTAH STATE 1977, says that Huntsman Sr. had worked on succession plans for his Huntsman Corporation over the past two to three months. He had recently became executive chairman emeritus of the corporation, for which his son Peter Huntsman has taken over as CEO. Peter Huntsman is also CEO of Huntsman Cancer Foundation (HCF), which supports Huntsman Cancer Institute (HCI).
The billionaire Huntsman Sr. began his career at Dolco Packaging Company and later launched the Huntsman Container Company, which created the clamshell container for McDonald’s Big Mac hamburger. He eventually formed Huntsman Corporation in 1994, a global marketer and manufacturer of differentiated chemicals.
Huntsman Sr., who had been a four-time cancer survivor, gave millions of dollars to found HCI at the University of Utah in 1993. Over the years, he and his and his family have donated at least $400 million to cancer-related initiatives. Sigma Chi International Fraternity began working with HCF in 2005, and has since raised at least more than $6 million for it.
Nelson, who is a director of development at HCF, first met Huntsman Sr. at the 1983 Balfour Leadership Training Workshop. They were both fathers and learned they lived in Salt Lake City. They began to spend time together, and over the years, developed a close friendship.
“He was the type of guy you wanted to do anything for,” says Nelson, explaining that Huntsman Sr. was a kind and appreciative person. “I would send a thank you note and get a thank you note [from him] in return.”
Huntsman Sr. was a Fraternity Big Brother to Order of Constantine Sig Jon Greenawalt, PENNSYLVANIA 1961. “He was such a hero,” Greenawalt says, adding that he was a man of integrity who had a large influence on him.
Greenawalt says that when he was Magister of his chapter, he wanted to put an end to hazing, but only had the support of a few upperclassmen to do so. Huntsman Sr. was one of those upperclassmen. “His support was absolutely critical,” Greenawalt says. “As a teenager, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. [Huntsman Sr.] was a model. With his support, I began to stand up for what I believed [in the fight to end hazing].”
Huntsman Sr. also had an impact on those within the greater community and world. After Hurricane Harvey made landfall this past August and dumped at least 50 inches on southeast Texas, he helped create the Huntsman Flood Foundation to provide assistance to his employees of the Huntsman Corporation, which has plants there. The flood fund began with $3 million, $1 million of which came from Huntsman’s own money.
He helped the homeless in Utah, and was so moved by the tragedy following the Dec. 7, 1988, earthquake in Armenia that he provided food to the country’s affected residents. He also paid to repair the roofs of their damaged homes and built a cement plant to help the country. He donated at least $53 million to Armenia following the catastrophe.
Huntsman Sr. has also donated more than $5 million to the Sigma Chi Foundation.
“Here’s a man who had it all … and gave it all away to lift [up] others,” says Nelson, adding that he did so also to try to take away others’ suffering.