For the 32nd time in 42 years, the Salt Lake Chamber honored a member of the business community as A Giant In Our City. Kem Gardner, chairman of The Gardner Company and co-founder and former president of The Boyer Company, received the honor last night in an event that was part honor, part roast and part rock concert.
The Giant In Our City award is recognized as the most prestigious business award given in Utah. Gardner served as chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors in 2001.
“I have been greatly blessed and inspired in my small efforts through association with the numerous compassionate, caring people,” said Gardner. “I’ve learned two lessons: One, you don’t give very much until you give of your time; and, two, the most important political office is that of private citizen. You don’t need to hold public office to make a difference.”
“He has been willing to get involved and he has changed things for the better,” said Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber. “He has great influence because he gives of himself. There may be no higher compliment than this: Kem Gardner makes good things happen.”
During his 38 years in the real estate business, Gardner has been involved in the development of some 2,500 residential lots, and more than 23 million square feet of corporate office and medical buildings, retail shopping centers, life-style centers, hotels and industrial/manufacturing facilities.
But it is Gardner’s generosity of time and service that has made the largest impact. He has been a Trustee of Intermountain Healthcare since 1982 and currently chairs the Board. He chaired the successful fundraising campaign for the new Intermountain Medical Center. Gardner has been a member of the board of Intermountain Healthcare for three decades and has chaired the United Way of Salt Lake and serves on the Board as well as the Board of the Utah Symphony.
“He has been a champion of the principle of providing health care that is measurably better in terms of both the clinical quality we can provide, and the sensitivity and compassion with which we strive to provide it,” said Dr. Charles Sorenson, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. “Intermountain’s Board, under Kem’s leadership, has had the unrelenting expectation that we set rigorous quality and service goals, every year, in any economy.”
Gardner contributed enormously to the success of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. He was an original incorporator of the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee and chaired the 2002 Olympic Ambassadors responsible for fundraising for the games. He chaired the Salt Lake Board for Olympic Aid and currently serves on the Right to Play USA Advisory Committee.
“This is a truly unique and loveable man,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Kem Gardner has helped this community dwell in possibility.”
Elder Holland had the crowd laughing as he related a story of Gardner levying an early-morning church meeting to drive home and retrieve his then-16-year-old son Christian, who had opted to skip the meeting. Gardner ran “through the door, not through the doorway” and told his son, calmly, “you have two minutes to get dressed or you’ll be the first to attend church in your boxer shorts.”
The evening included a video (watch below) of Gardner’s family and friends sharing some of their favorite funny stories of our honoree.
Gardner is a big supporter of the Arts, particularly the Utah Symphony, so the a Beatles tribute band “Classical Mystery Tour” took the stage with 20 pieces from the symphony.
“Kem is more than just a successful businessman, and he is more than a generous philanthropist, he exemplifies success as a man,” said Beattie. “His ability to build and to give and his dedication to our community truly make him A Giant In Our City.”
“There is no greater honor the business community can bestow than to name one A Giant In Our City,” said David Golden, chair of the Salt Lake Chamber Board of Governors. “Kem’s contribution to our community is extraordinary and we are very excited to honor him with this distinction.”
Giants In Our City
1970: Eric C. Aaberg
1972: Clarence Bamberger
1974: E.M. Naughton
1977: John M. and Glenn Wallace
1978: N. Eldon Tanner
1981: John W. Gallivan
1982: George S. Eccles
1984: Richard A. Van Winkle
1985: Wendell J. Ashton
1986: Arch L. Madsen
1987: B.Z. Kastler
1990: S. Chris Johnson
1992: Gov. Calvin R. Rampton
1994: G. Frank Joklik
1995: Fred S. Ball
1998: Kenneth Y. Knight
1999: Scott S. Parker
2000: Verl Topham
2001: Spencer Eccles
2002: W. Mitt Romney
2003: Don Cash
2003: Nick Rose
2003: President Gordon B. Hinckley
2005: Jon M. Huntsman
2006: James LeVoy Sorenson
2007: Larry H. Miller
2008: William H. (Bill) Nelson
2009: Roger Boyer
2009: Ellis Ivory
2010: Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish
2011: Bishop H. David Burton
2012: Kem Gardner