42nd Giant in our City: Katharine and Robert Garff

“Utahns know the Garff name and the family’s success in the business community. However, some may be less familiar with their rich legacy in our state of community service and charitable contributions that have blessed countless lives through the years. For decades, Kathi and Bob Garff have been passionately dedicated to educational efforts and programs geared toward helping Utah students succeed, not only academically but in life. Without their influence, our students and community would not be the same, and we are delighted to be given the opportunity to recognize these and so many other contributions.”

Derek Miller, Salt Lake Chamber

The Salt Lake Chamber will honor Katharine Garff and Robert with the 42nd Giant in our City award on June 24, 2021, at the Grand America Hotel. The award honors those with exceptional and distinguished service, as well as extraordinary professional achievement, and is widely known as the most prestigious business award given in Utah.

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Kathi Garff is the chair of Ken Garff Enterprises and Ken Garff Automotive, filling the positions long held by her late husband, Bob Garff. She has been a board member for many years and is committed to leading the company to further growth and continued community service.

In addition to her position as chair of Garff Enterprises, she is also a director of the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Foundation and the Chair of the Success in Education Foundation.
Previously, she served as chair of the Utah State Board of Education and as a board member for the Utah Board of Regents.

Kathi is passionate about education and has dedicated many years to helping students across the state. Because of this passion, she and Bob founded the Ken Garff Road to Success and Ken Garff Keys to Success programs, which help Utah students succeed academically, continue their education, and achieve their career goals.

Kathi holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business education from the University of Utah. She is a member of their National Advisory Council and was the former Chair of the U of U President’s Club. She is a former member of the Crimson Club Board of Directors and received the University of Utah’s highest honor, the distinguished alumni award, at the university’s Founders Day in 2020.

Kathi lives in Bountiful, Utah, and enjoys spending time with her five children, twenty-one grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Bob loved continuing the Garff family legacy of being involved in and giving back to the community in as many ways as possible. He was very committed to education, founding the Keys to Success program to encourage Utah students to focus on education and build their futures. Furthermore, he proudly supported his alma mater, the University of Utah, helping fund a new building for the David Eccles School of Business, and the upcoming Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium.

He held multiple community positions, including former Chairman of the Board for the Deseret Book Company and board member for organizations such as Intermountain Healthcare, the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, and the Utah Commission on Volunteers. He also served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.

Bob held various leadership positions during his career, including Speaker of the House of Representatives for the State of Utah, board member of First Security Bank, and chairman of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Robert also served in many positions for the American Cancer Society.

Unsurprisingly, Bob received multiple honors for his work, both in business and the community. Notable honors included Dealer of the Year from the American International Automobile Association, the Distinguished Utahn Award from the Salt Lake Chapter of the BYU Management Society, and most recently, the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business inducted Robert into their prestigious Business Hall of Fame.

Robert was a dedicated, lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with numerous callings, including Bishop, President of the England Coventry Mission, Stake President for students at the University of Utah, an area seventy serving the Fifth Quorum, and President of the Bountiful Temple.