Apr 17 2015
Norm Bangerter served as Utah’s 13th Governor from 1985 to 1993. He was truly an extraordinary man and an exceptional leader. He passed away this past Tuesday, April 14, at the age of 82. He loved Utah, and he loved this great Nation. As a veteran, a business owner, an elected official, a father, and a man of faith, he led a life of service to his community, to his church, and to his country. Norm Bangerter once described himself as ‘‘just an old farmer and carpenter’’ And he was those things. While the qualities of a farmer and a carpenter may seem far removed from business and political leadership, his farmer’s grit and determination saw him through many tough political battles, and his eye as a master craftsman ensured every step along the way he could not only start a project, but he knew how to put a fine finish on that project and see it through all the way to completion. His willingness to get his hands a ‘‘little dirty’’ enabled him to tackle difficult issues, the kinds of issues that required hard work and heavy lifting far from the spotlight and limelight of public praise. And he was, indeed, a builder. He was a builder of business, a builder of the great State of Utah, and, as I personally experienced, a builder of people. I, like so many others throughout my great State and elsewhere, have been blessed by Governor Bangerter’s vision for building other leaders. He stood with me as a young candidate and as a new Senator and provided priceless insight, wisdom, and perspective. He taught me that it was never about me but always about the State, about the Nation, and about future generations. He proved his commitment to this principle when he described his decision not to seek a third term as Governor. When he made that announcement, he said: “We have not concentrated on image or on protecting our popularity in the polls. We have taken the problems as they came, head on, and we have proposed the best solution we knew regardless of political consequences. I want to go down in history as the Governor who didn’t spend eight years worrying about how he would go down in history.”
All of us in Congress could benefit from this kind of approach. All of us in Congress could learn a great deal from this man’s extraordinary example. Governor Bangerter was one of the most unassuming, kind, honest, genuinely decent people I have ever met. He was the kind of man and was the kind of great Governor who, like a great farmer and a great carpenter, left the world much better than he found it. Like the farmer planting oak trees for the next generation or the carpenter finishing a finely crafted masterpiece that becomes a treasured heirloom for generations to enjoy, Governor Bangerter spent his life planting the seeds for the extraordinary State of Utah and crafted a legacy of leadership that will be remembered and will be followed for many decades to come. Governor Norm Bangerter’s leadership will be missed, and his friendship will be cherished forever.