July is a holiday month for Utah. We celebrate the birth of our country and also remember Utah’s pioneers — including modern pioneers from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It’s a time to be grateful for the women and men who have helped make Utah a fine place to live, start a business, raise a family and enjoy a great quality of life.
Thousands of wonderful people have contributed greatly to Utah’s success. Since I can’t mention all of them, I want to note three special people who I consider to be Utah heroes. One, Sen. Orrin Hatch, may be Utah’s best-known citizen. The second, Gail Miller Wilson, is also very well-known and has emerged as a leading business and philanthropic leader. The third, Carol Holding, isn’t as well-known to most Utahns, but she has contributed greatly to Utah’s success while avoiding the spotlight.
Carol Holding was the wife and close business partner of Earl Holding, who passed away in April 2013. For 61 years, Carol and Earl worked closely together, rising from humble beginnings to develop a group of elegant hotels, including Little America and Grand America hotels in Salt Lake City, and Westgate Hotel in San Diego; the Sinclair Oil Corp.; the stylish Sun Valley, Idaho, and Snowbasin, Utah, ski resorts; and also 400,000 acres of working cattle ranches.
Everything Earl and Carol did was first-class and bore their personal touch. Carol was noted for her attention to detail, easy charm, excellent taste and her knack for customer service. Even after great success, Carol could be found waiting tables and planting flowers at the Holding properties. She has been an anonymous philanthropist, avoiding any fanfare, and is a real Utah treasure.
Gail Miller Wilson has emerged as a strong business leader, sports mogul, community activist and philanthropist. She worked with her late husband, Larry Miller, to assemble a broad business empire, and with her family she continues to build on that legacy.
Gail’s commitment to engage in important, and difficult, community issues was illustrated by her willingness to co-chair the Count My Vote initiative, which resulted in legislative action reforming Utah’s candidate nomination process. Despite harsh criticism, she was steadfast in championing this important initiative that will significantly improve Utah’s political climate. Gail’s experience, compassion, steadiness and enthusiasm can be seen in the Miller businesses and her work in a variety of important causes.
Most Utahns weren’t even born when Orrin Hatch began his U.S. Senate career, winning his first term in 1976. He will have served 42 years when his current term concludes at the end of 2018. He has more seniority than any of the other 99 members of the Senate.
It’s hard to imagine all the political battles Orrin has fought, all the important issues he has championed, all the times he has stood up for Utah values and principles, all the good he has done, and all the bad government policies he has prevented. No politician, of course, is universally loved, and Orrin has received plenty of criticism over his long career. That’s part of the territory. But history will record his remarkable legacy, watching out for Utah’s and the nation’s interests for four decades.
It’s true that Congress isn’t held in high esteem these days. But Orrin is one of the good guys, trying to get things done, working with the other side, willing to compromise when it will lead to good outcomes for Utah and the country. We need more like him in Washington.
These three Utah heroes exemplify pioneer attributes of hard work, tenacity, sticking to convictions and principles, and being willing to engage and lead. Utah is lucky to have them.
A. Scott Anderson is CEO and president of Zions Bank.