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Jon M. Huntsman

Jon M. HuntsmanJon Meade Huntsman was born in Blackfoot, Idaho. His mother, Sarah Kathleen Robison Huntsman (1910–1969), was a homemaker, and his father, Alonzo Blaine Huntsman Sr. (1910–1990), was a school educator. In 1950, the family moved to Palo Alto, California, where Alonzo pursued graduate studies at Stanford University, earning an M.A. and Ed.D. He then became a superintendent of schools in the Los Altos district.

Jon Huntsman attended Palo Alto High School, where he became student body president. He was recruited by Harold Zellerbach, chairman of Crown-Zellerbach Paper Company, to attend the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania on a Zellerbach scholarship. He graduated from Wharton in the spring of 1959, a brother of the Sigma Chi fraternity.

Huntsman married Karen Haight, daughter of David B. Haight, in June 1959, just weeks after he graduated. Both are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). In July 1959, Huntsman left to serve for two years in the U.S. Navy as an officer aboard the USS Calvert. He subsequently earned an MBA from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business in 1966.

Huntsman served under President Nixon as Special Assistant to the President and as White House Staff Secretary.

In 1970, Huntsman founded the Huntsman Container Corp., which focused on food packaging and pioneered the clamshell container used for McDonald's Corp.'s Big Mac hamburger. He formed Huntsman Chemical Corp. in 1982 and more than a decade later, consolidated his companies as Huntsman Corp., producing materials used in a wide range of products, from textiles and paints to plastics and aviation components. Huntsman Corporation became publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange in 2005.

After amassing his fortune, Jon Huntsman gave more than $100 million in the mid-1990s to establish a research center at the University of Utah dedicated to finding a cure for cancer through human genetics. Huntsman, who lost both his parents to cancer and fought his own battle with the disease, eventually gave more than $400 million to the Huntsman Cancer Institute and its foundation.

Involvement with the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University

In December 2007, Utah State University announced that its College of Business would be renamed the Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, in recognition of a gift from Huntsman and his wife of $26 million. 

Huntsman was the lead donor for the new $50 million school of business building referred to as Jon M. Huntsman Hall. A student-centered facility includes 21 classrooms, 21 student study rooms, a cafe, and multiple student common rooms.

In 2017, Huntsman and his friend Charles Koch donated $50 million to the Huntsman School to provide scholarships, support faculty, expand the school’s honors program, and to establish a center to further economic research.  

Personal life and death

Their oldest son, Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., served as the US Ambassador to Singapore from 1992 to 1993, Governor of Utah from 2005 to 2009, US Ambassador to China from 2009 to 2011, and US Ambassador to Russia from 2017-2019. He was also a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. Son Peter Huntsman serves as Chairman, President, and CEO of Huntsman Corporation. David H. Huntsman serves as President of the Huntsman Foundation and as a member of the Utah State University Board of Trustees, while another son, Paul Huntsman, is the publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune. At the time of his death, the Huntsman’s also had 56 grandchildren, two of whom were adopted from China and India, and 19 great-grandchildren.

Huntsman was a four-time cancer survivor. He died on February 2, 2018 at his home in Salt Lake City.