Medical Tuesday Blog
Barefoot to Billionaire
Gave $1.5Billion to find cures for cancer through genetics.
Jon M. Huntsman Sr. Created Clamshell Hamburger Package and Funded Cancer Research
Founder of the company that became Huntsman Corp.
Jon M. Huntsman Sr. made his fortune partly by creating the clamshell packaging used for Big Macs and over his lifetime gave away what his family tallied as more than $1.5 billion to humanitarian causes, notably by making it his mission to find cures for cancer through genetics.
The founder of chemical maker Huntsman Corp. and former aide to President Richard Nixon died Friday at his home in Salt Lake City. He was 80. His family said he died of “long-term health challenges.”
He was a longstanding leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the father of Jon M. Huntsman Jr., a former Utah governor and presidential candidate who now serves as U.S. ambassador to Russia. Another of his sons, Peter Huntsman, recently succeeded his father as chairman of Huntsman Corp.
The senior Mr. Huntsman had towering ambitions for the Huntsman Cancer Institute that he founded at the University of Utah in the mid-1990s.
“We’ll just keep opening centers until we’re the Mayo Clinic of cancer,” he told the New York Times in 2011. He sought to create a research and treatment center that would give cancer patients hope. “We want them to feel, the minute they walk in, that they’re walking into the Ritz-Carlton,” he said. Both of his parents died of cancer, and he was treated for prostate, oral and skin cancer at various times.
Jon Meade Huntsman Sr. was born June 21, 1937, in Blackfoot, Idaho. His father was a schoolteacher and his mother a homemaker. Young Jon earned money by mowing lawns and harvesting potatoes.
He earned a scholarship to attend the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a degree in finance, and then earned a Master of Business Administration at the University of Southern California. .. . .
As a special assistant to President Nixon in the White House in the early 1970s, Mr. Huntsman was appalled by what he saw as poor management in the White House. Even so, he emerged with a strong set of contacts in the political and business worlds.
After leaving the White House, he focused on Huntsman Container Corp., which came up with the clamshell package that became ubiquitous in fast food. In 1976, he sold that company to Keyes Fiber Co. for $8 million of stock but continued to manage the business for several years.
He founded Huntsman Chemical, later known as Huntsman Corp., in Salt Lake City in 1982. The company grew partly by acquiring operations from Texaco and Imperial Chemical Industries. . .
Mr. Huntsman is survived by his wife of 58 years, the former Karen Haight, eight of their nine children, 56 grandchildren and 19 great grandchildren.
Though he concentrated on philanthropy, Mr. Huntsman also found ways to enjoy his fortune. In the late 1980s, he built 22,000-square-foot ski home in Park City, Utah, with 12 bedrooms, 16 bathrooms and a 22-car garage. “I went a little bit overboard when I built the thing, I have to admit,” he told The Wall Street Journal in 2014.
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