Lauded by colleagues, family members and friends for his work ethic, leadership, service and dedication, President James E. Faust received the BYU Management Society 2006 Distinguished Utahn Award March 22.
"He brings to the table of the Lord's sacred service the virtue of patience, the wisdom of experience, the kindness of his very nature and the genuine love of the Lord," said President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, at a dinner reception honoring President Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Hundreds including several of the Church's Quorum of the Twelve and President Faust's family attended the event, held in downtown Salt Lake City and sponsored by the Salt Lake and Utah Valley chapters of the BYU Management Society.
During the event, President Monson, the 2004 recipient of the honor, called President Faust a "beloved associate" who is "truly a man of God."
"I consider one of the great blessings of my life to have had and to continue to have the privilege of serving side by side with James Faust," President Monson said. "He is a proud father of fine children and a doting grandfather and great-grandfather."
President Faust thanked those in attendance for the distinguished honor and paid tribute to his wife, Ruth, for "63 years of happy marriage." He recalled taking a 10-day leave from the Army Air Corps and traveling across the United States to marry his sweetheart in the Salt Lake Temple on April 21, 1943.
"I am grateful to have lived during a time when our country was more united than it is now," he said. "During World War II, we were truly one nation under God with liberty and justice for all."
Back then, he said, Americans had only one national concern to win the war. It was a time when there were very few protesters and citizens were more patriotic, he said. "To me it is distressing these days to see our country is so divided, so intolerant."
Graduates of Church schools, including members of the BYU Management Society, can make a difference in the world as they demonstrate integrity, fairness and competence, he said. "As they do, they will have the opportunity to unify our society."
Former Utah Chief Justice Richard C. Howe spoke of his professional association with President Faust, an attorney and former president of the Utah Bar Association. He said President Faust always charged his clients fairly and was never focused on making a lot of money. Instead, he said, President Faust was "focused on serving people."
In addition, he said, President Faust always looked after the best interests of his clients and encouraged other attorneys to do pro bono work.
The fact that he chose law as a profession and chose Ruth Wright to be his wife showed he is a "man of good judgment," he said.
"One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be counted among his friends," said former Chief Justice Howe.
President Faust's daughter, Janna F. Coombs, called her father a "great family patriarch," noting that he "blessed our lives with his priesthood, with his time and with his love and concern."
Over the years, Sister Coombs said, her father never missed an opportunity to teach his children. "What does he teach us? Everything," she said. "He is our family Google and I don't know what we would do without him."
Most important, she said, he has taught his children about family unity and has blessed them as he "loved, honored and cared for our mother."
Family has been so important to President Faust that he once got out his fine china to eat take-out food with his grandchildren, saying, " 'There isn't anyone more in the world we would rather use the china with than you kids.' "
At the conclusion of the event co-sponsored by the the law firm of Kirton & McConkie Oscar W. McConkie assisted Stephen J. Tolman, president of the BYU Management Society Salt Lake Chapter, and Marc Arnoldsen, president of the Utah Valley Chapter, in presenting the award to President Faust. They gave him a painting by local artist VaLoy Eaton that is a rendition of his grandfather George Finlinson's home in Oak City, Utah.
This is the 13th year the BYU Management Society has given the annual award to recognize achievement. Past recipients include Olene Walker, 2005; President Monson, 2004; Larry H. Miller, 2003; Rodney H. Brady, 2002; LaVell Edwards, 2001; Jerold and JoAnn Ottley, 2000; Jon and Karen Huntsman, 1999; Alan and Karen Ashton, 1998; President Gordon B. Hinckley, 1997; Stephen R. Covey, 1996; Rex E. Lee, 1995; and Dick Bass, 1994.
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