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2 Sense: ‘And the Pillar goes to …’

By Val Hale And Donna Milakovic - | Mar 27, 2014

Donna: Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, will receive the Chamber’s highest honor tomorrow night at the Pillar of the Valley Awards. We will also celebrate the late Ray Noorda for his contributions to Utah Valley. Today, Val and I thought we would take the opportunity to share why we believe these men are so deserving of being named “Pillars” of our community.

For my part, it is an honor to discuss the amazing life and service of Elder Oaks. A friend of mine recently described Elder Oaks as very friendly and extremely direct. Serving as an apostle for the last thirty years, Elder Oaks has touched millions of lives with his clear, precise explanation of what it means to have faith and be believing. He has been a tireless advocate for truth and right — for justice and mercy.

Tomorrow night we will discuss his impressive resume of academic and professional achievement. We will relate how no matter how far he roams in the world, he keeps coming home to Utah Valley. It is the pattern of his life from even his earliest years. In this premier business gala, we will discuss his clerkship at the U.S. Supreme Court and his time as dean of the University of Chicago Law School. We will laud his nine years of service as President of BYU.

Today, I want to share with you what I have learned about this accomplished, intelligent and eloquent man. His children and grandchildren share his determination to succeed in the face of whatever challenge may come. He is a family man who values time with those he loves. Although he has travelled the world and hosted some of the most powerful dignitaries of our day, he enjoys a simple meal with friends and family more than any pomp or circumstance.

Throughout his life, Elder Oaks has always used ingenuity and determination to overcome difficulties and succeed. In his success, he has found ways to give back, lift others and to make the world a better place.

One of the goals of the Pillar of the Valley Awards is to inspire a new generation of leaders to follow the examples of those who have come before and made a difference in Utah Valley and beyond. With that said, I am sure we have identified in Elder Dallin H. Oaks a true pillar of the valley.

Val: In only its fourth year, the Chamber’s Pillar of the Valley has become the county’s premier business event and award. I remember sitting in a meeting over four years ago where we envisioned what the event might become. The plan was to make the Pillar of the Valley Gala Utah Valley’s premier social event in the spring to bookend with the Utah Valley University Scholarship Ball in the fall. We wanted to attract the top business and civic leaders in the valley to the annual event.

The Pillar of the Valley Award was to recognize a person or persons “who have made extraordinary contributions to the business, civic, social, educational, and cultural climate of Utah Valley.”

A committee chaired by Brigham Young University’s John Lewis put the first Pillar of the Valley Gala together in only a few months’ time. They did such a great job honoring Blake Roney and set the bar so high with the first Gala that everyone wanted to come back the following year. The second year we honored Alan and Karen Ashton at Thanksgiving Point in an evening to remember.

Last year we honored LaVell and Patti Edwards in a superb event emceed by Steve Young. We also chose to give our first post-humous award to the late Stephen R. Covey. That evening we unveiled the new Pillar of the Valley wall in the new Convention Center. The images of each of the current and past award winners are displayed in the beautiful facility.

Each year the event has grown in size and popularity. There were about 230 attendees the first year in BYU’s Hinckley Center. The next year there were 400 at Thanksgiving Point. Last year over 500 top business leaders came, and this year the crowd will number about 650.

The Chamber’s Board of Directors opted to honor Elder Dallin H. Oaks and the late Ray Noorda as this year’s honorees. They are two amazingly remarkable men who have left their impact on our valley. Donna has explained why Elder Oaks is deserving of the award. I will briefly discuss why Ray Noorda was chosen.

Today in Utah Valley there are more than 50,000 computer-related jobs. We like to call ourselves Silicon Slopes because of all the software and high-tech companies here. Many of those companies would not exist had it not been for Ray Noorda. Ray is frequently called “the father of network computing.” He took a small, struggling company with 17 employees and built it into Novell, which eventually grew to 12,000 employees.

Noorda was known as a fierce competitor with a strong business sense, but he also was legendary for his down-to-earth nature. Even as company CEO, he drove a pickup truck to work and flew coach.

After leaving Novell in 1994, Noorda founded the Canopy Group, a venture capital organization that helped give birth to many of Utah’s technology startup companies, including companies that today employ thousands of Utah Valley residents.

Noorda’s impact went well beyond the business world. He founded Angel Partners, Worth of a Soul and the Ray and Tye Noorda Foundation. Those organizations have donated many millions of dollars to Utah Valley charities, and through their generosity, Ray Noorda’s legacy will live on for years in our community. The Chamber looks forward to honoring such a remarkable man at tomorrow night’s Gala.

Val Hale is president and CEO of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce. Donna Milakovic is Executive Vice President of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.


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