Alan and Suzanne Osmond honored as Pillars of Utah Valley
Courtesy Marcia Harris
Referred to as the “dynamic duo,” Alan and Suzanne Osmond were honored as Pillars of the Valley on Tuesday during an extravagant celebration hosted by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The evening included a pre-dinner reception with Gov. Spencer Cox, the Alan Osmond family and guests. The Utah Valley Convention Center, home to the Pillars program, unveiled a wall of permanent photos of the couple.
While most Utahns are at least aware of the Osmond family, and its multiple generations of talented musicians and business entrepreneurs, the community-based and global exploits of Alan and Suzanne Osmond are not as widely known.
Alan was the appointed leader of the successful Osmond Brothers group, first made popular by Andy Williams. Since he was eight years old, he was in charge of getting the boys together and practicing. They worked hard then and Alan has never stopped — which includes his stint in the Army while his brothers grew up .
Suzanne Pinegar was a student and cheerleader at Brigham Young University. When Alan saw her cheering at a BYU basketball game, the sparkle came to his eyes. He went to the floor after the game and met her.
Courtesy Marcia Harris
Their first date was a motorcycle ride up Y Mountain. Suzanne says she walked down at the end and Alan knew he had met “the one.”
It was all over for any fan who dreamt they would one day be Mrs. Alan Osmond. After less than a month that was spent mostly apart, Alan and Suzanne married on July 16, 1974, in the Provo LDS Temple.
After photos and a bit of family time, they boarded a plane for Las Vegas where Alan had two shows to perform with the Brothers at the Tropicana Hotel. That was their first night of marriage.
“When I said yes I’ll marry you, I didn’t know what I was getting into,” Suzanne Osmond said at the event. “Our life has been non-stop and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
It was also that night when Suzanne saw Alan perform for the first time. She was amazed at all the things he could do on stage. She knew he was the one and that her life had changed.
Courtesy Marcia Harris
“I went out with a lot of different people,” Alan said. “She stole my heart. She’s my real girl.”
In the next 15 years, eight boys joined their family and, like any Osmond father, Alan started their life of music, teaching them to sing the old barbershop tunes he and his brothers first learned. They became The Osmonds Second Generation.
On Tuesday, all eight of the boys showed up to the Pillars banquet and surprised their parents. There was Michael, Nathan, Douglas, David, Scott, Jonathan, Alexander and Tyler.
For the Pillars of Utah Valley event, Nathan was the Master of Ceremonies while David and his Osmond Chapman Orchestra — in Big Band styling — provided the music.
Alan and Suzanne’s sons also surprised them with performances of “Crazy Horses,” “Goin’ Back to Utah,” and “Love Me for a Reason.”
A highlight of the evening was when Nathan invited his “Aunt M” to the stage to sing with them. Marie Osmond had flown in just for the event and left before it was over. Nonetheless, the Osmond family tears of surprise and love flowed freely on and off the stage at her visit.
Over the years, Alan and his brothers, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny and Jimmy and “sis” Marie have garnered numerous gold and platinum albums. There are also awards in not only the world of rock ‘n’ roll, but country music as well. In their country era, the Osmonds owned a theater in Branson, Missouri.
They have met with Presidents, with Alan producing Ronald Regan’s inauguration program. They also provided command performances for Queen Elizabeth II in England.
While the Beatles kept the American fans content with album after album, the Osmonds were in the British Isles building a dedicated fan base with their concerts, TV appearances, radio interviews and records.
“Tonight is not about Alan or Suzanne,” said Ron Clark, Osmond publicist for 49 years. “It’s about them and the team they’ve become.”
“The critics said you’ll never make it in this business, you’re too good. You’d be chewed up and spit out,” he said. “They turned the industry upside down and I watched it.”
It wasn’t just about the music they played, but who they were and what they stood for that attracted so many to the Osmonds.
Clark told the crowd of about 1,000, of the time President Spencer W. Kimball of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited the Osmonds to dinner at his home during the holidays of 1979.
Kimball told them that in the previous few months, the church noted that about 28,000 converts had joined church because of the family.
Clark said he believes that there are enough converts who were attracted to their faith by the Osmonds to fill hundreds of wards in the church.
“Thank God George and Olive (Osmond) didn’t listen when they were told not to have children after Virl and Tom, the oldest brothers who are profoundly deaf,” Clark added.
Alan was next in line after Tom, and he said he felt music and singing from the time he was born — it was in his DNA.
It was also Alan Osmond and his brother Merrill who took the Freedom Festival Panorama celebration to new heights and bright lights when they took over and transformed it into the Stadium of Fire. Alan wrote the theme song and pulled all the strings he had to bring top notch performers to Provo.
From Bob Hope to the Beach Boys and a yearly smattering of Osmonds, the Stadium of Fire has become an international event which is broadcast on armed forces networks.
The 4th of July fireworks finale to America’s Freedom Festival has been one of the largest birthday celebrations for the nation for the past 40 years.
When Alan was told he was diagnosed with MS, Suzanne knew she had a new job — to keep Alan going.
“She was the wind in his sails. Through the depression, the medical visits, she held it together,” Clark said. “She saw to it that Alan had his strength to do what he needs to do. He’s never felt sorry for himself.”
One of Alan’s mantra’s, he says with a smile, is “I may have MS, but MS doesn’t have me.”
Alan has had his ups and downs with MS, from using wheelchairs and canes to motorized scooters and walkers, they were only tools to keep him moving. While he was forced to stop performing on stage, he has never stopped being himself.
More than 25 years ago, Suzanne and Alan Osmond started a charity called OneHeart, for the purpose of strengthening families.
“I have travelled the world with them,” said John Bishop, CEO of OneHeart. “Their foundation OneHeart has funded medical care for over a million orphans in China.”
Bishop noted they recently returned from Ethiopia where the foundation contributed humanitarian items including food, blankets, clothes and other items to those in need.
“No one is more deserving than they,” Bishop said of the Pillars of the Valley award.
While OneHeart is a passion with them, it isn’t the only charitable work they have influenced.
Alan helped Marie and actor/singer John Schneider start the Children’s Miracle Network at the Osmond studios that used to be in Orem. The charity continues to help children’s hospitals across the country and to date has received $7 billion in donations to serve the needs of children.
The evening was capped with a video presentation of commentary from friends and family and ended with remarks by former Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, who is the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Utah Valley Chamber.
“A lot of us have grown up with the Osmonds,” Herbert said. “They let us know how important families are.”
The Pillar(s) of Utah Valley has been awarded yearly for the past decade by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce to those they believe are pillars of strength in the community.