When Utah Gov. Gary Herbert moved to Orem in 1953 with his family, there were about 9,000 residents. That was just 34 years after the city incorporated.
On Saturday, Herbert and his wife, Jeanette, joined Orem Mayor Richard Brunst and 200 invited guests to celebrate Orem’s centennial at the first-ever Mayor’s Ball and Gala at the Sorenson ballroom at Utah Valley University.
The evening was full of birthday surprises as Master of Ceremonies and Orem High graduate Dave McCann announced it was also Brunst’s 70th birthday and the Woodbury Corpo,’s 100th birthday. Rick Woodbury represented that family that calls Orem its legacy city; the first place they built a mall is now University Place.
Herbert reminisced about growing up in Orem. His father Duane was a milkman and his family learned the value of hard work. They didn’t have much money, so Herbert would go to the ditch banks, cut stalks of asparagus and pick raspberries from the family garden and sell them for extra money for school clothes or whatever was needed.
Herbert and all five of his other siblings live in Orem. He said he has lived in Orem two-thirds of its life and has seen dramatic changes over the years.
“My mother and father loved Orem and served on every volunteer committee you could,” Herbert said. Herbert’s father was president of the Orem Chamber of Commerce just prior to it merging with the Provo Chamber.
Woodbury said that while he has never lived in Orem, he and the Woodbury family feel like that have been adopted by the city.
“We’ve loved our association with this community,” Woodbury said. “I am honored to be here to celebrate the past mayors and leaders.”
He said there has always been honesty and trustworthiness in Woodbury’s dealings with the city.
A notable star of the evening was one of Orem’s longest residents, Gareth Seastrand. He was invited to talk about the history of Orem, which he did with enthusiasm.
Seastrand was a sixth grade teacher and principle of a couple of schools in Orem and happened to be sharing a table with Herbert, one of his young students.
He was also instrumental in establishing Orem’s Historic Museum just south of the SCERA Center for the Arts in the old Orem Seminary building at about 750 S. State St.
“Orem’s community is rich and dedicated to hard working citizens,” Seastrand said. “Happy Birthday, Orem and Mayor Brunst.”
Although Brunst moved to Orem in 1992, his first contacts with the city were in 1972 when the company he was working for sent him to Orem to survey some of the road layout and landscaping for a new development called the University Mall.
“That was my first job after my (LDS) mission,” Brunst said.
Brunst referred to the city’s Imagine Orem Campaign for the future but then turned back in time to imagine what could have been Orem’s fate.
“Johnston’s army wanted to settle here. They wanted to name the streets after fruit that was grown here, “Brunst said. “In 1949, they wanted to rename State Street the Velvet Way.”
Brunt’s anniversary celebration included entertainment from the reigning Miss Orem court and special numbers from singer/entertainer David Osmond. Osmond sang a song written by his father Alan Osmond, an Orem resident, for the 100th anniversary. It included a dash of history with lots of party rhythm.
The evening’s guest list included former mayors and council members, Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi, Vineyard Mayor Julie Fullmer, Congressman John Curtis and UVU President Astrid Tuminez.