Jon Huntsman Sr. dies at 80
© Getty

Jon Huntsman Sr., a billionaire philanthropist and a former aide to President Nixon, died on Friday at the age of 80.

Huntsman "passed away peacefully" early Friday afternoon "surrounded by a loving family, following long-term health challenges," the family said in a statement obtained by The Salt Lake Tribune

Born into poverty, Huntsman became the founder and executive chairman of the Huntsman Corp., a $13 billion chemical manufacturer. Huntsman was for a long time Utah's wealthiest resident, according to the Tribune.

ADVERTISEMENT

Huntsman also served in the White House as the staff secretary to Nixon. His son, former Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman Jr., was appointed last year as the Trump administration's ambassador to Russia.

From his successful business, the elder Huntsman became a well-renowned philanthropist, funneling money into cancer research, including donating or committing at least $580 million over the years into his own Huntsman Cancer Institute, now run by his children, according to the Tribune.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney: 'Putin and Kim Jong Un deserve a censure rather than flattery' A US-UK free trade agreement can hold the Kremlin to account Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE, a fellow Mormon widely expected to launch a Senate bid later this month to replace retiring Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom Trump awards Presidential Medal of Freedom to economist, former Reagan adviser Arthur Laffer Second ex-Senate staffer charged in aiding doxxing of GOP senators MORE (R-Utah), remembered Huntsman as a "Lion of Utah" on Friday. 

"With Jon Huntsman’s passing, we lose a Lion of Utah. Jon raised an extraordinary family, built one of America’s most prominent corporations, and contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to heal the sick, provide relief to the injured, and bring hope to future generations," Romney said in a statement.

Hatch, 83, also expressed his condolences on Friday, calling Huntsman a "committed public servant, a visionary businessman, and perhaps the greatest philanthropist our state has ever known."