Robert "Bob" Garff passes away due to COVID-19 pandemic

Courtesy of Utah Athletics

Ryan Kostecka

It was a sad and somber Sunday.

Robert "Bob" Garff, a generous donator to the University of Utah and the state in its entirety, passed away on Sunday, March 29 due to complications of the COVID-19 pandemic. He was 77.

Garff, who served as chairman of the Ken Garff Automative Group, graduated from the University in 1966. 

While having a successful career as a businessman, he and his family donated $17.5 million to the Utah athletic program last year. The donation was to fund a Rice-Eccles Stadium expansion for the south end zone — which has been appropriately names the Ken Garff Performance Zone.

One of Garff's biggest accomplishments throughout his life was helping bring the 2002 Olympic Winter Games to Utah, in which he served as chairman of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. During that time, he appointed current Utah state senator Mitt Romney as the Winter Games' CEO during that time.

“With profound sadness, I have learned that my friend Bob Garff has passed away from COVID-19. It breaks my heart,” Romney said.“The scandal that surrounded the Games could have overwhelmed our collective commitment, but Bob’s genuine goodness, clear-eyed optimism and can-do management experience helped to reignite our confidence and community spirit."

“The Games were arguably the best ever,” he said, “in large measure thanks to the character and care of Bob Garff.”

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said in a tweet: “We lost a really great man. Bob Garff touched countless lives and gave so much service to our state, and its people. He was such a positive example to all of us. He leaves a hole in our heart and in the community.”

Garff, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, had numerous roles within the church itself; including bishop, president of the England Coventry Mission, stake president for students at the University of Utah, Area Seventy and president of the Bountiful Utah Temple.

He also served as chairman of the board for the Deseret Book Co., while also being a board member for organizations like Intermountain Health Care, Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau, Utah Commission on Volunteers and First Security Bank.

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