Lifetime Achievement • Ski racer, banker, donor is key figure in Olympic and U. glory.
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For his many contributions to sports in Utah notably the 2002 Winter Olympics and University of Utah athletics Spencer F. Eccles will be honored Tuesday with a "Lifetime Achievement Award."
The banker and philanthropist will be lauded at the Governor's State of Sports Awards at Zions Bank Basketball Center. Former tennis star Andre Agassi is the keynote speaker.
Organized by the Utah Sports Commission, a quasi-state agency created to attract national and international sporting events to the state, the ceremony also will honor the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association (USSA) as its "Partner of the Year" and ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson as "Olympian of the Year." Nine other awards will go to high school and college athletes and coaches.
"Spence Eccles has helped shape Utah's sports landscape through his vision, generosity and many years of leadership," Gov. Gary Herbert said in a news release. "Utah has significantly benefited from his efforts to give back. We will be ever grateful."
Added Sports Commission CEO Jeff Robbins: "Spence has contributed in so many ways to help build Utah as the 'State of Sport.' From youth sports to collegiate competition to the Olympics, he and the Eccles family have always been there to generously and enthusiastically lend their help and support."
Eccles expressed appreciation, noting that "everything I've experienced and learned from my sports career and competition I have used in my everyday life and career. I've tried to pass on the same opportunities to young people today and for those in the future, so they'll have the chance to appreciate the meaning of sports in their lives and strive to be the best."
An Ogden native, Eccles was taught to ski at Snowbasin Ski Area by Corey Engen. He skied competitively for 13 years, became a four-year letterman at the U., an All-American and a member of the 1958 U.S. world championship team.
After college, Eccles spent 40 years in banking, nearly two decades as chairman and CEO of First Security Bank before its 2000 merger with Wells Fargo. He remains chairman emeritus of Wells Fargo's Intermountain banking region and has been on the boards of Union Pacific, Amalgamated Sugar, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Parks Foundation and Intermountain Healthcare.
Eccles was a longtime supporter of Salt Lake City's Olympic dream, serving on the executive boards of the bid and organizing committees. His family contributed more than $30 million to the Games. At the Opening Ceremony, the International Olympic Committee gave Eccles the Pierre de Coubertin Medal, its highest honor.
Eccles helped renovate the U.'s football stadium, which now partially bears his family name (Rice-Eccles Stadium), and provided financial and moral support to numerous athletic teams.
He also helped found Rowmark Ski Academy, has been a trustee of the U.S. Ski Team Foundation, Women's Ski Jumping USA, Alta Ski Lifts, Sun Valley Corp. and Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation, and helped establish the Joseph Quinney Winter Sports Center at Utah Olympic Park.