Jon Huntsman and his family with President Nixon in the Oval Office, 1970.

Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower remember Jon Huntsman

Jon Huntsman Sr., a philanthropist and businessman who served as special assistant and staff secretary to President Nixon, died today at age 80.

Mr. Huntsman joined the Nixon administration in 1970 as Associate Administrator of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and later served as Special Assistant and Staff Secretary to the President.

President and Mrs. Nixon’s daughters, Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, released the following statement upon hearing the news:

“We are very saddened to hear of the passing of Jon Huntsman. Jon was one of the young men and women who came to Washington to join our father’s administration. He served ably, first at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and then in the West Wing. He was a man of great patriotism, steadfast faith, and deep devotion to his family. Thanks to his philanthropy, including outstanding support for education and medical research, he leaves many living legacies. Our thoughts today are with his family and many friends around the world.”

Fred Malek, President Nixon’s personnel chief, recruited Jon Huntsman into the administration. Malek released the following statement on the passing of Mr. Huntsman:

“I first read about Jon Huntsman in a survey that the Nixon administration conducted to identify the most impressive and successful young businesspeople in the country. We were looking for business-like minds to streamline the bureaucracies of Washington and make government more efficient and responsive to the American people.

I was impressed with this 32-year-old CEO of Huntsman Container Corporation in California, and called him at the outset of the administration to ask him to join us in Washington. Even with seven children and a still-growing family, he accepted the call and performed superbly at the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

Jon had natural gifts for leadership and management. He knew how to manage information in the most efficient of ways and achieve real results, and I brought him into the White House as Staff Secretary in 1971. President Nixon benefitted immensely from Jon’s productivity, loyalty and dedication both to his job, and to the larger ideal it represented: working to make government more efficient and better responsive.

Jon once called President Nixon his hero, and President Nixon was lucky to have Jon Huntsman serving in his administration.

We remained dear friends over nearly five decades, and I will miss his integrity, his always-cheerful demeanor, and his driving passion to help his fellow man. Few people have ever been as generous or as compassionate.

Marlene and I are thinking of, and praying for, Karen and the Huntsman family at this difficult time.”

Stephen Bull, special assistant to President Nixon and appointments secretary, remembers Huntsman as, “a competent and professional colleague, a true gentleman, and a loyal and generous friend.”