Elder Gay honored with 20th Distinguished Utahn award

Published: Tuesday, April 30 2013 11:05 p.m. MDT

After receiving the 2013 Distinguished Utahn award, Elder Robert C. Gay of the First Quorum of the Seventy speaks.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Whether in the business world, in his calling as a member of the Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or in his home, friends say Elder Robert C. Gay of the Seventy is a man known for his ability to build relationships and better the lives of others around him.

"In a world that we can all observe … that people are often wandering from sea to sea not knowing where to go, it is uplifting and refreshing to find someone who knows the greater path," said Brian C. Dixon, chairman of the Distinguished Utahn Event Committee.

Elder Gay, who is the committee chairman for the LDS Church's Perpetual Education Fund, is a very successful businessman known for his humanitarian efforts that "go to the rescue of the lost." Because of that service, he was recognized as the 20th recipient of the Distinguished Utahn Award given by the BYU Management Society's Salt Lake Chapter. Friends and members of the society honored Elder Gay during a dinner held at Little America Tuesday night.

Lester W. B. Moore said that it is his friend's ability to "listen to the voice from within" that makes him stand out.

"The more time we spent together the more impressed I became with him," Moore said. "I was amazed at his countenance and his presence. I knew I was in the presence of a principled leader and a transcendent figure who has made the world a better place."

Upon receiving the award, Elder Gay reflected on an experience he had as a young boy while visiting a poor country with his father.

"That deeply affected me," he said. "Looking out my window watching women and children… I said to myself, 'you have to do something about it.'"

Recognizing he is only one person he felt a little overwhelmed, the young man remembered that experience and years later realized with faith, all things are possible.

"It doesn't matter if you are in business, in education, whether you are a professor whether you are a general authority, if we are [the Savior's] instrument and do his will — whatever that will is — he will speak to our heart through his spirit. … It doesn't matter if it is big or small, it is his work."

NFL Hall-of-Fame football player Steve Young was the evening's master of ceremonies. Young called Elder Gay a "spiritual athlete." Remembering a time when Young visited Elder Gay in Ghana, Africa, as Elder Gay served as a mission president, Young said that he saw the difference Elder Gay had on the missionaries, the community and church members.

email: mholman@desnews.com

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