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Influential author Stephen R. Covey remembered as 'Papa' who put family first

Published: Saturday, July 21 2012 7:54 p.m. MDT

"He reached the many and the few," Stephen M.R. Covey said.

Not only was he a great talker, but family members said he was a great listener — and a person who was willing to apologize, repent and make restitution when possible.

His family also recalled the less serious side of their father, noting how he loved practical jokes and often times doing things he knew would embarrass them. Joshua Covey recalled how his dad would walk by rough looking people on the street while with his family and say, "How's it going girls?"

Stephen Covey also relished sleep whenever he could get it during his busy schedule. David Covey said his father only like to be awokened one minute before it was time for him to give a presentation. He said when that time came, he would whisper "Showtime!" in his dad's ear and his father would immediately sit up and be ready to go.

One time, on a crowded train in Ireland, his family recalled that getting rest meant lying down in the middle of the train aisle and taking a nap, with other passengers being forced to step over him to get by.

His family talked about some of the funnier incidents of their dad's life, like the time he was using a public restroom and someone slid a copy of "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" under the stall door and asked him to sign it. Or the time he was driving back to Utah from Montana with his wife and after stopping to switch drivers in Idaho, he accidentally left her on the side of the road believing she had already crawled in the back of the car and gone to sleep. Covey didn't realize his mistake until he received a call from the Idaho Highway Patrol on his cell phone saying they had his wife with them.

Covey was a man who loved the outdoors, mountain bikes, chocolate malts and Chinese food. His family recalled some of his most used expressions were, "I want results not excuses" and when they would walk into a restaurant or before meals, "To the tables everyone and stuff yourselves."

One of Covey's greatest gifts, his family recalled, was his ability to "unleash a person's potential."

Covey had three sisters and a brother. He considered his brother John his best friend.

John Covey recalled asking his brother after he graduated from Harvard Business School what he wanted to do with his life.

"I want to release human potential," Stephen Covey told his brother.

"Millions have been changed for the better because of his passion" to bring out the potential in people, John Covey said. "He loved people. He believed in people, and always built on their strengths.

"What I will miss the most is his life, his soul," John Covey said somberly.

After his sons and daughters gave a tribute to Papa, more than three dozen grandchildren gave their own tribute by singing a medley of Primary songs.

Covey and his wife served as mission presidents in Ireland. Saturday, his former Irish missionaries, who formed a singing group called the Mormonaries, performed two of Covey's favorite songs, "Beautiful Savior" and "High on the Mountain Top."

Later, Boyd Craig, a friend and business associate, sang what was called Covey's all time favorite song, "To Dream the Impossible Dream."

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, a friend of Covey's, attended Saturday's funeral.

The interment was held at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.

"We will all sorely miss our Papa," Colleen Covey Brown said.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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