The death at 92 of Occidental Petroleum Chairman Armand Hammer in Los Angeles Monday had reporters from around the world scrambling for words to describe a man whose life encompassed all of the 20th century and whose career touched the lives of everyone from Vladimir Lenin to George Bush.
"Industrialist" . . . "captain of industry" . . . "philanthropist" . . . "physician" . . . "entrepreneur," . . . "art collector" . . . "crusader for world peace". . . he was all of those and more.But to Utahn Jon M. Huntsman, an industrialist and philanthropist in his o[5o[wn right, Dr. Hammer was simply "a dear and valued friend who will be greatly missed."
Still, the sadness of Huntsman, chairman of Huntsman Chemical Corp., his wife, Karen, and their family, at the death of "The Doctor," as he was known, was tempered by the knowledge that Hammer was healthy and in great spirits last April 18 when they honored him at the world headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In fact, said Huntsman in an interview Tuesday, Hammer was in excellent health up until 10 days ago. "I talked to his assistant this morning," said Huntsman, "and he said Dr. Hammer went peacefully and without pain. I'm grateful for that."
When he visited Salt Lake City last April - his first trip to Utah since the 1920s - Hammer brought a message of peace and hope that the world could look forward to "a new millennium of peace." He was presented with a bronze bust commissioned for the occasion by Huntsman and Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve of the church.
"He told me a few weeks ago that his trip here was the last great tribute he received," said Huntsman. "He was overjoyed because he has such great respect for the LDS Church."
Huntsman had met Hammer several times over the years but became friends two years ago when they and the LDS Church worked together on the American Armenian Bridge of Friendship, a relief effort to help those left homeless by the earthquake there two years ago.
"He took me under his wing," said Huntsman, and a close relationship developed. With Hammer, Huntsman gained entree to top world leaders, particularly in the Soviet Union. Hammer devoted much of his life to breaking down trade barriers and lessening tensions between Moscow and Washington, D.C.
Hammer had three major goals for the world, said Huntsman. The first was to provide a college education to everyone willing to work for it, regardless of that person's economic standing. To that end, he established the Armand Hammer United World College, on whose board Jon and Karen Huntsman are directors.
The second, Huntsman said, was to bring about world peace, for which Hammer worked from 1921 to his death by maintaining liaison with the Soviet Union, China, Pakistan and others. "I was happy that he was able to live long enough to see the end of the Cold War," said Huntsman. "He made a major contribution to the success of that effort."
Hammer's third goal, said Huntsman, was to eradicate cancer. Through his Stop Cancer program, Hammer was attempting to raise $1 billion for cancer research.
Huntsman said he will continue to pursue the goals begun with Hammer but deferred any suggestion that he could follow in his footsteps.
"Dr. Hammer was a man of far greater proportion than I, but I think, philosophically, that we were together. Our dream is to put back into society whatever we can, and that hasn't changed with his death. He was a great teacher, and I'm not sure there is anyone left who embodies those unique characteristics."
A private memorial service for Hammer will be held later this week in Los Angeles to which the Huntsmans have been invited.