Gary Anderson was roasted and toasted Thursday evening as friends, county employees and political leaders gathered to pay respects to the outgoing county commissioner.
It was sort of a two-for-one deal: guests also were able to watch the Freedom Bowl, via satellite and two TV monitors positioned on either side of the room. One minute they were cheering the Cougars, the next, joshing the commissioner.The roasting, led by Provo attorney Richard Jackman (who revealed himself as a closet emcee), was all in good fun, even if it got a little hot on the spit at times.
"I wondered about what might be your most important achievement," said Provo attorney Jackson Howard, ". . . and I realized we are now the owner of a navy. We have a dredge. We thought we were buying a pump, but lo and behold, this is what we own."
Christened the USS Never Sail, Howard said the ship's 20-inch-by-8-inch draft has made sailing Utah Lake (with a mean depth of 11 feet) impossible. Nevertheless, Howard commissioned Anderson as the captain of the vessel and presented him with a cap proclaiming him as such.
Howard also presented Anderson with the director-of-the-year award from a certain local mental health institution.
Howard came not just to bury Anderson but also to praise him, saying Anderson was "honest, sincere and kind," and that he would be missed as a county commissioner.
Raylene Ireland, administrative assistant to Provo Mayor Joe Jenkins, quipped that she had come because "I heard Gary Anderson was going to be named man of the year, which is an indication of the kind of year we've had."
Ireland praised Anderson for his contributions to the Republican Party.
Capt. Jerry Scott, of the Utah County sheriff's department, praised Anderson's support of the department while a commissioner. Officers Alex Hunt and Dave Bennett, on behalf of the Utah County Deputies Association, presented Anderson with a service revolver like those used by members of the sheriff's department.
Other memorable moments of Anderson's career highlighted during the evening included his appearance as a member of the Supremes singing group at a Halloween party; his efforts in purchasing a state-of-the-art computer system for the county that interfaces with no other software in existence; and, the time he embarked on a weight-losing contest to raise money for United Way (County Attorney Jeril Wilson claimed United Way still owes him money on this venture).
For all the roasting, there was plenty of toasting, perhaps said best by Anderson's wife, Molly.
"Whenever there was a battle to be fought, a war to win, there wasn't anyone in the county who didn't know who to go to," Molly said. "I can truly say he was dedicated to this job, that he did what he truly thought was right, for the good of this county."
"The best friends I have in the world are here tonight," Anderson said. "I am proud to know you, to have worked with you, to have had associations with you."