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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Friends and family gather after the funeral for Dr. Stephen Covey at the UCCU Center at Utah Valley University in Orem on Saturday, July 21, 2012.

Funeral services were held Saturday for Stephen R. Covey, the motivational speaker and author of the best-selling book "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People."

Stephen R. Covey, who made his name teaching and encouraging millions through his bestselling book, died July 16 at the age of 79.

Covey passed away at Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center at 2:15 a.m. due to "residual effects" of an April bicycling accident. Sean Covey said the entire family had attended a reunion in Montana for the Fourth of July holiday, but most of the family had since returned to their homes.  

"A few days before he was coming home, he started to decline," Covey said of his father. "He had that bike accident in April and he's been weakening since. We didn't think he would go so soon, but he, all of the sudden, woke up and wasn't feeling well."

All of Covey's nine children made it back to Idaho Falls Sunday. Covey's wife, Sandra, and each of his children were with him at the time of his death.

Covey was once named one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans and he authored a number of books focused on leadership. "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" has sold more than 20 million copies in 38 languages. Covey also founded the Covey Leadership Center, which merged with Franklin Quest in 1997 to form FranklinCovey Co., a company focused on leadership, strategy and individual effectiveness.

As news of his death circulated, Covey was remembered by both fans of his messages who authored numerous Facebook posts and some of Utah's political leaders.

"Utah lost a great leader today," U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said of Covey in a statement. "His innovative thinking and common-sense approach to business, success and life has been taught to hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world and will be followed for generations. He deeply cared about others, his family, and our country and will be missed by many."

This was echoed in statements from both Gov. Gary Herbert and U.S. Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, who offered their condolences to Covey's family and spoke of the impact he had on so many.

“He was an inspiration to millions, a revolutionary problem solver, and an icon for business managers everywhere," Lee said. "It is impossible to calculate the immense amount of good that Stephen Covey did for so many people. His insight helped to shape the future of an untold number of businesses, resulting in better jobs and indeed better lives for people around the world.”

Herbert called Covey "a good friend," who will be missed.

"His combination of intellect and empathy made him a truly unique and visionary individual," Herbert said. "The skills he taught and, as importantly, the personal example provided by the life he led, will continue to bless the lives of many."

Born in 1932 in Salt Lake City, Covey eventually served an LDS mission to England where he was asked to train other missionaries and branch presidents of LDS Church congregations, according to a 1994 article in Fortune magazine. Covey said in the article that he believed that experience helped alter the course of his life.

"I had no idea at all I could train leaders," Covey said. "I was totally overwhelmed, and nonplussed, and my mission president just said, 'You can do it.' That was very significant."

Not long after, at the young age of 29, Covey was called to serve as the first president of the Ireland Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Covey graduated from the University of Utah, went on to earn a master's in business administration from Harvard and received a doctorate from Brigham Young University. He went on to receive a number of honorary doctorates and many of the state's universities issued statements at his passing.

Before writing "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People," Covey was a professor at BYU.

— Emiley Morgan