Person 2 Person: Kem Gardner

Person 2 Person: Kem Gardner (Photo provided by Kem Gardner)

(KUTV) Kem Gardner is a businessman who is involved in a number of organizations here in Utah.

He is the current chair of the Days of '47 Rodeo. A few years ago, he was asked to bring the rodeo downtown and make it successful.

"The rodeo actually started at the fairgrounds probably in about 1919, but the rodeo was held even earlier than that and bounced around," he said.

The rodeo has been held most recently in the Vivint Smart Home Arena--but this year it was undergoing some renovations.

Gardner knew a legislative committee was trying to figure out what to do with the Utah State Fairgrounds.

"To me it was like, let's go home to the fairgrounds and have a home," he said.

He was able to get it approved and get a brand new "Days of '47" rodeo arena built, which he believes is "probably the finest arena in the country."

"In fact, I can get emotional just thinking, 'We have our own arena to hold the rodeo. And we can bring people in from all over the country with a great deal of pride to show it to them,'" he said.

As a businessman and developer, Gardner has seen a lot of success in his life. But he attributes that success to his involvement in the community.

He has been involved with organizations like Intermountain Healthcare, United Way, the Utah Symphony, homeless causes, and much more.

"I've always tried to be involved with good people and give back to the community," he said. "They give you the chance to meet the best people and feel like you're making a difference."

Gardner always thought that to get involved in the community is to hold political office. He later learned that was not true when he ran for Governor of Utah.

He calls it a "mistake."

"I'm not sure--I think my wife voted for me," he joked.

He was beat by Wayne Owens in the primary election in 1984.

After the loss, he was met with a different opportunity.

"I got a call to come down to [LDS] Church headquarters where President Hinckley said, 'Kem, if you had four years to be Governor, you have three years to be mission president,'' recalled Gardner.

So Gardner and his wife served in Boston, Massachusetts--where Gardner met Mitt Romney, and started a beneficial relationship.

"When it came time for the Olympics, I was involved in the Olympic preparations," he said. "I was able to ask him to come out and help us with the Olympics."

Even with all of his achievements, Gardner doesn't measure success through material things.

"If you want to count my success, count my 30 grandchildren. Because I think it's family and serving your community. And I'm grateful that I've had opportunities in business to able to give back," Gardner said.

And Gardner hopes what he gave back is what people will remember him for.

"I think that it would be nice if they would remember me as a kind person, someone that loves their family, and someone who's tried to give back," he said. "Maybe not a hard guy, but a tender person."

For more about the Days of '47 Rodeo, you can visit its website.

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