Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Philanthropist Cleone Eccles dies at 78

Wife of Spencer Eccles loses battle with cancer

Express Staff Writer

Cleone Peterson Eccles, a philanthropist, civic leader and the wife of Utah businessman Spencer Eccles, died on April 5 after a battle with cancer. She was 78.

The Eccles family is the owner of the Flying Hat Ranch south of Hailey, as well as several other properties in the Wood River Valley. 

The family is known widely for its success in banking and industry, and for supporting philanthropic causes, including some nonprofit organizations in the Wood River Valley. 

Spencer Eccles, 78, is the grandson of David Eccles, a Utah businessman and industrialist who became the state’s first millionaire. One of David Eccles’ sons, Marriner Stoddard Eccles, served as chair of the Federal Reserve under President Franklin Roosevelt. The Eccles Building, which houses the headquarters of the Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C., is named after him.

Spencer Eccles was the CEO of First Security Corp., the largest bank in the Intermountain West, until it was purchased by Wells Fargo in 2000. 

Cleone and Spencer Eccles together received Utah’s 2010 Philanthropic Leadership Award and were named the 2012 Humanitarians of the Year by Catholic Community Services. Throughout her life, Cleone was active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to an article in the Salt Lake Tribune, the Eccles gave tens of millions of dollars to University of Utah projects, including the Rice-Eccles Stadium, Eccles School of Business, Eccles Institute of Human Genetics and a new student life center.

Cleone Eccles served for two decades on the University of Utah board of trustees and also the Alumni Association board, where she was vice president. The University of Utah honored her with its Distinguished Alumna Award in 1995, and with an honorary doctorate in 2005. 

“She provided a steady hand for my dad for nearly 58 years that really made him who he is,” her son Spencer P. Eccles told the Tribune. “It was a true partnership in every sense of the word, in the community and as parents and just as people who really adored each other.”

The Eccles gave generously to the Wood River YMCA and to the Sun Valley Center for the Arts.

Kristin Poole, The Center’s artistic director, said Cleone and Spencer Eccles made generous contributions to it during the late 1970s and early ’80s. 

“Their support for this community is an example of the kind of contribution people can make to the quality of life here, when they make an investment in the place they call a second home,” Poole said. 

Tony Evans:

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