Robert (Bob) Heiner Garff, 77, passed away on March 29, 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah of complications from COVID-19.
Bob was born September 15, 1942 in Salt Lake City to Kendall Day and Marjorie Marie Heiner Garff. He graduated from East High, received a BS in accounting and an MBA from the University of Utah. The most important day of his life was April 9, 1965 when he married his sweetheart, Katharine (Kathi) Bagley, in the Salt Lake Temple. For nearly 55 years she has been the wind in his sails.
Bob lived a remarkably full life: a life nearly impossible to summarize in a few words. After working side-by-side with his father for many years, it was natural for Bob to succeed Ken as CEO of the Ken Garff Automotive Group. In time, Bob dramatically increased the size and breadth of the company nearly ten-fold until it became the 2nd largest privately-held auto group in the nation. He continued to work as Chairman of the Board for the organization until his death.
Bob embraced and grew the Garff family legacy of giving back to the community in both public and private ways. He and Kathi were very committed to education, founding the Keys to Success program and the Success in Education Foundation to inspire Utah students K-12. Bob gladly supported his alma mater, the University of Utah, helping fund a new executive education building for the David Eccles School of Business, and the upcoming Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
Bob held multiple community positions, including Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the remarkably successful 2002 Olympic Games. He also served a term as Speaker of the House of Representatives for the State of Utah, Chairman of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, and Chairman of the Board for the Deseret Book Company. His contributions and service on many boards large and small for various other civic, professional and non-profits were freely given and genuinely appreciated.
His work in business and the community also earned him multiple honors from such distinguished groups as the American International Automobile Association, BYU Management Society, and University of Utah.
As a dedicated, lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bob served as a missionary in the England London Mission, Bishop, Stake President, President of the England Coventry Mission, Area Seventy, and President of the Bountiful Temple.
Bob genuinely loved people. From across a room he would double tap his fist on his heart and then point to the person he wanted to reach. It was as if he were saying, “I believe in you!” or, “I love you!” or, “From my heart to yours!” He made everyone feel important, especially his family. He was humble, self-effacing, and meek to the core.
He often referred to himself as, “Old Bob,” a name affectionately given him by an African tribal chief. He was authentically the same man inside and out. His leadership style of being an unconventional listener even led to a famous tagline. True to his values, Bob freely and abundantly gave the credit to others while taking none for himself.
Above all, Bob loved his family. He consistently made time for his wife and children and, later in life, for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, whom he adored. Being in the outdoors was special to Bob; he spent time hunting, fishing and horseback riding with his family, as he had done years before with his father. He showed them what it meant to “ride for the brand,” and inspired them to dare boldly, to dream big, and to make real the impossible.
For now, we bid our hero adieu, knowing his spirit will live on in each of us.
Bob is survived by his wife Katharine Bagley Garff, their five children, Jennifer Elaine Garff (Richard L. Jr.) Folkerson, John Kendall (Amy Anderson) Garff, Melissa Garff (Craig B.) Ballard, Matthew Bagley (Nicole Robinson) Garff, Mary Frances Garff (Marc K.) Menlove, their twenty-one grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, as well as his brother Kendall Gary Garff (Linda), and sister Marjorie Jane Garff (Christer) Whitworth, of Salt Lake City. After Bob’s mother passed away, Ken married Betty June Grames Morgan. Bob’s surviving stepsiblings include: Nicolas G (Louise) Morgan; (Darlyne) Morgan; Claudia Jean (Ford G.) Scalley; David T. (Melanie) Morgan, all of Salt Lake City; and Richard S. (Maria) Morgan of San Antonio, TX. Preceded in death by Stephen G. Morgan.
A private family graveside service will be held Friday, April 10, 2020 at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. The family wishes to thank all those who have expressed their sympathy at this tender time.
In lieu of flowers please consider sharing a memory of Bob at www.KenGarff.com/Robert
Life Story Info
Uncle Bob is a beloved hero to everyone. I loved that he loved quality time with his family. He also enjoyed being together with extended family. He was always supportive in being at all of the significant moments in my life. His optimism was so contagious. He had a bright light and I felt his love and his genuine sincerity and concern towards me and my family. He gave so much love and charity to others around him. And he was always right next to his beautiful bride, Aunt Kathi. Truly, stunning couple!
Bob and Kathi had the strongest love, a fairytale romance, and a life dedicated to each other and service. The two were a team! They gave to the world and my motto for them: “Garffs generously give.” They exemplified this again and again!
He loved each one of his kids and his legacy lives in each of them: Mary, Matt, Melissa, John & Jenni. Bob’s love for his grandkids was evident as he and Kathi always made time to come and support their special activities or sporting events. We saw him and Kathi at Skyline’s Barbershop night, supporting Maggie, JJ and Leah. Last year, Bob and Kathi came to see JJ, Maggie, and Leah in the Joseph play. Front row seats even! Bob and Kathi lit up any room with their contagious enthusiasm and sincerity they gave you. And the greatest hugs.
My earliest memories of Uncle Bob were the many years we spent inside and outside of the Indian Springs home. We had Sunday dinners, played numerous board games together, played cards or “Heck”, watched the Sunday night Disney specials, celebrated birthdays with Kathi’s “money” homemade chocolate cake. The list goes on. Lots and lots of laughter and humor with joke telling again and again. Most Sunday dinners, Bob would come home later in the afternoon or early evening from church meetings. After eating, he would go right to the dishes. Always. He never complained, simply served Kathi. I love that memory of him wanting to constantly help her in that way. Giving her a break. In addition to Indian Springs, we had so many memorable summers at the Brighton cabin with cousins, Swan reunions, etc. Just happy childhood memories made with the Garffs.
As a teenager, I remember a summer where Jason and I joined the Garffs stake for Pioneer trek. This was the trek where we walked 13 miles the first day, to reach a cup of broth and roll at the top of the mountain. Bob was a leader in the stake and shared talks and testimonies with the youth, striving to lift spirits and offer support and encouragement. This experience was a testimony builder for me even though I didn’t realize it at the time. Bob always taught it was important to do hard things.
While in High School, I was lucky to have an opportunity to visit the Garffs on their mission in Coventry, England with my brother, Jason. I recall many early mornings studying the scriptures together in the mission home, reading the Book of Mormon and studying Bob’s study guides from "Bob's Bible." Bob showed me ways to underline my scriptures, with different colored pencils. His scriptures were heavily marked. When we first got to England, Melissa had recently had her scriptures stolen from a car. Bob gave her his. Melissa was so grateful. I loved the powerful spirit of love I saw in the mission home, laughter and kindness with others. Bob was a natural leader and very focused-always studying the scriptures, praying, studying Shakespeare and other English literature. Bob and Kathi had a powerful influence on my life to serve a mission.
Bob was the keynote speaker for my graduation at the University of Utah. We loved the excitement and dedication Bob gave as Chairman of the Olympic Winter games in 2002. Our nation was stronger because of Bob and his diligence and commitment to the world in making the Winter games so memorable for everyone especially here in Salt Lake City.
Uncle Bob had a huge heart. He cared deeply about people. For many Thanksgiving mornings, he would go with Kathi and some of their family to serve the homeless. He was beyond charitable. When we were around him, he was always kind and happy. He took time for “the one” and specifically asked about our families. He loved listening to Mike’s music and was very complimentary when he played the piano. We cherish the moments with him, with our family summer parties, white elephant exchanges, or times up at the Garff ranch. Tender times.
Perhaps some of my most sacred moments were seeing Bob and Kathi in the Bountiful temple. They radiated joy of serving the Lord in His house. They knew every temple worker and would give hugs and smiles to all. This was not an easy calling as they had to awake very early in the morning to arrive to the temple. I believe that they were the angels for so many people within the walls of the temple. It made me so happy to attend the temple and share happy experiences there with them.
Last March, we bought a Honda Pilot from Garff. The following day, I had dropped Mike off at the dealership to pick up our new car. Mike noticed Bob and Kathi were attending a going away party for the Honda general manager. Mike got to shake hands with both Bob and Kathi in the dealership, smiling and happy to see him. Sadly, his last handshake with Uncle Bob.
Bob’s legacy lives on in our family’s lives. We will always remember his example of genuine Christlike kindness to us and all of our family. The numerous touching articles we read in his remembrance were deeply moving and tender to all of us. He truly touched thousands of lives with his time and talents. He lived to the fullest and we are so blessed knowing his spirit lives and he will be watching over so many of us.
We love you Uncle Bob!!
Xoxo Natalie Hicks
I have quite a few good memories of good ol' Bob, since Bob and Kathi and family have been great family friends for as long as I can remember. Many of the memories that come to mind are from the dinner group family adventures . . . a river trip, a trip to Park City, hanging out in the yard at their Bountiful house from long ago, attending wedding showers, and especially I will never forget my mini mission experience in the Coventry, England Mission. I am so grateful that I was able to have Bob and Kathi as my mission parents for a short time and learn from them and be loved by them and to experience all that I did. Yes it's true, Bob definitely had a way of making everybody feel important . . and Kathi too! Every time I have seen them since England, Bob has called me his "daughter" and they have always given me a big hug which I so appreciate! He will be missed for sure but we know we will see him again and have many treasured memories to keep in our minds and hearts! Love to the whole Garff family! xoxox
My husband John and I have had many happy interactions with Bob and Kathi over the years. The memory I would like to share took place in 1997 when John was fired as the CEO of Utah Transit Authority after 20 years in that position. The Board took this action despite the fact that UTA had been selected that year for the second time as the best transit company in America by the American Public Transit Association. Some weeks later, Bob called John to ask if he would be willing to spend some time at the Ken Garff headquarters to assess the practices in various parts of the business and suggest improvements that might be made. John always enjoyed his association with Bob and was glad to see if he could be of some help. After a few weeks of reviewing various departments, John commented to me that Ken Garff companies were very well managed and that he had very few suggestions to make. He then came to the conclusion that Bob requested he review the company practices mostly to give John some relief from the hectic environment of the previous eight months. John so appreciated Bob's thoughtfulness and concern, and he thoroughly enjoyed visiting with Bob about the business practices of the Ken Garff Company. It has always been a joyful experience to cross paths with Bob and Kathi in many varied circumstances over the years. Both Bob and Kathi have always been cheerful, smiling friends who are genuinely interested in the community as a whole and the welfare of family and friends, new or old. To know Bob and Kathy is to love them!
Working in the Bountiful Temple with President Bob and Kathi was a priceless experience and is a genuinely happy memory. Besides leading the Temple workers side by side, just as they lived their lives, they shared their hearts and love with us in a "down home" manner. Because of his expertise in the auto business and his willingness to share his knowledge with us, we drive a Honda! Kathi has been a dear friend for many years and encourages and lifts all around her, as did her amazing and compassionate husband. Thank you for sharing his life with us. We are all better for it.
My memories go way back to being with the cutest little boy every summer when my family would travel from the Chicago area to Salt Lake to be with my Garff relatives, a highlight in my life. Usually, Mom’s brother, my Uncle Kendall, organized events getting us together. Ken was a favorite sibling of my mom’s. They were very close all through their lives, and I guess this drew me to that family. In fact, mom & dad bought a vacation home in Palm Desert in the same development to be close to Ken & Betty. Through the years, Joe and I have kept in touch with Robert & Kathi, though life separated us by distance. When we were fortunate enough to be in Palm Desert at the same time, we met up. Oh, how I now wish that we had done it more frequently.
Joe and I have always been proud to be a part of the Garff clan. Kathi & Robert are a team, and what they have accomplished in their family, church, business and community life has been remarkable and praiseworthy. I miss my dear cousin, Robert, who always made me feel special. Imagine, I share my name with one of their beautiful daughters. By the way, some of our family was at the cemetery on Saturday and loved the floral treatment on Robert’s grave.
“Well Done, Thou Good and Faithful Servant,” often repeated by my beloved Grandpa Garff, is so fitting for Robert Garff
Your Loving Cousin,
"LEAD BY EXAMPLE" BOB GARFF
As a teenager Bob and Kathi took me on a humanitarian trip to Mali that would change me forever and be the beginning of a lifelong friendship. One of the villages we visited needed a school rebuilt that was destroyed in a storm. We worked alongside the villagers making mud bricks. After we had amassed a ton of bricks everyone stopped for the day and grabbed a drink. Everyone but Bob. He was alone still on his hands and knees throwing mud into the wood molds. I asked him to come get a drink. He responded "More important than the village ceremonies we go to is that we lead by example." That's the Bob I know and love.
For many years a group of us have come together and have gone on a 4-5 day bicycle ride. On this particular occasion Kathi and Bob invited the group to dinner at the Garff Ranch in Brown's Canyon. After dinner Bob invited us all to join him in the living room. Once we were all seated, Bob proceeded to very quietly teach us about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were a mixed group. Some were members of the Church. Others were not. I believe that all were touched by the spirit and sincerity of what Bob taught.
When our community lost Bob Garff to the COVID-19 virus, we lost one of the outstanding leaders of his generation. I had the privilege of knowing and working with Bob and Kathi for more than two decades, first as Dean, then as Sr. Vice President and finally as President of the University of Utah. Bob Garff was an exceptional man and a dear friend to both Sandi and me. He and Kathi were among our strongest supporters during the long days of the presidency and we adored both of them. Seeing them was always a highlight of any event, as their smiles, hugs, and genuine love for the U and the community were contagious.
One of our favorite memories of Bob and Kathi is of a lovely evening we spent at a barbeque on their ranch, shortly after Ken Garff passed. It was a special celebration with a rodeo, and Sandi and I were struck by how gracious and kind they both were. Several months later, we were invited to their home for a wonderful dinner with leaders of the LDS church. We spent the evening in delightful conversation, and have always remembered that evening fondly.
We will never forget the night when their sons surprised them with the announcement of the naming for the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Executive Education Building. We had all worried for weeks that it would not be possible to really keep it a secret, but apparently it worked. They were both very surprised and happy. Fortunately, about two years later, they seemed equally pleased when we finally dedicated the resulting, spectacular building.
Kathi, our thoughts and prayers are with you and your children as you move forward in this brave new world where we are all missing Bob.
Please count me in the legion of people who respected, admired, and appreciated both Bob and Kathi because they were a team in every way. And that team exist throughout the eternities.
I was blessed to be a recipient of Bob's encouragement. In my case it was politics. I served as an elected public official for twenty-eight years. Whenever I saw Bob, he would always express appreciation and fortified me in my political pursuits. Because it is often difficult to be a moderate Republican in Utah, those words of cheer were often sustenance to me.
I certainly admired Bob's business acumen, but his true achievement was his wonderful family, and it is a blessing that will endure.
Thank you for a life well-lived and for all the goodness you shared with so many, including me!
Bob was always a positive force. He and Kathi welcomed us to Utah and we felt an instant connection. Bob was never about getting recognition but whenever he was involved, good things happened. Whether the Olympics or the University of Utah he was incredible— so gentle and so effective! We will never forget him and miss him terribly! God bless Bob Garff.
To know Bob and Kathi is to love them. I was so privileged to serve in the Bountiful Temple during their assignment as Temple President and Matron. It was my good fortune to be a shift coordinator at the time, which allowed me more time learning from and being with the Garff’s. In each and every meeting, President Garff expressed gratitude and love. Every single time.
The cafeteria downstairs at the temple also served as our break room. The long tables were full of sisters sitting down, grabbing a bite of breakfast or a drink. President Garff would come over to the table and ask if he could join us. He would slide a chair right in the middle of the group and visit like we were his best friends. There was no pride or arrogance. Just pure kindness and love.
His way of tapping his heart when he saw you, complete with the twinkle in his eye, conveyed the same message. He accomplished through love what others try through force. He was a marvelous leader.
I see him in his family. I know Jennifer and Rick better than other family members, but can see this throughout the family, and I can tell you they make Bob proud by living their lives as Bob and Kathi taught them.
You do have a great heritage. I admire and respect you and send my most sincere condolences.
Thank you for sharing this clip of his service. It is beautiful.
My Pa is one of my greatest cheerleaders, role models and mentors in my life. I look up to him in everything: education, leadership, service, integrity, hard work, obedience, faith, business, family etc. His legacy is profound, and I feel overwhelmed with gratitude knowing that I am a part of that. There is much to be learned from Pa, much on which to reflect, and even more to celebrate!
There is a deep portfolio of memories with my Pa for which I am very grateful. Some of which make me laugh hysterically. Others which make me weep with gratitude. Even more which help me in remembering important life lessons. One such memory I will never forget is sitting with him in the Hyundai store after a WIG meeting run by Brain King and Sam Bracken. After everyone left, he tarried with me for a moment. He counseled me on a few important aspects of life, but he also took time to attentively listen to me and the deep desires of my heart. I love him for that and much more!
I love my Pa and will forever strive to reflect the Leader of the Band.
The very first time I met Mr. Garff I was pushing a vehicle between the body shop and the Honda service building in Ogden. I felt a hand on my back and looked and saw Bob , I had never met him or even knew who he was and he said to me I'm going to stand behind you now and forever.It was a few minutes later that we all went to the showroom and he told us stories and thanked us for what we do and that is when I realized I was part of a very special organization.Bob's words will always be with me and I will cherish them .
When I first joined the KGA team several years ago I remembered a story that Mr. Garff shared at the Christmas luncheon which was amazing. I was fortunate enough a few months ago to have the opportunity to ride along side Mr. Garff in Palm Springs as we enjoyed our bikes through the scenic landscape. I asked him about the story and he chuckled.
The story he had shared at that luncheon and again on the ride was a family story. He shared that when the Garff family crossed as pioneers to settle in Utah, they were unable to bring many items with them. One item that was brought has become extremely valuable and has been passed down through the generations. This item is a pocket watch with the Garff name engraved on it. There are specific instructions that go with the watch as it is handed off to the next generation: (1) Always honor your name and (2) Alway manage your time in a way that honors your name. After that story many of us virtually carry this same watch with us and strive to honor both our names and the Garff name, and manage our time in a way that does that as well.
We definitely join in all of those who have honored Mr. Robert Garff and celebrate an amazing life! Our love and hearts go out to Garff family during this difficult time knowing that there is an eternal perspective on all of this.
The first time I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Garff was at a GM Conference in Palm Springs. I was fortunate enough to sit at his table that night. Mr Garff asked us to introduce ourselves and tell he and Mrs Garff all about our families. He did not ask about our stores or any work details, simply tell us about your families. I thought that was really cool and showed how sincerely interested he was about his employees and their families.
The first time I met Bob, was in the iconic downtown Ken Garff building, overlooking the Salt Lake cityscape.
We had lunch brought in for the meeting (sandwiches, nothing fancy), and before we started our meeting, Bob grabbed the plate of desserts, and walked around the boardroom table making sure everyone got a cookie. It cracked me up at the time, and I eagerly took him up on his kind gesture. Little did I know at the time that this was a great metaphor for who he was as a person.
Essentially every meeting and conversation I had with him since, always started on a personal note, about how the family was, and how things were going.
He was a great example that you can be an amazing leader, and an amazing person. He exemplified how these things are not mutually exclusive.
I didn’t know Bob extremely well, but the interactions I did have with him, truly influenced and inspired me. I'll continue to cherish those few interactions I was lucky enough to share with him.
Sincerest condolences and love to the Garff family during this difficult time.
When I close my eyes and think of Bob I immediately see his warm smile. He just exudes Christ like love. He was a builder. A builder of business, of self esteem and of faith. He had remarkable character and because of that you knew you could trust him. He was a good listener and was engaging. When we were on our NY bike trip, I loved when he opened our dinner conversation and had everyone share a life changing moment. It was so fun to hear from everyone and made the conversation at dinner meaningful and memorable. He brought out the best in everyone and had no guile. He was genuine and kind and unselfish, a true leader and a friend to so many! What a great legacy he has left his posterity Thank you for your example Bob! You will do great things on the other side. Much love to you Kathi. He also had impeccable taste because he married YOU!
It’s been a long time since I worked for the Garff organization but I won’t ever forget the individual kindness Mr. Garff “old Bob” always showed me. It was a pleasure and honor to know him and his family. My heart breaks for them for such a huge loss and under such difficult circumstances. I will pray for them that they may have peace and comfort in this time of sorrow.
A wonderful friend, mentor, and Christ like example of Love and caring. President Garff as he was originally known to me, gave entirely of himself and laid aside the things of the world such as most would find hard to do to attend to a corner of the masters vineyard and invite souls to Christ. I was so fortunate to work so closely with he and Sis Garff and to learn from their warmth, wisdom and kindness. He would instill in us the attitude of greatness and humble service and would constantly tell us, "we are on an eternal journey, not a two year safari." His family is his legacy and they all are cut from that same cloth of goodness and service to others. I will always remember his soul cry from the train platform as he would bid farewell in tears to those with whom he had helped grow in the service of the Lord. Over the many years since he was always a listening ear and a sage of sorts with a story to reflect the good that is in others and the abundance of the mortal sojourn even in the midst of challenge and trial. He never would flag or fail. He was my friend and I will miss him greatly.
I was so sad to hear of Roberts passing. I saw Robert and Kathi for the last time a couple of years ago at the Palm Springs airport. I never remember seeing Robert without Kathi. They were truly a team. They were always so kind to me. The thing I remember most about Robert is his smile and that twinkle in his eye. Sending hugs and prayers to Kathi and the family❤️
After over thirty three years of employment and financial involvement with Robert Garff, the Garff Family and the Garff companies, I express my appreciation to Robert for so many memorable experiences. I was blessed to experience and watch Robert grow the Garff companies from a relatively small, local group of companies to a much diversified group of business entities. Robert always made me feel comfortable in freely expressing my opinions no matter how much they may differ from his. I always felt his respect. He was a master of meshing diverse opinions into workable and profitable business plans.
Robert - like your father, you have created a great legacy that will continue to be felt forever.
Dear Matt and Nicole,
We were so sorry to hear about the passing of Matt's father. Please know of our deepest sympathies and thoughts for you at this difficult time.
We remember so vividly when Elder Garff, an Area Seventy, spoke in our stake conference. It was abundantly clear he was a true disciple of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and an example of pure love. We could feel of his deep concern, compassion and charity for us and our stake members. What an amazing man he was and what incredible and unsurpassed accomplishments he achieved in his lifetime.
On this day of the graveside service, we pray the Lord's comfort and peace will be with both of you, your children and extended family. We are so grateful to have you as friends and ward members.
Love and prayers,
David & Rose
Very saddened to read about the passing away of President Garff and I offer my deepest condolences to the family. I can honestly say that President Garff was one of the most humble, friendly and genuine persons that I have ever come across in my life. I will always remember him with the deepest of respect and admiration. Love and best wishes, Iain.
My deepest condolences to the entire Garff Family.
Many of my fondest teenage memories included my association with Bob.
The Harmsens lived across the street on Laird Ave from the Garffs. Bob And I went Jr High, HighSchool and College together often times in the same car.
Along with Doug Dunford and Mike Madsen we entered the Air Guard together at age 17, getting up early once a month in our uniforms only to go the airbase auditorium to sleep alongside each other while being taught the finer points of miletary service.
I remember one time Bob and I went to a high school prom on a double date taking one of his dad's brand new model year Oldsmobiles I'm not sure who was driving but we got stuck ofter the dance behind the capitol and Bob had to call a wrecker to retrieve the car and of course Ken was not to happy about that.
Bob and I went on a mission to the same British Mission at the same time. We both wanted to go to England so we arranged to be interviewed by Richard L Evans who favored the English Missions. During Bob's interview ( I'am sure he has told this story many times, but just in case) Bob told Elder Evans that he had some "Quirks" what ever that meant, and Elder Evans thought Bob had said "Quarts"and that prolonged the interview for an extra 30 minutes or more until it was resolved.
Our Teenage years were as were as good as anyone could imagine with a great ward and ward leaders many friends and many role models and many crazy experiences. Bob ALWAYS had that same optisim and good nature that he has been remembered for and I count as one my greatest. blessings to have been a friend of Bob at that time.
A Philosopher once said "What From you fathers' heritage is lent earn it anew to really possess it". Bob did that in every respect
Dear Kathy and family: Ed and I were heart broken to hear of Bobs untimely passing. Bob was a gentle, generous , admirable gentleman. He was a talented leader. He talked less and said more thru his actions. His footprint is: "giving back with love and gratitude." His ability to love and have concern for others was a true gift. He brought joy and comfort too many. A great loss for us and our community. May the Lord bless you and bring you comfort. He is our Healer. Love , Merrill
Dear Kathy and family; To me Bob was a soft spoken thoughtful genuine person. He had the rare ability to make one feel as though you had known him all your life and that you were special to him. A modern day "Will Rogers." I felt that Bob "never met a man (person) he didn't like." Rest in peace my friend. Merrill and I will sorely miss you and your bright smile and charming ways. Love you Ed Wall
To the Garff Family...
Although we never met Mr. Garff, we had property next door to the ranch in Browns Canyon. We loved our little piece of paradise and we had ongoing contact with Gary. Please know that you are all in our thoughts and prayers. We are very sorry for your loss.
With much love,
The Cutler Family
To the Great Bob Garff and wonderful Kathi,
With fondness we’d like to share a few memories. We’re Dale and Barbara Newbold. We had the pleasure of meeting both of you shortly after returning to Utah in 1977, after living in Dayton, Ohio for several years.
We bought a home on Chelsea Drive, which put us in the same ward with both of you. Not long after we were there, a new ward was formed, and Bob was called as Bishop. The ward was unique, since it started with only about 137 members, but with the knowledge that rapid growth would occur in the area. That rapid growth occurred and quickly brought the Ward population to over 300 members.
For an extended time, I had the privilege of serving as the Priest’s Quorum advisor in that Ward, while Bob filled his role as President of the Priests Quorum. Thus, I have memories of many enriching experiences with Bishop Garff and the great young men of the Priests Quorum.
I was blessed to be the “Home Teacher” to Bob, Kathy and family for several years; where I was always treated with great respect. It was always a pleasure to be with both of you and your children.
Bob also helped me purchase several cars. Always giving me special consideration. Very much appreciated!
Bob also gave employment to our son, Mike. Thus, Mike became a trained, highly qualified auto mechanic. Both of us, and Mike, so appreciate Bob doing so.
As the years progressed, Bob was installed as Stake President of the North Canyon Stake and my wife, Barbara, was called as Stake Relief Society President. She remembers many fond, spiritual experiences serving under President Garff’s direction. “He was such a sweetheart to work under---efficient, and yet kind and thoughtful.”
(Barbara) “Many years later as I was recovering from Guilliam Barre in the hospital and learning how to walk and eat and move again, here came President Garff through the door of the therapy room to see how I was progressing. This was the IHC hospital on 53 rd South, so it was not a convenient visit for him. What a pleasant surprise for me, to try to walk to the door of the therapy room to give him a hug. How I appreciated his thoughtfulness! It was so wonderful to see his familiar face!”
Later, I had the privilege of serving as a Bishop in the North Canyon Stake under President Garff’s direction. We had many special experiences together during that time. One unique experience was my release. I had been called as a Regional Representative. When called, I was informed that President Garff knew of my calling and the need for my immediate release. However, when contacting him to arrange my release, I found he had not been informed. Even so, I needed him to come and announce my release as Bishop and that I would immediately be moving on to my other calling.
We had an interesting discussion. He maintained I was now senior to him and therefore I should handle my own release. He came to the Sacrament Meeting when such occurred, but insisted I announce my new situation to the Ward; including that my counselors would take over immediately while I pursued organizing a Regional Conference three weeks away. Unique experience together!
I served in the Bountiful Temple Presidency during the time Bob was serving as an Area Authority Seventy and represented the Temple Presidency in several Area Council meetings conducted by Elder Garff. All such meetings were conducted with great spirituality and efficiency. It was always good to be with him.
I was a Sealer in the Bountiful Temple for several years. During three of those years, Bob served as President and Kathi as Matron of the Temple. Again, many wonderful experiences were shared.
Bob and Kathi Garff! Great individuals! Your lives have blessed ours and thousands of others. Kathi, may your memories be sweet, and your consolation be complete; knowing the Lord knows of the great service each of you has provided.
May the Lord bless you and your family always! We love you!
With great love and appreciation,
Dale and Barbara Newbold
I have attempted multiple times to put into words the tender feelings of my heart for Uncle Robert (old Bob) but I have always been weak with words and fear they will not adequately convey my deep gratitude and appreciation for him.
He has been an important influence in my life ever since I can remember. Of course I can’t talk about him without including Aunt Kathi because they worked together as one and were quite the dynamic duo. His warm jovial smile and welcoming manner made me feel right at home when staying with them at Indian Springs. I always loved going there for family gatherings, parties, BBQ’s and celebrations. I can picture him now in his apron with a mischievous grin on his joyful face. I also enjoyed time spent at the cabin in Brighton and Park City playing the player piano and riding the 4 wheeler. I loved that he always had a story to tell or something to teach us.
We have had unforgettable experiences at Deseret, Heiner’s Canyon and the Garff family ranch. One that stands out as remarkable is when I was a young girl I was staying with them at their home in Park City and he drove us to the newly purchased property of the current Garff ranch when it was just sagebrush. He told us that this land was our legacy and hollowed ground. He talked about family, love, loyalty to each other and our Heavenly parents and elder brother Jesus Christ. He bore his testimony and also shared his vision of what the ranch might someday become. I remember feeling an awe and reverence and gratitude for such marvelous blessings. He was truly a visionary man and knew how to dream big.
When I was in High School I took a trip to Europe with my humanities class and while we were there my step cousin, Sarah Scalley (Howe), and I got to go spend a couple of days with them in the mission home in Coventry, England. We attended a zone conference with all of his missionaries and at the end he invited the two of us to come up and bare our testimonies. That experience left a profound impression upon me and was an important stepping stone in my decision to serve a mission of my own.
He and Kathi have showed by example how important it is to gather family together and keep each other close. I love how they honor their heritage and believe in taking the best of it and improving upon it. Along with my own dear parents they have taught us the blessing and responsibility it is to be a Garff. I have watched them take many individuals who were struggling under their wings and embrace them and love them during difficult times. They know how to make you feel special and a part of something great!
In recent months I have found myself thinking often upon all of the experiences I have had with him and pondering upon the things I have learned from him. I have had an overwhelming desire to express my love, gratitude and appreciation to him. I recently tried to express all of these tender feelings to him but I just don’t know if he realized how deeply heartfelt and truly sincere they were. I know he and Kathi and my cousins are an important part of my earthy journey and I don’t know what I would do without them. I am a better person because of them. Words are insufficient in conveying how much I cherish them.
I am grateful for the knowledge that someday we will be together again and I can embrace him and we can all rejoice together. Until that time I will try to be a better human and carry on the Garff legacy of love, loyalty and service to mankind. I love you old Bob!
Uncle Robert carried the most unique, precious spirit with him. He always made me feel big, important and loved.
Every time I saw him he’d give me the biggest hug, smile and say to whoever was closest to us, “she gives the best hugs.” ( ironic, because I thought the exact same thing about him ) and instructed my dad more than once to make sure to hug me often.
He also told my mom that I was the “sweetheart of the family” something I remind her of to this day.
Uncle Robert, you are greatly missed. You have impacted so many lives and blessed so many hearts. God be with you till we meet again.
I had the privilege of working for Bob Garff (and Kathi, John, Rick, Matt, and Craig) shortly after he and Kathi returned from the England Coventry Mission. After he hired me, we discovered that my grandmother had served in with them in England, and he knew my grandfather from years past. It was a delightful coincidence that made working with him even more enjoyable. Bob did big things that had a tremendous impact on our community. These things are well documented and every word of praise that has been written about him is true. But the most impactful things Bob did are kept close to the hearts of those who knew him, for he made every individual feel special. All of those little things add up to more than the big things and are the real legacy of Bob Garff.
Kathi, the circumstances of Bob’s passing seem especially tragic right now. My thoughts are with you with hope for your improved health as you manage through this challenge. Bob taught me a lesson for challenging times. He said that things will be okay if “your rudder runs deep.” He explained to me that although the seas are rough on the surface and the waves crash and the winds blow and your ship is rocked, if your rudder runs deep, down where the water is calm, that will steady your vessel as you sail through trials and challenges. I have always remembered that beautiful lesson and reflected on it when I have needed peace and strength. It is one of many lessons that he taught, when I didn’t even realize that he was teaching me.
I will always appreciate my friendship with Bob and his wonderful family. I send my love and prayers to all of you at this time, and always.
Nancy Knapp Brown
34 years ago a good friend recommended that I work for the Ken Garff Auto group, and I quickly learned why. Ken himself was so kind and caring and Robert was following in his footsteps and would always take the time to talk with me and ask about my family. One day I ran into Robert at the Oldsmobile store and I couldn't help myself showing him all the great features of the new 98 Regency! Robert stood there and listened to me share my enthusiasm and agreed with me that this was a great vehicle as he got into his Mercedes Benz and drove off. I realized then what a wonderful person he was.
Today is a very sad day for many reasons. Number one being the Great Robert Garff is being laid to rest. Sad because all of his friends are not able to be with the family to celebrate such a wonderful human being. It has been a pleasure to work for this man and all he stands for, the past almost ten years. Before that I knew him riding the range at the Garff Roger Ranch, chasing cows, he really did ride for the brand! I feel honored to have consider him a friend. Kathi, I am so sorry for this tremendous loss. I can only hope that you will be comforted by all of your wonderful memories and great family. He will always be by your side, til you meet again. All my love Greta
I have been avoiding my entry here, taking personal time to grieve the passing of Bob Garff. It's almost like I could somehow hold onto him for just a little longer before saying goodbye. Today, being the day he is laid to rest, seems appropriate.
There are a few people that one meets in one's life that leave and indelible mark on your soul. For me "Old Bob" was one of those people.
I first met Old Bob in mid 1987 in England while serving in the England Coventry Mission (ECM). There was much anticipation and speculation amongst the missionaries of the ECM as we anticipated the arrival of the Garff Family. We had heard that Bob Garff was in the car sales business and many of us wondered if we were going to be serving along side a "typical car salesman". I was to discover there was nothing "typical" about Bob Garff. He was a unique a special human being.
Right from our first meeting we shared a special connection. I was drawn to his authentic love for people. His insights and wisdom that he so freely, yet humbly, shared carried a continues stream of invaluable life lessons. I never saw him flustered or angry. I never saw him be unkind or disrespectful to anyone. There was a pure love that flowed naturally from him.
He was a busy and important man. His successes are well documented. He always had time for me. Our association continued through the years, despite the fact that we lived on different continents about as far from each other we could be on earth. He valued his relationships deeply. His influence could always be felt with simple words of encouragement or the simple action of pounding his heart to show his affection without using words.
No tribute to Old Bob would be complete without mention of his wife Kathi. A remarkable individual in her own right. Together they formed a formidable team. They compliment each other is so many ways and their love for each other is tangible. Thank you Kathi and your family for sharing your husband and father with me.
I was fortunate to grow up with a remarkable father in my own home. The highest compliment I can give to Old Bob is that he was a second father to me. He was a good man, a very very good man. It has been a privilege for me to know him.
Sending unending love to his beautiful family.
Go well my friend. Till we meet again.
"Love looks not with eyes, but with the mind: and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind." (A Midsummer Night's Dream Act 1, Scene 1).
"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts." (As You Like It Act 2, Scene 7)
I served in the England Coventry Mission with Robert and Kathi Garff. They have always been great examples of Love, Compassion, Charity, Humility, and Goodness. I have had many interactions with Robert since my mission and he always knew my name, asked about my wife and kids, was genuinely interested in me and my well being. Always with a smile on his face, with a warm handshake and that look that showed just how much he really cared about you. I have been blessed to have known him, to have associated with him and I will miss him. I know that his spirit still is working hard to continue to bring ALL of Gods children unto a sure knowledge of the Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks Bob! Love ya...
Kathy and Garff Family:
Lorrie and I were deeply saddened when we learned of Bob's battle with Covid-19 and subsequent passing.
Our family moved into Kathy's ward in Millcreek in 1959 when I was 15 years old. I believe Kathy's father was Bishop at the time.
I first met Bob when I returned from my mission to Rarotonga in 1966 and Bob and Kathy had married and were living in our East Millcreek ward. Bob and Kathy taught Sunday School to the Young Adults. I had known Doug and Kathy Bagley for several years. Lorrie and I continue to see Doug and Margaret on a fairly regular basis, mostly at Delta Phi gatherings. Doug has helped us more to new residences on at least 3 times.
I have worked with Bob on several professional projects over the years. When Bob became Chairman of the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, I replaced him on the Ethics Board of that movement.
A few years ago when Bob was preparing to assume his responsibilities as President of the Bountiful Temple, we shared a week-long fishing trip to Alaska and were roommates for a couple of nights.
I have always admired Bob with respect to all aspects of his life. Lorrie and I continue to have the Garff family in our prayers and know the Lord will remain with you, especially today as you hold your memorial service.
Sincerely with love,
Bob has been a part of my life since I was a 10 year old girl in England. He is a wonderful, kind, intelligent human being.
I sat across the table from Bob at many Hanks Foundation meetings, as he patiently but with unbendingness focused us in the right direction.
I will truly miss his presence on the earth. I had great respect and affection for him.
I am so sorry for the loss of our amazing leader. His life has been an inspiration to us all. As an employee at Southtown CDJ, (in this little town of Indianola, Iowa) I want to let his family know that his influence has blessed our lives and his spirit will continue to keep him alive in our daily lives and thoughts, forever. My heartfelt condolences and prayers are with you!
I am very impressed with how he remembered my name everytime he came into the dealership! He showed true love and concern for every employee that worked for him. He was a great man! I have much respect for him and his family. I pray that his family finds comfort in this tragic time. God bless. Rest in peace Robert.
I’m still finding it hard to take this in, it’s difficult to believe that Bob will not be around to take a call from me. It was never about him but always about you. You would ask how he and Kathy were and quickly and usually without me realising it was then turned to questions about me and my family. He was my hero and won my respect as a missionary countless times. I remember on one occasion we had spent most of the day organising missionary transfers together and it was a difficult one. He then left us to pray and consider all the changes and then came back after a long time and said ‘We need to start again’ when we were running out of time. He loved all his missionaries and would make all of us feel like we were his priority. He spoke at my wedding and his prophesy came true I would be married within 12 months of my return home, I tried my hardest to prove him wrong by lasting 11 months but he was always right :)
Moving to Utah gave me the opportunity to be close but I should have done more than just the few lunches etc to meet up, I regret that. Bob will always hold a fond place in my heart and as he is laid to rest my love goes to Kathi and the family, he has left a legacy and memories that I will forever cherish.
I’ve been wanting to do this. But every time I’d start I wouldn’t get very far before not being able to continue. But I want to do this before he is laid to rest tomorrow.
Bob was a friend, mentor and the kindest, most Christ-like man I ever knew. And he is mainly responsible for where I am and what I am today.
We first met in England where he would be my spiritual leader for 2 years. And I would of course get to know him and learn from him in that capacity. But it wasn’t until the years after we both returned from England that a deeper friendship was forged.
He was selfless with his time, which always amazed me given how busy he was and the many responsibilities he had. Which is also a testament to his wife and children, who shared him with me and so many others.
He had a keen interest in my success in life. And I the same amount of interest in continuing to learn from him. I enjoyed and benefited from the numerous lunches, golf rounds, visits to he and Kathi’s house or telephone calls we had over the years. Lunch, golf and visits were easy when we worked only a few blocks apart for a couple of years. But once I moved to DC it had to be phone calls or emails.
When I would go to Salt Lake or he would be in DC we would always try and meet up for lunch or dinner. One of the more memorable times was one of the first years after I moved to DC. I was back in Utah for a visit and gave him a call to set up lunch. He wasn’t going to be available for lunch during the days I was going to be there. I was bummed. But he then asked me did I happen to have my golf clubs with me (I did) and if so would I want to come and golf in his company’s golf tournament tomorrow. We could have a little time to visit then. I said I would I would love that and thank you.
I showed up the next morning at the golf course, expecting to see him for a little bit before or after the round. But figuring that would be it. It’s his company’s golf tournament, and he owns the company, so he’s probably going to be pretty busy. So imagine my surprise when I walked up to the registration table to check in and the gentleman says to me “Oh, Mr. White. We’ve been expecting you. I’ll take you to you and Mr. Garff’s cart”. He had arranged for me to ride and play with him. Which I am sure there was a General Sales Manager or other employee or vendor who should have been in his cart with him. I was honored. And during the round we would drive around between holes of golf (it was his golf tournament, so he took some liberties to skip a hole or two and just drive around and say “hi and thanks for being here” to everyone). And the first thing he would say upon pulling up to the various golfers would be this: “Hi everyone. This is Derrick White, one of my missionaries from England. He’s visiting from Washington, D.C. where he works with Senator Hatch. He’s kind of a big deal.” It was a little awkward and embarrassing at first, but after the first few times we were joking about it. As we would approach other golfers I would say “Now don’t forget to tell them I am a big deal”. “Oh, I won’t!” he would reply. I don’t remember much about the actual golf that day. But I remember it being one of the best rounds of my life because of who I was with and the laughter and great time catching up.
If I had a big decision to make about a job or school, he would be happy to talk about it and share his opinion and counsel. If I needed a recommendation or a reference, “Just tell me who it’s going to and when you need it by”. I could never begin to repay him for all that he gave to me in the form of guidance or assistance with these things. As his son Matt said in a post honoring his father shortly after his death, “It’s just who he is”.
He will be laid to rest tomorrow with just a few family members able to attend. I sorely wish, as do many, many others, that I could be there to honor this giant of a man and gem of a human being. But for now this will have to serve as my goodbye.
I wonder what “Old Bob” would say to help us through this world-wide pandemic that took his life and has us locked away in our houses indefinitely. I have no doubt it would be something spiritually nourishing and comforting. But I definitely know a couple of exhortations he would leave us with: “Be good to yourself” and “Garffs NEVER give up!”.
Farewell my friend. Thank you again for touching my life and helping me to become the person I am today. My heart aches that you are gone, but in the words of the Psalmist David; “Weeping may endure for a night but joy cometh in the morning.”.
To my hero, my mentor, my friend and most gratefully my father-in-law Bob Garff,
It was almost 35 years ago when I first met Robert Garff. It was the fall of 1986 and I was entering my junior year at the University of Utah. The fall classes I was taking found me sitting next to a beautiful young lady by the name of Jennifer Garff. We soon found ourselves dating and falling in love. I met Bob and Kathi Garff at Market Street Grill where I wanted to make the best impression possible. That night thinking, I was playing footsie with Jennifer under the table, only to find myself running my foot up and down Kathi’s leg thinking it was Jennifer’s leg. This was how my first meeting went. I am sure that Bob Garff was sizing me up and thinking what does my daughter see in this young man. Or at least that was what I thought. Boy was I wrong.
What Bob was thinking is how can I help build, shape, take interest, support, teach, and mentor this young man into something more. I couldn’t have ever had a better mentor in my life. Bob Garff was so much more to me personally. He spent countless hours teaching me about the car business, about how to be a better husband, how to be a better father, and most importantly how to be an upstanding person in the community and put others first.
Today being April 9th, Jennifer and I share the same wedding anniversary that Bob and Kathi Garff share. We have been married for 34 years. I have been blessed beyond measure to have married the most amazing and wonderful women who I love and cherish more than words can express. I feel the same way about my Father and Mother In Law. They have been our greatest cheerleaders, not only to us but to our children and our grandchildren. There isn’t anything that Bob and Kathi Garff wouldn’t do to help our family. And over these 34 years I have always felt loved beyond measure.
I remember just before Bob and Kathi were getting ready to leave for the Coventry England Mission and Jennifer and I had been married for maybe two weeks and still in school. Jennifer told me go in and see by dad about selling cars. Jennifer said to me, “You have a natural talent with sales and this would be a great fit.” I was intimidated to meet with Bob about the car business, but I loved sales. He gave me great advice and told me that when you come into the family business, you are now considered part of our family. You will be watched and scrutinized, and you need to work twice as hard and expect half the recognition. In fact, being a son in law it will be even more difficult because you married into the family. You need to set an example for others and be honest in all that you do. I have lived by that philosophy and am grateful for that moment when he invited me to work in his company and the company his father founded.
Bob Garff was patient with me, he taught me how to be a best I could be and what I appreciated about Bob is that he looked at me and saw what I could be, not what I was at that time. He made me feel better than I really was and that I had great potential, that I could do anything if I put the work and the effort into the goal. Bob would always be willing to give me more opportunities that would challenge me and help me grow. From automotive management positions, corporate positions, and finally overseeing the educational initiatives that were so important to Bob and Kathi.
I have too many stories to share but several were lifelong lessons to me and my family. I remember when Jennifer was diagnosed for the first time at age 29 with breast cancer. I remember how Bob rallied the ward and friends and we had a special fast for Jennifer. We gathered at the chapel of our ward and we were preparing the kneel in prayer. I remember that Bob found a quiet moment before we broke our fast and said to me, “Rick, Jennifer will be just fine! She is in the Lord’s hands and I know that the priesthood power is real and can heal. If we are united in faith and prayer, Jennifer will be just fine.” Bob taught me the power of the priesthood, the power of faith, and the power of being united together in fasting. I have had many priesthood blessings from Bob, I was set apart as a Bishop from Bob because he was the Area Authority at that time and oversaw the Northern Utah area including my young single adult ward.
I have spent countless hours golfing, fishing, hunting, biking, walking, driving, selling, game playing, grilling, storytelling, praying, temple attending, business managing, foundation building, and counseling with Bob. When I couldn’t work out certain types of problems, he was my go-to if Jennifer and I couldn’t figure it out together. He always seemed to have a calm caring approach knowing that all would be well and that we would find the answer.
Finally, Bob was so proud of what we were accomplishing with our three big initiatives in the foundation. Keys to Success, Road to Success, and Code to Success, he loved speaking to children and sharing the importance of education. He always stated that education was the greatest common denominator in a person’s life and that it would single handedly do more to change a person for the better and would be the greatest changing agent for all other societal woes.
What Bob Garff has done for me is made me into a better husband, father, friend, leader, and so much more. I am eternally grateful that Bob Garff believed in me and could see my potential.
I love you Ol Bob!!!
Until we meet again!!
Love, Rick Folkerson
I only met your Father on a couple brief occasions. One however was longer and very meaningful.
When I accompanied my oldest son William to the Bountiful Temple for his own endowment he and I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down and visit with your Dad as he talked to us about the blessings and importance of the Temple. I remember his powerful testimony. I remember his great faith. I remember his love of Heavenly Father and Jesus.
And I remember in spite of just meeting him the kindness, gentleness and love he expressed to my son who was nervous and anxious as he prepared to go through the temple for the first time. That meant the world to me!
A wonderful man of God!
I hope and pray that you, your mother and family are somehow finding some peace during this very very sober time.
Hey Matt, you have been on my mind over the past week. Im sorry you lost your father, what a magnificent man he was. I only had a few short moments with him one I would like to share with you. I have been dealing with a family issue that has caused me great torment. I felt inspired to arrange a lunch with your dad and we ended up going on March the 4th. I told myself whatever Bob recommends, Im doing. He was able to help me realize how things were not as bad as it seemed, he helped me regain hope in the gospel. I felt for some odd reason this would be our last lunch together, I was able to let him know how much I appreciated him as my mission president and how much he has blessed our lives. He gave some study recommendations that i am in the process of completing. I felt the spirit with him so much, I love my dad but he isnt in the church and it felt so comforting to be giving father like counsel. I asked him what he has been up to and what he is doing for fun and he said going to work with his boys and watching them run the business. He is so proud of you, to see his smile when he said this was also great. I know he is proud of the man you have become. This was one of best lunch experience i have had in the last 30 years. Thanks for sharing your dad with me!
Bob was a wonderful man and I feel lucky I got to work with him for a short time and to to know him. It is always amazing to rub shoulders with great men and women. You always hope that some of what makes them great runs off on you.
I think with Bob, I gleaned many things, compassion in trials, hard work and taking responsibility for the many things that fall under your per view even when you had little control over the outcomes. I was so impressed with how humble and kind he was. Everyone was treated as an equal and as someone important with something to contribute. There were many on the Olympic committee that were not like that. He was a breath of fresh air. He inspired those around him to be better and to step outside themselves.
I am truly grateful I got the chance to work with and get to know him a little.
OLD MAN BOB
Sitting in the twilight
Remember our eyes cried in the rain
When we shook hands and departed
We promised to meet again.
There is no need now to feed you
Though we still feel we need you
But you’re now on the land you most like to roam.
No need to battle
Some days riding bareback but others in the saddle
On the eternal ranch you call home.
Your dying is like a burning ember
Burning in my brain
I close my eyes and remember
Why our eyes were crying in the rain.
Someday we’ll meet on your ranch beyond
We’ll shake hands again
On that ranch that has no parting, we’ll remember
Why our eyes cried in the rain.
England Coventry Mission
For President Garff
Just reviewing the many, many "memories" his friends and associates have posted here says everything
there is to say about Bob. He was my friend, and I knew him well, not from church, politics or business.
I knew him from sharing a golf cart and four hours in his company many times in the last few years.
In a world dominated these days by ego-centrists, Bob was the refreshing exception...filled with
humility and concern for others. Kathi, Kaye and I were so pleasantly surprised one night at your home,
during one of Bob's "Tell us all a story about yourself" sessions, to learn that Coretta King (MLK'S widow)
was a friend and business associate of yours. We honor the divine in Bob and in each member of your family.
Deepest condolences to all of the Garff family. Grandpa Ned Winder had a warm spot in his heart for Bob, and I grew up hearing nothing but good words about his kindness, humor, and loyalty. My experience with him and his entire family in the years since have proven all of those good things to be true. Warmest love from all of us on Winder Lane!
Blaine and Leonore Parkinson served in the England Coventry Mission under President Garff's leadership. Chapter 13 of Blaine's personal history is devoted to the Parkinsons' experiences on that mission. This is one paragraph: "[Robert and Kathi] Garff were most kind to us, and they always talked about being the mission parents of all the missionaries. They made everyone feel like they really loved them and would do anything for them. When they held meetings, President Garff always preached out of the scriptures, and Sister Garff did too. They prepared what they called "study sheets." They took a topic like "The Godhead" and wrote a little about it in an 8 1/2 X 11-inch folder. They listed scriptures about the Godhead and significant points and worked out a scholarly approach. They often told the missionaries, "We want you, when you complete this mission, to be schooled in the gospel. We want you to be converted to Jesus Christ, not just to have been a missionary." We appreciated that, and I think their attitude had an important influence on the missionaries who served with them. After our mission when I was in the dealership one day, I made a point of telling President Garff how much I had appreciated his loving, thoughtful instruction. He about wept, and he said,"Of all the people in the whole world who could have told me that, you're the one I could believe. You and your wife are schooled in the gospel. We know your depth of study, and we know you understood what we were doing." Before that, I'd never seen him emotional at all. He was a self-assured, competent guy, but he appreciated my comment. So I was glad I told him that.
I enjoyed Bob's company on a couple of bicycling trips in the last few years. He was never the first person in the group to finish the day's ride, but he would pedal along consistently, enjoying Kathy's and our group's companionship.
After a day's ride along the Hudson River last fall, he spoke of the enjoyment he had from helping to organize the successful 2002 Olympics.
Kathy, please accept my sympathy and may you be well.
Marianne Cone Chaplin
I had the great privilege of working with Bob Garff and he was always on his game. He knew what to do, what to say, and how to resolve problems. I watched him as he labored over being fair with his family and fair with his workforce. All of that he did without ever putting himself above anyone else. His accomplishments are well stated by others but not by Bob.
When it came time to support the community he always told me to do that first and take care of the car business after that. His legacy will live forever and his family will continue to carry on in the "Bob Garff Way.' All my love to the family.
My warmest condolences to all of the Garff family. I first met Bob in January 1979 when he sat in his first legislative session. From our first meeting talking and working on legislation, I knew he was a very special person and destined to become a leader in that body. Through those years, we worked together on a number of integral pieces of legislation benefiting the people of Utah, not just his district. Since then, our paths crossed a number of times and at each juncture his warmth and professionalism was always appreciated. His legacy will go on for years as a humble and willing leader of our state. I have been fortunate to also work with John and Melissa and like their father they are grounded and committed to community. My heart, prayers and love go to all members of the family.
I first met Bob when I was appointed to the Salt Lake Winter Olympic Organizing committee as a community representative. I am saddened by the loss of this very special person. He was such a thoughtful and kind individual and so giving to those around him. I appreciated his patience with me as a new member of the committee and his willingness to mentor me. I valued his leadership for the many challenging decisions he had to make during that time and valued our ongoing friendship post Olympics. His legacy can be felt throughout Utah and his kind smile will be missed. My sincerest condolences.
A few years ago , Bob was recovering from a difficult leg injury. Clark Robinson called me on the phone and suggested we take him out the next morning and play nine holes of golf. The summer morning was beautiful and the course in the middle of the week was not crowded, a perfect day for some casual golf. Bob greeted me in his warm and approachable manner, asking about Norma and my children as we walked to the first tee.
Golf is a social game. It gave us time to catch up with one another on family, friends, and business. Golf is also conducive to good-natured banter, especially on the tee box. Bob had used his three wood to hit his drive on the first hole. However on the third hole, feeling warmed up and a bit more confident, he pulled a new, very long-shafted driver from his bag, and removed the head cover. When he addressed the ball it appeared to me to be the largest driver head I had ever seen! I commented, "Bob, the head on that driver looks like a Volkswagen on a long stick!" Bob was head down with a smile on his face considering his new driver, then suddenly looked up at Clark and me and started to laugh. He couldn't swing for a few moments while he ruminated over the thought. Bob finally said, "For a person in my position, a car guy, I've got to remember that!"
It was his voice I remember... so calm, reassuring, positive. And ALWAYS asking the same question, "It's good to see you. How's your family?"
I remember his voice from many pulpits- speaking with warmth, love, and conviction of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, quoting & explaining scriptures, and sharing wonderful stories. His voice consistently expressed his deep love and respect for his beloved Kathi, and his remarkable children & grandchildren.
Bob's kindness, steadiness, concern, and Christ-like love for others lives on in his wonderful family; and I will be forever blessed to have known and loved Bob Garff.
I will always remember fondly how you and your husband sustained us when our beloved son, Spencer, passed away at Primary Children's Hospital. You both offered us so much comfort as you gave us advice, expressed love and were just wonderful. Kathi, you called my OB Doc. because I was having contractions too early in my pregnancy. You were so sweet and caring. I'm sure this was an example of the kind of things you two did on a regular basis. Thank you again with all out hearts and may you be blessed with peace that this is the part of a great plan. We will all rejoice.
I wanted to write to you personally and extend my sincerest condolences at the passing of your father.
We are grateful for the nearly 30 years the Garff family has been our brand partners. We value the investment and the belief your father had in our shared future. The Garff family have been great stewards of our brands over the many years as evidenced by the multiple Pride and Pinnacle awards bestowed on your dealerships over the years. You and your family must be so proud of his successes, from the retailer group to his political and philanthropic service. Above all else, he was a family man and believed in the team that helped build his legacy. We have no doubt the business is in great hands.
Please be sure to pass on my deepest sympathies and wishes for a speedy recovery to your mother and sister. My hope is that fond memories help to fill the void and ease your grief.
Joachim (Joe) Eberhardt
President & CEO
Bob was, I think, the kindest man I have ever met. My husband worked with Bob at the Ken Garff corporate office and we had the great opportunity to travel with the Garff family several times. Despite only seeing Bob once or maybe twice a year, he always remembered me, specifically by name, who my husband was, our children, and he asked about them by name. That someone of that stature would remember my four little children was incredible. Bob was generous, humble, and modest, despite his many and great accomplishments, and in a world where you can be anything - and Bob was everything - he was kind.
When Bob was Stake President of the Bountiful North Canyon Stake, I served as an Elders Quorum President for awhile. One night I had a PPI with my Presidency at the stake, not with Bob, and the encounter was, to be mild, quite unnerving and discouraging. When Bob learned how devastating it had been to me, he reached out with a letter of apology offering encouragement.
Another time, my wife Laurie and I had attended the Bountiful Temple for a session. When we exited to the temple parking lot, we found we were parked next to a frustrated Bob Garff. There he was in a new luxurious and beautiful Mercedes Benz. However, it had a flat tire and low and behold, the jack was missing from the trunk, so he and Kathy were stranded. Laurie and I were delighted to accept an invitation to give them a ride home. For us the funny part was, they were now riding in a very moderate economical car.
One more story. When I became a Bishop of the Bountiful North Canyon 6th Ward, I had a funeral to conduct shortly thereafter for Bill King. Bob attended being very acquainted with the King family and as an Area 70 Authority. I conducted the meeting. Our concluding speaker was Russ Campbell our Stake President. After he spoke, I took the opportunity to make a few more remarks. At the conclusion of the meeting, Bob took me aside to offer some advice. He identified that when I conduct a service, I should never make additional remarks after one of higher position has been the concluding speaker. He said he himself had learned that the hard way from President Boyd K. Packer. He did this very kindly without any condemnation. He stated that we simply learn from our experiences.
Bob was Bishop when we moved into our home in 1979. My wife Laurie knew Bob and Kathy Garff and family very well since they had lived in the same ward area years before. Whenever, through the years, I had the privilege of running into Bob and Kathy, they were always so gracious and kind. We love them both and the Garff family. I will miss seeing Bob's smile. God bless the Garff family. They have been a blessing to so many of us.
Jennifer, John, Melissa, Matthew and Mary.... I cannot even begin to express my heartache at hearing of your Dad's passing, my love and my respect and admiration for your Dad and Mom... (I cannot speak of one without the other. They are a true team, companionship and soulmates..)The news was a complete jolt to my system.. The love, kindness, friendship and example they have been to me and to my family cannot be expressed adequately. They are angels in my life.. They have ministered to me and my parents in countless ways over these many years... My England Coventry mission experience. When my children passed away(they came to the hospital and funerals... brought burial clothing, prayed with me and for me...) Going to Africa with Bob and Kathi. This experience was vital in my healing and ability to move forward after my 2 oldest children passed away. When my Dad needed Bob for a very significant event in his life and our families lives... Bob came... Through the years the letters and visits. Especially the visit when Dad was sick with cancer last fall.... Bob and Kathi would call my parents often to check on them and me... Bob's council and caring and your mothers wisdom and love and her hugs... His 'soul cries'... I do know that his reunions are extraordinary on the other side. Oh how I rejoice at ever knowing 'Old Bob' and Mama kathi... Through this COVID19 experience i have thought so often of pioneers in our history and throughout history. I do know with a surety that 'All is Well' with your father and Mother. They have only aspired to 'be good' and 'do good' to even be as our Savior... They are... Please accept the love of my family and my love, my prayers and my faith in your behalf at this time. I know your testimony of eternal families and the Plan of Happiness is sure. I know that knowing still doesn't mean we don't ache for the association we must now wait upon the Lord for. Specifically I pray that the peace that surpasses all understanding will be given in abundance to you all and your amazing family.. Stacie Smith Shurtliff or as Kathi always calls me 'Stacie Sue'
It has been diﬃcult to share my feelings about Robert, but I will now make an eﬀort to do so.
I was so proud to be associated with Robert and to have worked with him for so many years. It has been so nice to see the many public tributes: billboards, newspaper stories, online communications, and the television spot before conference. They really brought to light his many contributions to this community. In a strange way, it has made things easier for me as he got the recognition he so deserved after so many years of service and so many accomplishments.
His example will live on in the lives of all who really knew him as we try to emulate to some degree the things he taught us as he lived his life.
For me, he was more like a father than a boss. He was always straight forward with me and I could always count on our meetings ending on a positive note even when we were dealing with a diﬃcult problem. I’ve reﬂected on his class and kindness as we did so. What a great mentor!
I will miss his short thoughts at the end of every GM conference. He could always drive his point home with a story from history or from his personal life. I will miss how he made me feel like I was the only one in the room and that he sincerely cared about me and how I doing. He did truly care, and I knew it.
I loved his Code of The West references as it always took me back to my roots in Wyoming. In spite of all his accomplishments, he was one of the most grounded men I’ve had the privilege of knowing. I love that great man!
Bob was a great and kind man. He always had time for you and would return your call. He was a leader and one who when he saw a worthy cause he would contribute in many ways. Like his father he was a life long Republican who served his party, his state & Country. His children are following in his footsteps. He was a faithful Church member who led in many different positions. His memory will live on with his friends and family. To the family our families sincere condolences.
Katharine and Linda, I am sorry I never got to meet you. I've been acquainted with Robert and Gary through my father Max Dean working for 30 years with Ken Garff. Ken dedicated my fathers grave upon his passing. My first job was parking cars at the service station for Ken Garff. Gary do you remember coming to our cabin at Sunnybrook? That is where I first met you and Robert. I have fond memories of our conversations at the service station. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Garff family at this time and days to come. I will always love the time spent together.
Dear Kathi and family,
I was so saddened to hear of the loss of Bob. He was so incredibly kind to me over the many years that I have known your family. When I would run into him at events at the University of Utah, he always remembered who I was and asked about my family. My mom thought so highly of him. Please know that so many people are praying for your family for comfort and peace.
My deepest affection,
One of the great joys of living where we do, is our sweet association with Bob and Kathi Garff. For all these years, we have basked in this sweet friendship, and losing our dear friend Bob has rocked us. We nevertheless are very grateful that we will have Kathi with us, but we will miss Bob so much.
We express our deep love to you, Kathi. We are so grateful for you and Bob, for your many acts of kindness and friendship.
We will long remember the kind hospitality of Bob and Kathi Garff as our high priest group and spouses were so generously received at your lovely home at your ranch back in 2011. Bob gently guided me as we planned that event, and we ended up with an evening that those one hundred guests will never forget, including the magic of Hal & Michelle Cannon performing cowboy poetry and music.
I never had any doubt that Bob Garff was my friend. Nothing that he had accomplished and nothing that he possessed ever got in the way of being a kindly, self-effacing, warm friend. I will ever remember the day on which I was released from a calling in our ward as I watched Bob make his way through the crowd just to greet me and pay me a compliment. I was very touched.
We love the “Bob & Kathi” team. You have inspired us, and you still inspire us. We take great comfort knowing that you are still the “team” eternally.
AL & Carol Hess
Kathi and Robert Garff served our neighborhood and community as tireless and dynamic influencers for good, both toward the youth and their parents. They conducted their lives in ways that were demonstrably uplifting and influential to us all. They motivated our children to be constantly engaged in service to others and to manifest pure empathy and understanding as they progressed in actionable ways. Robert Garff will be sorely missed and we express our deepest love toward Kathi and their family for the years to come. Love, David Egbert
Dear Kathy and family,
My family and I extend our most sincere condolences and love to you at this time of President Garff's passing. He will always be "President" to us, for we most remember with gratitude and fondness his leadership in the North Canyon Stake.
His compassion and encouragement, as well as Kathy's, during Klem's illness will never be forgotten. Your inspiring visit, your loaf of homemade bread, and your gift of Maxwell's "And All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience" fed our spirits and gave us such hope and comfort. Truly, you both knew how to minister and lift up hands that hung down.
Dear Kathi and family. We are so sorry to hear of Bob's passing. You and Bob have always been among our dearest friends. Bob was an amazing person and touched everyone's life that he came in contact with. He was such a great example in our lives and he will be greatly missed by his family, friends and the community. Brent was so lucky to have been in the Elders Quorum with Bob. We remember his counsel to his counselors and their wives. We remember having a dinner with the Elders Quorum and Bob gave each couple a book to read. The book was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It was a short book but had a big message. Brent and I have read the book several times and have been touched by the message it contains. Bob was also our bishop. We were so lucky to have his influence in our lives again. Then we are blessed to have Bob as our stake president. His ever present influence has not only changed our lives but many lives. Kathi, please know of our love for you. We pray the Lord will bless you and your family as you pray for the peace and comfort that only He can give. You are in our prayers as well. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
Even though these conversations happened in my youth, I can still feel the sensation of Bob entering the room. His calm keen eye surveying the lay of the land, taking in every detail and then the steady walk up to you, the gentle conversation to confirm his knowledgeable eye. He’d ask how you were, and except nothing but the detailed truth, no small talk, Bob would pull the details out and help you reorganize your life in as little as a genuine “hello”. His spirit spoke like a lion and his voice was simply that of a trusted friend. He loved me and I knew it. I last saw him this spring and felt the exact same sincere desire to serve his fellow man. His sincere interest in me that day was something I know recognize as “Old Bob”.
It’s hard to think of him “gone “ as that feeling of his presence, his lion’s spirit still observing and serving those around him, asking us if everything is “ok”? How are you? A lions spirit that seems to be lingering just around the corner of the next conversation.
Farewell for now, thanks for your guiding light. One of Heaven’s Great and Noble One’s has returned.
I am honored to have called Bob my friend, and I can't imagine life without him. We worked together on many projects over the years and were in the midst of planning for the Ken Garff Performance Zone project before he passed away. I will miss his warm smile, great sense of humor, the fabulous car speakerphone conversations with him and Kathi, and his encouragement to be the best we can be.
Bob imparted an important lesson to me while we worked together on the Garff Building at the David Eccles School of Business, a lesson he learned from his father, Ken: to leave a legacy of opportunity. Bob embodied that ideal, continually bettering the world around him and providing opportunity to countless individuals. I will miss him dearly.
Just wanted to contact you guys personally to say that I"m sorry to hear what happen. My condolences to you. I personally lost my Dad when I was 5 years old and I wish he was still around for me when I was growing up. I know what you guys are going through, and I'm glad he was able to inculcate some great habits. I was able to meet Him in person when you guys first bought Texan GMC . I was part of the transition at the time and on and off continued working for you. Here's a big hug on my behalf to you guys ,( ups sorry 6 ft away lol .) You guys have a nice day
Mauro Ayala Romero
I know you are most likely being inundated with emails, calls, and texts so please do not feel that you need to take the time to reply to this. I just wanted to let you know how sorry I am, and that you two have been a major part of my thoughts this week. I really appreciated the facebook posts you made that I have been able to read on your father and his life, impact, and contribution he made. I loved that man!
My heart goes out to you guys and your family. I know this is a trying time, and I know you are and have endured some significant heartache. The refiners fire is tough.
"Good timber does not grow with ease,
The stronger wind, the stronger trees.
The further sky, the greater length.
The more the storm, the more the strength.
By sun and cold, by rain and snow,
In trees and men good timbers grow."
I ordered the poem “Invictus” this week for my office to remind me of your father, as I know he loved that one. Along with you, I look forward to the day I can see him again, shake his hand, and share a warm smile.
In the meantime, the more I can perform in the station you have entrusted me with the less you will have to stress or worry. I will do that, and not let you down. You have my loyalty, support, and friendship.
Ken Garff Honda, Buick/GMC and Nissan of Riverdale
Kathi, John, Melissa, Jennifer, Matt, Mary and Family,
I wanted to share a few memories I have about Robert Garff, just a few months ago, Lori and I had the opportunity to attend a fundraising event and sat with Robert and Kathy. As always, they were both very kind and inquired as to how we were doing and the association. It was that continued genuine concern for people that your dad always had for everyone. On one occasion a few years ago there was a legislative issue that I needed some advice on and so I naturally called Bob for that council. After giving me some background from his experience, we talked about how to approach the issue. Although I do not remember the exact details of the problem, I do remember his advice. It was to not take the course that we were contemplating and leave the issue alone, and that we did. Years ago I was able to golf in a fundraiser for Senator Orrin Hatch with Bob and two others. Robert talked about business, life and many other things. Not every stroke was a good one but the game was found and enjoyable anyway. When Robert had both of his knees replaced because of an injury, I had the opportunity to visit him in the rehabilitation facility in Sandy. Classic Robert was upbeat and positive, understanding that his recovery was a process that he would be able to get through and be better when it was over.
I appreciate Robert H. Garff for his goodness, example and impact that he has had on my life, the automobile industry and thousands of others. Please accept our family’s deepest gratitude for the privilege we had to know Robert and be his friend.
Best to your family,
Dear John and Matt,
It’s with a heavy heart that I write this email. I was shocked and saddened to learn about your dad’s passing over the weekend. I feel so lucky to have known him and for the day we spent with him last August. I left our meeting in awe of how humble and gracious he was that day. What mattered most was giving back to others rather than all of your amazing business accomplishments and success.
As he took us on a tour, I saw the eyes of your employees light up when he recognized them. He said hello to everyone. And I vividly remember what he said to me that day too. “I’m not sure what we believe about Volvo, but I know what we do believe in, and that’s Carrie Catherine.” What a profound and lovely thing to say. I get emotional every time I think about it.
Your father’s philosophy about life and business are evident in how you and your management team treat your employees, customers and business partners. What a wonderful legacy that will carry on. I know this is an extremely difficult time for your family and employees. I believe that your father was needed for greater things. Please be safe and I pray your mom has recovered.
All the best to you and your families. Sending a virtual hug too. If you need anything from us, please let me know.
Strategic Senior Network Manager | USA
Volvo Cars USA LLC
What a great life to look back at! Privileged to grow up, where we did, closer than “next door”, I loved his infectious laugh and sing song voice he used for effect. He was one of my 2nd dads. Later In life, when I needed it most, he and Kathi were about the first at my doorstep to help me through a great trial. What a great example in so many ways. When I think on Bob, I will remember most the warmth he showed each time we crossed paths. Love from us!
Thank you for providing the opportunity for others to share their thoughts, stories, and photos of our beloved England Coventry Mission President and friend, Bob Garff. I cannot talk about Bob without including Kathi as the two exemplified a true oneness in their marriage. I have been so blessed to be able to call you both respectfully, my mission father and mother. Your genuine love and concern for those that served under your leadership during that time in Great Britain has extended through time and distance. I am thankful for the blessings, words of encouragement and wisdom, and support you have given to me personally for all these years.
Yesterday, I spent time going through mission photos, journals, audio tapes, and other memorabilia from the time I spent in the England Coventry Mission with the Garffs. I found the memory book made for missionaries containing the Garff family mission statement, motto, saying, and song, as well as the mission statement of our mission, photos, and addresses of missionaries. The one item that stood out to me was your family motto: “Garffs Never Give Up.” Bob and Kathi never gave up on any of those that served under their leadership. They did everything to try and help their missionaries be successful and find joy through serving others to complete their service. While looking through my journal, I also came across one particular challenging time that I had written about at the beginning of my mission. I wrote how President Garff was supportive and encouraging with his words—he was a builder who was “empathic and understanding.”
The photos I have chosen to share include various Zone Conferences in Birmingham and other mission events such as the Sister’s Conference at Kennelworth Castle, and the Knights of the Roundtable at Tutbury Castle. One of the many things that Bob taught me was that people are motivated to do a job, whether it was missionary work or other work, in different ways. Some innately want to do and be their best; some are motivated by rules; others are motivated by praise, while others are motivated by competitions and activities. The Garffs helped their missionaries be successful by providing opportunities to grow spiritually, as well as culturally and socially, and to have fun while doing it. These activities truly enabled us to build unity as a mission and we truly became the Garff Mission Family.
Relationships with the Garffs did not end after the mission. I am thankful for the annual Christmas letter that was shared with former missionaries each year. It was also a treat for me to go into the Bountiful Temple and see both President and Sister Garff serving in that capacity—once again bringing joy to all those that served with them. I am thankful for the guidance and counsel that they provided to me when I faced personal challenging times and for taking the time to help my daughters and me.
I will never forget how Bob supported me when my own father passed away in 2003. He came to his funeral in Salt Lake City to show his support of my family. I am so thankful for that act of kindness, which meant so much to me.
A couple of years ago, my youngest daughter was in a car accident, which totaled her vehicle. I sought out Bob’s assistance and he personally helped my daughter find a used car and in doing so coached and counseled her in the process. My daughter was touched by the help he gave to her and stated she had never had any man do as much for her as Bob had done. It was a blessing to have a righteous priesthood holder be such a positive example to her. When I thanked him for his assistance, I will never forget what Bob said to me, “You deserve to be helped.”
In preparing my remembrance, the thought came to my mind of a song that my companion Stacie Smith (Shurtliff) and I had recorded and sent to my parents during the mission. As it says in the song, “the way that he lived is an evidence that he cared…a pillar of light…” Old Bob was that light. Thank you for sharing him with us all.
Kathi, Stuart and I were saddened to read of Bob's passing. We valued our time with both of you on the IHC Corporate Board. Bob was a wise, contributing board member. You were warm, friendly, and inclusive with the spouses of the board members. It's been so long ago. You may not remember us but we remember you and fun conversations and adventures.
Stuart and Suzanne Slingerland, Provo.
I am privileged to have had Uncle Bob Garff in my life. He was family and a mentor as I had a unique opportunity to live with President Garff and his family in the Coventry England Mission home. I was there as a nanny, to help and support Aunt Kathi, helping with the kids, housework, cooking, welcoming missionaries arriving, sending off others that had completed their service, cooking and setting up for zone conferences, hosting apostles in the mission home, and speaking in church with the family. It was an amazing time to learn and live the gospel in every moment and activity we did. Uncle Bob had a passion for scripture study in understanding and connecting things all together. My scriptures are well loved, marked in a variety of colors, filled with quotes and references. Uncle Bob and Aunt Kathi both gave 110% to everything they did, unconditional love to each and every missionary as they served their mission, a love to England, the English people and the culture. They found happiness and an opportunity to learn and grow as they served their mission.
I have loved reading and reflecting on all the stories that I have read from everyone. Uncle Bob was an example of living as the Savior lived. He loved all. He had compassion for others. He had the desire to serve and to help others. He loved unconditionally and would embrace you each time he would see you.
I look forward in seeing him again. Know of my love and appreciation for the memories of England and all the family times together in Utah.
Much love, Michelle Mason
I met Bob and Kathi after moving to bountiful and developing an immediate friendship and connection with his daughter Mary. It was a time in my life that I was seeking much spiritual growth and Gospel understanding. When appropriate, Mary would forward me talks Bob had given or devotionals he shared in the temple. I treasured every lesson he taught and spent the last week re-reading all of his teachings. He was such a wise man of God and I often told Mary of my wish to sit at hers fathers feet and have him teach me everything he knows. My condolences to Kathi and all those mourning the loss of their Father, Grandfather, and friend.
My memories of Bob Garff were through a different lens than most. Mine were forged over the most impressionable years of my youth growing up with the Garff, Robinson and Peterson families on the creek at Indian Springs. Theirs was an experiment and we kids were largely the test subjects. In addition to my own wonderful parents, Bob and Kathy and Clark and DeAnn were my defacto parents.
The running joke amongst the families is that a paternity test is in order since my particular passions and interests aligned much more with Bob's than with my own father, Leon's. Cowboys, golden retrievers and of course fishing and hunting at Heiner's Canyon. But Bob was so much more than one dimensional! The balance Bob and Kathy achieved in their lives remains one of their greatest legacies and something that will always inspire me.
My wife and I were saddened to hear of Bob's passing. We can't believe this has happened to such a wonderful man, and my boss for over 37 years. I first met the Garff Family when I was in my late 20's. I worked for his father, Ken, for many years on and off. I managed the Mercedes Store in the 80's. Then had the opportunity to work at the Ford Store in Murray. And my last 37 years, under Bob, until I retired several years ago. Bob gave me so many wonderful opportunities throughout my career with the Ken Garff organization. I managed the Porsche/Audi/VW store in Orem, and my last several years was General Manager of Corporate Fleet Sales working out of the Ford store in Pleasant Grove. Like Ken, Bob, was an honest, friendly employer, and never missed the opportunity to thank me and show his appreciation for something I had done or one of my employees had accomplished. There was never a time, whether it was at a Ken Garff function or a place we may run into him and Kathi that they didn't both go out of their way to talk to my wife and me. When our son was born they sent the cutest gift. They treated us always as though we were a member of the family. Bob, you will be missed by so many in this community, both at the dealership, at Church/Temple and at other Organizations that you were involved in. You have done so much for so many people, and are a "Giant of a Man" in the State of Utah. A neighbor of ours, John Fowler, who you worked with during the 2002 Winter Olympics, made a profound statement to us via an email, "Bob must have been needed to do great things in Heaven", and Kathi and the entire Garff Family, we know he will be looking after you always. Our thoughts and prayers to you Kathi that you may have strength during the difficult days that are ahead of you. We know your family will be by your side. May God be with you Kathi and your family during this challenging time. Bob, you were a very special influence to both me and to my family.
I had the honor of knowing Bob through my position at the U's Alumni Association and in working with Keys To Success scholarships. He was always so gracious and kind. He always expressed his gratitude.
Clare Boothe Luce once stated, "A great man is one sentence." For me, Bob Garff's sentence would be, "Bob Garff loved and cared for every person he met."
I had the great privilege of getting to know Bob and Kathi over the past six months as we planned a fundraising event together. I saw Bob’s passion, business prowess, and leadership skills firsthand, as well as the immense care he had for others. It’s no surprise he accomplished all he did during his life.
Sending thoughts and prayers to Kathi and the entire Garff family during this difficult time.
Brooke (Abel) from the U
I was first shocked and then deeply saddened when I received the texts and heard the news about Bob's passing. It has been a privilege, over the years to come to know, respect and love the Garff family and "Old Bob" in particular. My acquaintance first started back in the early 1990's when Bob's son John, pledged and went active in Sigma Chi at the University of Utah. I knew of Bob's membership in Sigma Chi when I was the regional director (Grand Praetor) of Sigma Chi in Utah and Nevada and became more aware of just how many of the Utah icons were members of Sigma Chi. Bob was among them and I finally got the chance meet him. John becoming a Sigma Chi brought Bob to attend more activities of the undergraduate chapter and I became better acquainted each time he was at the Sigma Chi house or that he and some of the other Sigma Chi's who had son's the same age attended activities or even shared their time and treasure by sponsoring activities of the fraternity. On several occasions I was able to hear stories of Bob's undergraduate days in Sigma Chi and I learned that he loved a good practical joke. I remember on one occasion we had a dinner at the Mercedes Benz dealership and after dinner he brought out several boxes of Cummings chocolates... anyone who knew Bob well just passed the box to the next person.... those of us who didn't.... well, we got a mouthful of a variety of fillings that were, let's just say... non-traditional and definitely unexpected.
Over the years it has been a privilege for me and my wife, Pam, to get to know Bob in many different settings. He called us to serve on the Northern Utah Area Public Affairs Council, he and Kathi always greeted us when we saw them in the Bountiful Temple, and in Area Councils and settings where we interacted he always made sure that he shook my hand with that brotherly handshake, and a wink and a smile. I don't ever remember seeing him that he didn't take time to ask how my wife was doing, or if it was both Pam and I, how our family was. It was evident that the things most important to him was Kathi, and his family.
I have learned more about how to be a better man, husband, father, and citizen from "Old Bob," His kindness was sincere and deep, his gentle ways were always a trademark, his love for others, always evident. He was a generous steward over heavens gifts of which he always acknowledge their Source. He had an endearing smile that gave you a sure indication he valued you and the friendship you shared. He always took a genuine interest in you. I never remember him wanting to talk about himself or his accomplishments or the circles he traveled, or the possessions he had. Even on those occasions that you wanted to know more about those things he was hesitant to even acknowledge them or talk much about them. I remember conversations about the 2002 Olympics and wanting to know more about what he did, who he met, and how he felt during those times and he always turned the conversation to the athletes, or the volunteers of the State of Utah and made that the conversation. He never saw himself as anyone any better, more accomplished, wealthier, or more spiritual than anyone else, but he was and that is why we loved him so much... he even almost convinced us that he really was just "Old Bob," - but we knew better. We knew him to be that man that we ourselves wanted to be more like. Because we knew him, we are better. Because we knew him we will continue to be better because when we finish our work here, as he has done, we will want to be where he is now. We know that if we always try to be more like "Old Bob," because he always, by example, taught us to be more like someone he knows and emulated throughout his life, his Lord, and our Lord, Jesus Christ. Bob truly showed us that we could be more Christ-like and he never was ashamed of his relationship with His God. Thank you Bob for your friendship, your example, your kindness, your love, your smile, your gentleness, your meekness, and your love for all and the community in which you lived. Godspeed, my brother and friend!
Godspeed also to you, dear Kathi and all of the Garff families, the Folkerson's, and the Ballard's, as well. We love you and look forward to the day when we can embrace again and remember together our blessings for being family,friends and associates.
I have many great memories of spending time with Bob and his entire family growing up next door to him at the Indian Springs "compound". Bob, Kathi, Clark and Deeann Robinson and my parents, Karen and Leon, had the vision to create a place for our families that we will always remember and be grateful for.
Bob's warmth, his natural affection and genuine nature will all be attributes that I remember, admire and try to emulate. Bob never lost the "common touch" of being able to relate to any person no matter at what level or stage of life. He humbly went about his life not putting himself above others.
I was able to see Bob in action most recently at a baptism for his grandson, James Menlove. You could see the connection Bob had with James just like I have seen that connection with his other grandchildren and family members.
Bob is a beloved friend and mentor to me, my wife and kids and to the entire Peterson family. Losing him was sudden and unexpected. One comfort I can take is to think how many, like me, have been strengthened and lifted by Bob because of the life he led.
We are missing our dear friend, Bob Garff and pray that Kathi and all the family will be comforted at this time of great sorrow. We are all mourning his shocking loss.
Bob was a great friend and mentor in life, business, and the Church. It was a pleasure to work with him at the office and in his various Church assignments. Our lives have been inextricable woven together, making us much bolder in faith and acumen. For his wisdom and knowledge we will ever be blessed.
We extend to all our condolences from Hawaii as we feel his loss even in the middle of the Pacific. In times like these we lean on the hope of the Resurrection when we can all be reunited in the same sociality that exists here. With that hope, it's not farewell, it's "see ya' later, Old Bob!"
President and Sister Garff were there for me during some of the more difficult times in my life. I am so grateful for the love he showed and the wisdom he shared, it had a lasting impact and affected the way I live my life. I count myself blessed having called Bob a friend. He will be deeply missed and I will be eternally grateful for the kindness he showed me during his life. My heart sincerely goes out to the family, I love you and mourn with you.
I am so thankful the opportunity that I had to know and to learn from Bob. Bob was one of the most accomplished and loving people that one could know. I had the opportunity to work with Bob in our foundation, Success in Education and spend time with him, his kids, and grandkids. Bob loved life and he loved helping and being with people. He was the Chairman of our foundation, Success in Education and provided invaluable leadership and direction. As busy as Bob was, he always found time to keynote events and spend time with students. Bob truly loved these students and after speaking to them he would tap his heart twice with his fist and point to them. He truly loved them and everyone felt it. Bob loved the Garff Ranch. On a couple of occasions, I
had the opportunity ride with him on round ups. Bob loved pushing his cows and I know Ken was looking down at him with a smile. Bob said that he always felt the spirit of his father (Ken) at the Garff Ranch, a very special place for him. We hunted with Bob and the kids, but Bob didn’t go to hunt, he went to be with his kids and grand kids. I don’t know if Bob ever fired his gun. He absolutely loved being with his family!
Bob leaves behind a legacy of great accomplishments and love. We love you “old” Bob!
I remember well the first time I met Bob. We were both participating in a commencement ceremony at the U of U. He and I along with others were seated on the stand. I was sitting between Bob and another well known person in the community. Leading up to the start of the ceremony I had a lot of conversation with both. To my left was the other gentleman and though our interaction was good, I couldn't help but contrast it with the conversation I had with Bob who was seated on my right. Bob never once said anything about himself. He wanted to know more about me, my business and my family. I was struck by his humility and his genuine concern for others. As we have seen each other off and on over the years, he has always been the same. I have always been grateful for his example.
Posting on behalf of Mike Lucero:
"I started out at Ken Garff Mitsubishi, Hyundai in 2000. We were located in the downtown block in Salt Lake City, along with several other Ken Garff dealerships. Back then Robert Garff had his office in the Mercedes building and his son John Garff had his office in the Hyundai car sales building. I was the shipper for Mits/Hyun and I remember Mr. Garff stopping in soon after I started and introduced himself to me. Robert would walk from his office in Mercedes over to talk to John in the Hyundai building several times a day. If my overhead door was open, he would always stop in and say hi. He would often ask how my two daughters and my parents were doing. Back in those days, we would have barbecues on the block every summer. We had five brands located on the block then, and a lot of employees. There would be a lot of tables set up. Robert Garff would be right in the middle of it. He would be cooking, and he would help serve the food. But most of all he would make it a point to shake hands and thank every single employee for the job they were doing. He was very personable.
Last year (2019) I won the Mexico trip from my dealership to Puerto Vallarta. On the second day there, my wife and I were in line waiting for a bus to take us to a boat for a sunset cruise for the Garff employees. Robert was right behind us in line and of course everyone was talking to him. I had the opportunity to talk to him also. We reminisced about those good old days on the block. About barbecues, about him stopping in to ask about my family. I could tell he was happy to be talking to an employee who, not only remembered those days, but was also very fond of those times.
On the last day of the trip at a banquet held on the beach, he spoke to us. I have several pictures I took of him talking to the group. I will cherish them always. I will be one of the people, on a long list of those that will miss him. "
Ken Garff Hyundai Downtown
I have known the Garff family a long time. It started in the 1970’s when at Tracy Collins Bank I first met Ken and Bob Garff. I know of Bob’s great service to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The son of a family I baptized in a England in 1968 served as a missionary under President and Sidter Garff. Recently I have had a chance as a University Ambassador to welcome the Garff family to the Utah Football games. Bob always took a minute to chat with me and thank me for what I was doing. The world has lost a great man. We are all better for having known him.
My first memory of meeting Bob and Kathi was when they were mission president in England. We stayed with them for a week. Bob taught us from the scriptures every morning in his calm, genuinely authentic kind, encouraging nature. He made such a lasting impression. Over the years he and Kathi would always go out of there way to say hello and to check on how I was doing. We love you Bob. We love you Kathi. We love all the Garff’s and Folkerson’s!!!!
Robert Garff passed my desk to get to his office for over twelve years, and yet I struggle to find a memory that I can share, that would seem significant in black and white. As I reviewed my many memories of him, I recognized that it wasn't what he said that was important. It was the manner in which he said it. It was the warmth of his tone and the light in his eyes that was significant.
I watched as he greeted former governors and former missionaries. He met with people that the world thought were very important and people the world didn't think were important at all, but to him, everybody was important. He prioritized people over things. He shared what he had. He always made and effort to give a compliment. He cared!
He cared about each of his employees, over 5,000 at one point, and their families. He took the time to do the math. He felt the weight of the estimated 20,000 people who depended on decisions he made. He wanted to make good ones.
I received calls for Robert Garff, Bob Garff, Elder Garff, President Garff and Mr. Garff. I always had to ask which Mr. Garff they wanted, so I called him Robert. He had many titles, and received many awards, but whenever anybody would attempt to put him on a pedestal, he would simply reply, "I'm just Ol' Bob."
I will miss you Ol' Bob.
Bob was a special person to our family. A friend from the moment we met. He acted as our Home Teacher, and immediately set about following through with the things he drew out from us that we desired of him. He went the extra mile, to say the least.
His advice over the years to us regarding personal and family and Church service subjects was always helpful and deeply appreciated. Space and prudence proscribes greater elaboration here; suffice it to say we love Bob, and his memory will remain with us forever.
Our hearts go out to Kathy, who has lost her dear companion and best friend.
President and Sister Garff we're and are the most amazing people You touched each of our lives personally and differenly. You taught us to love, guide and teach by knowing the Savior better. Yours and Kathy's love for the one ihas always been an example to me
Thank you for all that did for me inECM. I know it was not easy but we loved you more than words could express.
Kathy and family you are in our prayers. Thank you for sharing your dad with us.
Becky Mooney Jensen
As a Missionary, I couldn’t have had a more influential friend and leader to strive to pattern my life after. Thanks Garff Family for your great example of Service and Love for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bob will be greatly missed by all who knew him. His memory will continue to influence us to become better and live life to its full potential.
I am so honored to have had the chance to know Bob. Quite often when we met, it was at large university gatherings. Bob would always shake my hand, offer me a compliment, make me feel welcome and that I was just as important to him as the CEO or university leader next to me. He was so kind to all of us at the Eccles School. I got to know him even better the past few months as we planned an event together at the U. Watching he and Kathi interact and banter was so fun - you could tell how much they loved each other, even when teasing each other. He was a great example of being a loving husband, father and grandfather. I'll sure miss this wonderful man. My deepest condolences to his entire family.
- Lindsay Nelson
I'm sure that there will be many wonderful things spoken about Bob. I considered him a great example in my life. Our paths crossed when we were both involved in Ouellessebougou, Mali, Africa. He had travelled there at the same time we were there. I was amazed to see how gentle he was and how much he cared for others. I once asked him what his secret was to be such a successful person. He did not claim to be successful, he simply responded that the cream always rises to the top. He suggested that I continue to push forward and do my best and things would take their proper place. He was a remarkable man, yes a man of his words, and a man for all seasons. Rest in peace my friend until we meet again. God bless!
I’m so grateful for Bob Garff. He and Kathy have been loyal friends to my parents for as long as I can remember. For some reason, he noticed me in my youth and gave me the opportunity to serve as a missionary in The England Coventry Mission when I was 19 years old. That mini-mission changed my life! It deepened my conversion to the Lord and gave me gospel roots that have helped me in my life. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about that experience and feel grateful for the opportunity I had to serve. The people and places of England touched my heart forever.
I’m thankful to Bob and Kathy for the sweet way they mentored me that year. They were patient as I learned and made mistakes. For example, I remember sitting in my first training meeting at the mission home. As missionaries, we were asked to turn to a scripture in Enos. Because I hadn’t really read The Book of Mormon from cover to cover yet, I didn’t know who Enos was, so I frantically searched my Bible to find a book beginning with the letter E. I finally found a book called Ezra and hoped that nobody would notice. As you can see, I looked prepared from the outside and had a testimony of many important truths at the time, but discovered I was far from being prepared to represent the Lord. From that moment on, I humbly repented and began to study the scriptures. The Book of Mormon has since become my most treasured friend.
I remember well the wards where I served, the members and our investigators. I loved our spirit-filled zone conferences and our first-lesson challenge with the meal at the castle. I remember Melissa and her friend, Elizabeth, coming to our area for a few days. I also remember that when my six-month mark came along (my time to return home), I said to President Garff in tears, “You can’t send me home. I’m finally becoming an effective missionary. Please!” Thankfully, he let me stay an additional six months.
Bob and Kathy also kept in touch with me after my time in England. They sent me Christmas cards, came to my wedding and gave me special attention whenever our paths crossed. Years later, when my husband was called to preside over a mission for the Church, Bob and Kathy met us for breakfast at a restaurant to give us encouragement and advice.
I’ve read a few newspaper articles about Bob Garff since his passing and have been amazed at the important people he knew and all that he accomplished in our community. He leaves a great legacy. But I’m most impressed with the gentle, humble way he noticed regular people, like ME!
We first met Bob and Kathi when they moved into our ward in Bountiful (Mueller Park 10th). We immediately learned that their many accomplishments had not diminished their basic goodness and humility, they loved everyone and we felt of their love. Our deepest sympathies to Kathi and all of Bob's family, he truly made a difference.
With love, Jim and Shirley Ann
Dear Garff Family,
The Buehler and Sorensen family have been taking some moments to reflect on the life of your dear, Robert Garff. My dad (Robert Buehler) reminded me that he first met Bob when he was a freshman at East High School. A few years later, my dad was preparing to leave for a 2 year mission to Australia. In those days, missionaries went to a mission home for a few days of training before leaving. Bob Garff was my dad's trainer and he felt the few days spent under Bob's teaching enriched his missionary skills. Little did my dad know, Bob Garff's teachings would continue to bless his life... and his future family.
Fast forward to 1978 and the Buehler family moved from Texas to Bountiful. We were blessed to enjoy Bob as our bishop and stake president. On a personal note, when I was 18 years old, Melissa invited me to come to Coventry, England for a month. It was my first time over-seas and I was nervous. Bob, Kathi and Melissa welcomed me warmly. Those few weeks spent in their mission home had a huge impact on me. Many nights, Bob and Kathi led us in a scripture study. I learned how to feast on the scriptures under wise direction. But the best sermon your dad provided me was how he treated people. He always made you feel special and important. He always had a ready smile and was asked about ones life with interest. He was generous beyond measure and was a builder of people. He and Kathi treated each other with love and respect. All these little examples left a large impression on my heart.
One Sunday in England, Bob and Kathi were to speak in a sacrament meeting. President Garff pulled me aside a few days prior and told me he would like ME to join the family and also speak. He must have know this would terrify me to the core, but he acted as if I was fully up to the challenge and didn't let me wiggle my way out of it. His vote of confidence in me made me feel like I could climb Mt. Everest!
A year or so ago, I ran into Bob at the Bountiful Temple. He hugged me warmly and I felt the love of the Lord. Soon after, while living in Seattle, I ran into Kathi, Mary and her girls at Pike's Market. We all were so happy to see each other! Both of these little encounters were a tender mercy in my life and provided moments of love. These little moments reminded me of a loving Father in Heaven who blesses us through rich friendships.
Bob and his sweet wife, Kathi, have inspired all of us to serve and lift others. We are equally appreciative to their children, Jenni, John, Melissa, Matt, Mary and their families for carrying on a legacy of love and excellence. Melissa has been my life-long friend and I count her as a cherished blessing.
We wish you peace and love during this tender time. If we could, our family would encircle you in a warm embrace and shed a few tears with you. We will all miss Robert Garff and feel grateful for the cherished memories we have of him. Thank you for being a wonderful family. We love you.
Elizabeth Buehler Sorensen and Family
I have so many wonderful memories of time spent with Bob and the Garff family. I remember Bob hooting and hollering as he would ski through the trees in powder. I remember lots of adventures on horseback including through the Canadian Rockies. I remember trips to Heiner’s and the tree branch that Bob would always place to reassure us that the branch was holding up the very large boulder! I remember traveling to the Sacred Grove with our families and Bob invited us to look up at the tall trees that were reaching for the light. I think of him often when I look up at tall trees and am reminded of his message that we should always search for the light. I love him and his entire family and am so grateful for the impact he has had on me and my family.
Bob and Kathi are most assuredly the epitome of goodness. Bob always met people with his heart wide open. His humanity and kindness is what struck me most and will forever reside in my heart. “Thank you for gracing my life with your lovely presence, for adding the sweet measure of your soul to my existence.” - Richard Matheson
Bob Garff, who will always be “President Garff,” the man who presided over the England-Coventry Mission, was mentor who will always be important to me. He was a substantial influence in tempering my very intemperate youthful personality in the mid 1980’s. I will never forget the day in 1988 when he gave me a copy of “How to Win Friends and Influence People” and said, “you would really benefit from the ideas in this book.” No doubt he was thinking, “this kid really needs help” (which I did), but he was genuinely kind in the way he presented it. I read it then, and have read it several times since. He was right, I really needed pointers in the subjects covered by that book. He taught me much of what little I have learned about interpersonal relations. He was the first person from whom I ever heard the phrase, “There, but for the grace of God, go I,” which has become ever more meaningful to me over the years.
President Garff was the person that encouraged me to go to law school after I served a mission, when I was not sure whether I was lawyer material. Despite his very complicated life and huge network of “contacts,” President Garff still found the time to keep in touch with me occasionally over the years. Whenever I was lucky enough to speak to him, Pres. Garff would enthusiastically ask, “How are you and how is your lovely bride?” I always wondered at that, given that he only spoke to her briefly once many, many years ago. I finally decided that it must have been because the thing that was most important to him was his own family.
While I always knew President Garff lived a very full life and accomplished amazing things and was a man who walked in the circles of success, it always seemed to me that he spent most of his life trying to lift others, including me. As much as any other person, President Garff was responsible for changing the trajectory of my life from a road to nowhere to the one that led me to the usually comfortable circumstance I now enjoy. The world, including my little piece of it, is a much better place because of him and I have no doubt he will make whatever place he is in now better than it was before.
I am very sorry for the sadness that his passing will cause to those who loved him most, and I share in that sadness, but I wanted to add my voice to the many others who are grateful for his life, his kindness, and the wisdom with which he made the lives of others better. Few people manage to do as much good with their lives as President Garff did and I am grateful to have known him.
We are devasted by Bob’s passing and send our deepest condolences to Kathi and the entire Garff family. Bob and Kathi Garff were among the first people I met when I arrived in Utah seven years ago. I will write about Bob here, but everything I say applies to Kathi, too. Bob was always warm and welcoming. His love for the University of Utah was deep and abiding. His passion for helping students gain the life-changing benefits of a college degree was unwavering. Two very special memories are of Bob and Kathi, surrounded by family at the opening of the Robert H. and Katharine B. Garff Executive Education Building, and then at the groundbreaking for the Ken Garff Performance Zone at Rice-Eccles Stadium. These were such happy events and Bob’s joy was evident for all to see. These facilities will carry the Garff family name forever and we will always have Bob in our hearts.
I have so many amazing memories of President Garff in England and my time in the office in Coventry. I got to see him away from regular missionary activities like their fun family photos and this night at the Castle. He always uplifted and made you feel great. I have loved to see him in his home since coming home. He always treated my wife and kids as part of his family. He even took time to meet with us and our son in the Bountiful Temple as our son was preparing to go on a mission. I am forever grateful for his positive influence in my life. Much Love to the Garff Family.
I first met Elder Garff when I was interviewed by him and Elder Ronald Rasband and called as stake president. I was so impressed by Elder Garff and his authentic wisdom and deep spirituality. That was a sacred experience for me and helped set the stage for the next nine years of my service as stake president. However, the memory I want to share took place during my time as stake president. We had a correctional facility assigned to our stake (Kiesel Correctional Facility in Ogden). Where we met in the jail was completely inappropriate to try and hold a church service. On one occasion, I called Elder Garff and asked for his guidance. He drove to Ogden and met with me and the Weber County Lieutenant who supervised the church services for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The Lieutenant took us downstairs to what was an old kitchen in the Kiesel Jail. Words can't describe how run-down and cluttered this space was. But, Elder Garff saw potential in it and he indicated that he felt confident in securing a $25,000 loan from the LDS Foundation to complete the project. The Lieutenant agreed to supply some of the labor with inmates. In the end, this became a wonderful place, not only for our Sunday church services, but for addiction recovery classes, adult education courses and other positive opportunities for inmates. What I'll always remember is something Elder Garff taught me about these inmates. Quoting the Savior, "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Then came the profound lesson never to be forgotten, Elder Garff said, "President, these inmates are NOT the 'least of these.' Sadly, however, they think they are." He had a great love for all people.
For the past several years, I've had the privilege to serve on the Success in Education Board and witness the great love that Bob has for the children of our state. His commitment to their success and opportunities to enhance their future has been inspiring! My life has been forever impacted and changed because of Robert Garff.
Several years ago I was lucky enough to be part of the team that created Code to Success, one of the programs of Success in Education, started by Bob and Kathi Garff. We created a summer bootcamp program to teach high school kids to code. The kids came from all different backgrounds and committed to spend their entire summer learning to code.
Through that effort I was able to meet Bob and to experience the genuine love and compassion that drove him. He was so interested and excited for the kids who participated and he made sure to attend each “graduation.” Although I played a smaller part he made a point of seeking me out each time. He would thank me for sacrificing my time and energy for the “wonderful young people” and would always pull me close and say “you let me know what you need. This is so important and provides such a unique opportunity for these wonderful young people.”
He was the picture of unending kindness and would always be so complementary when he had heard me speak or present. “you have a gift” he told me after one event “thank you for sharing it.” I barely knew him but at the same time the sincerity of his interest made me feel like we were old friends – or family. I wasn’t even the point of his philanthropy but somehow I felt I was the beneficiary of those interactions.
And that was special: the way he interacted with people. My experience was that he had the ability to make you feel like you mattered and that you meant something and what you could contribute was critically valuable. I saw how he wanted to translate that pure belief to the kids we were working with at Code to Success and to all of the students who participated in the other programs of Success in Education.
I will be forever grateful to have been able to meet Bob and for his kindness and sincerity - and that he took the time to make his feelings known. He will be missed, but I hope everyone in his life can feel the deep peace that comes from remembering a life so well lived. Especially today, with what we collectively face in our world, I will endeavor to put in action those lessons I was so fortunate to learn from my interactions with Bob. Kindness and love without condition, the impulse to share and help and lift. The desire to witness others achieve and find opportunity and fulfill their promise.
Bob was such a wonderful person. He had the unique ability to make everyone feel like they were the most important person in the whole world.
My wife and I had the pleasure to be with Bob in Maui for a company trip and Bob was the most kind and gracious host. Before a group dinner one evening, Bob found my wife and told her that she was such a great person and thanked her for the sacrifice she made each day. He knew that I worked long hours and he wanted her to know how much he appreciated her sacrifice. He proceeded to give her a crisp $100 bill and made her promise to not share it with me. What made that experience more memorable to my wife was that it was her first interaction with Bob. She was blown away that he knew who she was.
At the time that conversation happened with my wife, I was the GM of a dealership that had struggled in the past but was benefitting from some favorable market conditions. I must have been a little over confident in the success the store was having because Bob reminded me (with a his genuine smile) that every dog has it's day. Later on during the trip Bob made sure to seek me out and tell me that he was very appreciative of my hard work and I got my $100 bill too.
Bob, we are all going to miss you. You left your mark on earth and we are all better because of you.
Rick, I just wanted to let you all know how much I respected Bob and how every time he and I met or had conversations, he was so kind, humble and grateful for what we were doing.
He had me personally assist Sheri Dew on the purchase of a Jeep and when it was fully delivered to her, I wrote to him...
"Robert, thank you for letting me be of service to Sheri Dew and know that we delivered our best to her.
He wrote back...which I will always cherish and keep as a memento of him...
"She has sent a nice thank you note for your extra kindness! Terry.
Thanks for your Sheparding ! Be sure to teach your sales and service people to do the same. You are a hero in my eyes. Old Bob"
My condolences, prayers and love to you all.
I can't begin to tell you how heartbroken I am. I've only worked at Ken Garff for one year, but I've had the absolute pleasure of working by his side on a few projects. He had a heart of gold and treated everyone at Ken Garff like family. I have several wonderful memories of my time working with him and will cherish every one. I will never forget the first meeting I had with him. He made me feel so welcome and a part of the Ken Garff Family right off the bat. He really knew how to make you feel special. He made a big impact on my life in such a short time. I will always remember his smile and sense of humor. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Garff family and all of our employees.
I had the pleasure of spending some time with Bob this past year. He was a joy to be around and his positive energy was engaging. It was very clear in every conversation how much family meant to him and he took great pride in considering all of us part of his extended family. We all appreciate you Bob, you'll be missed!
Bob Garff is a consummate gentleman. I have known him and Kathy for several years as their eye doctor and have loved taking care of their family. I have also dealt with him and his company several times in the purchase of automobiles. Over the years I have met and dealt with several of his employees and have really admired how every one of them has nothing but respect and admiration for him. We have shared similar church experiences over the years which have helped us relate well. He has been a marvelous church leader and demonstrated a complete dedication to the Lord and His work. His contributions in the community are nothing short of monumental.
We share our love and tender regard to Kathy and to all his wonderful children. May God bless the Garff family at this time.
Claron and Lillian Alldredge
President and Sister Garff - they taught me to listen to the spirit, to study my scriptures, to teach and to love the people and the country that 30 years later I now call home. Hard to underestimate the impact these wonderful people have had on my life, and on the lives of everyone in this picture of the England Coventry Mission, Christmas 1989.
I’ve known President Garff and his adorable wife Kathi, as the amazing parents to one my dearest lifetime friends, Melissa, as the Bountiful Temple President, and as a neighbor and friend...last summer I was attending a wedding reception where Bob was in attendance... he was so kind and spent time visiting with me and good friend Tiffany, whom he had also known through the years, he asked all about our families and how we were doing and gave us some fatherly advice, and encouraged us to both look forward to good things to come... then as we were about ready to leave he took us both aside and looked into our eyes and told us earnestly that if there was anything we needed...to call him... this is the kind of ministering angel he is and will continue to be from the other side of the veil...
My husband Brian and I send our love to Melissa & Craig, Truman, Bowen, Ford, Brigham, Eliza & Mary Catherine...and especially Kathi and the whole extended Garff Family.... our hearts are with you...
Megan and Brian Israelsen
I have so many great memories when living with President Garff and family in England. My scriptures are full of quotes and references from him from our early morning studies with the missionaries. I was there to help with housework and cook, and really didn't know what I was doing. Kathi taught me so much and was so patient! President taught me to cut onions, and make banana pancakes.
He would always give me a little wink or smile when I was stressing out trying to feed the missionaries, and making mistakes right and left. He would be up at 5AM, going on a jog with Kathi, and working tirelessly day after day for those missionaries whom he loved so much. Ever after that experience, he would see me at social gatherings, and pull me in for a hug, saying I was his other daughter. He is such an example of goodness and kindness to all.
I was getting my car serviced at Garff, and the shuttle service took me home. I asked the man driving if he knew Bob Garff. "Of course!" was his answer. "My wife was in the hospital this week and he came in to visit her. " That was definitely President Garff. He loved his employees, he loved his missionaries, he loved his community, and he loved his family! I am going to miss him so much. I had to include a pic of some of his welcoming party on the other side. We all love your family so much and will miss your dad tremendously.
I have admired Bob for a long time as a business leader, philanthropist, and church leader, and as a Ute. You could feel his warmth in every interaction, and you can see the type of man is he by the children he raised. The England family would like to share our warmest feelings and deepest condolences to the Garff family at this time.
Bob was such a great leader and example in the community, in the church ,in his business and with his own family but I remember him best as a kind friend. He truly cared about those he served and those he served with.When he was President of the Bountiful Temple I was working there. I had lost my husband. Everytime he saw me he greeted me with a big hug and said,"That was from Alan" I will miss this kind friend.
Bob was one of the nicest people I've ever known. I work in the Ken Garff corporate office and if he saw you in the elevator or the hallway, he would ask how you were doing in a way that made you feel like he actually cared and wanted to know. When he would come to our meetings, he would tell us an amazing story or recite a beautiful poem. He will be greatly missed.
Bob Garff was an amazing leader. His passing is such a terrible tragedy, he will be sorely missed! The Garff family has my deepest condolences.
I always thought it was awesome how the president of my company would often participate in our monthly employee meetings-- and he was always the most humble one in the room. Every time he spoke, I could sense how deeply he cared for all of us--I knew we were all family to him, and not just employees.
Some of my favorite memories of Mr. Garff is when he'd conduct tours around the building; my cubicle is right in front of one of the places he'd stop to explain the departments on the floor, and he'd always take the time to greet me with a smile.
My life has been so blessed since I started working for the Garffs; thank you very much for creating such a wonderful company!
Although I never had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Garff, I loved working and being a part of his company. I work at Big Star Ford, one of the stores in Texas. When I learned about the values of this company I was hooked! No other place I have worked at cared about their employees as much as Ken Garff. Back in 2017 we had a terrible hurricane pass by and my house was affected and not a moment after did the Garff's step in to help those employees and their families affected. I am very thankful to them for what they have done for me personally. May you rest in piece knowing you changed the life of many.
Louise and I are heartbroken about Robert's passing. Robert and the Garff family were a pivotel influence in our success not only in business but in life. There are no words great enough to honor such a man. He could see life in a different perspective far beyond the ability of most of us. Just like his father Ken he was a mentor to many. One of Roberts many insightful sayings we remember and live by was " Listen with the intent to Listen". Robert left a legacy that will go on forever because of who he was. Our heartfelt condolences to Kathi and all of the Garff family.
This made me so sad to hear that Bob had this virus, and even sadder to hear it took his life! He will definitely be missed! I have so many fond memories of the whole Garff family . . dinner group family gatherings, Hawaii trip, River trip, ENGLAND Coventry Mission etc. Bob always had a way of making me feel like a million bucks! And your Mom too . . and the whole fam! Such great people! So sorry! Love you all! ♥️😘
I have so many fond memories of the Garff family. I took the time to look through my journal of the year I spent learning from President and Sister Garff as they taught the ECM to love and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Each zone conference was filled with truth and light that I want to remember forever. I learned to study the scriptures from President and Sister Garff. I learned by watching them what hard work really is. But along with hard work, Garff’s also know how to have fun. They make you feel like you’re the most important person in the room, with unforgettable hugs.
Dear Kathi, Mary, Melissa, Matt, John and Jenni, my loves goes out to each of you. I’m so grateful for our friendship and great memories for so many years. As we said in England, “those who live by the spirit, never have to say goodbye.
All my love,
Lisa Clegg Barney
Bob was a great teacher. He taught by example and he lead by love. He was always more concerned about you than himself. He helped so many and taught by his example yet he never took credit for anything. I learned from him every time I was with him. His passing is a great loss to me personally, and to our community and country. My heart goes out to Kathi and family, you are in our prayers. Bob lived a full and productive life, he lived well and we all can honor him by continuing his legacy.