UTAH (ABC4 News) — Bob Garff, Chairman of Ken Garff Enterprises, died Sunday from complications of coronavirus at 77 years old.

He would have turned 78 in September.

It appears that Garff is the third person to die of coronavirus in Utah. Ken Garff Automotive offered a group statement on Garff’s passing:

 “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that today Robert H. Garff, chairman of Ken Garff Automotive Group, has passed away due to complications from COVID-19.

After driving back from a visit to Palm Springs, Robert and his wife, Katharine, were tested and confirmed positive for COVID-19, at which time they immediately self-quarantined. Earlier this week Robert felt more ill and was admitted to the hospital. Katharine continues to recover at home.

Robert was a giant in the community, a pioneer in the auto industry, and the biggest cheerleader to every employee at Ken Garff Automotive. Robert loved his family immensely and will be missed by them as well as his employees and many friends. We ask the media and public to please respect the privacy of the Garff family as they grieve the loss of their husband, father, and grandfather.”

Reagan Outdoors is donating billboards to honor Bob Garff. They will be displayed Monday.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who worked with Garff during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City, released the following statement on Garff’s passing:

“With profound sadness, I have learned that my friend Bob Garff has passed away from COVID-19. It breaks my heart. Bob’s contributions to our state, to our economy, and to our church will be heralded by many. But for me, it was his sound and principled leadership as the Chairman of the Olympic Winter Games of 2002 that is most compelling. The scandal that surrounded the Games could have overwhelmed our collective commitment, but Bob’s genuine goodness, clear-eyed optimism, and can-do management experience helped to re-ignite our confidence and community spirit. The Games were arguably the best ever, in large measure thanks to the character and care of Bob Garff. Ann and I will miss our friend very, very much. We send our sympathy and love to dear Kathi.”

Governor Gary Herbert tweeted the following statement after news of Garff’s passing:

We have lost a really great man. Bob Garff touched countless lives and gave so much service to our state, and its people. He was such a positive example to all of us. He leaves a hole in our heart and in the community. Our prayers are with his wife Kathi and the Garff Family, and all the families that have suffered and are suffering at this time.

Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox released the following statement on Sunday:

“Abby and I extend our deepest sympathies to the Garff family. Utah has lost not only a tremendous leader — but a community friend and someone who was always looking for ways to serve.  When the final history of Utah is written, Bob Garff deserves his own chapter.

“He leaves behind a legacy of integrity, hard work, and service. A few weeks ago I had breakfast with Bob.  He was always so generous with his time and wisdom, yet humble with his own successes.  But mostly he loved his incredible family.  

“Our prayers are with his family at this time. and may we all continue to take every precaution to protect each other from this devastating disease.”

Rep. Ben McAdams, who was recently discharged from a Utah hospital and is currently recovering from COVID-19, issued the following statement:

“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Bob Garff. I got to know Robert when I served as student body president at the University of Utah 20 years ago. I was inspired then with his commitment to our community and to public service, a legacy he continued all his life.

Both Bob and his wife Kathy were generous supporters of many community endeavors, along with operating a successful business.  Julie and I send our deepest sympathies to the Garff family at this sad time.”

Former Senator Orrin Hatch:

Bob Garff was a giant in our community and a model of servant leadership. For all the good he did in the world, he never sought credit but sought only to help those around him. He had a transformative impact wherever he went—as a businessman, church leader, philanthropist, and friend. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for Bob’s service to the state of Utah and his example of a life well lived. May God bless the Garff family with peace, hope, and healing at this difficult time.

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