Jack D. Lampros
Interviewed by Rebecca Ory-Hernandez
9 July 2012
Oral History Program
Weber State University
Jack D. Lampros
9 July 2012
Copyright © 2012 by Weber State University, Stewart Library
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It is recommended that this oral history be cited as follows:
Jack Lampros, an oral history by Rebecca
Ory-Hernandez, 9 July 2012, WSU Stewart
Library Oral History Program, University
Archives, Stewart Library, Weber State
University, Ogden, UT.
July 9, 2012
Abstract: The following is an oral history interview with Jack Lampros. The interview
was conducted on July 7, 2012, by Rebecca Ory Hernandez. In this interview
Mr. Lampros, current Chairman of the Stewart Education Foundation, discusses
his memories of Elizabeth Stewart and provides a brief history of her foundation.
ROH: Today is July 7, 2012. I’m in the home of Jack Lampros. Present is Rebecca Ory
Hernandez and Jack Lampros, in Ogden Utah. We’re here today to talk about the
Stewart Education Foundation, the history of the Foundation, and memories of
Elizabeth Stewart as Jack remembers them. So I’ll just start with you. Jack, why
don’t you tell me your name and your date of birth?
JL: My name is Jack Lampros and I was born in Florida, September 15, 1926.
ROH: Very good. When did it come that you moved to Ogden, Utah?
JL: I moved to Ogden, Utah right after I graduated from the University of Florida in
ROH: Okay. What did you graduate in?
JL: Business Administration.
ROH: Very good. Okay. What brought you here to Ogden?
JL: I married a girl from Utah.
ROH: What’s her name?
JL: Her name was Betty Hess.
ROH: Betty Hess. What part of Utah is she from?
ROH: Ogden. Okay. So why don’t we fast forward a little bit to a time when you recall
meeting Elizabeth Stewart and just tell me a little bit about how the Foundation
came about and if you need to back up and go forward in time as you speak,
that’s just fine.
JL: Okay. I think to give you a little preamble to Elizabeth Stewart’s Foundation, we
need to talk about her mother. Her mother, Mary Elizabeth Dee Shaw, was a
Dee, of the very prominent Dee family here in the Ogden area. Her mother
established the first foundation that I had any familiarity with. There was an
attorney here in Ogden at that time by the name of Jerry [Jerome] Horowitz. Jerry
came here from New York as a convert to the LDS church and he knew about
foundations and charitable giving and so forth, which was at that time almost new
to us. But he talked with Elizabeth’s mother, Mrs. Shaw, and suggested that she
establish a charitable foundation. She actually established her foundation
December 12, 1959—so quite a while ago. I was present at the time because I
was a trust officer at the First Security Bank and I would be handling her account.
The primary purpose of that foundation was to make charitable donations to the
Thomas D. Dee Memorial Hospital. I don’t think that McKay Dee had been
founded as yet but when it was founded then that foundation began to give
primarily to that hospital, but to other charitable organizations as well.
That instilled in Elizabeth Stewart—and Elizabeth’s full name is Elizabeth
Dee Shaw Stewart; she was proud of all of her names—the idea of charitable
giving. So Elizabeth established a foundation. She established what we call the
Stewart Education Foundation and she established it, as I recall it was right at
the very end of 1977. I think December 29, 1977. The primary goal of that
foundation was to help educational organizations as well as other organizations.
Elizabeth was a graduate of Weber State University. She had worked there in her
younger years and loved Weber State immensely. We know one of her desires
was that most of the money from that foundation be given to Weber State
University. She named a board of managers to help her manage the foundation,
although she called most of the shots. We were there to give direction and
advice. But she named Dean Hurst and myself as members of her original board,
with the provision that once she and her husband, Donnell, passed away, that
Dean and I would annually select board members from that time on. Well, she
knew Dean very well and loved him immensely because he had been her bishop
and he was also connected with Weber State University and he certainly had the
best interest of the University in mind. He would talk to her about different things
that she might do for and on behalf of the University. She always took his advice.
Later, another former bishop of hers by the name of Bill Stromberg—C. William
Stromberg, but everybody called him Bill. He was added to the board and
became a very influential member of the board. She loved and respected Bill a
After she passed away, I was elected Chairman of the Foundation, with
Dean Hurst as the Vice Chairman and Bill Stromberg as Vice Chairman. After Bill
died, his son Richard Stromberg took his place on the board. We have tried in all
our pursuits, all of our endeavors—we have tried to keep Elizabeth and her
wishes in mind. We often ask ourselves, “What would Elizabeth want?” If we
think that’s what she wanted, then that’s what we do. So I would say that at least
one half of all our charitable givings from the Stewart Education Foundation has
been directed towards Weber State University, because we felt that was what
Elizabeth would like us to do.
ROH: Okay. When did Bill pass away? When did he die?
JL: I can’t remember the exact date. It’s been maybe five years ago now.
ROH: Okay. I can’t remember the date either. I can look it up. I was just curious if you
knew off the top of your head. So at this point who is on the board of the Stewart
JL: At this point we have myself as Chairman, Dean Hurst as Vice Chairman,
Richard Stromberg as Treasurer, and the three of us comprise what we call the
Executive Committee. We meet often as a trio and discuss policy and pursuits
that we want to do. Also, as a member of the Foundation Board, is Mary Barker
who is affiliated with Wells Fargo Bank. She administers the trust on behalf of the
bank. As associate members we have Bernice Stromberg, who is Bill’s widow;
we have my daughter, Jamie Lampros Shenefelt; Dean’s daughter, Kristen Hurst
Hyde; and I think that’s it.
ROH: Okay. Going back, can you—I don’t know if you can remember this far back, but
can you remember the very first gift from the Stewart Education Foundation and
what was surrounding Elizabeth’s thoughts at the time?
JL: You know, I cannot remember the first but I can make a good guess. I would
suspect it was the Stewart Bell Tower.
ROH: Okay. Yeah, the Bell Tower. And um, tell me a little bit about what her intent was
for—I mean, if she was such a big supporter of Weber State, why do you think
that was her intent, to create a Foundation that would give so much back to
JL: Well, I think for one thing, she greatly admired Dean Hurst. Dean Hurst was like a
son to her. She took his advice and counsel and I’m sure Dean influenced her
that way a great deal. Although, she had an innate love for Weber State without
him and would no doubt have supported Weber State anyway. But I’m sure that
Dean Hurst had a great influence on her charitable giving to the school. Elizabeth
was a very charitable person. She loved everyone. She wanted to help everyone.
As a trust officer at the bank who administered her estate, I know how much she
gave of her own personal funds and not just out of the Foundation. If she saw
anyone in need, she would write them a check. If a repair man came to her home
and repaired her air conditioner and she began to talk to him and found out that
he was struggling a little bit, it wasn’t long before she would call me and tell me to
pay off the mortgage on his home. That way she thought it would make it easier
for him. She did that for quite a few people. There were many people, I always
felt, who took advantage of Elizabeth’s good nature and generosity and I would
tell her so. But she didn’t care. She would rather err on the side of generosity
than not to give to somebody who might need help. She was a wonderful person.
She named Dean and I to her board because—she called us ‘her boys’ and she
had no children of her own, so she kind of lavished her interest in us and Bill.
ROH: I see. Where do you think that came from—her great interest in philanthropy?
JL: You know, you study evolution and I’ve always been taught that acquired
characteristics cannot be inherited, but I think she inherited that generosity. You
go right back to Thomas D. Dee’s widow, who established the Dee Memorial
Hospital—she was very charitable. I’m sure that before her even, there were very
charitable people in her family. Everybody in her family that I know of, are and
were very charitable people. The Dees—her mother was a Dee—they were very
charitable people and I think Elizabeth inherited that love of being charitable and
ROH: Now where did the wealth come from originally? Are you aware—
JL: Yes, I know where that wealth came from. It’s an amazing story. It came from
what was originally called Utah Construction Company. Most people today would
not know about Utah Construction Company but it was a fabulous organization. It
started here in Ogden as a construction company and then it grew. It had some
very far sighted people running it—the Dee’s, the Brownings, the Harrises, the
Eccles—they were the ones who established the Utah Construction Company.
They built such things as the Hoover Dam and the Oakland Bay Bridge. They
were a big organization and they kept expanding and expanding and expanding.
Finally, I believe it was 1977, they merged with the General Electric Company.
The Utah Construction Company made a lot of millionaires here in Ogden. You’d
be surprised how many multi millionaires Utah Construction Company made here
in Ogden. One time the President of Utah International was speaking up at
Weber State—his offices were in San Francisco, but he came here to give a talk.
I went to listen to him and afterwards I went up to him and said, “You don’t know
me but your company has provided me with a very good living for many years.”
He said, “You may think you’re the only one who’s ever told me that story, but
you’re not. I’ve heard that many times.” So Utah Construction really was the
source of their wealth.
ROH: Okay. So she was a descendant on the Dee side of Utah Construction. Are there
any stories that you could share about Elizabeth that might be connected to one
of the gifts that the Foundation has made, just kind of looking back?
JL: I can’t think of a lot of stories. I do know this, you can go up to Weber State and
stand in one spot and look North, South, East, and West, and would not find a
spot that you wouldn’t see Elizabeth’s influence, starting with the Bell Tower,
then the Library, now we have Elizabeth Hall, then a wing of the Art Center for
her mother, the Dee Events Center—she was a large sponsor of the Dee Events
Center. I’m sure I’m missing some but—Lampros Hall, Hurst Center, Stromberg
Center, all resulted from her influence.
ROH: Tell me about currently what’s happening with the Stewart Education Foundation.
I know that it’s been really wonderful to have the Stewart Education Foundation
in Ogden because you give not only to Weber State, but to lots of other
organizations in town and it helps the city. So tell me a little bit about some of the
other projects that the Foundation helps with.
JL: Well, we built the Amphitheater in downtown Ogden by the City and County
Building. We’ve helped almost every organization—the Nature Center, the Eccles
Community Arts Center, the Weber County Libraries. I’m hard pressed to think of
it all. We’ve worked with United Way in helping them. We’ve established
scholarship programs through the Ogden Rotary Club, let them make scholarship
presentations. We are currently suffering from the economic recession that our
start portfolio is down considerably in value. We’re trying to economize some of
the gifts that we are making until we can get back on a level playing field again.
The stock market collapse of 2008 hit our Foundation extremely hard. As a
result, we are over committed in our gifts and we’re trying to not accept, request,
or make time, making any more pledges for the foreseeable future. We are
paying now on the new student dormitories at Weber State University, but we still
have a few years yet to make those payments. I think three more years before
we have that pledge completed. After that we don’t have any pledges and we are
committed to kind of holding back a little bit and being very careful and selective
in anything that we commit to in the future until the economy turns around. There
for awhile, we were so overwhelmed with funds that if an organization came and
asked us for ten thousand dollars we’d give them a hundred thousand, but then
ROH: That’s a nice position to be in.
JL: We hope we’ll be back in that position again one of these days.
ROH: I’m sure you will. You are all very savvy. Is there anything that I might not have
asked you that you would like to say about the Stewart Education Foundation as
far as historical information or something that I might not have touched upon?
JL: Well, I’m sure there is but I can’t think of anything at this exact moment. I
probably will as soon as you leave.
ROH: Okay. I wanted to try to capture a snapshot of the history and of your involvement
and how all of this came about because I don’t think we have an oral history
version of the beginnings of the Stewart Education Foundation. I’d like to thank
you very much for your time.
JL: My pleasure.
[Jack Lampros’s personal thoughts of Dr. Ann Millner]
JL: I’ve known Dr. Millner for nearly all the twenty years she has been here with
Weber State University. I first met her when she became associated with the
Development area. During the time that I’ve known Dr. Millner I have found her to
be a woman of exceptional capabilities and integrity. Her sparkling personality
and her great intellect has won her the hearts of all of Utah. She will be greatly
missed as she steps down from the helm as President of Weber State University.
I know I will miss her, my family will miss her, everyone I’ve talked to will miss
her. It will be hard to replace her. In fact, I don’t think she can be replaced. I think
she will be succeeded but never replaced. We have a winter home down in
Florida and during the ten years that Dr. Millner has been President of the
University, each year she has found some time to come down and spend a few
days with Betty and me at our winter home in Fort Myers, Florida. Those were
visits that Betty and I eagerly looked forward to and they were fun times. We did
some great things. We took a ferry boat ride over to Key West. We rode a sea
plane to the Dry Tortugus [National Park.] We went alligator sighting in the
Everglades. We did nature tours and even attended a bonsai tree workshop. Last
year I took her on a tour of cemeteries where my ancestors had been buried. I’m
sure that was boring to her but she acted like she enjoyed it. That was another
great trait of Dr. Millner. Every time I would talk to her she would give me her
undivided attention and act like what I was saying was the most important thing
she had ever heard. Of course, that endeared her to me a great deal. When she
was in Florida, if there was an important athletic event coming up here at Weber
State or some other important occasion, she would end her trip, head to the
airport, and make it back to Utah so that she could be on hand to encourage the
students. You talk about bleeding purple. She really supported the University. I
was always amazed at her stamina—the way she was able to go—her
administrative skills, her fundraising talents, her teaching abilities, they are all just
superb. Betty and I are going to miss our monthly lunches with you, Ann. We’ve
enjoyed those little visits and we’ll certainly miss them. Our wish is that a kind
providence will smile down on you in your future endeavors.
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