Had I known of the outpouring of support and friendship we have received since announcing my retirement, I might have done it earlier. We have been flooded with calls, notes and emails. A thousand times, people, known and unknown, have said to me, “Thank you for your service and for your family’s sacrifice.” That has meant the world to us.

I’ve made thousands of friends in Tooele, Marysvale, Bear River, Lindon, Moab, Torrey, Roosevelt, Morgan, Ferron (for Mike Mower), Park City, Cedar City, Richfield, Blanding and Bluff, and all the big places, too.

I express my deep gratitude to the people of Utah for their faith and confidence in me and their support of Utah’s good government. Special thanks to Governor Gary R. Herbert for the many compelling assignments in higher education, public education, healthcare, rural affairs, etc. I have greatly benefited from the Governor’s humility, leadership, wise and objective decision-making, and the warm collegiality he extended to me.

Thanks to my legislative colleagues for their service and dedication, and for the collective wisdom which emerges from the legislative process. Our legislators are a big part of why Utah tops the charts in management, fiscal prudence, job creation and a business-friendly environment.

The positive atmosphere in the Governor’s office made my job very enjoyable. There is surprisingly little “drama.” Chief of staff Derek Miller has the daunting responsibility, under Gov. Herbert’s direction, to manage the office and the whole engine of State government. Derek juggles all the issues and demands the Governor has to deal with, dousing the many spontaneous fires, but pro-actively driving impressive efficiency and management initiatives.  He‘s a wizard to me. Ally Isom, Deputy Chief, is smart and professional. Try telling her something of current interest that she hasn’t already heard, probably drafted a response to, and anticipated its consequences. It makes a mere mortal’s head spin to watch all she does—quickly and expertly. Mike Mower, Deputy Chief, besides being one of the quickest wits on the block, handles a myriad of issues with a smile and a thank you. Mike brightens every meeting. I have worked especially close with John Pearce, the Governor’s legal counsel. I don’t know what is more compelling about JP, his wickedly clever wit or his legal brilliance. It never seemed like work when John was involved. My gratitude and admiration for the rest of our senior staff will have to be expressed personally, but we have the best.  I will miss them and all our incredible senior advisers and talented staff. Our Cabinet members are wonderful public servants, some of the most capable people in the State.

Mark Thomas, my highly effective, street-smart deputy, the elections office staff, and my speechwriter-blog editor-can-do-everything-guy, Eric Ellis, have become very dear to me. I will miss them like family. My assistant Lynette Erickson, who followed me from Senate, is the quickest, brightest, most effective person I know. The LG’s schedule is so consuming that coordinating even the most basic family activity has to involve Lynette. She can do anything. My wife and family are also in mourning over losing her quiet magic and sweet support.

To my angel wife of 43 years, JoLynn, I love her more than ever. She has stood by me in thick and thin. What character and strength she has. She is my greatest blessing. My children and grandchildren give me happiness I hardly deserve. I thank them for their constancy, interest and support.

I wish my dear friend Spencer Cox well as Lt. Governor. He is the “real deal.” Smart, principled, savvy, and energetic—Utah will grow to love and appreciate him as I do. Enjoy this incomparable experience, Spencer. I support you with all my heart.