Chamber/Bureau recognizes Jan Wilking
Half of the businesses on Park City’s Main Street were shuttered and the town had just been featured on a roster of Western ghost towns when Jan Wilking arrived in Park City in 1974. But the enthusiastic, young entrepreneur insisted the town had a bright future in store.
On Thursday, a large crowd of local and state business leaders honored Wilking for his role in helping to make that prediction a reality. During the Park City Chamber Bureau’s annual meeting Wilking received the prestigious Myles Rademan Spirit of Hospitality Award.
Greg Schirf, who went on to establish the Wasatch Brewery, also arrived in the 1970s and was debating whether to put down roots in the fledgling resort town when he met Wilking. "Jan was already in hospitality mode. He promised me Park City would be a major ski resort in 10 years."
Reeling off a list of Wilking’s accomplishments, Schirf said he doubted that anyone else could come close to contributing as much to the community.
Speakers credited Wilking with being the longest-tenured member of the Snyderville Basin Water Reclamation District board, establishing the Mountain Trails Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes trail development, and serving on the Park City Council. He was also lauded for his past leadership of the Chamber/Bureau and the local chapter of Rotary International.
Schirf said it was unlikely anyone else could tally up as many accomplishments. On a personal note, Schirf thanked Wilking for convincing him to stay and raise his family in Park City. "I’m proud of you, buddy," he said.
Local Realtor and former Park City councilman Bob Richer also heaped praise on the award recipient.
Richer’s first contact with Wilking was when Wilking was selling ads for The Newspaper (a brash rival to The Park Record before the two papers merged) and his new publication, Lodestar, which eventually morphed into Park City Magazine.
"He was here, there, everywhere. Jan’s accomplishments were monumental," Richer said, adding that Wilking also served on the inaugural boards of the city’s and county’s open-space boards.
Above all, Richer said Wilking has set an example of optimism and compassion. Touching on Wilking’s recent bout with cancer, Richer said, "You have shown more grace and good spirits than I have ever witnessed You embody what makes Park City special. You are and will always be Mr. Park City!"
In accepting the award, Wilking deflected some credit to his parents who were both very engaged in community service. He said some of his earliest memories were of volunteering with his family to pick up litter in the town park.
"I consider myself a very fortunate person. I was born to parents who set the example of making contributions to the local community." He added that his father served on his hometown’s planning commission and as a Rotary chapter president, too.
Of those early days in Park City, Wilking said he saw the town’s needs as "opportunities" and that his timing was "lucky."
These days, with the city’s world-class reputation firmly cemented, Wilking said he still spends time visiting other resorts, but he is always "so glad to come home to Park City."
Past recipients of the Myles Rademan Spirit Hospitality Award include:
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