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Joe and His Love & Support of the Arts

Joe was passionate about his family, the law, his natural environment, and the arts. He and his wife Jess were regulars at the theatre, symphony, and ballet while they were students in Boston, and this tradition continued throughout their lives. Whenever they traveled, they always sought out a great performance. On a European trip in 1955, Jess and Joe drove from Switzerland to Italy, stopping in Milan. There they went to the Opera House, La Scala, and saw a performance of Norma. The next day they were having lunch and the lead soprano, Maria Callas came in and was seated at the table next to them. What a thrill! Norma became Joe’s favorite opera and he loved to play it in the evenings at Bear Lake and at their family home in Salt Lake.

Jess and Joe loved being in the audience, but they also felt passionate about ensuring that the Arts were available and accessible to the people of Utah. They were generous with their time and resources to support many organizations as they came to life in the state. When the Salt Lake Civic Music Association was formed in 1930, Joe was recruited to serve on their Board. He served in many capacities including as First Vice President, as counsel, and assisting them in rewriting their Articles of Incorporation. In 1940, the Utah Symphony was formed and Joe also served on their Board of Directors, provided counsel including writing their Articles of Incorporation. He and Jess were season ticket holders from the beginning and became close friends with Conductor Maurice Abravanel who led the orchestra from 1947-1979. In 1963, Willam (Bill) Christensen returned to Utah from the San Francisco Ballet and formed the Utah Civic Ballet, which in 1968 became Ballet West. Joe and Jess were regulars at the Ballet and enjoyed bringing family and friends to performances. Their friendship with Bill and his wife Mignon, a prima ballerina herself, only helped them grow in their love and appreciation for the art form and deepen their commitment to making it accessible throughout the Mountain West. That commitment continues today as the Ballet Centre adjacent to the Capitol Theatre now bears Jess’ name.

Joe’s datebooks were full of performances that he and Jess would regularly attend. They shared their love of the arts with their children and grandchildren who grew up recognizing the value and the importance of experiencing and supporting art for future generations to enjoy. Their legacy lives on through the work of their namesake foundation by their family who learned from their extraordinary example.