David Eccles, Utah’s first entrepreneur

Flags across five Western states flew at half-mast on the cold, wintery day that our namesake, David Eccles, died of a heart attack while hurrying to catch a train in Salt Lake City on December 5, 1912. On the day of his funeral, factories, railroads and coal mines halted operations to pay respect to the man who had created thousands of jobs in virtually every sector of the economy. That was the far-reaching effect that this pioneering entrepreneur had on what was at the time the Wild, Wild West.

David Eccles was born into an impoverished Scottish family, and rose to become one of America’s leading industrialists. In his 63 years, he founded 54 businesses throughout Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Wyoming, traveling more than an estimated 44,000 miles to do so. At the time of his death, he was president of 17 corporations and seven banks, and served as acting director of 24 businesses in various industries.

On April 8, 1991, the last surviving child of David Eccles— Emma Eccles Jones—made a spectacular gift to the University of Utah's College of Business in her father’s memory. In recognition of her father’s monumental achievements in pioneering economic development of the Intermountain West, the school was proudly renamed the David Eccles School of Business. Today, his entrepreneurial spirit, ambition, business acumen and incredible work ethic are embodied in the school’s mission.