If you had to name the single most famous person who ever lived in San Juan County, who would it be?
Let me think. There was Bruce R. McConkie. He spent his early years in Monticello and became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church. He has been gone for 25 years, but is considered one of the great doctrinal authors in the LDS Church.
There was Charles Redd, who was knighted by the Queen of England, and was well known in agricultural and business circles around the world.
There was Calvin Black, who led the Sagebrush Rebellion and was well known in political circles all the way to Washington D. C.
But, there was a girl who grew up in Monticello who has influenced the lives of countless millions through books, speeches, seminars, and television. She has never forgotten her roots and she has never become full of herself.
She proudly says that the reason that she has been a success in life is because she had the good fortune of growing up in Monticello, Utah, with goodly parents, a supportive family, the Baker Ranger Station and the great outdoors to school her in ways she could never have experienced in an urban environment.
She came to the 30-year reunion in 2000 of the class she was in before leaving Monticello. She was asked to stand and tell about herself. She had written best selling books and had been on national television for years by 2000. Instead of dwelling on her fame and fortune, she told those assembled in total seriousness that she had an enormous crush on Doug Pehrson (Surveyor Doug) in the 5th grade and that she wasn’t sure she would ever get over it.
She published what was essentially her master’s thesis on how to cook, survive and thrive outdoors. That book, Roughing it Easy, became a best seller and stayed on the New York Times best seller list at #2 for three months. It is still in print. The book’s success got her a spot on the Johnny Carson show. She made such an impression in her national TV debut that she was signed by NBC and spent eight years as a regular on the Today Show. She followed that with six years on ABC’s Home Show. She has done guest spots on many TV shows from Merv Griffen to Sally Jessy Raphael.
She became a national spokesperson for divisions of Kraft Foods, Proctor and Gamble, and Dow Chemical, to name a few.
She has written 28 books, given over 5,000 interviews, and made 4,000 speeches around the world. She presently teaches seminars on “How to get a million dollars worth of free publicity.” Her passion at the moment is leading tours to China for Dick Jensen & Alan McKay Tours.
This woman’s resume is as impressive as they come for those in the fast lane of public life. Yet she retains a humility, gratitude and zest for life that makes her unique. She has overcome many obstacles to get to where she is today.
I first knew her and her family when they lived in Monticello. Her Dad was the Forest Ranger for the U. S. Forest Service and she lived at the Ranger Station just west of town. She is a little younger than I am. I idolized her oldest brother Neil, who coaxed sounds like I had never heard from a trumpet. She and I went to Sunday School together.
Her family moved to the Wasatch Front when she was in the sixth grade. I did not see her again until she came to the reunion previously mentioned. I saw her in Pioneer Park at the the 24th of July celebration in 2000. Hadn’t seen her in person for 34 years.
She acted like I was the only person in the universe that day and seemed pleased at the invitation to take a jeep ride around town on a tour of the improvements in our little village. I have followed her career closely and never cease to be amazed at how genuine, real, unaffected and humble she is about her international celebrity.
The old timers in Monticello all know of whom I speak. For the rest of you, meet Dian Thomas, entrepreneur extraordinaire. If name recognition and positive contributions were the touchstone by which we judge San Juan’s most famous person, Dian Thomas would stand as tall as the peaks on Blue Mountain which she loves so much.
For more information, go to www.dianthomas.com.