October 16, 2011; Source: New York Times | Jon Huntsman, Sr., the father of presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman Jr. and the CEO of the multinational chemical giant Huntsman Corporation, has a place on a list compiled by Forbes Magazine of 20 individuals who have given away more than $1 billion. Here is Forbes’s take on the senior Huntsman:

In 1992 Jon Huntsman Sr. returned from a checkup with a bad diagnosis. He had prostate cancer. On the way to the hospital for treatment he made three stops. First he dropped by a homeless shelter and left a check for $1 million. Then the chemicals mogul stopped at a soup kitchen and handed over another check for $1 million. “The priest almost fainted,” he says. And finally, he dropped off a check for $500,000 at the clinic that had found the malignancy.

Since then, Huntsman Senior’s biggest investments have been in cancer treatment and research. In fact, his gifts to the Huntsman Cancer Institute reduced his net worth so much that he was taken off the Forbes list of billionaires temporarily. The infusion room at the Institute, where patients will receive chemotherapy,”looks more like a throwback to some “Mad Men” vision of 1960s air travel than a clinic. Dominated by cherry and maple woods and Italian marble, the room features reclining chairs that face floor-to-ceiling views of the Salt Lake Valley.”

“When one has an opportunity to have their mind focused on something other than the possibility of death or fear, it changes the anatomy of the individual, changes the psychology and the emotions and feelings,” Huntsman told the New York Times. “We want them to feel, the minute they walk in, that they’re walking into the Ritz-Carlton.”

Huntsman counts among his best friends liberal filmmaker Michael Moore and conservative talk jock Glenn Beck and does not subscribe to the Warren Buffett idea that billionaires should give away half their wealth. He suggests instead that they give away 80 percent. He also does not apparently believe in more taxation, but give him time. He says he has moved from the right to the center over the years. “All men and women need a roof over their heads, and need to be fed and have proper health care . . . . I don’t know that I believed that, or even understood that, in the early days.”—Ruth McCambridge