Utah’s First Astronaut and U.S. Senator Jake Garn Celebrates 90th Birthday

Salt Lake City International Airport Art Installation Will Honor Garn’s Life

Born in Richfield, Utah on October 12, 1932, Edwin Jacob “Jake” Garn, the first member of Congress to fly in space, will celebrate his 90th birthday on October 12, 2022, with a family birthday party including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Garn has much to celebrate with friends and family, as he has had an extensive career in aviation, aeronautics and politics to honor. Garn will soon receive special recognition with a custom art installation, celebrating his life, at the Salt Lake City International Airport in the fall of 2022. 

Garn’s career in space most notably began when he flew as a payload specialist on STS-51D Discovery from April 12-19, 1985. STS-51D Discovery’s primary objective was to deploy two communications satellites, and to perform electrophoresis and echocardiograph operations in space in addition to several other experiments. At the conclusion of the mission, Garn had traveled over 2.5 million miles in 108 Earth orbits, logging over 167 hours in space.

Garn also served as a pilot in the U.S. Navy and in the Utah Air National Guard, retiring as a full Colonel in April 1979. He was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1985. He has flown more than 11,000 hours in military and private civilian aircraft. 

His passion for aviation and space is matched by his devotion to his country and state. He was elected to the Senate in 1974. Prior to his election, Garn served on the Salt Lake City Commission for four years and was elected Mayor in 1971. He was active in the Utah League of Cities and Towns and served as President in 1972. In 1974, he was First Vice President of the National League of Cities and served as Honorary President in 1975.  Additionally, Garn was elected to a second term and third term in the Senate in November 1980 and 1986. He received 74 percent and 72 percent of the vote in those elections, the largest victories in a statewide race in Utah history. 

Garn was also chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee and served on three subcommittees: Housing and Urban Affairs, Financial Institutions, and International Finance and Monetary Policy. The senior Utah Senator was also a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and served as Chairman of the HUD- Independent Agencies Subcommittee. He served on four other Appropriations subcommittees: Energy and Water Resources, Defense, Military Construction, and Interior. He also served as a member of the Republican leadership from 1979 to 1984 as Secretary of the Republican Conference. 

“He has always been very proud of being born in a little town. Every time he campaigned, he made it a point to visit all the small towns in Utah, so people knew he didn’t only care about the big cities,” said Ellen Garn, daughter of Jake Garn. “He often talks about how much he appreciates all the people of Utah who allowed him to have such an amazing political career serving the State. He would tell school children that he never imagined a little boy from Richfield, Utah would be able to accomplish all he has. He inspired school children by telling them to work hard and dream big.” 

Garn has 7 children, 30 grandchildren and 21 great grandchildren. According to Garn, his family is most important to him, regardless of other accomplishments.

“Every day is a great day because at my age I refuse to have a bad day,” says Garn. He is in good health and is hoping to reach his 100th birthday.

Melinda Meier
FUEL Marketing
[email protected]