Courtesy of Marcia Harris
Deemed to be the “dynamic duo,” Alan and Suzanne Osmond were honored as Pillars of the Valley Tuesday in an extravagant celebration hosted by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce.
The evening included a pre-dinner reception with Governor Spencer Cox, the Alan Osmond family and guests. The Utah Valley Convention Center, home to the Pillars program, unveiled a wall of permanent photos of the couple.
While most Utahns at least know the Osmond family and their multiple generations of talented musicians and entrepreneurs, the community and global exploits of Alan and Suzanne Osmond are not so well known.
Alan was the named frontman of the hit group Osmond Brothers, first made popular by Andy Williams. From the age of eight he had been in charge of reuniting the boys and training. They worked hard then and Alan never stopped, which includes his stint in the military while his brothers were growing up.
Suzanne Pinegar was a student and cheerleader at Brigham Young University. When Alan saw her cheering at a BYU basketball game, the spark came to her eyes. He went to the ground after the game and met her.
Courtesy of Marcia Harris
Their first date was a motorbike ride to Y Mountain. Suzanne says she got off at the end and Alan knew he had met “the good one”.
It was over for all the fans who dreamed that they would one day be Mrs. Alan Osmond. After less than a month spent mostly apart, Alan and Suzanne were married on July 16, 1974, in the temple of Provo LDS.
After photos and some family time, they boarded a plane to Las Vegas where Alan had two shows to play with the Brothers at the Tropicana Hotel. It was their first wedding night.
“When I said yes, I will marry you, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” Suzanne Osmond said at the event. “Our life has been nonstop and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
It was also that night that Suzanne saw Alan perform for the first time. She was amazed at how much he could do on stage. She knew it was him and that her life had changed.
Courtesy of Marcia Harris
“I dated a lot of different people,” Alan said. “She stole my heart. She’s my real girl.
Over the next 15 years, eight boys joined their family, and like any Osmond father, Alan began his life in music teaching them to sing the old barber tunes he and his brothers first learned. They became The Osmonds Second Generation.
On Tuesday, the eight boys showed up at the pillar banquet and surprised their parents. There were Michael, Nathan, Douglas, David, Scott, Jonathan, Alexander and Tyler.
For the Pillars of Utah Valley event, Nathan was the emcee while David and his orchestra Osmond Chapman – in Big Band style – provided the music.
Alan and Suzanne’s sons also surprised them with performances of “Crazy Horses”, “Goin ‘Back to Utah” and “Love Me for a Reason”.
A highlight of the evening was when Nathan invited his “Aunt M” on stage to sing along with them. Marie Osmond had come just for the event and had left before the end. Nonetheless, the Osmond family’s tears of surprise and love flowed freely on and off the stage during his visit.
Over the years Alan and his brothers Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Donny and Jimmy and “sis” Marie have won numerous gold and platinum albums. There are also awards not only in the rock ‘n’ roll world, but also in country music. At the time of their homeland, the Osmonds owned a theater in Branson, Missouri.
They met with presidents, with Alan producing Ronald Regan’s inauguration program. They also provided command performances for Queen Elizabeth II in England.
While the Beatles kept American fans satisfied album after album, the Osmonds were in the British Isles building a dedicated fan base with their concerts, television appearances, radio interviews and records.
“Tonight, it’s not about Alan or Suzanne,” said Ron Clark, Osmond’s publicist for 49 years. “It’s about them and the team they’ve become.
“The critics have said that you will never be successful in this area, you are too good. You would be chewed up and spat out, ”he said. “They turned the industry upside down and I watched it.”
It wasn’t just the music they played, but who they were and what they stood for that drew so many people to the Osmonds.
Clark told the crowd of about 1,000 when President Spencer W. Kimball of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited the Osmonds to his home for dinner during the 1979 vacation.
Kimball told them that over the past few months, the church has noted that approximately 28,000 converts have joined the church because of family.
Clark said he believed there were enough converts drawn to their faith by the Osmonds to fill hundreds of parishes in the church.
“Thank goodness George and Olive (Osmond) weren’t listening when told not to have children after Virl and Tom, the older brothers who are deeply deaf,” Clark added.
Alan was next after Tom, and he said he’s been feeling music and singing since birth – it’s in his DNA.
It was also Alan Osmond and his brother Merrill who took the Freedom Festival Panorama celebration to new heights and bright lights when they took it up and transformed it into the Stadium of Fire. Alan wrote the theme song and pulled all the strings he had to bring top notch performers to Provo.
From Bob Hope to the Beach Boys to a handful of Osmonds each year, the Stadium of Fire has grown into an international event broadcast on military networks.
The America’s Freedom Festival’s 4th of July fireworks finale has been one of the nation’s biggest birthday celebrations in the past 40 years.
When Alan learned he had been diagnosed with MS, Suzanne knew she had a new job – to keep Alan alive.
“She was the wind in her sails. Through the depression, the doctor’s visits, she held on, ”Clark said. “She made sure Alan had the strength to do what he needed to do. He never felt sorry for himself.
One of Alan’s mantras, he says with a smile, is “I might have MS, but MS didn’t. “
Alan has had ups and downs with MS, whether it was using wheelchairs and canes, motorized scooters and walkers, they were just tools to keep him moving. While he was forced to stop performing on stage, he never ceased to be himself.
Over 25 years ago, Suzanne and Alan Osmond started a charity called OneHeart, with the goal of strengthening families.
“I have traveled the world with them,” said John Bishop, CEO of OneHeart. “Their OneHeart foundation has funded medical care for over one million orphans in China. “
Bishop noted that they recently returned from Ethiopia where the foundation has provided humanitarian items including food, blankets, clothing and other items to those in need.
“No one deserves more than them,” Bishop said of the Pillars of the Valley award.
Although OneHeart is a passion for them, it is not the only charitable work that they have influenced.
Alan helped Marie and actor / singer John Schneider start the Children’s Miracle Network at the Osmond studios that were once located in Orem. The charity continues to help children’s hospitals across the country and has so far received $ 7 billion in donations to meet the needs of children.
The evening concluded with a video presentation of comments from friends and family and ended with remarks from former Utah Governor Gary Herbert, chairman of the Utah Valley Chamber Advisory Board.
“A lot of us grew up with the Osmonds,” Herbert said. “They let us know how important families are. “
The Utah Valley Pillar (s) have been awarded annually for the past decade by the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce to those they believe are the Pillars of Community Strength .