Orval Hafen

Public Service

Orval Hafen (1903-1964)

was born in Santa Clara, Utah. After graduating from Dixie College and Brigham Young University, he earned a law degree at the University of California at Berkeley in 1929. He married Ruth Clark of Provo, Utah, in 1932, and they moved to St. George for a temporary stay that became permanent.

He then practiced law, served in the Utah State Senate for 12 years, and was involved in many local civic and business projects. He was president of the Utah Bar Association in 1943 and president of the Utah State Senate in 1959. From his earliest adult years, Orval felt a deep faith in the ultimate destiny of the Dixie area, a destiny he tried to help realize through a lifetime of public service. Orval served in the LDS stake presidency and President of the St. George Chamber of Commerce in 1933, when the LDS Church announced it could no longer pay the operating costs for Dixie College. He and other local leaders struggled to keep the college open for two years until the state of Utah took control.

Some 25 years later, when the Utah governor at the time felt the state could no longer maintain the school, Orval co-sponsored legislation urging the state to continue Dixie’s ownership. After a public referendum, that state agreed to continue its support of the college. Orval then helped sponsor legislation that created a unified system for Utah higher education, which strengthened the status of Dixie College. Then he worked with his close friend, Dixie College President Arthur F. Bruhn, to secure state funding to create a new Dixie campus. Orval Hafen had many interests, but found service to others his most satisfying experience. He and Ruth are the parents of three sons and two daughters.