Person 2 Person | Stories - Person 2 Person: Olene Walker
Sunday, December 8 2013, 11:15 PM MST
Person 2 Person: Olene Walker

Shauna Lake: Thank you so much for doing this. It's so nice to see you again. It's been a little while. Tell me a little bit about what you've been doing since you left public office. We've missed you but I know you have been busy.

Olene Walker: Oh my goodness, well first we went to New York on a public affairs mission for the LDS church and our specific assignment was to get to know and make friends with the ambassadors at the United Nations.

Shauna Lake: Tell me is the mission more about religion, or do you talk about the religion with these people or is it more just goodwill?

Olene Walker: It's more just good will. In fact we were told not to put the emphasis on religion but to get to know the individuals and the countries. Since that experience I still have a lot of opportunities. You ask what I’ve been doing; one of the things that I’ve been doing during the past 2 or 3 years is working to start a walker institute at Weber state.  I grew up in Ogden. I went one year there and then went to BYU and got my masters at Stanford and my doctorate at u of u. But I felt that Weber needed some organization that would involve students in a greater number of internships and expose them to the political issues and to a great extent and so it's up and running.

Shauna Lake:
You said before we started that you loved your time with the legislature. You were with Utah government 22 years isn't that right?

Olene Walker: Yes I was elected to the legislature in the 80s. And I had 4 or 5 people say why don't you run and I was a little hesitant but finally the last day I went down and signed up as a republican and then I went home and looked at my legislative district and found out it was the 3rd most democratic area in the state. So I had to work hard to be elected. But I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Shauna Lake: What was it that made you want to go into politics?

Olene Walker:
I had been in student government, Vice President at BYU. I majored in political science and minored in history and there was this commitment that things that individuals should take an interest in their government. We live in a democracy and it’s up to the individuals to make decisions and be a part of it. And I had parents that were very active in community affairs.  It sort of followed a trend and I enjoyed the legislature--even running. In fact it was some of the best of times

Shauna Lake: You were so busy you had so much going on, you had your family and your career and you would sometimes try to save time by doing some creative hairstyling; creative ways to save time. Do you want to share that with us?

Olene Walker: I don't live very far from the capitol and so often I’d go with wet hair and open the windows and kind of stick my head out to let it dry by the time I drove to the capitol. One time in February it was especially a cold morning and I stuck it out and quickly went up to the office and it still had kind of frozen.  It had frost on it and everybody started to laugh. And it was just because it was a cold morning and I stuck my head out the window driving over around city creek canyon. It was a means to an end at the time, right? Yes it was. I did have to kind of shuttle time because I still was involved in a lot of activities and just tried to get everything done.

Shauna Lake: And then you went on to be governor; the first female governor in the state of Utah, and the oldest governor of Utah too. 73 years old when you took office. Was that just incredulous to you? Did you aspire to do that?

Olene Walker: When I knew that I was going to become governor I felt a very special almost a commitment to prove that a woman could be a very capable governor. I didn't want it to be said that she was just a caretaker, I was only there a relatively short time but I busily got 14 initiatives that I wanted to get started or at least become part of government that would make it better 

Shauna Lake: Do you feel like you paved the way for other women to be in high offices?

Olene Walker: I hope so. I hope other women will consider it and I hope they will be involved in government at every level and I’m very proud of what we accomplished in that short time.

Shauna Lake: You've had such a storied career and a long career in government, most women feel the need to choose one or the other, family or work, you had a large family--7 children-- and had this incredible career, I think all working moms feel that juggling act going on how did you do that?

Olene Walker: A lot of my children were older when I went in. The first time I ran for the legislature I was turning 50 and still had a lot of teenage children at home. I feel like they were an asset and I tried to involve them where I could.

Shauna Lake: And they must have been so proud of you.

Olene Walker: I hope they were. I'm proud of them so it was great. 

Shauna Lake: You're such an impressive woman and I’m just curious what would you most want people to remember about you?

Olene Walker: That I cared. And that's a simple statement but I cared about family, I cared about church, I cared about relationships, marriage, I cared about our state. And adding it all together I think I would want to be remembered for. You know there are many choices but when you really care you're prone to do things. To make things better

Shauna Lake:
I think there will be no question about how much you cared about people and the state of Utah. It has been so nice to meet you person to person. Thank you so much.

-Written and Produced by Angie Dennison

(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group.)

Person 2 Person: Olene Walker

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