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A life of honor and service: Parsons Behle & Latimer mourns the passing of Utah leader Ronald L. Rencher

Salt Lake City—With great sorrow, pride and gratitude for one of our own, we at Parsons Behle & Latimer acknowledge and celebrate the storied career of Ronald L. Rencher whom we lost on Sept. 11, 2023.

At a notably young age, Rencher firmly established himself as a leader in the Utah legal and business community as one of the chief architects of one of the largest and most complex energy development projects in the state’s history; and as a prominent member of the Utah House of Representatives from 1971 – 1976 as well as the U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah. 

In 1968, Rencher graduated from law school at the University of Utah and accepted a position with the Ogden law firm of Kunz and Kunz. A mere two years later, he ran for the Utah State Legislature and was elected to the House of Representatives. The following year, he achieved partner status at the Ogden firm, which became Kunz, Kunz and Rencher. Two years later, he won a second term and was elected as House Minority Whip. During his third term, Rencher was elected Speaker of the House by his fellow representatives and served in that capacity from 1975 – 1976. To date, he is the last democrat to ever hold that position.

Rencher declined a fourth run for office, even amid talk of a future in Congress or as governor, to focus on his firm. But in late 1977, when the Carter administration offered him the position of U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, Rencher couldn’t refuse. He served as U.S. Attorney until 1981.

Parsons Behle & Latimer Shareholder Michael Bailey says of Rencher, “To be elected to office demonstrates that you’re loved by the masses. To be elected as a Whip and Speaker of the House, you have to be loved by your peers. To be appointed as a U.S. Attorney for your state, you must be loved by colleagues and those who are more prominent than you. Those positions demonstrate that Ron was loved at all levels and could relate to all people. That’s pretty remarkable.”

Bailey says accolades were never important to Rencher – that he was very humble and never wanted to draw attention to himself. “Ron was a gentlemen’s gentleman, a lawyer’s lawyer. He carried a class with him that has become somewhat lost in today’s culture. For Ron, a promise was a promise, a handshake was a handshake. I never saw him lose his temper. He was absolutely cool to practice with.” 

At the end of the Carter administration, Rencher accepted an offer as legal counsel for the Intermountain Power Project (IPP), a planned $8 billion electricity-generating facility in Delta owned by the Intermountain Power Agency (IPA). The initial project encompassed the negotiation of contracts between 36 private and public entities located in Utah and California, slated to participate in its financing and the consumption of the resulting power generated. Two years later, Rencher would renegotiate all 36 contracts as well as labor agreements between Union and non-Union workers when it became apparent that the project – initially planned to include four generating units with 3,000 megawatts of capacity – would need to be scaled back to two generating units. At the time, he told Ogden Standard Examiner business reporter Cliff Thompson, “It was challenging, but the results have been gratifying. We’ve had more than 10 million manhours of work on the project without a work stoppage.” Rencher was eventually hired as the general manager of the IPA. The IPP remains a critical power project to Utah today and serves as a vital link in the western energy grid.

Following his work with IPA, Rencher worked for Bechtel Power Corporation, where he oversaw the development of a large coal-fired independent power project with General Electric, Combustion Engineering, Public Service Company of New Mexico and the Navajo Nation.

Eventually, Rencher returned to the legal field and in 2006, joined Parsons Behle & Latimer. IPP continued to trust its legal work to Rencher as a client of the firm. Fellow shareholder and partner on the project Robert Hughes says of Rencher, “Ron’s knowledge and understanding of IPP and its history is encyclopedic. But for me, his greater legacy is the kind of person he was.  Despite his long history of accomplishments, he was always humble, kind and gracious with everyone he encountered.” 

Rencher left an indelible impression on all who knew him, but particularly those whom he mentored. Shareholder Brandon Mark says, “It is difficult to overstate the impact Ron Rencher had on the personal and professional lives of the many people who were fortunate to call him mentor, colleague, trusted counselor and friend. Ron’s legacy will be the role he played in making the Utah’s legal profession more inclusive and representative—a legacy born from his sense of fairness and commitment to equality. There are many women and minority lawyers in Utah, not to mention several current and former judges, who owe a large measure of success to the fact that, for the past five decades, Ron Rencher hired and promoted lawyers and others based solely on merit and hard work. I am a direct beneficiary of his deep commitment to equality and inclusion, and I will be forever indebted to Ron Rencher.”

About Parsons Behle & Latimer (General and Utah)
Established in Salt Lake City in 1882, Parsons Behle & Latimer’s (Parsons) team of more than 190 attorneys delivers an in-depth range of experience to its clients in the following industries: agriculture; banking and financial services; construction; dental; energy; healthcare; manufacturing; mining; natural resources; oil and gas; real estate; resorts and recreation; venture capital; and technology. One of Utah’s largest law firms, Parsons remains on the forefront of business and industry trends to help clients accelerate their business objectives. Headquartered in Salt Lake City, Parsons has offices in Lehi and Park City, Utah; Boise, Idaho Falls and Rexburg, Idaho.; Helena and Missoula, Montana and Reno, Nevada. To learn more, visit www.parsonsbehle.com

Media contact:
Dana Robinson
Marketing and Communications Manager
Parsons Behle & Latimer
Phone: 801.536.6647 Mobile: 801.541.4625
[email protected]