Bette Stanton
by Laura Haley
Contributing Writer
Sep 26, 2013 | 4977 views | 0 0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Bette Stanton figures she’s lived about 12 lives to the fullest. She has floated above the African Serengeti in a hot air balloon, followed the Biblical steps of Jesus Christ, served as an extra in a movie and held dozens of different jobs.

Despite the fact that her exploits have taken her across the globe, she says some of her biggest accomplishments occurred right here in Moab.

Though Stanton was born in Colorado, her family has a long, rich history in southeastern Utah. One great-grandfather, John Thomas Farrer, helped settle the Green River area. Another, Mads Larsen, was one of the first settlers to Moab - known then as the Grand Valley.

For much of her childhood, Stanton lived in Kanab. She spent many of her summers at her aunt’s home in Moab, but she wouldn’t live here full-time until 1965.

“My kids were little,” she said, adding that she lived in Salt Lake City at that time. “That’s when I brought them down here to Moab so they could experience country living.”

Four years later, Stanton was forced to move back to Salt Lake City.

“I couldn’t make enough money to raise three children in Moab with its low wages,” she said.

Just before she left Moab, Stanton met Weldon “Skinny” Winn, the man responsible for launching Canyonlands by Night.

Stanton was working at Riley Drug when Winn came through offering free admission to his sound and light show so the employees would spread word about the show to tourists.

“It was a fantastic idea,” Stanton said. “But it was a disaster from the aspect that it sounded like a professor’s lecture ... and the voices all had Texas accents. How do you do that on the history of Moab?”

Stanton said she expressed her concerns and Winn took the criticism seriously. Shortly after she moved back to Salt Lake City, Winn called Stanton and asked her to fly to Texas to help him convince his company’s board to raise money for a new barge.

Stanton agreed and shortly thereafter found herself in Texas trying to convince the board that Moab was going to become a tourist center.

“At that point [Moab] hadn’t even opened the gates to the outside world,” she said. “I sold them on it, and when I got back to Salt Lake they called and asked me to redo the soundtrack for it.”

They also asked her to take charge of promotions. She says she did all that extra work on nights and weekends, but the show was a success.

Stanton returned to Moab in 1982 during the infamous uranium bust.

“There were no jobs,” she said. “The money just flowed right down the Colorado River.”

Businesses couldn’t afford to hire employees but Stanton knew they still needed help, so she started General Business Assistance, a temporary employment agency.

Stanton says she had been one of the top grant writers in the country and realized the town would benefit from grant money. But she needed to find the right people in town to help her get it.

“I knew that, to get it turned around, I needed to find the power men in town,” she said. Adrien Taylor pointed Stanton to the Moab Community Development Agency (MCDA).

Stanton was already bookkeeping for several members of the agency through General Business Assistance, and she was eventually asked to serve as a secretary for the group. Stanton soon realized that all of the boards and commissions that could help Moab get back up on its feet had no funds.

“Program development for various governments had been my profession,” she said, adding that she suggested the group apply for a federal grant that would house all of the economic and community development organizations. This eventually became the Central Services Unit.

Stanton eventually managed business affairs for the MCDA, Grand County Economic Development, the Moab Film Commission, and for a short period of time, the Chamber of Commerce and Grand County Travel Council.

Eventually, many of those entities were able to break out and start operating on their own again. Stanton says it was the beginning of a new age for Moab.

“It was no single event that got the economy turned around,” she said. “It didn’t just happen. It took a plan with a goal and objectives with many volunteer committees working to meet those goals. It took an entire community working together to succeed.”

Stanton retired a few years early to spend more time working on the history of her family and to write her own memoirs.

Stanton was also instrumental in the opening of the Moab Film and Heritage Museum at Red Cliffs Lodge.

Stanton is also the author of “Where God Put the West” a book about movie making in southeast Utah. She says she has accomplished almost every one of the life goals that she set for herself. And she hasn’t given up yet.

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