Gail Miller, owner and chairman of the Larry H. Miller Group, served as this year’s keynote speaker. Miller, and late husband Larry, built a multifaceted business empire that employs more than 11,000 people and includes car dealerships, theater complexes, and sports franchises.
“My spirituality and all of my beliefs developed early on because I was taught to pray,” she said. “As a result of that … I learned for a surety that there is a god in heaven.”
Miller relayed stories of her impoverished childhood. The sixth of nine children, she said she often had little to eat and wore hand-me-downs made from hand-me-downs. From those humble circumstances, she said she gained two things.
“I learned to rely on a higher power and I learned to be a problem solver,” she said.
Wake-up call from her child
Those two gifts would serve her well as she went on to marry and raise a family. However, she said the simple act of living took her away from the habit of prayer for about half a dozen years until she moved away from Salt Lake City and her family.
“I had become totally inactive in the (LDS) church, and I actually was resentful of anyone who tried to change or influence me in a different way,” she said.
She was satisfied with her life until one day, she said, she had a wake-up call.
“One day while I was fixing dinner, my 4-year-old came into the kitchen and said, ‘Mommy, where does God live?’ Until that moment I had not given one thought about teaching him the things that I had learned as a child,” she said. “I was stricken when I heard that question.”
Realizing she had neglected “one of the most sacred responsibilities of parenthood,” Miller took action immediately and went in search of her LDS ward. Once found, Miller said her two boys were excited about their new adventure.
“Children have a natural affinity for heaven,” she said.
Miller’s return to church
Miller’s faith was reinvigorated.
“Going back to church was like healing a big hole in my heart,” she said. “I felt as if I’d come home again.”
Prayer returned to her life and stayed with her as she faced many challenges. Tearfully, she related the comfort that prayers and blessings brought her as she faced the passing of her mother, the death of her husband and the premature birth of a grandchild.
After sharing these most personal events, Miller wiped her eyes and said, “I cannot do alone anywhere near what I can do with God by my side.”