Family remembers Stephen R. Covey as loving dad

OREM, Utah (AP) — While the world will think of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” when readers recall Stephen R. Covey, his family said Saturday that they would remember him best as just “Papa.”

Covey, who died Monday at age 79 of complications from a Provo bicycle accident in the spring, often reminded his children that family came first, they said.

“As good as he was in public… he was even better in private as a husband and father,” said one of his nine children, Stephen M.R. Covey, according to the Deseret News.

More than 1,000 people attended a memorial service for Covey at Utah Valley University in Orem, including Gov. Gary Herbert and his wife Jeanette Herbert. Covey’s children, 52 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren also were in attendance.

Covey was considered a pioneer in the self-help genre aimed at helping readers become more productive in their lives. His “Seven Habits” book sold more than 20 million copies, just one of several of his best-sellers.

He also co-founded the Utah-based professional services company FranklinCovey. But his children said that he told them: “Family is more important than the company.”

A daughter, Catherine Covey, recalled how he took her to see “Star Wars” when she was younger, even though he didn’t like those types of movies.

“He came because he knew how much it meant to me,” she said.

The children also referred to “Honda rides” – one-on-one outings with their father on ATVs in the mountain.

His eldest child, Cynthia Covey, noted his strong faith in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She said her mother once told her that the church helped him balance his success.

“He taught us the great secret to happiness is contribution, not accumulation,” Cynthia Covey said, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.

In “Seven Habits,” Covey wrote about the need to be proactive, to “begin with the end in mind,” (habit No. 2) and “to seek first to understand, then be understood” (habit No. 5).

“Remember, to learn and not to do is really not to learn. To know and not to do is really not to know,” he said in the foreword.

His family said Covey’s gift was his ability to “unleash a person’s potential” – the life goal he shared with his brother, John Covey, after Stephen graduated from Harvard Business School.

John Covey said Stephen changed millions of lives “because of his passion” to bring out the potential in people.

“We will all sorely miss our Papa,” another daughter, Colleen Covey Brown, said.

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