Founder of SkyWest to speak on ’75 Years of Dixie’ at chamber luncheon

Founder of SkyWest Airlines and entrepreneur J. Ralph Atkin will speak at the April 3 "Chamber Inspiration Luncheon" in St. George | Atkin photo courtesy of the St. George Area Chamber of Commerce; background photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — What do Cafe Rio, SkyWest Airlines and Red Hills Golf Course have in common? Ralph Atkin. He was instrumental in starting these successful businesses in Southern Utah, and he will be the featured speaker at this Wednesday’s St. George Area Chamber of Commerce “Chamber Inspiration Luncheon.”

The luncheon will be held at the Courtyard by Marriott in St. George from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost is $15 for members and $20 for nonmembers. Advance online registration is encouraged at the chamber’s website.

“Rambling with Ralph: 75 Years of Dixie”

Atkin is a lifelong resident of St. George with an extensive educational background. He has undergraduate degrees from Dixie State College and Brigham Young University, a masters of business and administration degree from Golden Gate University and a doctorate of jurisprudence from the University of Utah.

In 1970 Atkin was elected Washington County Attorney and served one term. Atkin founded SkyWest Airlines in 1972 and served as the company’s chairman for the next 20 years until he retired from his position in 1992 and from the company’s board of directors in 2018. During his tenure, he was involved in several mergers and acquisitions, in addition to being heavily involved in the initial public offering of SkyWest stock.

He spent nine years serving as Chairman of the Utah Travel Council and served as the director of economic development for the state of Utah from 1991 to 1993, where he planned, organized and conducted several trade missions with the governor.

Atkin created an airline based out of Austria in 1995 and one in Ghana in 2005. With both airlines, he dealt directly with many levels of government, including the president of Ghana. Atkin also holds a private pilots license.

He is a member of the Utah State Bar and has maintained a private law practice in St. George with an emphasis in business and estate planning.

He and his wife, Cheri Bennet Atkin, have eight children and 25 grandchildren. Atkin served a mission to England for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in his youth and recently served as a church public affairs volunteer alongside his wife in Turkey.

Event details

  • What: “Chamber Inspiration Luncheon” featuring J. Ralph Atkin.
  • When: Wednesday, April 3, 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Where: Courtyard by Marriott, 185 S. 1470 East, St. George.
  • Cost: $15 for members, $20 for nonmembers. Register online.

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