Joe Kingsley stood with his wife Britta Kingsley as he was honored by Chamber President Jared Anderson (far left) and Chamber Director Laici Shumway (far right). [Photo by Murice D. Miller / Moab Sun News]

A celebration was held in Moab on Tuesday, Nov. 20, to honor Joe Kingsley as the 2018 Moab Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year.

“Choosing business and citizen of the year is always so hard, because we are surrounded by so many selfless and inspiring leaders,” the Moab Chamber of Commerce said in a press release announcing the award. “Our 2018 Moab Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year is just that. We are honored to recognize and celebrate one of Moab’s greatest fans, Joe Kingsley.”

Kingsley came to Moab in search of gold, the chamber said, and while that didn’t “pan out” as he thought, it did not matter, because, instead, he built himself a legacy. He started his Moab entrepreneurial adventures in Castle Valley as a real estate agent and sold lots at the old Pace Ranch. That was only beginning of the growth and development that Kingsley has facilitated in Moab through real estate, the chamber said. He eventually founded Arches Realty, the oldest continuously operating real estate company in southeastern Utah.

Kingsley has been active in many community and business organizations, like the Rotary Club, Rotary International Club, Vietnam Dog Handlers Association and the local chapter of the Salvation Army. Kingsley helped to establish the local travel council to promote Moab.

In 1984, after the crash of the uranium industry when people were leaving Moab, Kingsley’s belief in, and love for, Moab didn’t falter. Kingsley was on the chamber board at the time with John Fogg and Bob Jones.

According to the Moab Area Real Estate Magazine, the story goes like this:

“We felt that once people found out about this place, and saw how beautiful it was,” word would get out, Fogg said. But how to make it happen?

As the chamber of commerce was kicking around ideas, a comment was made that even the Moab city dump was in a setting of scenic splendor unmatched by any other town.” Carrying that idea a little farther down the trail, “why not a World’s Most Scenic Garbage Dump” contest?

“It was a gem of a marketing genius,” McCourt wrote. “Within weeks, newspapers from all over the world were running stories about the contest … tourists began stopping in town to ask directions to the garbage dump.”

One visitor was the legendary newsman Charles Kuralt, who devoted a segment of his whimsical CBS News feature, “On the Road,” to the topic. He interviewed Fogg and Kingsley about a dump whose marketing-driven allure was proving far stronger than its smell.

“That is one of the big feathers in Joe’s hat, pulling that one off,” Fogg said of the competition, a marketing coup that set Moab on a new path.

Kingsley’s involvement and support of the Moab Chamber of Commerce has been continual ever since, as he is dedicating himself to business and the community in Moab with every effort.

“We appreciate him for that,” the chamber said in its statement on Nov. 20.

His wife of seven years, Britta, mentioned that wherever they go, they are stopped by people in the community who have their own stories about Kingsley. He has helped many people and has had an impact on many who still remember their interactions with Kingsley with fondness.

Britta said, “It would seem he has either bought or sold every building in Moab, and everyone has their story about Joe.”

Kingsley also owns the business “Sore No More,” a popular pain-relief ointment, and “Glo Germ,” a company that sells kits that show how poorly people wash their hands. Universities, restaurants and even the World Health Organization use Glo Germ in their training.

Even in retirement, Kingsley continues to believe in and fight for Moab.

He is currently using his experience and dedicating his time to serve as the Ad hoc Moab Transit Authority Study Committee vice chair, and is pursuing the idea of a passenger rail service between Salt Lake City and Moab.

A recent article in the Moab Sun News said it is an idea that is gaining ground and support between Grand, Emery and Carbon counties. Joe is an advocate for the rail service, as it would provide both tourists and locals transportation to Salt Lake City and connect with other cities along the way. Currently, they are moving forward with a feasibility study and research phase of the project. They have one of five experts hired from Colorado, and they don’t plan to quit, Kingsley said.

The land could be ready for development as early as 2025 or 2028, and Kingsley’s goal is to make it happen sooner, rather than later.

“We are so grateful and inspired by Joe Kingsley for forging such great paths for Moab,” the chamber said. “We’re lucky to have him on our side here in Moab — both as a chamber, and as a community.”

Joe Kingsley recognized for decades of local business and community experiences

“We’re lucky to have him on our side here in Moab — both as a chamber, and as a community.”