Alan and Karen Ashton rose from a life of modest economic means to one of vast prosperity in the 1980s and ‘90s through the success of their global software company, WordPerfect. Believing that their success was a blessing, the Ashton's wanted a permanent expression of their thanks. So in 1995 after selling WordPerfect to Novell, they broke ground for Thanksgiving Point.
Dr. Alan Ashton, co-founder of WordPerfect Corporation, was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. In 1966, Dr. Ashton graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Utah with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. He pursued a Ph.D. in the newly formed Computer Science Department and received his degree in 1970. Two years later, Dr. Ashton joined the Computer Science Department of Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah as a professor. He taught for 14 years and in 1986 was elected "Outstanding Professor of the Year" by the graduating computer science class.
While a graduate student at the University of Utah, Dr. Ashton had submitted two proposals for computer research projects, one pertaining to music and the other, word processing. Although he chose the music project for his thesis, nine years later, while teaching at BYU, Dr. Ashton revived his idea for a word-processing program. He started working with Bruce Bastian, a protégé from BYU, on what eventually became the world's premiere word-processing software: WordPerfect.
In 1987, Dr. Ashton left BYU to focus fully on WordPerfect, serving as president and CEO of the Corporation. By 1993, the company employed more than 5,000 people and had revenues of $700 million. In 1994, Novell, Inc. purchased WordPerfect. Dr. Ashton served on the board of directors for Novell until 1996. Since that time, Dr. Ashton has devoted himself full-time to a variety of community interests in and around Utah.
Karen Ashton was born in Salt Lake City and raised in Murray, Utah. She and Alan met on a blind date and were married in 1968.
While Dr. Ashton was concentrating on teaching and developing his word-processing software, Karen worked full time as a homemaker and mother to the couple's 11 children.
With a full and busy household, Karen naturally looked for places of respite for herself and her children. The local library became a source of both education and entertainment. When times of sadness struck the family, as is common in most families, Karen turned to her garden for comfort. As her children grew, Karen continued to pursue her interests in gardens and children's education.
In 1990, with the help of three friends, Karen led a fundraising project to build a new children's library in the city of Orem. She also founded the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival.
Karen was able to share her love of gardens in a major way when she and her husband founded Thanksgiving Point. Creating a garden was the impetus for the development, which now includes the largest dinosaur museum in the world, a working farm, shops, restaurants and Karen's personal pride--a 55-acre botanical garden.
Karen has served on a number of boards in Utah and is the recipient of numerous community service awards.