James L. Sorenson, 86, Utah's wealthiest man, who built his fortune in pioneering medical devices and real estate, died Sunday of cancer in Salt Lake City, according to a spokesman for the Sorenson Cos.
Born in Rexburg, Idaho, in 1921, Sorenson grew up in Central California during the Depression. His family faced financial hardships and Sorenson had trouble in school because of dyslexia.
After service as a Mormon missionary in New England, Sorenson worked for the Upjohn pharmaceutical firm. In 1957, he co-founded the Deseret Pharmacy in Utah.
While calling on doctors, he noticed problems and devised solutions, starting with disposable surgical masks to replace cloth masks that had to be laundered.