PROVO — One staffer who helped plan the vice president's trip to Utah on Thursday enjoyed a homecoming of sorts.

American Fork native Anne Marie Gunther, who made a return to Utah this week, played an important part in Thursday's high-profile visit.

As a member of Vice President Dick Cheney's advance team, Gunther's role was to make sure things ran smoothly during the graduation ceremony, where Cheney delivered the commencement address.

"We arrive ahead of the vice president and set up all the details of the visit," Gunther said, by way of explaining the duties of an advance team.

"We want to make sure everything works like clockwork," she said. "That's the goal."

Since her arrival in Provo last Saturday, Gunther said her job, which normally presents its fair share of challenges, has been made much easier by the efforts of BYU staff and administrators.

"I think it's one of the most organized and most accommodating teams we have worked with," she said. "A lot of times we have to make decisions and basically reinvent the wheel. That hasn't happened here."

Gunther, daughter of Blaine and Linda Huntier, is no stranger to BYU, having graduated in 2000 with a degree in elementary education.

Shortly after graduation, she volunteered during the 2000 inauguration, and in 2001 she began working in the White House as the director of scheduling and advance for the vice president's wife, Lynne Cheney.

When she received word the vice president had accepted the invitation to speak in Provo, Gunther said she grew excited about the prospect of returning home.

"I thought it was great; I knew that it's a good school, and he would be excited to attend a school back in the West," Gunther said. "I knew that he would be well-received."

Although work has dominated her time since arriving in the state, Gunther has made it a priority to enjoy her homecoming as much as possible.

"I've managed some time in to see some family," she said. "And, you can't beat Utah mountains."


E-mail: davidr@desnews.com