Gordon B. Hinckley 1910-2008
It is with some sadness that I comment on the passing of LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley. He died this past Sunday surrounded by family at the age of 97. If I ever get to choose the time and place of my own passing, that would be it.
President Hinckley has been the face of the LDS Church for as far back as I can remember. Most of my memories of him center around General Conference where he conducted most, if not all, of the sessions. He was called into the First Presidency as a "Counselor" when the sitting Presidency (Kimball, Tanner, and Romney) were all incapacitated due to illness. He stood at that pulpit and never really left.
His entire life was dedicated to the faith. After returning from his mission to England he took a job in what would become the LDS Church PR office. From there it was one job after another until he was called into the leadership ranks. He married his sweetheart Marjorie and they spent nearly 70 years as husband and wife.
Most church members' interaction with General Authorities is pretty much limited to Conference sessions. These are two-hour blocks of speeches punctuated by music from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. While most of the speeches contain important messages, eventually they all blend into a singular drone. Some orators are gifted. Others are not. General Authorities are no exception.
President Hinckley was an exception to that general rule. He had a well developed sense of humor and used it often. For the last few years of his life he was known to treat every conference session as if it would be his last. He made a point of once giving two talks in the same session because, in his own words
I am an old man and do not know how much longer I shall live.
It was on one of these afternoons that President Hinckley took to the podium and looked out upon the overheated crowd, smiled, and said:
We know it's hot in here…and we're sorry.
Then with a twinkle in his eye for which he was famous, he continued:
Its gonna get a lot warmer if you don't repent!
He is now at rest after a lifetime which few men could have kept up with. He is no doubt surrounded by loved ones, especially his wife with whom he spent nearly seven decades.
Rest well, Gordon. You've earned it. Godspeed to you – and welcome home.
Here endeth the lesson.