As news of the late-night passing of LDS President James E. Faust spread on Friday, leaders in the political and legal communities said President Faust was well-respected as a church leader, an attorney and tireless leader in politics.
Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said: "Mary Kaye and I are mourning the loss of President James E. Faust as we cherish the dear relationship we've shared with him and his family."
Huntsman is the grandson of the late Quorum of the Twelve member David B. Haight, who served with President Faust in church leadership for decades.
"I have always had a deep respect for President Faust and his tremendous example of selfless service and caring for his community and the world. He left a legacy of public service and thoughtfulness to which we can all aspire.
"We extend our deepest of sympathies to the family and the community who loved President Faust. May their hearts be lightened by his wonderful life. Our hearts and prayers are with the Faust family."
Attorney Vince Rampton, son of three-time Utah Gov. Cal Rampton said President Faust was a long-time legal colleague of his father. Rampton said a recent stroke which left his father unable to speak prevented his father from being able to comment on the passing.
"They were friends for a very long time," Vince Rampton said. "My father felt that he was somebody he could talk to."
"On behalf of my father, certainly he was a great friend and will be greatly missed. His contribution to the growth of the church has been inestimable."
President Faust was a 1948 graduate of the University of Utah College of Law and went into private practice until his call to be a general authority in 1972. He had served as president of the Utah Bar Association from 1962-63 and was a member of the Utah Legislature on the Democratic ticket from 1949-51. While a legislator, he also served as chairman of the house liquor investigation committee.
He also served as a member of the Constitutional Revision Committee for the State of Utah and had been an adviser to the American Bar Journal. Former Utah Gov. Scott Matheson appointed him state director for the Friendshipping Force.
In 2003, President Faust became the first recipient of the Distinguished Service Award from the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.
Oscar McConkie Jr., a well-known attorney and Democrat, said that President Faust had a life-long interest in politics and government service.
"As a young man he was elected to the Utah House of Representatives as a Democrat," recalls McConkie, whose family were long-time friends with the Fausts.
Later, in 1960 after newly-elected President John F. Kennedy appointed his own brother, Robert, as U.S. attorney general, a special committee on civil rights was set up under the Justice Department.
"Bobby Kennedy asked President Faust to serve on this important committee, and he did," recalled McConkie. The Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law was a group that encouraged lawyers across the nation to provide free legal service to victims of race discrimination. "A very important work, and President Faust did that for several years."
Over many years, "President Faust was one of the prominent political figures of this state," said McConkie.
With a chuckle, McConkie said: "We've been friends for a long, long time. I've tried cases against him" back before President Faust was made a church leader. "He is a great and good man."
U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, a grandson of former LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, said: "I had the great honor of knowing President Faust fairly well and I have lost a dear friend. The church has lost a great leader and Joyce (Bennett's wife) and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family."
Other political leaders weighed in with their views on President Faust.
"President Faust was a tremendous counselor to President Hinckley and a wonderful leader for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, R-Utah. "He was a great friend to our family and millions of others. He is a person of great dimension, wide-ranging abilities, and deeply spiritual capacities. Elaine and I will deeply miss him. We pray that everyone in the Faust family will be comforted at this time with peace through their memories of this great man."
Said Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah: "President Faust was a public servant and a servant of God in the fullest sense of those terms an uncommon combination to say the least. He seemed to have a keen interest in government and current events, but more importantly he had a genuine interest in people and the welfare of the individual," Bishop continued. "He was truly a kind and caring soul, and he will be missed."
Said Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah: "President Faust was one of the most important and revered people in Utah, but he never lost the common touch. ... Jim embodied the Savior's mandate to be 'wise as serpents and harmless as doves.' He was a lawyer who disciplined himself in his profession in church service and became wise. He was unfailingly kind. I will miss him, his family will miss him, and as a people, we will greatly miss him."
Utah's lone Democratic Congressman said he was saddened to learn of Faust's death.
"I will always remember his concern for the less-fortunate and what a strong advocate he was for public service," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. " He made the world a better place. I extend my deepest sympathies to his family. The world and the Utah Democratic Party have lost an irreplaceable role model who taught us how to reach out to one another. As a community leader, President Faust was an inspiration for Democrats to get involved in public service. "
Wayne Holland, chair of the Utah Democratic Party, said, "His quiet and thoughtful counsel will be missed. We thank his family for sharing him with us and supporting his efforts. At this time our prayers are with them."
State legislative leaders also offered their thoughts.
Utah Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said he has long looked up to President Faust and identifies with him.
"Like President Faust, I'm an attorney and I'm in the (Utah) Legislature, and I'm an active member of our church, as he was," said Valentine from Boston, where he is returning from a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
"We believed in many of the same things and all of us are very saddened by his passing. A great part of our (Utah) history has moved on," said Valentine.
House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, remembered President Faust fondly, saying: "It's been more than 10 years ago, at the dedication of the Matheson Court House, and President Faust gave a speech about how he hoped that the courthouse would be used to help the less fortunate among us, those who may not have access to the courts, but who should get redress through the law." President Faust "was not only a great example of a religious leader, but also a leader in the Legislature and in the civic community. He is a great leader and will be missed."
Leaders of Utah's legal community said they knew President Faust as a capable and caring attorney.
Former Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard C. Howe recalled being a first-year law student with President Faust.
"I met him the first day of law school," Howe said. "President Faust was an excellent lawyer. ... He had great poise and had great care and concern for his client. He wasn't just there to make money."Comment on this story
Current Utah Supreme Court Chief Justice Christine Durham said she will remember President Faust for his work in having the LDS Church's charitable arms help fund legal aid programs for the disadvantaged.
"President Faust was a profoundly influential voice during his service to the legal profession for high standards of ethics, civility and to the rule of law. We have always appreciated the way in which he treasured his experiences as a lawyer and continued to make contributions to the improvement of the legal profession. He will be deeply missed."
Utah State Bar President V. Lowry Snow said he was deeply saddened by President Faust's passing. "President Faust was not only a great lawyer and leader of our profession, but he also actively promoted the delivery of legal services to the poor and needy of all faiths in the state."