LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at age 97

LDS president met call with humility, vigor

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2008 12:00 a.m. MST

"Your grandfather was worthy of this, as was your father. And so are you," President McKay told then-Elder Hinckley in extending the call to the apostleship.

"Tears began to fill my eyes as President McKay looked at me with those piercing eyes of his and spoke to me of my forebears," he remembered. "My father was a better man than I have ever been, but he didn't have the opportunities I have had," he recalled in his biography.

President Hinckley also dedicated more temples than any other church authority — 85.

Also when he became church president, he was the senior church employee in length of service.

Born Gordon Bitner Hinckley on June 23, 1910, to Bryant Stringham and Ada Bitner Hinckley, he lived with his parents in the 1st Ward of the Liberty Stake, where he loved to go sledding down 700 South and ice skate on the Liberty Park pond during the winter. Summers were spent at a family summer home in the Millcreek area.

While in his youth, he served in the deacons and teachers quorum presidencies, taught Sunday School and did home teaching.

One of his forebears, Stephen Hopkins, came to America on the Mayflower. Another, Thomas Hinckley, served as governor of the Plymouth Colony from 1680 to 1692. see picture in Church News of 29 Apr 1995.

President Hinckley's father was serving as a counselor in the Liberty Stake presidency at the time of President Hinckley's birth and later became stake president. Earlier, Bryant Hinckley had been an alternate on the Salt Lake Stake's high council and, when the Liberty Stake was split off from the Salt Lake Stake in 1904, became a member of the Liberty Stake's high council. Bryant Hinckley also served on the YMMIA general board from 1900 to 1925.

An uncle, Alonzo Arza Hinckley, served in the Quorum of the Twelve from October 1934 until his death in December 1936 and was a member of the committee that was created after President Hinckley returned home and reported on mission needs in Europe. A stepmother, May Green Hinckley, was Primary general president from January 1940 through May 1943.

President Hinckley's paternal grandfather, Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, was baptized in Nauvoo at about 16, crossed the Plains in 1850, and after living in Salt Lake City and Coalville was called by President Brigham Young to superintend the building of a church fort in Cove Creek. There he was called as the second president of the Millard Stake.

Both President Hinckley's sons served as stake presidents, Richard in the Salt Lake Emigration Stake and Clark in the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake.

President Hinckley developed an early love for all types of writing and got some hands-on experience as an aspiring journalist when he delivered the Deseret News as a young boy.

He attended public schools and LDS High School in Salt Lake City before enrolling as an English major at the University of Utah, where he took all of the journalism and writing courses then offered. He pursued a minor in ancient languages, studying Latin and Greek. While at the university, he was a plumber and a key room attendant at the Deseret Gym. He graduated from the U. in 1932 with a degree in English with a minor in ancient languages.

While growing up, he also knew and associated with a young woman in his ward, Marjorie Pay. They met while both were in Primary, their first date was a Gold and Green Ball, and they subsequently attended several church functions together. Their courtship was interrupted by his mission call in 1933. The call came during the Depression; Elder Hinckley was only one of 525 missionaries called by the church that year.

Then-Elder Hinckley first was assigned to Preston, Lancashire, England, and followed in Elder Heber C. Kimball's footsteps by preaching in many street meetings there. Later in his mission, he was called to serve in the mission office as an assistant to President Joseph F. Merrill, who was also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.

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