Marjorie Pay Hinckley Every bit his equal
Her sensible nature, devotion to family served her well
Her advice for living a long life is about what you'd expect from her: "If you're happy, you live longer than if you're unhappy." And she has always been happy and content with the world. In 1937, when a young Gordon Hinckley told her he wasn't sure they could be married because he had only $150 in the bank in those Depression-era days, she replied, "You mean I get $150 and a husband?!"
Her position in a worldwide church has changed nothing. She is still a sensible-shoes woman, ever practical. Once one of their daughters saw her getting dressed in a pleated skirt and white cotton blouse for a reception.
Her daughter protested, "The reception is in honor of Dad and you. He's probably going to wear a tux. Every woman there will have on sequins and diamonds." As she continued to dress, Sister Hinckley said, "I don't have any sequins in my closet, but this skirt is black and the blouse does have a lace collar and, besides that, if we're the guests of honor, whatever I wear will have to be right."
Acquaintances like to say that Sister Hinckley has always just tried to be herself, to which she likes to say, "I couldn't think of anyone else to be."
It has been the great surprise of her life for this simple woman to find herself married to the famous, beloved leader of the LDS Church. "How did a nice girl like me get in a mess like this?" she says frequently.
Says Kathy, "She comes from simple, hard-working stock. I don't think to this day she completely comprehends where life has taken her. She still lives her life, and he has his church job. She wouldn't be any different if he were the chorister in Sunday School."
She grew up in a salt-of-the-earth family and lived in the Salt Lake Valley virtually her entire life. She never learned to swim or ride a bike and never went to college, which was a big regret for a woman who loves learning and books and took classes when she could manage it. One morning during the Depression years she registered for classes at the University of Utah. Later that day she learned her father had lost his job. That afternoon she took a job in downtown Salt Lake City, and that was the end of college.
And yet she has seen the world at the side of her husband, visiting more countries than she can count. Sometimes, she says, she has to pinch herself to see if this is really her wonderful life, one that she never saw coming.
She says she knew from the beginning that she would never be No. 1 in Gordon Hinckley's life God held that position but she took comfort in that. He went to work for the church following his mission and has worked there ever since.
While he was busy opening missions in the Orient and traveling abroad, she was taking care of the house and yard, putting the kids through their chores, driving the boys on their paper routes, picking fruit from the backyard trees. It was a job she loved. When the kids went back to school at the end of the summer, she cried. She hoarded every minute she could with them.Once, when one of her children was required to stay after school for disciplinary reasons, she marched into the school and told the teacher, "You can do anything you want with this boy all day long, but after 3 p.m. he's mine"
"I'm grateful to say our family's turned out amazingly well in my judgment," says President Hinckley, "and I give all the credit to this little lady."
Perhaps it is revealing that all five children live in the same corner of the Salt Lake Valley. Sister Hinckley no longer hears the screen door slamming, but she is surrounded by her children and their children and standing at her husband's side, and she's still putting on her shoes every morning to go to workand is thankful just for all of that."Well, it turned out better than I expected," she says. "It's been a good life."
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