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The life of President Gordon B. Hinckley

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

President Hinckley, second from left, second row, as missionary in Great Britain.

President Gordon B. Hinckley provided a deep reflection — a first-person eulogy — on his life of service to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during the April 2006 General Conference.

He advised conferencegoers that this talk should not be regarded as "my obituary. I look forward to speaking to you in October (of 2006)."

But in what he described as a departure from the usual gospel-themed talks of general conference, he acknowledged that "I face the sunset of my life. I am totally in the hands of the Lord. ... I take this opportunity while it is available to express appreciation and gratitude for the remarkable blessings the Lord has showered upon me. ... Somehow, the Lord has watched over and guided my choices, although it was not always evident at the time."

The church leader said the concluding words of a poem by Robert Frost, "The Road Not Taken," came to mind. "Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

President Hinckley also referred to recent surgery to remove a cancerous growth in his colon. "It was the first time I have been a patient in a hospital. I do not recommend it to anyone," he said, drawing knowing laughter from the audience. He said physicians involved in the Jan. 24 surgery warned him that he may have continuing problems.

He said the conference address was one of more than 200 he has presented since being called as an LDS general authority in 1958. "I have dealt with a great variety of subjects, but running through all has been a dominant thread of testimony of this great latter-day work," he said.

During his time as a church authority, President Hinckley said, he had hosted and mingled with presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors, as well as having "walked among the impoverished and poor of the Earth, and shared with them my love, my concern and my faith. I hope I have made at least a small difference."

In his tenure, the church created several humanitarian service projects, such as the Perpetual Education Fund, and greatly expanded humanitarian aid for many people around the world.

He spoke of a patriarchal blessing he received as a boy of 11. "It is personal, and I will not read extensively from it. However, it contains the statement: 'The nations of the Earth shall hear thy voice and be brought to a knowledge of the truth by the wonderful testimony which thou shalt bear."'

Later, after a mission in England, he traveled for a time in Europe and was able to bear his testimony in Berlin and Paris and then when he was in Washington, D.C. He felt this had fulfilled the promise in his blessing, he said.

However, "That proved to be a mere scratching of the surface. Since then, I have lifted my voice on every continent, in cities large and small, all up and down from north to south and east to west across this broad world. ...

"It is," he said, "all a miracle."

HUMOR — Put a little wit and laughter into your lives

President Gordon B. Hinckley was serious about humor.

"We need to have a little humor in our lives," he said in a Church News interview in September 1995. "We better take seriously that which should be taken seriously, but at the same time we can bring in a touch of humor now and again. If the time ever comes when we can't smile at ourselves, it will be a sad time."

President Hinckley's humor was always gentle and usually directed at himself.

During the press conference after he was set apart as the church's 15th president, President Hinckley was ready when he was asked about his health.

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