World mourns beloved leader

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

Gladys Knight and President Hinckley enjoy a light moment at An Evening of Celebration, held for President Hinckley's birthday.

Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News

Reaction late Sunday to the death of President Gordon B. Hinckley came from all quarters of the political, religious and business worlds, as well as from typical Latter-day Saints locally and across the globe.

Church spokesman Bruce Olsen told reporters Sunday night that the 97-year old church leader's health had been failing for the past few weeks, but President Hinckley maintained much of his schedule for the past few days. "He worked until the very end," Olsen said, adding President Hinckley underwent chemotherapy treatment for the last time early last week and became ill a few days later.

Funeral services are pending and will be planned by President Hinckley's family and church leaders today.

Among those reflecting on his death:

President George W. Bush: "Laura and I are deeply saddened by the death of our friend, Gordon B. Hinckley. While serving for over seven decades in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Gordon demonstrated the heart of a servant and the wisdom of a leader. He was a tireless worker and a talented communicator who was respected in his community and beloved by his congregation. As President of his church, he traveled to more than 60 countries to spread a message of love and optimism to the millions of people around the world who shared his faith.

"A Mayflower descendent and the grandson of Mormon pioneers, Gordon was a deeply patriotic man. His leadership and service strengthened the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young University, the Boy Scouts of America, and the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City. In 2004, I was honored to present him with the Medal of Freedom, our Nation's highest civil award, in recognition of his lifelong public service.

"Laura and I will miss Gordon's friendship and wisdom. Our thoughts and prayers are with his five children and the rest of the Hinckley family."

Mitt Romney: "I was impressed by his knowledge of the detail. We asked for the ability to use a city block, which the church owned, which had four parking lots on it ... for us to level the parking lot and turn it into a plaza for the medals ceremonies.

"It would seat, as I recall, approximately 10,000 people and another 10,000 would be standing and he turned to the other counselors that were there of his and said, Aren't the sewer pipes too close to the surface on that lot for them to be able to level it? He literally was aware of ... the sewer system for the lot well enough to recognize that was an issue."

Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr.: "Mary Kaye and I are truly mourning tonight's death of President Gordon B. Hinckley. The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has served as a transformational religious leader and tremendous ambassador for Utah with his unprecedented outreach to all corners of the world.

"We join with thousands of others, who have been touched by his words and deeds, in remembering all he has done for so many in our community and in the world. His leadership in humanitarian efforts around the world was matched only by his efforts in his own beloved state and community as a committed citizen. He has stood as a remarkable example of selflessness, charity and humility, and he will be greatly missed by all.

"We extend our deepest of sympathies to the family and the community who loved President Hinckley. May we all be comforted in the knowledge of his beloved positive outlook on life."

Huntsman's office said the governor has authorized the United States and Utah flags to be lowered in honor of President Hinckley. The flags will be flown at half-staff on all state-owned facilities until sunset on the day of his interment.

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