World mourns beloved leader

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

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah: "I know one thing: He's going to be overjoyed to be reunited with his wife. This is a man who — I don't care what your religious belief is, I don't care what your educational standards are, I don't care what place you've reached in the world, etc. etc. — you have to conclude this is one of the greatest men who ever lived on the face of the earth. A man of dimensions, intelligence, tremendous sense of humor and love for his fellow men and women — I saw all of this," he said in a telephone interview.

"I loved President Hinckley. This is a sad day for us, but a wonderful reunion for him. ... This is a man God undoubtedly will say did what was right all his lifetime. ... I felt very deeply about him. I've known him a long, long time. I had many visits with him. And every time it was like walking into the presence of a man who was truly the most exceptional of people."

Later, in a formal statement, Hatch added: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of President Gordon B. Hinckley. He was a beloved prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His life was a true testament of service, and he had an abiding love for others. His wit, wisdom and exemplary leadership will be missed by not only members of our faith but by people of all faiths throughout the world.

"He was an articulate leader and defender of our Christian principles and had a unique gift and way about him to communicate with people from all walks of life and all religious persuasions. ... Elaine and I feel deeply privileged to have known such a remarkable man and been touched in so many ways by his life and example."

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah: "I have been privileged to know President Hinckley since my early 20s, and the thing that has impressed me the most about him has been his humility. He always viewed his assignments, no matter how great or small, as opportunities to serve rather than positions of prominence.

"He stayed fully engaged and completely up to date right to the end, and his legacy will be remembered long after all the rest of us are gone."

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah: "I am saddened to learn of President Gordon B. Hinckley's passing. In my experience, he was a man of tremendous foresight, with a keen awareness of current events and of the challenges and opportunities facing the people of the LDS Church, of the state of Utah and of our country. I will remember him as a devout, compassionate spiritual leader who showed much warmth and humor. I express my sincere condolences to his family."

Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said his family has a longtime, personal relationship with President Hinckley, who served in the British (LDS Church) mission "where my grandfather was the mission president. President Hinckley was a missionary with my father (Adrian Cannon). President Hinckley introduced my mother to my father."

"Many people don't realize that President Hinckley was a great wit, and sometimes his wit could be biting, although never harmful," said Cannon. President Hinckley always used to tell the men in the Cannon family that they married above themselves. "He really liked my mother — and he was probably right — we all did marry above ourselves."

Hinckley and Adrian Cannon were strong missionaries, said Chris Cannon. "For many years, no Mormon missionaries preached in Hyde Park" — a famous free-speech area. "They would get beat up. But my father and President Hinckley started preaching in Hyde Park" — with nothing too harmful happening to them.

President Hinckley had a great clarity of vision, said Cannon. And one reason that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney is doing so well, even though he is a Mormon, this election year, is because President Hinckley over many years publicly spoke on various TV shows and in newspapers about Mormons — showing the world the good side of his religion, said Cannon.

Utah House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy: "I'll always remember the first time I met him and shook his hand. It was a great honor for me personally. This is a great loss not only to the LDS Church but to the state of Utah as well. He was a revered and respected leader."

Curtis said he doesn't yet know what honors will be coming from the Legislature, which is one week into its 45-day annual general session. "Certainly we'll have a moment of silence on Monday. A time for reflection on his life. Later, after the ceremonies of the funeral are announced, I imagine we'll do more."

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