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World mourns beloved leader

Published: Monday, Jan. 28 2008 10:02 a.m. MST

Utah Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem: "I feel like I've lost a good friend tonight," he said. "But, then, that was how President Hinckley made everyone feel — like he was your good friend."

On Jan. 4, President Hinckley gave a dedicatory prayer at the rededication ceremony of the state Capitol. President Hinckley looked worn and tired, Valentine and a number of those present remarked.

But in a quick private meeting in the ceremonial Gold Room — beautifully restored — President Hinckley remarked to Valentine "about how remarkable the Capitol looked. He said we did a very good job of keeping the old parts of the Capitol and blending them in so well with the modern updates. He was very aware of what had been going on" in the three-year remodeling.

"He taught me by example, not only in his sermons, but his ability to respect all people, especially those who didn't belong to his religion.

"He wasn't afraid to talk to reporters, and his civility showed. He was a world leader, he had a world view, not just a church or Utah view," said Valentine, who also said there would be a short ceremony today in the Senate to honor President Hinckley.

Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker: "I extend my deepest sympathy to the family of President Hinckley and the millions of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I appreciate the great care and concern President Hinckley had for our city. He has guided an unprecedented investment in downtown Salt Lake City that will be an example and catalyst for our future.

"He was truly one of Salt Lake City's greatest ambassadors. His compassion, sense of humor and wisdom will be deeply missed by our community. As the mayor of Salt Lake City, I hope all of us will follow President Hinckley's example of reaching out as individuals to serve our neighbors."

Utah's Episcopal Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish: "Hearing of President Hinckley's death this evening I find it difficult to imagine the world and its faith communities without him. Leading the LDS Church for decades, he has been its heart and soul to many millions — members and nonmembers alike.

"Like so many others, I have been deeply touched by his generous wisdom, kindly voice and delicate humor. In my youth and when I returned to Utah to lead another church, he has always been the quintessential 'good neighbor.'

"I pray for his family and close friends who must feel this immediate loss so keenly. His journey here was long and his faith so strong, that his very presence made us all want to embrace life as fully and well as he did."

Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP Salt Lake City branch and of the NAACP of Utah, Nevada and Idaho: "I want to convey my deepest, heartfelt sympathy to President Hinckley's family and to church members. I was very fond of President Hinckley. I personally knew him, and I will truly miss his voice and his concern for the community....

"He was always concerned about other people and always concerned about how people were treating me. He was just a very, very good person, and I will miss him so much."

Brigham Young University President Cecil Samuelson: "BYU has been very blessed by its significant association with President Gordon B. Hinckley. As long-time chair of the university's board of trustees, he has set the vision for BYU and the high expectations we strive to meet.

"The magnificent building on campus that bears his name could never be sufficient to match the legacy he has established for us. By having the faith and courage to show the world that great secular learning can be combined with an atmosphere that actively supports faith, President Hinckley has made an indelible mark in higher education, not just within the church, but worldwide."

BYU spokeswoman Carri P. Jenkins said BYU will fly flags at half-staff today, as directed by the church. Any updated events will be announced on BYU's Web page: www.byu.edu. At press time, the university was uploading a slide show on its Web site of President Hinckley's visits to campus.

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