Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. cut short a trip to Florida, where he campaigned for John McCain, to thank the Hinckley family for their contributions to Utah. Speaking from the governor's mansion, he called the state better off because of President Hinckley's life. "It's hard to describe adequately a man with his leadership talents."
Huntsman said he particularly enjoyed escorting visiting dignitaries to President Hinckley's downtown office.
"He could engage anybody regardless of their background or philosophy," the governor said. "He was a man who understood the world. He was a man who was perfect for these times."
Other politicians and community leaders, too, recalled Monday personal interactions with President Hinckley.
"I will always appreciate the words of comfort that he brought to the family and friends of former Congressman Wayne Owens by speaking at his funeral services," said Wayne Holland, Utah Democratic Party chairman.
"Congressman Owens was a close friend and mentor to me. I will never forget President Hinckley's comment that, 'Any man who is engaged in the cause of peace is engaged in the cause of Christ.' That was the essence of Wayne's life."
Jeanetta Williams, Salt Lake Branch NAACP president, said she has fond memories of working with President Hinckley, including asking his support to change Human Rights Day to Martin Luther King Jr. Day and inviting him to speak at an NAACP regional conference.
"President Hinckley was always concerned about the way people treated one another, and each time that he and I spoke he always asked how I was being treated by the people of Utah and on my jog," she said.
"He had a deep concern for the community and what others outside of Utah thought about the people in our state."
Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, while heading the Salt Lake Olympics, remembers being impressed with President Hinckley's knowledge of details.
"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 ceremony.
"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 that lot well enough to recognize that was an issue."
Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada, said President Hinckley led a remarkable life."His faith and leadership have inspired countless lives throughout the world. He leaves a deeply rooted legacy on our religion through his teachings and his lifetime of service to the church."
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing: Bob Bernick Jr. and Nicole Warburton
Contributing: Bob Bernick Jr. and Nicole Warburton
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