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LDS Church General Authority Elder Marion D. Hanks dies at age 89

Published: Friday, Aug. 5 2011 11:31 p.m. MDT

Born in Salt Lake City on Oct. 13, 1921, Elder Hanks was a son of Stanley Alonzo and Maude Frame Hanks. His father was a prominent municipal judge who died when Elder Hanks was 2. His widowed mother reared six of the seven children to maturity. Elder Hanks was the youngest.

Elder Hanks returned from World War II to earn a law degree at the University of Utah. He and his wife, the former Maxine Christensen, are the parents of five children.

An author and compelling speaker, he also wrote the lyrics to one of the church's hymns, "That Easter Morn," was honored with the Silver Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America and served as president of the Salt Lake Temple from 1982-85.

Asked in 1993 by Dennis Lythgoe of the Deseret News what he thought his epitaph could read, Elder Hanks was hesitant to answer but offered a few possibilities:

"A teacher affects eternity. (It's definitely the most fun I've ever had.)"

"We live on in the lives we have influenced for good."

"Through Christ he early caught a glimpse of what man might be. His generous investment as a teacher produced rich dividends in the lives of others."

"I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be withholden from thee ... but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes." — Job 42:1-6.

"I would have ended my last general conference address with Job but didn't have the time. I think these verses mean that Job sees that what he did pales beside that of the Savior. If I had anything on my epitaph, I would be happy with these verses from Job."

Funeral services are being planned for Aug. 13.

After receiving emeritus status, Elder Hanks became chairman of the Ouelessebougou Mali-Utah alliance group, which has supported a program of community service for a consortium of villages in Mali, West Africa.

In addition, he chaired the International Enterprise Development Foundation, which assists people in the Philippines and Third World countries in establishing small-business and other economic improvement efforts.

In April 1993, he received an honorary doctorate of Christian service as the main speaker at BYU's graduation.

Elder Hanks had also continued as a public speaker in his later years. For example, in 2002, he gave a talk titled, "I Do Not Do My Work in the Spirit of Benefaction but of Atonement" (a quotation from Albert Schweitzer), at Utah Valley State College in Orem.

He received BYU's David M. Kennedy Public Service Award in 1995. When he received that award, Ray Hillam, Kennedy Center associate and emeritus BYU faculty member. said, "The career of Marion D. Hanks has been a career of service. We cannot recognize all of his accomplishments. They are legion. However, the center wishes to honor Marion D. Hanks for his service in two specific areas: refugee work and rural and free enterprise development."

LDS-oriented Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista has also honored Elder Hanks with its Leader-Servant Award.

Elder Hanks was executive director of the Priesthood Department at the time he received emeritus status. He had also been executive director of the Correlation Department and chairman of the Communications Coding Committee.

As a youth, he won the Utah State Marble Championship, attended West High School and was offered a basketball scholarship to the University of Utah, but declined to serve a church mission.

His mission to the Northern States was cut short by World War II. He served in the Navy where he was group leader of 600 LDS servicemen.

On another assignment, while on an extended tour through the South Pacific, he was the only LDS member aboard a submarine chaser. Appointed acting chaplain by the ship's captain, he conducted weekly services, attracting many of the crew. He achieved the rank of first class petty officer.

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