Elder Marion D. Hanks' greatest desire in life was to qualify to be a friend of Christ.
He would realize that sacred desire through decades of selfless service and devotion, said friends and relatives who paid tribute to the late Latter-day Saint leader at Saturday's funeral services in Holladay. Elder Hanks' 90 years on earth, they declared, were defined by service, dedication, learning and always speaking out for those in need.
Called to the Seventy at age 31, Elder Hank's would spend almost two-thirds of this life serving as a general authority. He died Aug. 5 at the age of 89.
"He was a beloved friend and associate in the work of the Lord," said President Thomas S. Monson, who spoke and presided at the funeral.
Friends, associates and relatives filled the Holladay South Stake Center to hear Elder Hanks honored as a man of God and of the people — a "man's man" and loyal friend who looked out for the little guy, adored his family, cherished the scriptures and his country, competed fiercely on the athletic field and devoted his life to his church.
"No one who has known Marion D. Hanks — or Duff, as we like to call him — will ever forget him," said President Monson.
The leader called his late friend "a man for all seasons" and a decorated fellow Scouter. The two served together for decades as fellow general authorities. During the final years of his life, Elder Hanks battled illness and was living at an assisted-living center. There, President Monson would often visit his old associate. They would talk about Elder Hanks' "glory days" playing church basketball, along with other fond memories.
Elder Hanks, he said, accepted in full the Apostle Paul's challenge to be "an example of the believers."
Marion D. Hanks was known as "Duff" to close friends and family members. He was Elder Hanks to millions of Latter-day Saints. But he will always be "President Hanks" to Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Quentin L. Cook, members of the Quorum of the Twelve who also served under Elder Hanks when he presided over the British Mission.
Both men spoke at Saturday's service.
Elder Holland said that his mission president "has been like a father to me." President Hanks, he added, was also a learned, sensitive teacher who would enlist the words of Shakespeare or the world's greatest poets to teach the missionaries a valuable lesson — or perhaps inject a measure of needed humor.
The scriptures, meanwhile, "were the hammer and tongs he used to forge our souls."
Elder Holland marveled at his mentor's capacity to protect, defend and elevate the disenfranchised, the fatherless and the forgotten. "Everywhere he labored, he sought ways to bless the poor and the needy."
Elder Hanks, he added, counted everyone in the room — and everyone in the room counted.
Elder Cook remembered his mission president as a man who perpetually called for moral agency and correct choices. Elder Hanks taught that people can't always control their circumstances, but they can control their spiritual reactions and make correct choices. He taught the importance of making the day-to-day decision to do the right thing.
Marion D. Hanks was a man devoted to both the gospel and his family, noted Elder Cook. As a full-time missionary, young Elder Cook observed the gospel being lived in full inside the walls of the mission home.
Elder Hanks also bore a rich testimony of Christ and lived a life defined by faith in the Lord. "His main emphasis was to do what the Savior wanted him to do," he said.
Several of Elder Hanks' children also spoke at the funeral. Nancy Hanks Baird said her father taught his children "to love truth." He was tenacious in his quest for truth and had a deep aversion for pretense and arrogance. He taught all in his vast circle of friends and associates that Christ was the key to the abundant life.
He was a "real human being" who lived life with great urgency in his efforts to serve and help others.
Another daughter, Susan Hanks Maughan, said her father utilized every opportunity to use the scriptures to teach his children. His calling as a general authority often took him away from his family as he traveled across the globe to minister to congregations. "He was always willing to say yes to one more request if he could bless other."
But his church duties never placed a hardship on the Hanks' children or his marriage, she said. Marian D. and Maxine C. Hanks enjoyed "a 62-year-old love affair."
"He never stopped expressing his love for our mom," said Hanks Maughan.
A son, Richard Duff Hanks, called his father "a good man who honored God with his life."4 comments on this story
On the playing field, Elder Hanks taught his children how to throw, kick, swing and shoot. Richard Hanks said his dad also instructed him on the finer points of working with a hammer, swinging an ax and fixing a sprinkler.
"Being a teacher is what made my dad tick — it's what he was born to do," said Richard Hanks.
He also taught his children and students the importance of embracing what's truly important. "Dad taught us that the things that matter most are not things," he said.
Interment was at the Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.