LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at age 97

LDS president met call with humility, vigor

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

President Gordon B. Hinckley gives reporter Mike Wallace of CBS's President Gordon B. Hinckley gives reporter Mike Wallace of CBS's "60 Minutes" a tour of Salt Lake's Temple Square in 1996. President Hinckley, who became leader of the LDS Church on March 12, 1995, was comfortable dealing with the media. (Deseret Morning News archives)
President Gordon B. Hinckley, who led The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints through explosive growth during his more than 12 years as president, died 7 p.m. Sunday at home of causes incident to age, surrounded by family. He was 97.
He traveled the world during his tenure, which was marked by a number of significant milestones, including the "Proclamation to the World on the Family," construction of dozens of small temples and the creation of several new quorums of the Seventy. He called for increased fellowshipping of new converts and reaching out to other faiths. LDS Church membership has grown from 9 million to more than 13 million members during his administration.
His ministry was characterized by a strong desire to be out among the people. He traveled nearly a million miles and spoke to hundreds of thousands of members in at least 160 nations, employing his mastery of electronic media to bring unprecedented press attention to the church.
President Gordon B. Hinckley traveled more than a half-million miles as he visited church members while he was president. (Intellectual Reserve Inc.) President Gordon B. Hinckley traveled more than a half-million miles as he visited church members while he was president. (Intellectual Reserve Inc.)
Under his leadership, the 21,000-seat Conference Center, north of the Salt Lake Tabernacle, was built and dedicated, and the portion of Main Street between Temple Square and the Joseph Smith Memorial Building was turned into a plaza. Online computer access to church information as well as online and CD access to family history resources grew exponentially.
President Hinckley had enjoyed remarkable health until just before his death. Up until last week, he was still working in his office, said LDS Church spokesman Scott Trotter.
Two years ago this month, he underwent laparoscopic surgery to remove colon cancer. While a traditional colectomy requires five to eight days in the hospital and an at-home recovery of at least six weeks, the laparoscopic surgery hospital stay is usually two to four days and individuals can often return to work in two or three weeks.
True to form for the energetic, globe-trotting leader, President Hinckley flew to Chile two months later in March 2006 to rededicate the Chilean temple. During the ceremonies, he alluded to his recent operation, quipping he would not recommend it to anyone.
Broadcaster Mike Wallace, top, laughs as President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks at Broadcaster Mike Wallace, top, laughs as President Gordon B. Hinckley speaks at "A Celebration of Life" tribute to the prophet in July 2005. The event at the Conference Center, which marked President Hinckley's 95th birthday, featured performances by Donny Osmond, Gladys Knight and Wallace. (Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News)
"President Hinckley was at his best," Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve said moments after the first dedication session adjourned. "He conducted the entire session. Gave the dedicatory prayer. You wouldn't know he had ever been ill. His vigor was absolutely amazing."
His health has been the topic of speculation off and on among church members ever since, particularly during semi-annual general conferences of the church held each April and October. Less than a month after his Chilean trip in 2006, he stood at the podium in the LDS Conference Center during the Sunday morning session of the 176th annual General Conference and — in a rare departure from his usual sermons on gospel topics — reflected on his personal life.
The speech was widely considered by members as a farewell of sorts that he was able to deliver personally. He mentioned his age frequently in public during the last five years of his life, almost as a way of preparing church members for his death and assuring them he was at peace with whatever timing would be his. After the death of his wife, Marjorie, in 2004, he periodically spoke movingly of missing her.
James Mortimer, left; L. Glen Snarr; First Counselor in the LDS First Presidency Thomas S. Monson; President Gordon B. Hinckley; James Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency; and John Hughes stand at the new Deseret News building May 21, 1997. (Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News) James Mortimer, left; L. Glen Snarr; First Counselor in the LDS First Presidency Thomas S. Monson; President Gordon B. Hinckley; James Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency; and John Hughes stand at the new Deseret News building May 21, 1997. (Tom Smart, Deseret Morning News)
More recently, President Hinckley presided and spoke at the August funeral of his beloved second counselor, President James E. Faust, noting the sadness that his passing meant to him personally. He spoke again publicly during October's semi-annual general conference, but delivered fewer and shorter speeches than he had previously done during the two-day event.
He presided and offered brief remarks at the funeral of Sister Inis Hunter in late October, then spoke again during the First Presidency Christmas Devotional in December at the Conference Center, in what would be his last major public address. He sent a message that was read by President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, at the funeral of billionaire businessman and philanthropist James Sorenson last week.
A young man of 25 and just home from his mission when he went to work for the church in 1935, he remained an employee, administrator and general authority for almost seven decades, an eyewitness — and key contributor — to what he called, with the approach of the 21st century, "a great season in the history of the world and a great season in the history of the church."
His proposal to build small temples launched what some have termed the most ambitious temple-building program in world history. Some 124 temples are now in use. His goal of having at least 100 temples in use, authorized or under construction by Jan. 1, 2000, was accomplished with the dedication of the church's 100th temple in Boston on Oct. 1, 2000.
Three of the temples were at major sites in church history. The Nauvoo Temple was rebuilt to 21st-century standards, a temple was dedicated at Palmyra, N.Y., and another was dedicated at Winter Quarters, Neb.
Area Authority Seventies, essentially replacing regional representatives, were called in the late 1990s to help handle the church's growing leadership burden at the local level. The First and Second Quorums of the Seventy also grew.
At the 171st Annual General Conference in the spring of 2001, he announced creation of the Perpetual Education Fund, a loan program to help young Latter-day Saints in Third World countries.
President Hinckley, who spent nearly 14 years as a counselor in the First Presidency, was set apart as 15th church president on March 12, 1995, three months before his 85th birthday. He was sustained in solemn assembly at the 165th Annual General Conference that April 1.
He then set out to visit as many church members as possible in their homelands. He continued an ambitious travel schedule throughout his stewardship, urged the members to get their houses in order and warned against pornography and maltreatment of spouses and children. The "Proclamation to the World on the Family," that he announced in September 1995 gave Latter-day Saints a ready reference for their beliefs on family life, and has been used as a model by international organizations seeking to preserve the traditional family.
With the death of President Hinckley, the First Presidency was dissolved and the Quorum of the Twelve became the governing body of the church. President Hinckley's counselors, Presidents Thomas S. Monson and Henry B. Eyring, took their places — first and 11th — within the 14-member quorum. Until his death in August 2007, President James E. Faust served as President Hinckley's second counselor for 12 years.
Sometime soon, following President Hinckley's funeral, quorum members will sustain a new church president. If historical precedent holds, the quorum's senior apostle and president, President Monson, will succeed President Hinckley.
President Hinckley's initial call to the First Presidency came July 23, 1981, as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball. He was set apart as second counselor to President Kimball on Dec. 2, 1982, following the death of President N. Eldon Tanner. In November 1985, following the death of President Kimball, he was called as first counselor in the First Presidency, serving with President Ezra Taft Benson and President Monson, the second counselor. Presidents Hinckley and Monson continued in those positions under President Howard W. Hunter.
President Hinckley and his counselors answered questions at a news conference after the announcement of the new First Presidency, the first such event in more than 20 years.
Standing under a larger-than-life statue of the Prophet Joseph Smith, President Hinckley said he approached the new assignment over the then-9 million- member church with "overwhelming feelings of inadequacy." Despite human concerns about such a calling, he realized "this is the work of God. He is watching over it and will direct our efforts if we are true and faithful."
A reporter asked President Hinckley: "What will be your focus? What will be the theme of your administration?"
Instinctively, he answered, "Carry on. Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors.
"We are particularly proud of our youth," he added later on. "I think I have never had a stronger generation of young men and women than we have today. ... They are going forward with constructive lives, nurturing themselves both intellectually and spiritually. We have no fears or doubts concerning the future of this work."
In his first address to the general membership during the 165th Annual General Conference on April 2, 1995, he urged LDS faithful to move forward and become more Christlike.
"The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"This is a time to be strong.
"It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth and the importance of our mission.
"It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow.
"It is a time to be found keeping the commandments.
"It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain.
"It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike."
He also expressed gratitude for his wife and family and brought laughter when he said, "Sister Hinckley and I are learning that the so-called golden years are laced with lead."
He continued: "But I still experience a great, almost youthful exuberance in my enthusiasm for this precious work of the Almighty.
"I love the people of the church, of all ages, of all races and of many nations."
In his closing address that afternoon, he admonished the Saints to "go forth with new energy."
In a priesthood talk that same conference, he cited President Harold B. Lee's admonition to survey large fields and cultivate small ones. "He was saying that we must know the big picture and then assiduously work on the particular niche assigned to each of us, and in doing so we concentrate on the needs of the individual."
For instance, he said, President Hunter urged greater temple activity, a work that concerns the entire human family, past and present, but it is accomplished on an individual basis.
Likewise, he noted, missionary service is a personal labor with the missionary teaching and bearing witness to the investigator, who must search and pray alone if he or she is to gain a knowledge of the truth.
To the young men he warned that immoral acts of any kind will introduce an ugly thread into the fabric. "Dishonesty of any kind will create a blemish. Foul and profane language will rob the pattern of beauty."
After his sustaining, President Hinckley embarked on a legendary travel schedule that took him around the globe. He was the most physically vigorous man to take the church's helm in recent history. "I spent one night in the hospital in my life," he said early in his administration. "I was past 75 when that occurred. That doesn't mean I'm ready to run a 100-yard dash."
During general conference in April 2001, he showed a cane he was using to the congregation, saying he was using it because he had a touch of vertigo. Even so, members often wondered aloud at his stamina, which he attributed to God's blessing. He rose early, exercised daily, read several daily newspapers to stay informed, and was often asked to address various business and professional groups.
He was the first church president ever to provide wide access to the media, garnering unprecedented publicity and goodwill for the church. He met with Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush at the White House and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the nation's highest civilian honor — by President Bush on his 94th birthday in 2004.
His interview with TV journalist Mike Wallace was shown on the CBS news program "60 Minutes" in 1996, and his ease with questions and the humor he brought to bear with reporters made him a sought-after interview, particularly leading up to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
The Book of Mormon also gained a wider public profile during his tenure, after top church leaders allowed Doubleday to publish it in hardbound form to be distributed through secular book outlets in 2004. The following year, President Hinckley urged church members to read the book from cover to cover, and he noted in December 2005 that more people were then reading it than at any time in history.
Notable policy changes included:
• The replacement of regional representatives with area authorities in August 1995. Then in the April 1997 general conference, he announced that the area authorities would become Area Authority Seventies divided into the Third Quorum (Europe, Africa, Asia, Pacific), Fourth Quorum (Mexico, Central America, South America) and the Fifth Quorum (United States and Canada.) Creation of the Sixth Quorum as a division of the Fifth Quorum was announced in April 2004.
He said further that although members of these quorums would not be general authorities, they would function in the leadership ranks between local and general church authorities, such as creating and reorganizing stakes, touring missions and serving in area presidencies.
• The announcement that, with the exception of Deseret Management Corp., general authorities would no longer serve on corporate boards.
• The First Presidency Proclamation on the Family at the September 1995 General Women's Conference reaffirming the divinity of marriage and the family. This was a theme he continued to emphasize.
• A new church logo.
• Creation of Latter-day Saint Charities to distribute surplus goods worldwide to people in need.
• Construction of the Conference Center on the block north of Temple Square for general conferences, other church gatherings and community events. As a result, the Deseret Gym, a longtime Salt Lake landmark, was demolished. This construction also came during the renovation of I-15 in the Salt Lake Valley and the completion of the Salt Lake-Sandy TRAX light-rail line in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The Conference Center was dedicated at the October 2000 general conference.
• The announcements in the October 1997 general conference of the plan to build smaller temples, the need to fellowship new converts and that women were not obligated to serve full-time missions. The announcement of 30 more small temples in various parts of the world came in the next conference.
• The transition of Ricks College in Rexburg, Idaho, from a two-year college to a four-year institution on Aug. 10, 2001, renaming it BYU-Idaho and eliminating the school's intercollegiate athletic program.
• The introduction in fall 1998 of a new two-volume Church Handbook of Instructions, the first volume for unit administration and the second for priesthood and auxiliary leaders.
• Distribution of packets of LDS materials to libraries in the United States and Canada.
• Newly designed temple recommends and inclusion of a field for humanitarian donations on donation slips.
• Change of Relief Society homemaking night to a night for home, family and personal enrichment.
• Continued reconstruction and, in some cases, replacement of meetinghouses. Also, at his request, free-standing steeples alongside many meetinghouses were replaced by steeples atop meetinghouses.
• Introduction of the teacher improvement plan.
• The disbanding, in March 2002, of stake missions, with the bishop and ward taking over the missionary, activation and retention responsibilities.
• Beginning with the April 2002 general conference, the audiovisual version of conference proceedings becoming available on DVDs.
• In the October 2002 conference, the extension of the temple recommend period to two years, elimination of mission farewells (although the missionary or missionaries could speak in sacrament meetings before departure and after returning) and heightened standards of worthiness for missionaries.
• The March 2003 announcement that interviewing prospective deacons and teachers and their quorum officers could be delegated to bishopric counselors.
• Elimination of prayer meetings before sacrament meetings after July 2003.
• Beginning in January 2004, Sunday School presidents received responsibility for administering the teacher improvement program and meetinghouse libraries.
• The abolition in early 2004 of the Know Your Religion Series. Many other Church Educational System programs remained in place, however.
• The announcement in the April 2004 general conference that the Sunday School and Young Men general presidencies would be general church officers. Members of the Seventies had filled those positions since the October 1979 conference.
Also in late December 2000, the number of languages in which the Book of Mormon or parts of the Book of Mormon was published reached 100. The total ultimately grew to 105.
He also had roles in the celebration of Utah's statehood centennial in 1996 and the sesquicentennial of the arrival of the Mormon pioneers the next year.
Nine months after he was sustained, construction began on a new nine-story Deseret Morning News building. This building, on the southwest corner of Regent and 100 South, was dedicated about 1 1/2 years later in May 1997.
Another advancement came in the Deseret Morning News Crossroads service, through which computer users were able to receive texts of general conference talks as soon as they were put online. A church Web site was also established in December 1996.
Major curriculum changes for priesthood, Relief Society, young men, young women and Primary were implemented for 1998.
During his stewardship, President Hinckley called Elder Henry B. Eyring to fill the vacancy in the Twelve created by President Hunter's death. He also called Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar and Quentin L. Cook as apostles.
President Hinckley also called two presidents of Brigham Young University — Elder Merrill J. Bateman in 1995 replacing Rex Lee, and Elder Bateman's successor, Elder Cecil O. Samuelson, in 2003. Elder Bateman was presiding bishop when he was called and Elder Samuelson a member of the Presidency of the Seventy. It marked the first time currently serving general authorities presided over the Provo school.
He also installed Kim B. Clark, former dean of the Harvard Business School and church member, as the 15th president of BYU-Idaho in 2005.
President Hinckley also presided over the biggest construction undertaking in church history. In the early 1990s, the church was building a chapel a day; 10 years later it was averaging almost two a day. There were also 18 missionary training centers, 434 seminary buildings and 313 Institutes of Religion.
One crowning achievement was the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple, for which reconstruction was announced in 1999 and was dedicated in June 2002.
President Hinckley was sustained as an Assistant to the Twelve April 6, 1958, and a member of the Twelve in general conference on Oct. 1, 1961. He filled the vacancy in the Twelve created when Elder Hugh B. Brown was sustained as a counselor to President David O. McKay.
"Your grandfather was worthy of this, as was your father. And so are you," President McKay told then-Elder Hinckley in extending the call to the apostleship.
"Tears began to fill my eyes as President McKay looked at me with those piercing eyes of his and spoke to me of my forebears," he remembered. "My father was a better man than I have ever been, but he didn't have the opportunities I have had," he recalled in his biography.
President Hinckley also dedicated more temples than any other church authority — 85.
Also when he became church president, he was the senior church employee in length of service.
Born Gordon Bitner Hinckley on June 23, 1910, to Bryant Stringham and Ada Bitner Hinckley, he lived with his parents in the 1st Ward of the Liberty Stake, where he loved to go sledding down 700 South and ice skate on the Liberty Park pond during the winter. Summers were spent at a family summer home in the Millcreek area.
While in his youth, he served in the deacons and teachers quorum presidencies, taught Sunday School and did home teaching.
One of his forebears, Stephen Hopkins, came to America on the Mayflower. Another, Thomas Hinckley, served as governor of the Plymouth Colony from 1680 to 1692. see picture in Church News of 29 Apr 1995.
President Hinckley's father was serving as a counselor in the Liberty Stake presidency at the time of President Hinckley's birth and later became stake president. Earlier, Bryant Hinckley had been an alternate on the Salt Lake Stake's high council and, when the Liberty Stake was split off from the Salt Lake Stake in 1904, became a member of the Liberty Stake's high council. Bryant Hinckley also served on the YMMIA general board from 1900 to 1925.
An uncle, Alonzo Arza Hinckley, served in the Quorum of the Twelve from October 1934 until his death in December 1936 and was a member of the committee that was created after President Hinckley returned home and reported on mission needs in Europe. A stepmother, May Green Hinckley, was Primary general president from January 1940 through May 1943.
President Hinckley's paternal grandfather, Ira Nathaniel Hinckley, was baptized in Nauvoo at about 16, crossed the Plains in 1850, and after living in Salt Lake City and Coalville was called by President Brigham Young to superintend the building of a church fort in Cove Creek. There he was called as the second president of the Millard Stake.
Both President Hinckley's sons served as stake presidents, Richard in the Salt Lake Emigration Stake and Clark in the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake.
President Hinckley developed an early love for all types of writing and got some hands-on experience as an aspiring journalist when he delivered the Deseret News as a young boy.
He attended public schools and LDS High School in Salt Lake City before enrolling as an English major at the University of Utah, where he took all of the journalism and writing courses then offered. He pursued a minor in ancient languages, studying Latin and Greek. While at the university, he was a plumber and a key room attendant at the Deseret Gym. He graduated from the U. in 1932 with a degree in English with a minor in ancient languages.
While growing up, he also knew and associated with a young woman in his ward, Marjorie Pay. They met while both were in Primary, their first date was a Gold and Green Ball, and they subsequently attended several church functions together. Their courtship was interrupted by his mission call in 1933. The call came during the Depression; Elder Hinckley was only one of 525 missionaries called by the church that year.
Then-Elder Hinckley first was assigned to Preston, Lancashire, England, and followed in Elder Heber C. Kimball's footsteps by preaching in many street meetings there. Later in his mission, he was called to serve in the mission office as an assistant to President Joseph F. Merrill, who was also a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.
He and Elder G. Homer Durham, who later served in the First Quorum of the Seventy, served in the office together; they and another missionary took a short trip through Europe on their way home from their missions in June 1935.
Another mission companion was Wendell J. Ashton, publisher of the Deseret News from 1978 through 1985.
On returning home, President Hinckley went to the office of the First Presidency to deliver a mission status report and after delivering the report in a session that lasted 1 1/2 hours was asked to teach seminary part time. Soon afterward, President David O. McKay organized the church Radio, Publicity and Mission Literature Committee and asked President Hinckley to serve part time as secretary of that committee, which then included six members of the Quorum of the Twelve.
The committee, forerunner to the church's Public Communications Department, prepared numerous filmstrips and audiovisual materials for use throughout the church. President Hinckley was put in charge of church radio work at the time and wrote many radio scripts, including 39 half-hour dramatizations of church history titled "The Fullness of Times," which he also edited and produced. Another series, readings from the Book of Mormon titled "A New Witness for Christ," also enjoyed wide radio play.
He married Marjorie Pay on April 29, 1937, in the Salt Lake Temple, and, in the busy years that followed, they reared five children: Kathleen H. Barnes; Richard Gordon Hinckley; Virginia H. Pearce, who served in the Young Women general presidency; Clark Bryant Hinckley; and Jane H. Dudley.
Sister Hinckley died at age 92 on April 6, 2004, two days after President Hinckley announced at the Sunday afternoon session of general conference that she had been stricken with weariness en route home from the dedication of the Accra Ghana Temple. Her death came on the 174th anniversary of the restoration of the church.
As part of his committee duties and in addition to other assignments, President Hinckley was put in charge of church exhibits for the San Francisco World's Fair in 1938-39 and the centennial celebration of the discovery of gold in Coloma, Calif., in 1948.
During World War II, President Hinckley was assistant superintendent of the Salt Lake Union Depot and Railway Co. Later he became assistant manager of mail and express traffic for the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad. He was also president and director of a local company, Recording Arts Inc. He was honored in 1995 for his railroad service.
He also directed the work of translators throughout the world, including the translation of various editions of the Book of Mormon, the Missionary's Handbook, and the "Principles of the Gospel" handbook for servicemen. He served with President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Richard L. Evans on a committee to produce the church's temple ceremony in 13 languages and helped initiate temple work in the Swiss, New Zealand and London temples.
In 1951, President Hinckley was appointed executive secretary of the church's Missionary Committee, where he administered the affairs of dozens of missions and thousands of missionaries worldwide.
Although at the time he was an Assistant to the Twelve, then-Elder Hinckley was responsible for the church's work in Asia. He traveled to the Orient 21 times in an eight-year period.
He created 60 stakes during his service in the Twelve and another in England when he was church president.
He also served as a stake president's counselor, president of the East Mill Creek Stake and a member of the Sunday School General Board. He was called as Liberty Stake Sunday School superintendent the year before his marriage.
President Hinckley received the 1985 Utah Lifetime Achievement Award from Southern Utah State College on May 6, 1985. And in February 1986 he was given the Silver Beaver award by the Great Salt Lake Council, Boy Scouts of America.
Other awards and recognitions included an honorary doctorate from Brigham Young University, where he served as chairman of the executive committee of the board of trustees. He received nine other honorary doctorates, seven from other Utah colleges or universities, one from BYU-Idaho and one from BYU-Hawaii.
President Hinckley joined at least three other Utahns who have received the nation's highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, when he was honored with it in June of 2004.
In May 1986, he received an honorary doctorate of humanities from Utah State University. That same month, he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws at Westminster College. He also received an honorary doctorate from Southern Utah University in 1994 and Weber State University in 1999.
He also was president and board member of Deseret News Publishing Co.; and an officer or director of Beneficial Life Insurance Co., Bonneville International Corp., Radio World-Wide New York Inc., KSL Inc., KIRO Inc. of Seattle, Deseret Management Corp., Utah Power and Light Co. and Zions First National Bank.
After several years as a board member, he was named president and chairman of the Deseret News Publishing Co.'s executive committee in June 1971. He was released in early spring 1977 when President N. Eldon Tanner, then first counselor in the First Presidency, became concerned about President Hinckley's workload.
At the time of his appointment, the paper faced declines in circulation and profitability, but when he was released the paper was financially stronger than ever in its history.
Also while on the Deseret News board, he helped organize the annual Mark E. Petersen Awards Banquet to honor staff members for writing, service and other accomplishments.
President Hinckley wrote and edited a number of books as well as numerous church magazine articles, study manuals, pamphlets and scripts.
A biography, "Gordon B. Hinckley: Go Forward in Faith," was released in November 1996. Another biography, "Gordon B. Hinckley — Shoulder for the Lord," was released three months earlier. "Standing for Something" was released in early 2000. "Stand A Little Taller" was released in October 2001. Another book, "Way to Be," was released in August 2002.
Many church members will always recall Pesident Hinckley's accent on reading the Book of Mormon before the end of 2005. The First Presidency Message in the August 2005 Liahona and Ensign extended an invitation to all members to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year.
"Those who read the Book of Mormon will be blessed with an added measure of the Spirit of the Lord, a greater resolve to obey His commandments, and a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God," the First Presidency stated.
At a Sugar House Sons of Utah Pioneers banquet in 1986, he noted the urgency of building more temples. "There is so much more that needs to be done," he said. "It sometimes scares you to think of the responsibility of getting it done. We have not scratched the surface. The church is now a very small minority. It has to grow. It will."
In April 1998, he was the keynote speaker for the Western Region I conference of the National Association of Colored People in Salt Lake City. This historic first punctuated President Hinckley's efforts of building friendship and cooperation.
Reflecting on his life, President Hinckley once said in a 1961 memo to Elder Mark E. Petersen just after he had been sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve: "I know of no other young man in the church who has been so blessed. I had a great father and a highly gifted mother, and I have had the association of wonderful men since I went on a mission in 1933 when I first met President McKay, who called me to his office and talked with me about a paper I had written while in the Mission Home.
"I have been personally acquainted with all the general authorities and worked with them in a way that few young men have had an opportunity to do. These wonderful men have been my tutors. They have given me responsibility and freedom to fulfill it, and they have blessed my life. I honor them as the Lord's chosen and anointed and have counted it a rare privilege to work with them. It is an even greater privilege now to be more closely associated with them."
At the October 2005 General Conference, he announced two new temples planned for the Salt Lake Valley.
President Hinckley dedicated the 280,000-square-foot Joseph F. Smith Building on the BYU campus, the new home of the university's two largest colleges, the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences and the College of Humanities in September.
On July 22, 2005, President Hinckley's 95th birthday was commemorated with a gigantic celebration in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City that featured in a 90-minute concert a sampling of the diverse musical excellence to be found among Latter-day Saints.
On April 19, 2005, The First Presidency announced in a letter to priesthood leaders that two new quorums of the Seventy had been created. The Seventh Quorum was organized from a division of the Fourth Quorum and the Eighth Quorum was created by dividing the Third Quorum. A total of 195 Area Authorities are members of the Third through Eighth quorums.
During March, President Hinckley and his counselors, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust, had "a conversation with the media," described by the Church president as "a rather historic occasion" to note the 10th anniversary of their administration as the First Presidency.

President Hinckley funeral reportedly planned for Saturday

Funeral services for President Gordon B. Hinckley will reportedly be held Saturday at 11 a.m. The location for the services and additional details have not yet been announced.
Reports indicate President Hinckley's body will also lie in state in the Conference Center Thursday and Friday, although no details have yet been released.

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