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Hinckley children don't recall lectures — he taught by example

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 2 2015 6:19 p.m. MDT

From a gardener to a handyman to a problem solver, President Gordon B. Hinckley was busy while rearing his children.
His five children discussed their father during a 1995 interview with KSL-TV, "Gordon B. Hinckley: A Family Portrait."
According to Kathleen Barnes Walker, one of his three daughters, he never seemed to take any leisure time. "He was always working," she said.
"We were always doing a project," said son Richard G. Hinckley. That included planting, pruning, building, etc.
"He had a hobby of building," Richard Hinckley said. "He loves to create."
President Hinckley's youngest child, Jane Dudley, told KSL that her father had attended a pruning school in Denver.
"He likes to share his advice with us on how to prune the trees," she said.
Richard Hinckley said his father may have put as many as 400 trees on his property. The family knew it was spring when he brought home new trees.
Prayer was another constant in their lives.
Daughter Virginia Pearce said she considered him a family problem-solver.
"One of the things he always said was, 'You just say your prayers and go to work.' And I think that kind of a formula was the way he approached life."
Dudley said it was important to her father that the family always knelt in prayer.
President Hinckley's children said he loved words and loved to read.
"We always had dinner together as a family," said son Clark B. Hinckley. "And there was always a grammar lesson at some time during the dinner."
Pearce said the family always had a summer vacation when the children were home.
"We stopped at every historical marker there ever was," he said.
But as soon as the children were reared, President Hinckley's summer vacations stopped. His children told KSL he never particularly liked to travel, but he knew it was necessary. His work seemed to energize him.
"I've never seen any evidence of ego. ... of wanting to be in the limelight," Walker said.
He was one of those "hunt and peck" typers, but he was very fast, Richard Hinckley said. He also never cared who got the credit for a project or job.
Pearce said he was a shy child and would have preferred to be a more private person.
"I think Dad was very shy and bashful as a teenager," Dudley said.
He always came home from work on time and would telephone his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, to let her know he was on his way.
"You go to bed early and you get up early," Walker said. That meant to bed at 10 p.m. and up by 6 a.m.
"I don't know that he's ever slept past 6 in his life," Richard Hinckley said.
Even on the road, Dudley said, he would get up early, even if he went to bed late. And he never complained about having too much work to do, Pearce said.
His children said he never discussed his chances of being the prophet of the church someday, believing that was presumptuous.
"I don't have time to worry about that," Pearce said of her father's feelings. He had too much work to do.
"I heard him say he never expected to be the prophet," Dudley said.
His children said he could make quick decisions.
His children didn't remember any lectures on principles.
"He didn't teach us verbally," Richard Hinckley said. "He taught by examples."
Walker said he had a funny side and a manner that helped his grandchildren establish an open relationship with him.
He also loved to tell and hear a good story. Some humorous tales would get him laughing so hard that his children said he sometimes would have to leave the room for lack of a breath.
Pearce emphasized that he had a huge capacity to appreciate differences.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company