Quantcast

Convention Watch: A somber hush as Mormon couple relates story of son at RNC

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 1 2015 6:59 a.m. MDT

Ted and Pat Oparowsky addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Mitt Romney read the eulogy at their sons funeral.  (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press) Ted and Pat Oparowsky addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 30, 2012. Mitt Romney read the eulogy at their sons funeral. (J. Scott Applewhite, Associated Press)

The floor of a national political convention can be a chaotic place. Many delegates do listen to every speech as the evening goes on. But other delegates mill around, chatting with friends, thronging the aisles, dashing out for food — and above all else, angling for photos with well-known faces. It's often noisy and frequently raucous.

But every once in a while the convention floor stills for a bit. That happened Thursday night when Ted and Pat Oparowski, a Mormon couple, took the stage to describe a painful period in their life — when their teenage son, David, was diagnosed in 1979 with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Ted Oparowski, who described himself as someone of modest means, told the crowd how Mitt Romney had struck up a friendship with their son, through his work in the church, visiting the 14-year-old during the months he struggled with cancer before dying.

As the couple spoke in slow, sometimes halting voices, delegates in the aisles turned and listened. Voices dropped. The stillness lasted until the couple left the stage.

Another member of Romney's church warmly presented the GOP presidential candidate as a compassionate man who lives his Mormon faith of service.

The former Massachusetts governor is the first Mormon presidential candidate on a major party ticket.

An assistant back then, Grant Bennett, told Republican delegates at the GOP convention that Romney had "a listening ear and a helping hand." He said Romney devoted as many as 20 hours a week at his own expense.

And Pam Finlayson remembered Romney stroking the back of her prematurely born daughter during a hospital visit and bringing over Thanksgiving dinner.

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company