SALT LAKE CITY — President Dieter F. and Sister Harriet Uchtdorf share more than empathy with refugees.
They, too, were displaced from their homes, refugees and eventually, immigrants to the United States. President Uchtdorf moved from his birthplace in Czechoslovaki to Germany when he was just four years old. Sister Uchtdorf lost her father, who was a German soldier during World War II, when she was just 11.
The couple has profound gratitude for the people "who helped us through this difficult season," said President Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Wednesday night during Catholic Community Services Humanitarian Awards Dinner.
Here they were, President Uchtdorf said, "two Germans, former Lutherans, now committed Mormons being honored by Catholics in the United States of America."
The Uchtdorfs were presented CCS's Humanitarians of the Year Award during a celebration at Little America. President Uchtdorf accepted the award on behalf of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the driving force behind the couple's humanitarian works, he said.
"As we help those in distress, our own lives are blessed," he said.
Also honored as Humanitarians of the Year were Spencer F. and Cleone Eccles, for their generous support of education, health care, athletics and social causes in Utah.
Spencer Eccles, retired chairman of First Security Bank, is chairman and chief executive officer of the George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Foundation.
In accepting the award, Eccles said he and his wife of 54 years marveled that an Ogden boy and a girl from Fairview would receive such recognition. "Please believe me, Cleone and I are thrilled to be included in such a wonderful group."
The honorees also included Florence "Flo" Holtshouser, recipient of CCS's Unsung Hero Award. The award recognizes more than 50 years of service to CCS. Presently, she serves lunch to needy men, women and children nearly every day at St. Vincent de Paul Dining Hall.
Holtshouser, 89, said God has graced her with good health, which enables her to continue to serve others.
"This not what I do best," Holtshouser said after being presented her award. "I would have been more comfortable serving the dinner tonight."
CCS also honored Raul Yumul, who has been instrumental in development of its "Welcoming the Stranger" refugee resettlement program, as Employee of the Year. Yumul is himself a refugee from the Philippines, who joined CCS in 2010.
Recipients of CCS's Humanitarian awards were Robert and Wendy Steiner; The Diocesan Council of Catholic Women; and the Catholic Woman's League, which in 1945 assisted then-Bishop Duane G. Hunt in establishing Catholic Charities, now CCS.
Mark Franken, formerly with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was recognized as Community Partner for more than 30 years of work on behalf of refugees and immigrants through Catholic Church organizations.
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