President Marion G. Romney of the Council of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was eulogized Monday as a spiritual giant who knew the Lord and set the example of how to serve him.
"A spiritual giant has been laid to rest," church President Ezra Taft Benson said at the funeral in the Tabernacle. "I loved President Romney. There is no word to adequately express my estimate of Marion G. Romney. He is an exemplar of everything a saint should be."Speakers said President Romney's last words - the only ones he had uttered for weeks because of illness - were "Joseph, Joseph," as if to personally address the dead Joseph Smith, the church's first president.
Speakers said President Romney was so faithful that as an elderly man, he immediately dug up lawn beside his garage and planted a garden after church members were told to do so during a General Conference. He wanted to be the first to follow the prophet, he told his wife, Ida.
Speakers also told how President Romney read the Book of Mormon once a year for nine years to ensure that becoming a lawyer would not shake his faith.
President Romney, 90, died Friday at his home in Salt Lake City from causes incident to age. He had been an LDS general authority for 47 years.
President Benson said he had known President Romney since they were young men and played basketball for competing schools in Idaho. He said he was impressed through the years by President Romney's knowledge of the scriptures, his direction of the church's welfare program and his powerful prayers.
"Brother Romney was one of the great theologians of the church. He knew the scriptures and quoted from them extensively," he said.
President Benson recalled that President Romney's family worried that his becoming a lawyer could make him lose his faith. So he read the Book of Mormon 30 minutes each morning, which allowed him to read it through each year for nine years - a practice he recommended to others to help them keep in harmony with the Lord.
"Today, I echo that inspired counsel and commend that practice to all," President Benson said.
President Benson added, "President Romney was deservedly called in the church `Mr. Welfare.' " His personal philosophy that people must work for what they receive, and that compassion is needed for those who suffer misfortune became keystones of the church welfare system after he was called as its assistant director.
"You have never heard a man pray," President Benson said, "until you have heard President Marion G. Romney. Many say prayers, but few talk to the Lord. President Romney was one who knew how."
President Gordon B. Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, added, "Whenever he prayed it seemed to me that he did so as he must have done when he was a small boy in Mexico. . . . There was no guile. There was no pretense. There was little in the way of lofty language or elaborate phrasing. Rather, there was conversation. He spoke with God his eternal father as if he were facing a friend, talking with him in a conversation."
President Hinckley said President Romney also had compassion for the poor because of such experiences as when his family was driven out of Mexico during the Revolution of 1912. Robbers took the family's last 20 pesos on their trek to El Paso, Texas.
But President Hinckley said such troubles and President's Romney's last five years of illness before he died are now over, and he must be rejoicing with family members in the next life.
"I think this must be a very busy time for him. He is with his beloved companion and the children who left them as infants. He is with the parents he revered and honored."
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve told how a day or two before President Romney died, "he said very quietly over and over again, `Joseph, Joseph.' " Elder Packer, pausing with emotion, said, "There is no Joseph in the Romney family."
Elder Packer said that on a much earlier occasion, President Romney said he actually looked forward to the day he would die and be reunited with his wife. Elder Packer quoted him saying, "I am filled with such joy that I can hardly contain myself."
Elder F. Burton Howard of the First Quorum of the Seventy told of how President Romney tried to always diligently serve the Lord - even volunteering to be a home teacher to visit homes of church members after he was given much loftier church positions.
Elder Howard said President Romney would want to close his life with his testimony, which he quoted. "I know that Jesus is my redeemer. I know it with as much certainty as I shall know it when I meet him. I know as well as Joseph Smith knew that Jesus and the Father appeared to him."
The funeral was conducted by President Thomas S. Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency, who said, "President Romney's lifetime of service reached across borders and into the hearts and homes of people throughout the world."
Prayers at the funeral were offered by Elder Russell M. Nelson and Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Council of the Twelve. Music was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
The family prayer at the mortuary was offered by Richard J. Romney, and the grave was dedicated by George J. Romney. Both are sons of President Romney.
Pallbearers were G. Steven Romney, M. Scott Romney, John H. Romney, Richard Bud Romney, Leland H. Boardman and Paul B. Zackrison. Honorary pallbearers were Matthew C. Romney and Allen E. Zimmerman.
Burial was in Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park.