Hundreds of people gathered Friday to remember a man of wide but endearing contradictions.
At James LeVoy Sorenson's funeral, his children remembered him as both a hardworking and admittedly lazy man; a man whose innovations and philanthropy helped people around the world but who enjoyed connecting with people one on one; and a man with vast personal wealth who nonetheless considered his family his greatest treasure.
Sorenson died of cancer on Sunday at age 86 after a life as an entrepreneur, real estate developer, inventor and philanthropist. Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. and leaders in the education, business, arts, religion and government communities gathered Friday at the LDS Salt Lake Cottonwood Stake Center and heard people praise Sorenson for his business acumen and altruistic endeavors.
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, described Sorenson as "a giant" and "a man with some great ideas."
In a letter read by President Monson, LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley said Sorenson will be remembered for "his kindness, integrity and contributions to his family, church and mankind."
President Hinckley wrote that Sorenson was "truly a pillar in our community" and a man with a "tireless commitment to the betterment of society."
"Dad seemed to have an innate desire to work and then to give," daughter Carol Smith said.
Son James Lee Sorenson said his father learned about hard work at age 8 when he harvested almonds. Later in life, he used his "very innovative mind" to develop several products, many of which are commonplace in hospitals today.
"He had an uncanny ability to learn, to adapt and to ultimately control his environment and to constantly look at new opportunities," James Lee Sorenson said.
"His products were all about helping and serving others, improving human conditions, and his motto was 'The world is my country, all mankind are my brothers and to do good is my religion,' as spoken by Thomas Paine."
Daughter Joan Fenton said Sorenson had "great vision" and was persistent, instilled with a strong work ethic by his father and inspiration by his mother.
"My dad was bold," said daughter Shauna Johnson. "He was courageous. He was always thinking ahead."
Johnson added that her father "looked at problems as an opportunity" to help people with services or products. "That's an optimistic way to look at life."
Son Joseph Sorenson described his father as "a great motivator" who could "wisely see a correct course of action" as he worked to ease people's suffering. James LeVoy Sorenson liked to jot down ideas on 3-by-5-inch cards or even napkins.
"Concerning my father's success, some people might say that this success was due to being in the right place at the right time," Joseph Sorenson said. "But I know from being around him all my life that success and achievement were a constant thought and constant strategy."
James LeVoy Sorenson's children also recalled several stories that demonstrated his love for his family and how he instilled them with values.
"He taught them how to work, how to play, how to love others and how to give," James Lee Sorenson said. "He liked to say that a man who teaches his children industry provides them with a fortune, and also leave your children enough money to do something but not enough to do nothing."Sorenson was interred at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park. He is survived by Beverley Taylor Sorenson, his wife of 60 years, and two sons, six daughters, 47 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
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