WASHINGTON, D.C. — Drawing on four decades of friendship with the family of the late U.S. Congressman Thomas P. Lantos, D-Calif., Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve paid tribute to the former chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs for his "legendary commitment to human rights and justice" and his inspiring example as a family patriarch. Elder Holland spoke on Feb. 1 during a celebration of the congressman's life.Although Rep. Lantos died Feb. 11, 2008, the memorial service at the Congressional Cemetery near the U.S. Capitol provided an opportunity for family and friends to convene on his birthday and share stories about him as a political leader, human rights advocate, Hungarian gentleman, Jewish Holocaust survivor, economics professor and father. A recurring theme was his passionate belief in the human family.Besides Elder Holland's keynote address, two church members were among congressional colleagues offering reminiscences — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., admired the physical and moral courage that characterized Rep. Lantos' life, while Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, recalled Rep. Lantos' exemplary kindness and deep affection for his wife, Annette Lantos. Describing how Rep. Lantos' experiences during his "harrowing young years" under Nazi oppression affected his temporal and spiritual outlook, Elder Holland said the man who emerged was fearless about his personal responsibility to make a difference in the world and to help those who could not defend themselves."Although he could not change the past, he believed that he most assuredly could shape the future," Elder Holland said, "and that meant, among other things, to cherish his family and to prepare them to give significant service to the world."Elder and Sister Holland's relationship with the Lantos family began in 1970, during Elder Holland's doctoral candidacy at Yale as he befriended the Lantos' eldest daughter, Annette. She was an undergraduate and recent convert whose father was Jewish and whose mother had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 10 years earlier. Elder Holland fellowshipped Annette and taught her the gospel as both her home teacher and her Institute instructor.A year later, Katrina, Annette's younger sister, joined her as a student at Yale. Initially certain she did not need to join the church, Katrina attributed her conversion and baptism to the experiences she had with Elder Holland in the Institute classes he taught.Introduced to their parents by the sisters, Elder Holland became a trusted, oft-consulted Lantos family friend.Elder Holland described how his relationship with Rep. Lantos "blossomed" over the years as he witnessed the congressman's service to the public and his family.See the rest of this story on ldschurchnews.com.

This story is provided by the LDS Church News, an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is produced weekly by the Deseret News.