Monday, January 28, 2008

Gordon B. Hinckley 1910-2008

Last night, the beloved leader of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, President Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away. He was dearly loved by both members of the church and those of other faiths, and will be greatly missed. President Hinckley has been a guiding light in my life, and I will always hold a special place for him in my heart.

My favorite thing about the Prophet was his gentle way of urging us to be better people. I never felt like the things he asked us to do were overwhelming, rather, his calls to action were simple, kind, and inspiring. Every time I heard him speak, I felt the desire to be a better wife, mother, friend, and latter-day saint. He was a true leader-- the kind who lead by love.

Chris had to work last night, and called me with the news. It was hard for me that Chris was at work-- I wanted to be with him and reminisce about President Hinckley and the ways that his words and example touched our lives. We did end up staying up late and talking, and ultimately, I am kind of glad that Chris did have to work. The Herald Journal put together a very touching tribute, which Chris and Christy worked very hard on. When I saw the paper this morning, I felt very grateful that we live in this LDS community, where news like this can take up the whole first page.

Chris also wrote a column, which I'd like to share with you. The following was published in The Herald Journal this morning:

Remembering a Prophet
by Chris Hansen, News Editor

I remember the day Gordon B. Hinckley was named the 15th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was a senior in high school sitting next to my best friend in our LDS seminary class, watching a press conference on TV.

Katie Barnes, Preident Hinckley's granddaughter, was also in that class. I didn't know her very well but almost immediately I asked her if she could get her grandfather to come address our class. I knew it was an extreme long shot, and she was polite in letting me down, saying he was too busy.

However, I persisted in bugging her on the matter every day for two weeks. It worked. She finally asked him, and he agreed to come a few weeks later.

Word of President Hinckley's prending visit spread like wildfire, and he invited all Skyline High School studends-- LDS and non-LDS alike-- to a fireside at a nearby meeting house.

I'll be honest: I don't remember the particulars of his talk that evening. He basically told us to be good people, to make smart choices. But what I do recall was his smile, his sene of humor and the way he treated his wife with such loving respect and equality.

His personality and integrity had me hooked, and from that day on I've looked to him as an example-- not just as the leader of my religious faith, but as an ordinary man with extraordinary kindness, decency and intellect.

When I was a student at the University of Utah-- Presiden't Hinckley's alma mater-- and had no idea what major to choose, I decided to follow in his footsteps and get a degree in English.

When my wife, Elise, and I don't always see eye to eye, I try to remain calm, remembering that President Hinckley said in all his years of marriage he had never ahd a serious disagreement with his wife.

And when we found out we were having our second boy, we named him Gordon.

I was fortunate to hear President Hinckley speak on various occasions in various settings, often in person. My son, Gordon, is not quite 3, but it is my hope that he will grow up knowing about the man after whom he is named.

I don't expect Gordon Hansen will become a worldwide religious leader. I don't care if he rises to any level of prominence. But if he turns out to be an honest person with a kind heart, a witty sense of humor, a good work ethic and a respect for his fellow man, like his namesake, I will be proud.


Marilyn said...

I was so glad Chris called me last night with the news. President Hinckley was the most wonderful man. I am so sad this morning - but so thankful to have had the influence of such an outstanding example of love, acceptance, and faith in my life. I loved him so.

Todd said...

This is a very appropriate and touching blog, Elise- thank you for putting it together. Chris's piece is very sweet. We will miss our late prophet- but we are all motivated by his life and we just know his welcoming on the other side was one of joy- and one to work towards.

Esther Ogden said...

That was quite touching, Chris.

Emily said...

I never new Chris did that for Skyline. How lucky they all were!

Holly said...

Such a sad day! I can't believe it. I'm so glad Chris and Christy were working last night! The paper looks so great!

The Myers Family said...

I didn't remember that story about Chris, either, but was touched by it and by your words, too, Elise.

Todd said...

Just to avoid any confusion - the above comment was made by my (clearly) insightful and lovely wife, Ann-Michelle.

The insight I had about pres. Hinckley was this. You look at what he was busy doing right up until the day he died - working for the kingdom. Many people are not able to work in the later stages of life. President Hinckley was a great example of how the Lord can bless us "even unto the renewing of our bodies" and enduring to the end. How fortunate each of us could be to end our lives in the circumstances in which our prophet has.

Elena said...

What a great person for you baby to be named after! I hope that he will be able to know someday how special the prophet truly was.

becky ward said...

I love this! What a great tribute...both of you. I love President Hinckley!

jILl PeTeRsEn said...

Those were some great words. It IS so cool that you have a Gordon! He may not ever know how cool that is but you can help instill in him what a great man he truly was.

BTW you look so cute in your picture with your lil bro!
Thanks for the E mail. Now re due my Blog! ha ha!

Kim said...

Thanks for a wonderful tribute.

Amanda and Andy Hansen said...

What sweet words. It made me cry.

Becca said...

I love this article--totally great writing and so professional. GO ENGLISH MAJORS!