GORDON B. HINCKLEY 1910-2008
by Timothy Rollins, Editor and Publisher
February 1, 2008
I was outside Toronto, Canada on Sunday January 27th when I received the call from my younger brother in Salt Lake City. It had been a memorable day indeed as I had ordained my 12-year-old son to the priesthood earlier that afternoon. The phone call - lasting all of 40 seconds - told me that the 15th President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had died. A simple statement and nothing more; after all, what could one say?
In looking back on the life of President Gordon Bitner Hinckley (right), I recall my first meeting with him in the Spring of 1980. Elder Hinckley had been assigned as the visiting General Authority for the Stake Conference in Logan that weekend, and I was a student at Utah State University. In a question and answer session at priesthood leadership meeting, I asked him a question about President Kimball with a follow-up. He was quick to answer me and left me with the impression about giving more thought both to asking questions of others and of writing about it and sure enough, I eventually became a writer.
I saw in President Hinckley a man possessed of keen intellect and exceptional wit. I learned this indeed was a special man with whom I was speaking, and from whom I would continue to learn over the next 27 years. I have written about him and of his abilities to draw from and bring out the best in others. Whether it was encouraging members to read the Book of Mormon before the end of the calendar year, or his hour-long interview with Larry King that captivated people ranging from faithful Latter-day Saints to those in prominent positions within their professions, he always was at the top of his game. Actress Sharon Stone reportedly said that this was the best interview that Larry had run on his show.
Yet through a lifetime of service to the Lord through serving others, one was able to see, that unlike so many others in the limelight, the honors and recognition he received weren't at all about him. More than once, President Hinckley spoke out against personal adulation. In doing so, all of us were better able to remain on point to the larger and more pressing issues that affected both church members and non-members alike. When he received the Medal of Freedom in 2004 from President George W. Bush, President Hinckley said that this honor was for all the members of the Church. It clearly was not about HIM; it was about the faithful church members whose individual and group actions helped raise the Church to its well-known reputation as a force for good.
With the exception of a relatively brief stint with the Union Pacific Railroad during and after World War II, Gordon Hinckley had been a Church employee his entire adult life. He was the architect of almost every single program used in the church today. He epitomized effective leadership. Like Pope John Paul II, President Hinckley traveled to more countries and met with more church members and world leaders than any of his 14 predecessors; and in President Hinckley, people were able to sense the love he had for those with whom he met and from whom he learned.
And now, he is gone from us. While he now belongs to the eternities, so many of us would have loved to have had him with us for just a little bit longer. This man, who single-handedly brought the church to the next level of name recognition and international respect, has left us and now is reunited with his beloved Marjorie.
We honor his name. We cherish his memory. All of us benefit from his legacy. Both the Church and the world have lost a brilliant and humble leader, and for now, I have lost a cherished friend. ***
© 2008 Timothy Rollins
A veteran freelance writer, Timothy Rollins
brings a wealth of political experience dating back more than three decades,
and military experience going back about the same. He is a freelance writer
and policy analyst living in Wisconsin who has been featured on both television
and radio. He has appeared both in online publications as well as in print newspapers
such as the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel, USA TODAY, the
Deseret Morning News in Salt Lake
City and the Daily Herald in Halifax,
Nova Scotia. The views expressed here by Mr. Rollins are his own and do not
represent the official views of any organization or entity with which he may
otherwise be affiliated. As such, Mr. Rollins alone takes full responsibility
for them. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2008 BY THE AMERICAN PARTISAN
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