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A Personal Tribute to Sister Hinckley   

                  

April 6, 2004

As our family received news this evening of Sister Hinckley’s passing, we mourned and continue to mourn along with millions of other Latter-day Saints.  Our collective thoughts and prayers are with the Hinckley family this night.

Sister Hinckley came to represent to me and many other Latter-day Saints one of the great matriarchs of the Church.   I have recently been reading some of the personal writings of Eliza R. Snow.  As I have read of her life, I more than once found myself comparing her to Sister Hinckley.  Both loved all that is beautiful in the world, showed tremendous charity and compassion toward the people of the earth, and consecrated their lives to the building of the Kingdom.

I learned of Sister Hinckley’s failing health three weeks ago. Because the Hinckley family or the Church had not made a statement to the media, I chose not to mention it in my daily news updates on LDS Today.

My understanding is that Sister Hinckley spent several weeks in LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City after her return from Ghana.  It took some time for a proper diagnosis of a bleeding ulcer.  She eventually had surgery and was finally sent home only a week or two ago.

As one would expect, President Hinckley was the perfect example of a loving and devoted husband over the course of her illness.  He was of course there with her frequently.  Because of her love of beauty, President Hinckley nearly turned her hospital room into a living flower garden.  Because she could not visit her own garden, he brought it to her.

I only met Sister Hinckley once in person.  In my grandmother’s later years, she lived in a condominium in the same complex and Salt Lake ward where the Hinckley’s lived.  Despite the many other demands on Sister Hinckley, she and my grandmother became friends.  In December of 1987, my extended family had a Christmas caroling party at my grandmother’s home.  All thirty or so of us who had gathered, went to several nearby condominiums to sing.  We went to the Hinckley’s home, where they graciously invited us in.  (They had been warned in advance of our coming.) President Hinckley was very cordial towards us, but I’m sure it must have seemed a bit intrusive to have this mob enter his home.  Sister Hinckley was an angel.  I was feeling guilty for taking even a moment of the Hinckley’s time, but Sister Hinckley went out of her way to make everyone feel so very welcome.  She passed around boxes of chocolates.  She commented on how good we sounded.  She complimented each of the young children, and as she did so, her eyes and facial expressions communicated the genuine love she had for them.  Each individual in the group that night later commented on the tremendous love that he or she had felt radiate from Sister Hinckley.  I felt that same love from her as I heard her speak at a conference in Atlanta several years later.  I am sure that millions of Saints throughout the world felt that same love and compassion as she spoke along with her husband.

President and Sister Hinckley’s level of dedication and consecration astounds me.  Essentially all of their adult lives have been focused on building the Kingdom of God.  President Hinckley’s service has been much more visible for obvious reasons, but I am sure that their service has been equally important in the eyes of the Lord as they have touched countless lives together.

How fitting that the day of Sister Hinckley’s passing is April 6.  This is the day that we as Latter-day Saints revere as the day the Savior of the world was born into mortality.  This is the day that the gospel was restored as the Church was organized in 1830.  This is the day that the cornerstone ceremony of the Nauvoo temple occurred in 1841.  This is the day that the St. George,  Salt Lake City and Palmyra New York temples were all dedicated.  And now, this is the day that Marjorie Pay Hinckley passed through the veil of mortality.  One who has done so much to build the Kingdom now shares an important date with the Church and with the Lord she has so faithfully served and loved.

-- David Winters, Editor of LDS Today