Archive for the ‘Elder Marion D. Hanks dies at age 89’ Category

Elder Marion D. Hanks dies at age 89   Leave a comment

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The news I have here is sad news…. one of our great General Authorities,
Elder Marion D. Hanks has passed away. (This happened Friday- But I got the
news today. In light of getting this news, regardless of the hour, I knew the
information needed to be shared.)

Before I list the story, here is some information to shed some brief light
on the extent of Elder Hanks service just up until 1980:

He served for several years as a Presidential Appointee on the United
States President’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Children and Youth, and on
the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. In 1978 he was
presented the Distinguished Service Award of the President’s Council “in
recognition of outstanding contributions to the National Program of Physical
Fitness and Sports.” 

He has been a speaker and consultant at youth conferences
throughout the United States and in foreign countries and has participated in a
number of White House Conferences on Children and Youth.

In Scouting, Elder Hanks serves as a member of the National Executive
Board, as Chairman of the National Camping and Outdoors Committee, and as a
member of the Business and Finance Committees of the Boy Scouts of America. He
has been awarded the Silver Beaver, the Silver Antelope, the Order of the
Arrow, and in 1973 was presented the first honorary award of the National Eagle
Scout Association “in recognition of his distinguished service to scouting.”

Past president of Salt Lake City Rotary Club, he was District Governor of
Rotary for 1977–78.

Among his civic services, Elder Hanks was the first chairman of the Utah
Committee on Children and Youth, board member of Weber State College and
Southern Utah State College, and member of the Snow College Institutional
Council. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of Brigham Young
University and the Church Board of Education. He has served on numerous civic
boards and committees, and holds the Minuteman Award from the Utah National

Elder Hanks holds a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Utah. He
has been for many years a teacher and has been awarded honorary degrees or
awards from Utah State University, Weber State College and Ricks College. He
and his family spent several years in England and Europe in Church leadership

During World War II Elder Hanks served aboard a submarine chaser in the
Pacific. He has since visited servicemen at their bases in many parts of the world.
He is now serving as Military Relations Representative of the Church; and has
served as Director of the Youth Program, worldwide.

Elder Hanks married Maxine Christensen in the Mormon Temple in Hawaii.
They are the parents of four married daughters and one son.

Here is the story:

A submarine chaser in the Navy during World War II, Elder Marion D. Hanks
risked his life to fly into hot combat zones during the Vietnam War to minister
to LDS soldiers.

When a few of the first letters he wrote back to the families of soldiers
didn’t arrive until after the soldiers were killed in action, Elder Hanks took
to staying up late into the night dictating the letters. Each morning, he put
the tapes on a plane back to Utah, where his secretary would immediately type
and send the letters.

“I can tell you by experience in my own family that a letter from a
General Authority who has recently visited your ‘loved one’ in the field in
Vietnam is a morale-builder,” Army Col. Russell Meacham said in the book
Saints at War about the letter sent by Elder Hanks to Meacham’s family.

Elder Hanks, who served for nearly 40 years as a General Authority of The
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Friday in Salt Lake City, a
week after suffering a stroke, surrounded by family members who recalled his
remarkable capacity for ministering to the one.

“His intellect was just incredible, enormous, but his ability to touch
the individual person in a personal way was his greatest legacy,” his son
Richard D. Hanks said Friday night. “The person before him always had his
full devotion.”

A mentor to apostles, a teacher and an athlete, Elder Hanks was the oldest
living member of the Quorum of the Seventy nearly 60 years after joining what
then was the First Council of the Seventy on Oct. 4, 1953, at the tender age of
31, one of the youngest men called to serve as a General Authority in the
latter half of the 20th Century.

“The church lost a valued and respected leader, educator and friend
with the passing of Elder Marion D. Hanks,” the church’s First Presidency
said in a statement released late Friday afternoon. “He was an admired
leader who served in numerous church callings, including the Presidency of the
First Quorum of the Seventy and as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles. We extend our sincere condolences to his wife, Maxine, and their

In the early 1960s, Elder Hanks served as president of the British Mission.
Among the missionaries he mentored were Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder
Quentin L. Cook, now both members of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve.

“President Hanks had a profound influence on my life,” Elder
Holland once said, “as he did upon all the missionaries.”

“Elder Hanks was the most incredible teacher and learner that I have
ever known,” said Richard G. Whitehead, who also served as a missionary
under Elder Hanks.

“I don’t know of anyone who has had an influence on me — or believes in
youth — like this man,” said Whitehead, now vice president of
Institutional Advancement at Southern Virginia University. “He just had
the capacity to instill in everyone the desire to do their  best.”

Whitehead recalled that Elder Hanks encouraged the missionaries to memorize
worthwhile writings that could help shape their lives. “Thankfully, I
did,” Whitehead said Friday, recalling this quote from Samuel Johnson:

 “The fountain of content must spring up in the mind, and he who
hath so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing
anything but his own disposition, will waste his life in fruitless efforts and
multiply the grief he proposes to remove.”

 Elder Hanks also served as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve
from 1968 to 1976 and twice served in the presidency of the Seventy — from 1976
to 1980, and from 1984 until he was given emeritus status on Oct. 3, 1992.

 Elder Hanks had been the oldest living member of the First Quorum of
Seventy and the second-oldest General Authority. Former church patriarch Eldred
G. Smith, also an emeritus General Authority, is 104.

Born in Salt Lake City on Oct. 13, 1921, Elder Hanks was a son of Stanley
Alonzo and Maude Frame Hanks. His father was a prominent municipal judge who
died when Elder Hanks was 2. His widowed mother reared six of the seven
children to maturity. Elder Hanks was the youngest.

 Elder Hanks returned from World War II to earn a law degree at the University
of Utah. He and his wife, the former Maxine Christensen, are the parents of
five children.

 An author and compelling speaker, he also wrote the lyrics to one of
the church’s hymns, “That Easter Morn,” was honored with the Silver
Buffalo Award by the Boy Scouts of America and served as president of the Salt
Lake Temple from 1982-85.

 Asked in 1993 by Dennis Lythgoe of the Deseret News what he thought
his epitaph could read, Elder Hanks was hesitant to answer but offered a few

 “A teacher affects eternity. (It’s definitely the most fun I’ve
ever had.)”

 “We live on in the lives we have influenced for good.”

 “Through Christ he early caught a glimpse of what man might be.
His generous investment as a teacher produced rich dividends in the lives of

 “I know that thou canst do everything, and that no thought can be
withholden from thee … but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” — Job 42:1-6.

 “I would have ended my last general conference address with Job
but didn’t have the time. I think these verses mean that Job sees that what he
did pales beside that of the Savior. If I had anything on my epitaph, I would
be happy with these verses from Job.”

 Funeral services are being planned for Aug. 13.

 After receiving emeritus status, Elder Hanks became chairman of the
Ouelessebougou Mali-Utah alliance group, which has supported a program of
community service for a consortium of villages in Mali, West Africa.

In addition, he chaired the International Enterprise Development Foundation,
which assists people in the Philippines and Third World countries in
establishing small-business and other economic improvement efforts.

 In April 1993, he received an honorary doctorate of Christian service
as the main speaker at BYU’s graduation.

 Elder Hanks had also continued as a public speaker in his later years.
For example, in 2002, he gave a talk titled, “I Do Not Do My Work in the
Spirit of Benefaction but of Atonement” (a quotation from Albert
Schweitzer), at Utah Valley State College in Orem.

 He received BYU’s David M. Kennedy Public Service Award in 1995. When
he received that award, Ray Hillam, Kennedy Center associate and emeritus BYU
faculty member. said, “The career of Marion D. Hanks has been a career of
service. We cannot recognize all of his accomplishments. They are legion.
However, the center wishes to honor Marion D. Hanks for his service in two
specific areas: refugee work and rural and free enterprise development.”

 LDS-oriented Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista has also
honored Elder Hanks with its Leader-Servant Award.

 Elder Hanks was executive director of the Priesthood Department at the
time he received emeritus status. He had also been executive director of the
Correlation Department and chairman of the Communications Coding Committee.

 As a youth, he won the Utah State Marble Championship, attended West
High School and was offered a basketball scholarship to the University of Utah,
but declined to serve a church mission.

 His mission to the Northern States was cut short by World War II. He
served in the Navy where he was group leader of 600 LDS servicemen.

 On another assignment, while on an extended tour through the South
Pacific, he was the only LDS member aboard a submarine chaser. Appointed acting
chaplain by the ship’s captain, he conducted weekly services, attracting many
of the crew. He achieved the rank of first class petty officer.

 He received a law degree from the University of Utah. in 1948. While
at the university, he was active in Delta Phi, the returned missionaries’
social fraternity. He later was an adviser to this group.

 He never practiced law, but worked for the church’s seminary and institute
system until becoming a general authority.

 As a general authority, he served for a number of years as military
relations representative of the church.

His service in the Navy is credited with his introduction to his wife-to-be,
Maxine Christensen, who was living in Hawaii with her parents at the time.
Their four-year courtship led to marriage in the Hawaii Temple on Aug. 27,
1949. They were the parents of four daughters and a son.

 After returning from the service, Elder Hanks continued his schooling
and entered the teaching profession, becoming a principal and teacher of the
seminary at West High. He was also an instructor at the Institute of Religion
at the University of Utah.

 He held these positions at the time of his call to the First Council
of the Seventy. He remained as an institute teacher until 1970.

“I grew up participating in all kinds of sports, partly because of the
example of my brother, who was an outstanding athlete, and partly because it
was born in us, I guess,” Elder Hanks said in a 1984 Church News
interview. He was a member of the 19th Ward basketball team that won the
all-Church championship in 1947.

 Elder Hanks also earned his Master M-Man award and during June
conferences of the MIA performed a number of special services for the MIA
general boards.

 For a number of years at the Mission Home, Elder Hanks taught classes
in the Book of Mormon and conducted a “difficult” questions class.

 He was a popular fireside speaker at the time of his call as a general
authority and was noted for his attention-holding style of speech and for his
rapport with audiences, especially young people.

 Elder Hanks was active in numerous civic programs and was especially
active in Scouting. He formerly served on Scouting’s National Executive Board
and International Committee and also was a member of the National Advisory
Board. In 1988, he received the Silver Buffalo, the highest honor of the Boy
Scouts of America, for nationwide service to youth.

 He also was chairman of the Deseret Gym board and in February 1995
spoke at the gym’s 85th anniversary open house.

 Elder Hanks and his wife also founded the Hanks Foundation, a Salt
Lake humanitarian group.


This news is monumental, and as sad as the loss is here for us, it’s only a
temporary loss. We simply must recognize how the other side of the Veil now has
another missionary ready to preach the gospel alongside other prophets and
apostles who have also fulfilled their callings here on earth, to answer the
call on the other side.

May our prayers be with the Hanks family, and may the Lord bless him