Conference moments: Memory of a lifetime

For 23 years now, Col. Donald G. Hanchett has attended October conference where he has heard the past five presidents of the Church bear their testimonies and express their love at the close of conference.

"I don't remember a time when a prophet has not stood and conveyed his love," said Brother Hanchett, who tasted of a prophet's love after visiting President Spencer W. Kimball in his office in 1980. "He was so loving and tender," Brother Hanchett remembered.The opportunity for Brother Hanchett and his family to visit President Kimball came several weeks prior to the October general conference that year. Sometime before the conference, President Kimball had received a letter from a devout Catholic commander in the Army extolling Brother Hanchett's service as an LDS military chaplain.

President Kimball wondered if Brother Hanchett was any relation to a former bishop of his in Stafford, Ariz., whom he admired. After learning that he was a grandson, President Kimball invited Brother Hanchett and his family to his office.

"He embraced each of us, then sat the six children - ranging from nine years to 13 months old - on his lap as he talked of special experiences in his office, like where the President of the United States once sat, and about former presidents of the Church.

"He noticed our two older sons gazing at a Navajo chief's headdress. He took it out of the display case and placed it on their heads. I was afraid the children would break a feather. But to him, it was more important to create a memory," Brother Hanchett said.

The lingering influence of that visit strengthened the children to serve missions and marry in the temple. It has also strengthened Brother Hanchett, who in June of this year, was appointed Command Chaplain for the U.S. Army Forces Command. His appointment is the highest chaplain command ever afforded a member of the Church, with responsibility for nearly 2,000 chaplains.

Because of that experience with President Kimball, the spiritual climax of each conference for Brother Hanchett comes with the testimony of love from the prophet. "It's as if the prophets are trying to wrap their arms around each member personally."

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