`Gift of example in all seasons of life'

Honored for her "great goodness" and for her "gift of example . . . to women in all seasons of life," Sister Marjorie P. Hinckley was presented the Utah Heritage Award by the Utah-California Women Oct. 31.

Nearly 1,300 people, who packed into the grand ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City, gave Sister Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, a standing ovation as she received the award. She was presented a gold sego lily medallion and a large framed photograph of herself, donated by photographer Lillian Ingleyby. (The sego lily is the Utah state flower.)The award is presented annually by Utah-California Women to a woman of Utah heritage who has made "outstanding contributions to family, friends, Church and community."

Also honoring Sister Hinckley at the luncheon were two of her daughters, Kathleen H. Barnes and Virginia H. Pearce (daughter Jane H. Dudley was unable to attend), and her sons, Richard and Clark Hinckley; other family members; and Church and government leaders. Poignant parts of the program were a musical tribute to President and Sister Hinckley by well-known LDS composer Michael Ballam and a special guest appearance by "Soul Queen" Gladys Knight, who joined the Church a year ago. (Please see Oct. 31, 1998, Church News.) Sister Knight performed, to the obvious enjoyment of the audience, one of her hits, "You're the Best Thing That Ever Happened," and two faith-inspiring songs.

In introducing Sister Hinckley, Margaret Dayton of Utah-California Women said of her: "She is a woman who knows when to lead, when to follow - and how to be effective in either instance."

Then, prior to the award presentation, a heartwarming video tribute, narrated on tape by President Hinckley, summarized Sister Hinckley's life. Her birth on Nov. 23, 1911, in Nephi, Utah, was noted, and her marriage in the Salt Lake Temple on April 29, 1937, to a future Church president was described. The video related her years as a wife, mother, grandmother, and companion to a prophet. (Today, President and Sister Hinckley have five children, 25 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.)

At intervals during the video, the tape was paused and Sister Hinckley's children took turns introducing the next segment of their mother's life. A humorous moment was when Richard Hinckley related how his father told his mother, when they were engaged, that perhaps they ought to postpone the wedding because he had only $150 in a savings account to get started on. The woman to become "Sister Hinckley" responded, "All I was expecting was a husband, and now I have $150 as well."

As the video then continued, President Hinckley spoke of his wife's relationship with their children and grandchildren. "She's been the lodestar of their lives, . . . a source of inspiration and one to have a happy time with. They love her. She loves them."

Then, during another pause in the video, Sister Pearce recalled her childhood in the Hinckley home. She related how her mother practiced two rules that she learned from her own mother:

"Trust your children. Never say no if you could possibly say yes.

"Never take yourself too seriously."

When the video presentation continued, President Hinckley spoke of how his wife is comfortable with whomever she is talking. To illustrate, he related how she accompanied him in 1955 to the dedication of the Swiss Temple. President Hinckley, who had been working for the Church since he returned in 1935 from his mission, was sent there on special assignment by President David O. McKay.

Speaking of that trip, he recalled: "I found [my wife] down in the laundry [of the temple] working with the women there. The next thing I found her talking with a very distinguished group of people out on the grounds. She has been perfectly at home wherever she has gone, with whomever she has met."

Clark Hinckley, during another pause in the video, related how his mother has adjusted through the years to travel, said: "In the years since that first trip to Switzerland, she has been tracting with sister missionaries in Hong Kong, has shared a hotel room in Burma with lizards and has spoken to thousands, upon thousands of Latter-day Saints around the world."

Toward the end of the video, the tape was once again paused and Sister Barnes noted how her mother has described her marriage to President Hinckley as "61 years of heaven on earth."

After receiving the award, Sister Hinckley quipped, "I don't know about you, but I'm having the time of my life," bringing laughter from the audience.

In expressing her feelings, she related the story of a friend who, at 50 years old, was learning to play the piano and while performing her first piece in Relief Society, she faltered.

Instead of giving up, she simply started over and made it all the way through without a mistake. "I think we never loved

herT so much as we did that morning. Perhaps it was because she faltered a little in the beginning, and we were all pulling for her.

"That experience has given me great comfort. I figure if I can fall a little short, . . . perhaps you will at least love me for trying."

To a quiet audience, Sister Hinckley encouraged those listening to be kind to one another and added, "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

As she took her seat, President Hinckley arose from his seat and, to the delight of those watching and the obvious surprise of his wife, presented her with several long-stemmed, red roses.

He then offered brief remarks, paying tribute to his wife. "We've had a good marriage. I love this dear companion of mine. We've been at it a long time. To her I give all the credit for the virtues of our family. . . . My love for her extends over a long period of time and I expect it will go on forever."

In closing, he turned, and blew a kiss to his wife - once again to the delight of those attending.

Sister Hinckley is the 17th recipient of the Utah Heritage Award since its inception in 1982, when Camilla Eyring Kimball, wife of then-President Spencer W. Kimball, first received it.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed