With strains of "Silent night. . . . Sleep in heavenly peace," a capacity congregation in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square bid farewell Dec. 20 to Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, who died Dec. 15 of pulmonary fibrosis. He was 66.
All three members of the First Presidency spoke at the service, as did a son, Lawrence W. Pinnock, and a sister, Kathleen P. Johnson. Seated on the rostrum were nine members of the Quorum of the Twelve and some 35 of Elder Pinnock's brethren from the Seventy.
David G. Hatch, accomplished pianist and recording artist who served as a missionary under Elder Pinnock in the Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission, played a medley of hymns. And Pinnock grandchildren and other family members performed a touching rendition of "A Child's Prayer" from the Children's Songbook.
President Gordon B. Hinckley praised him as "a man in whom I found no guile" and one with "a tremendous and marvelous sense of service."
Referring to a picture on the cover of the printed funeral program showing a beaming Elder Pinnock surrounded by grandchildren, President Hinckley characterized him as "the man who loved little children, Hugh Pinnock; the man who loved the Lord, Hugh Pinnock; the man who kept busy doing everything that was asked of him, Hugh Pinnock. And doing it with a smile on his face."
Describing him as "a man of action," the Church president noted that until recently he had presided over Nauvoo Restoration Inc. As such, Elder Pinnock had a leadership role in many of the recent events that have transpired there, including the 1996-97 sesquicentennial of the Saints' trek from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City.
Quoting Doctrine and Covenants 76:53-70 about the glory to be received by those who "overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise," President Hinckley said: "I can't think of a more eloquent description of what the Eternal Father will place upon the lives of such men as Hugh Pinnock." Noting that Elder Pinnock died young, he remarked: "Why didn't he live longer? I don't know. He may have been needed on the other side. I don't know. I do know that the Lord has taken him, and for a purpose. I'm absolutely confident of that." And to Elder Pinnock's widow, Ann, he said: "This is hard on you. But you don't need to worry. He will be looking after you. He'll smile through the clouds above and somehow bring comfort and solace to your aching heart.
President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, likened Elder Pinnock's life to some of the events in the Savior's: "Pertaining to the Lord, whom Hugh loved, it was said he went about doing good and God was with him. Of the Savior, it was said he grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. Hugh did the same."
Recalling aspects of Elder Pinnock's service, President Monson said: "He was a marvelous mission president. He had that ability to lift people from where they were and show them where they might be if they had faith and if they put their shoulders to the wheel and pushed along, which he exemplified by his life.
"Not only was he a great missionary; but isn't it interesting that he performed a marvelous work in Palmyra on that [general conference] broadcast [of April 6, 1980], on that most significant [sesquicentennial] anniversary commemorating the organization of the Church, where President Hinckley was also there and President Kimball?
"Isn't it interesting that his assignments took him to Nauvoo [as North America Central Area president] where he performed a magnificent mission in accomplishing things that have set the stage for that which will take place when the Nauvoo Temple is dedicated?"
Regarding the temple dedication, expected to occur in 2002, President Monson said: "I think he will be there. I have faith that the good Lord will permit him to be there in spirit on that occasion."
President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, applied to Elder Pinnock this passage from Job: "Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me." (Job 27:5.)
"Now Hugh was many things: He was a communicator; he was a great personality; he had many gifts," President Faust said. "But underlying everything was his integrity."
President Faust recalled that while he lived in the South Cottonwood Stake of the Church, Hugh Pinnock was his family's home teacher. "And he was a wonderful home teacher, possibly the best that we have ever had, because of the personal interest he took in all of us. And it wasn't just one visit a month, it was at unexpected times. Very, very sensitive, Hugh was, to the needs of other people, and Ruth and I are grateful to him for the interest and concern he took in our family as we were trying to raise our children up over the teenage years.
"For example, Hugh bought a [sports car], and that was admired by all the teenagers in the ward. I didn't have one; I couldn't afford it. But Hugh told my boys if they would keep doing what they should, they could borrow his car and go on a date. And for that, we're grateful to Hugh!"
Lawrence Pinnock recalled family experiences, including growing up while his father was serving as a bishop, age 27 at the time he was called.
To help instill a work ethic within the children, Elder Pinnock bought a run-down house near Bear Lake in Idaho that required all the family's best efforts to renovate it, Lawrence said.
And his father's avid interest in fishing impacted his children. Lawrence said that on family fishing trips his father would often make the excuse that he needed to tie his shoes or wipe his glasses, and hand his fishing pole to one of the youngsters, who would find a "trout fighting for its life" on the end of the line.
Sister Johnson, Elder Pinnock's sister, also spoke of her brother's love for fishing. "He has worked with many of you at Bear Lake, and played and fished," she commented to the congregation. "He loved Bear Lake, probably because his family, and you, were captive there. Many of us have seen him out fishing, still in his General Authority suit. If he saw a good stream he would grab his rod out of the trunk of his car and fish."
Friday, Dec. 15, the day of Elder Pinnock's passing, was a "holy day" for the family, the sister said. Through the day a stream of loved ones came — Church leaders, community leaders, cousins, friends and family.
"The doctor was helpful and left the family alone to be with Hugh," she remembered. "As we gathered around his bedside, at the direction of Ann, we talked about specific ways he had changed our lives. It was a sacred meeting. Ann, his noble, strong, partner, ended by telling us his dreams for us all: that we were to serve others and to love the Lord. While we were quietly singing, "Silent Night," at the line, 'sleep in heavenly peace,' he left us."