'Great American' eulogized, laid to rest -- Elder Haight praises life of former public servant

At the funeral of his long-time friend, George Romney, Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve recalled their experiences together and bore testimony of the Savior.

About 1,200 attended the funeral July 31 in the Bloomfield Michigan Stake Center. Brother Romney, 88, who was prominent in the Church, in business and in government, died July 26 at his home.Elder Haight recalled his friendship with Brother Romney that began when they were young boys in Oakley, Idaho. He talked about swimming in cutoff bib overalls with his friend in the canal near the Romney's home, and said the water was cold but they dove right in and got over the chill quickly.

Except for the few years before the Romneys moved to Oakley, Elder Haight and Brother Romney always had a close friendship.

Elder Haight also related to the congregation experiences in his life that lead him to an understanding of who the Savior is and bore testimony that Jesus is the Christ.

Through the years, Brother Romney served in many Church callings including regional representative, stake president and patriarch.

He was elected governor of Michigan in 1962 and was re-elected in 1964 and 1966. He was a presidential candidate in 1968 and was later appointed secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Richard Nixon's Cabinet.

His business career included service as chairman of American Motors Corp.

Brother Romney's children - Lynn Romney Keenan, Jane Romney, G. Scott Romney and Mitt Romney - paid tribute to their father during the funeral.

"I adored my dad - he has always been my hero," Sister Keenan said. "There was nothing about him that wasn't real; no pretense."

"Everything that has been written about home, he created," Jane Romney said.

Scott Romney drew laughs when he recounted that his father told his family that they were descended from mules. "The Romneys tried to do the right thing, and everyone else was stubborn."

Mitt Romney, who challenged Edward Kennedy for a U.S. Senate seat in Massachusetts in 1994, said his father probably was aware of what was happening at the funeral.

"He got here good and early. His eyes are closed, but I'm sure he's listening. And he'll be the first to leave," he said to laughter.

Conducting the funeral, regional representative W.E. Barry Mayo said of Brother Romney: "He is the great American of the 20th century. He introduced superlative honesty to politics."

Michigan Gov. John Engler spoke at the funeral. He also presented the flag that draped Brother Romney's casket to his wife, Lenore, at the cemetery. Other dignitaries attending the funeral were former governors William Milliken and James Blanchard, U.S. Sen. Spencer Abraham and former United Auto Workers union president Douglas Fraser.

Brother Romney was buried with a 19-cannon salute in the Fairview Cemetery in Brighton, halfway between his Bloomfield Hills home and the state Capitol.

His body lay in state for four hours July 29 in the rotunda of the Michigan State Capitol.

Thomas C. Bithell, Bloomfield Hills Michigan Stake president, said that Brother Romney often preached of the importance of service. His death was also a sermon that many members of the stake hearkened to, Pres. Bithell added, by rallying around the family and readily volunteering to help with funeral preparations and cleanup.

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