PROVO, Utah If she could, Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley would have laid the world at the feet of the largest graduating class in BYU history. Without this power, however, she offered a bit of advice that could help the 4,213 students and their families who, with friends and others, filled the Marriott Center to capacity conquer the world.
"Do what needs to be done," she said.
Sister Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, gave the keynote address during the BYU commencement exercises April 20, during which she received an honorary doctorate of Christian Service for her love of learning, loving support of her husband, example of righteous motherhood and positive influence on millions of people worldwide.
President Hinckley presided at the graduation exercises and also spoke, thanking the school for the significant recognition bestowed upon his wife.
"Let me say to all that I had absolutely nothing to do with this," he said. "The nomination was made in my absence. It has never been discussed in any meeting in which I have been in attendance. They have completely bypassed the Chairman of the Board of Trustees."
During their addresses, President Hinckley and Sister Hinckley also congratulated Jerold D. and JoAnn South Ottley, retired conductor and voice coach of the Tabernacle Choir, who received a presidential citation.
"It is an honor to stand here with the Ottleys whom I have known for many years and who have fed my soul with their beautiful, beautiful music," said Sister Hinckley.
Looking at her own life, Sister Hinckley told the graduates to remember that the seemingly insignificant things that they learn will prepare them for the future.
Take for example, she said, the elocution lessons speaking lessons she took as a young girl that prepared her to stand before large congregations of Church members around the world.
As someone who was not able to attend a university but never halted her education, Sister Hinckley also told the graduates to keep learning. "What a world we live in," she said. "Never has there been so much to read just to keep up on world affairs. Never has there been so much to learn. Never has there been so much music to listen to."
Finally, Sister Hinckley asked the congregation to have cheerful and grateful hearts.
"Say thank you out loud every time you have a chance. Thank your friends and your family members who helped you get the education that you are getting today. Thank the clerk at the grocery store. If you can't find someone to say thank you to, take a good look at your toothbrush and say, 'Thank you for being, you're a wonderful little gadget.'
"Never let a day day go by without saying thank you to your Heavenly Father."
During his remarks, President Hinckley spoke of a recent newspaper article which detailed an account of a teacher in North Carolina who donated a kidney to one of her students.
"I submit this magnificent and generous act on the part of this school teacher is an exceptional and wonderful thing. . . . It speaks of charity, of love, of appreciation, of generosity not required, but freely given."
President Hinckley also read a letter that recently arrived in his office, from a woman who had received help from President David O. McKay. In 1953, President McKay invited the woman, her husband and baby son who needed assistance while moving across the country into his home. The young couple had no money and needed milk for their child. President McKay gave them $55 to finish their journey home.
"It is these little things that make the big difference in our lives," said President Hinckley. "It is these things that add a new and essential element to our manner of living."
President Hinckley told the graduates to reach out in helpfulness to those who so urgently need their help.
"There is so much tragedy in this world. There is so much of sorrow and privation. There is so much of hunger and dreadful poverty. There is so much of heartache and pain. Give something of yourself, without fee or recompense, to those in need, and as you give, your own life will enlarge."
During brief remarks, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve, who conducted the program, said people can to look to President and Sister Hinckley as mentors and models as ones who, like the title of President Hinckley's biography, have chosen to "go forward with faith."
"Here are two who have walked the path on which you now embark. For more than six decades they have stood side-by-side, as God intended man and woman to do. Together they have met and mastered whatever challenges life presented to them, and they have done so in a magnificent manner."
Elder Ballard told the graduates to learn to order their priorities and keep harmony between the various aspects of living spiritual, emotional, intellectual and occupational.
"Plan well, prepare yourselves to succeed, then let the Lord take you where He will. He may have far more in mind for you than you have for yourselves," he said.
You can reach Sarah Jane Weaver by E-mail at <a href="MAILTO:[email protected]