PROVO, Utah BYU established the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair in Social Work and Social Sciences during a campus ceremony April 29, honoring Sister Hinckley for "her commitment to family and community."
"I am overwhelmed with gratitude this afternoon," said Sister Hinckley, who attended the ceremony with her husband, President Gordon B. Hinckley. "I consider this a great honor. And, I must say, a somewhat uncomfortable surprise. Who would think that little old me could be part of bringing about good for women, children and families for years to come."
The new chair was established to help BYU focus on the family through research and education, to expand learning by lectures and mentored-learning experiences for students, to increase community involvement in family issues and to provide service.
"There is nothing in the world needed more than strong homes and families," said Sister Hinckley during the ceremony, attended by her family, President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust of the First Presidency, and other Church and community leaders. "There is too much sadness, there is too much tragedy in homes where there could be so much happiness."
Continuing, Sister Hinckley said she was not only honored by the establishment of the chair, but also because the ceremony in her honor was held on the day she and President Hinckley marked their 66th wedding anniversary.
"As I look back on April 29, 1937, there is no way that I could have possibly imagined where our lives would take us," she said of their marriage. "I could not have imagined then the sights we would see, the events we would witness, and the millions of people we have had the privilege of knowing and loving."
To remember the occasion, Sister Hinckley was presented with a delicate glass-blown chair and table on a black walnut music-box base that plays "Love at Home."
Sister Hinckley told those gathered for the luncheon that her role in life has always been a supportive role, "and I have felt no need to apologize for that. I have known the frustrations of being a wife and a mother, but I have also known the joys. Life is not easy but it is worth it."
Sister Hinckley also took advantage of the opportunity to express love for her husband. "Throughout all these years of marriage he has always given me space to fly. He never insisted that I do anything his way; it wouldn't have done him any good," she said with characteristic insight and wit.
Happy marriages, she said, have a lot to do with working hard at getting used to each other. "It is more getting used to each other than working hard to change one another, which is almost impossible anyway. And after 66 years, I think I am finally used to him. The other day as I watched him walk across the room I thought again of what an adorable little old man he has grown up to be."
Then, to President Hinckley, she said, "Thank you, my dear, for a great life."
An emotional President Hinckley also took the opportunity to pay public tribute to his wife, calling her "gracious, wonderful, and delightful."
"I just want to express appreciation to my dear companion for these 66 years," he said. "She has been absolutely wonderful. She has been a great mother and a great grandmother and a great friend and a great neighbor and a do-gooder of the best kind in all the world. . . .
"I am thankful for her. I thank the Lord for the great blessing she has been in my life. I am grateful that we have had the opportunity of living together all these years and when it is time to go I hope we will go together, or very close together."
President Hinckley also thanked BYU for paying such high tribute to his wife. "We are very, very deeply grateful," he said. "She has sort of tagged along in my shadow all these years. And it is time that she moved out into the sunshine and that I moved back into the shadow. That is what I am glad to do today."
BYU President Merrill J. Bateman said the chair was made possible by several donors who were willing to give a substantial amount in the name of Sister Hinckley. Because of the love and respect these donors have for Sister Hinckley, he said BYU raised the funds in less than three days, tying up all the loose ends for the chair in less than three weeks.
The problems facing marriage and families are great, said President Bateman, noting that Sister Hinckley's life can be a comfort and blessing to many.
To honor Sister Hinckley on her anniversary is also appropriate, President Bateman said. "To see the incredible extended family they have raised, it is clear that building faith in people is an intergenerational process. The Hinckleys are role models for family living."
Through the chair, university officials will bring distinguished visitors to campus to interact with students and faculty, and even hope to establish an annual lecture series as well as family research collaborations on and off campus, said David B. Magleby, dean of the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.
President Hinckley thanked those who had made the chair possible. "I want to express my very deep appreciation to all you generous people, you wonderful, good people who have contributed so generously and graciously to make this possible," he said. "Thank you for what you have done. God bless you. I hope that your efforts, your kindness, your gifts, will result in blessings for people across the world in the years to come through the benefits which will grow out of this chair."