'That's how we want to remember our brother Jim'


A photo of William James (Jim) Mortimer was included on the cover of his funeral service program. Captured in the image was the familiar smile and sparkling eyes that his friends and family members knew well and loved.

Jim Mortimer, posed in front of the building constructed during his leadership, was an icon in the Utah news business.
Jim Mortimer, posed in front of the building constructed during his leadership, was an icon in the Utah news business. Photo: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

"Aren't you glad he's smiling?" President Thomas S. Monson said, holding up the program at the conclusion of his remarks at the May 26 service. "That's how we want to remember our brother Jim."

An icon in the local news and Church publishing industry, Brother Mortimer died May 20 at the age of 77. Relatives, friends and associates gathered at the Salt Lake Wasatch Stake Center to remember and pay tribute to a man renowned for his love of family, the printing industry and, most of all, the gospel.

President Monson spoke of his decades-long friendship with Brother Mortimer. Their shared backgrounds in the publishing community brought them together in many professional capacities. Their shared love for gospel service made them fast friends. "There wasn't a mean bone in his body — there wasn't a flaw in his character," he said, adding that those who knew Brother Mortimer also loved and respected him.

The Church president offered words of comfort to Brother Mortimer's wife, Paula Deline Mortimer, and his children and grandchildren.

"If you want to pay honor to your dear Jim — live as he lived. Serve as he served. Teach as he taught."

Brother Mortimer, he added, was a man of great capacity whose life was defined by his enthusiasm, his concern for others and his tenacious efforts to serve the Lord. Such eternal traits will serve him well in the next life. "He will be busy."

President Monson also shared his testimony of eternal life and the Lord's plan of salvation. "All that we knew and loved about Jim continues. His spirit has simply gone home to that God who gave him life."

Near the conclusion of his talk, President Monson read a letter to Sister Mortimer expressing condolences for her loss and praising her husband's professional achievements and his life of Church service spent as a bishop, stake president, Regional Representative and stake patriarch. The letter was signed by President Monson and his counselors in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring and President Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Six of Brother Mortimer's children — Judy Hut, Brad Mortimer, Jimmy Mortimer, David Mortimer, Jennie Burt and Jeff Mortimer — shared remarks about their father's many areas of interest, including his family, business career and Church and community service. A seventh child, son Greg Mortimer, performed one of Brother Mortimer's favorite musical pieces, "Adoration," on the violin.

The Mortimers spoke of their father's devotion to his family and his love for game-filled outings. Family home evening was a sacred time of the week in the Mortimer household. "[Our father] had a chance once to meet [former Soviet President] Mikhail Gorbachev, but he wouldn't do it. It fell on family night," said Sister Hut.

A lifelong member, Brother Mortimer's career in the printing industry began as a young deacon when he took on a part-time job delivering the Deseret News to his neighbors in Cache County, Utah. After earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University, he began working as a reporter and assistant business editor at the Deseret News. He would earn the nickname "Deseret Jim" during subsequent appointments as sales manager for Deseret News Press and vice president and general manager at Deseret Book. He served as publisher at the Deseret News for 15 years.

Brother Mortimer directed the transition of the Deseret News Press from a commercial printing firm to an internal printing organization within the Church. He also served as secretary for the Church's Scriptures Publication Committee during a historic period of LDS scripture publication that included the new triple combination and the LDS edition of the King James Version of the Bible.

Just a few weeks before his death, Brother Mortimer was inducted into the Utah Printers Hall of Fame.

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