"Hi, Norm, what are you doing here?" an acquaintance asked the governor of Utah at the Salt Lake International Airport.
"I've got a boy coming home," Norman H. Bangerter replied.A few feet away, a female member of the family told a curious passer-by, "He [Bangerter's son] has been on a mission for our Church."
It wasn't just Bangerter's presence that attracted the attention of airport visitors Aug. 8. A festive family gathering, complete with a balloon bouquet, took place under a homemade banner with large blue lettering that proclaimed, "Welcome home, Adam!"
When the honored returnee finally arrived home from his mission to San Jose, Calif., he was met with tearful hugs, especially from his father and his mother, Colleen.
Chief executive of the state with the richest concentration of Latter-day Saints, Bangerter is very much a product of the local culture. He served as a bishop from 1961 to 1967, and as stake president until January 1979. The Bangerters are parents of two daughters, four sons and a foster son. All boys in the family – including the two sons-in-law – have served missions. In an interview the governor spoke tenderly about Adam, his youngest son.
"He came into the world under difficult circumstances," he said. "He weighed only 3 pounds 5 ounces at birth. We were told before his birth, when my wife became ill, that we might not get a baby. But we did, and it has been a blessing for us to have him come at the end of our family and do the things we like to see him do."