The legacy of the late George W. Romney will continue as his name and reputation show hundreds of BYU students the way to go about doing good, President Thomas S. Monson said April 14.
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, addressed a reception dinner hosted by BYU – which recently named its Institute of Public Management after George W. Romney.Through a $3 million endowment – $2 million of which was a gift from the Romney family to BYU – the George W. Romney Institute of Public Management, which is housed in the Marriott School of Management, will increase BYU's emphasis on public service.
George Romney, who died on July 26, 1995, was an active member of the Church who served three terms as governor of Michigan, as a U.S. Cabinet member and as a tireless advocate for voluntarism. Speakers at his funeral and newspapers eulogized him as one of the most genuine public servants of the time.
Several members of the Romney family, including Brother Romney's wife, Lenore L. Romney, and their four children, attended the reception in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City.
President Monson was accompanied to the event by his wife, Frances, and President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Ruth.
Also in attendance were Elder David B. Haight, who also spoke; Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Henry B. Eyring, all of the Quorum of the Twelve, and Elder Loren C. Dunn, Elder Hugh W. Pinnock, and Elder Merrill J. Bateman, all of the Seventy.
President Monson referred to Brother Romney as a "great American," and spoke of his association with the former public servant – through Church service and, ultimately, when they served together on President Ronald Reagan's task force for private sector initiatives.
President Monson noted that while he served as president of the Canadian Mission in Toronto, beginning in 1959, he and Brother Romney collaborated on many matters relating to Church work, as two units in President Monson's mission were part of the Detroit Stake – of which Brother Romney was president.
On one occasion Brother Romney was asked to designate someone to offer a prayer at a businessmen's group meeting in Toronto, Canada, where a new American Motors Company plant was being opened.
I want a Mormon prayer and our mission president, if I ask him, will offer it,' " recalled President Monson. "He called me and I said,Yes.' And I offered the Mormon prayer that George Romney wanted."
President Monson noted that the world lost a great man in the passing of the former governor – who spent his life, patterned after the Savior, doing good.
"This man, George W. Romney, whom we honor tonight, was sustained by God, for God loved him so, and he loved his Heavenly Father."
In his remarks, Elder Haight, a childhood friend of Brother Romney, recalled events of their youth together in Oakley, Idaho. "I suppose that I knew George longer than anyone in this room," he said.
He shared "wonderful memories" of his late friend, recounting days when the two swam in a canal near their homes where they both were later baptized.
Through the years, Elder Haight added, he and Brother Romney maintained their friendship.
Almost three years ago, Elder Haight spoke at his friend's funeral. "George Romney, as we will read the history of the 20th century, made a great contribution in bringing the Church out of obscurity and out of darkness," he concluded. "The way he lived, the way he honored the priesthood, and the way he honored what he believed in, all of that helped magnify George Romney."
On Feb. 6 of this year, Mitt Romney, George Romney's son, presented K. Fred Skousen, dean of the Marriott School of Management, with $1 million toward a $3 million endowment designed to help fund the 30-year-old Institute of Public Management. Other family members and friends, including Lenore Romney, will contribute another $1 million. The Marriott School of Management has committed to add the final $1 million.
Mitt Romney said he is certain that his father would be pleased to have his name associated with BYU's Institute of Public Management. "I would add that I think that my dad deserves it," he said.