Church leader pays tribute to Wayne Owens

President Gordon B. Hinckley called former U.S. Congressman and mission president Wayne Owens "a man of achievement" and a peacemaker who desired to make the world better.

Speaking at Brother Owens' Dec. 23 funeral in Salt Lake City, Utah, President Hinckley expressed sympathy to the Owens family for their loss and recognized Brother Owens for his life of public and Church service. Brother Owens died Dec. 18, 2002, in Tel Aviv, Israel. At the time of his death, he was continuing his efforts to improve the world, heading up the Center for Middle East Peace & Economic Cooperation.

"I am grateful for this man whom I knew and appreciated and worked with in various capacities over a long period of time," President Hinckley said.

The Church leader said he met Brother Owens when the future political leader was serving a full-time mission in France. President Hinckley had been dispatched to France by President David O. McKay. Brother Owens, who was serving as a counselor to the mission president at the time, spent two or three days driving President Hinckley around.

"I was with him constantly," President Hinckley said. "I learned to appreciate and respect him and honor him. I have followed him ever since."

Years later, President Hinckley visited Brother Owens when he was presiding over the Canada Montreal Mission. Over the years, Brother Owens, a Democrat, introduced President Hinckley to many prominent figures from his political party, such as Tom Foley and Edward and Joseph Kennedy.

"[Brother Owens] was with Bill Clinton the first time that Bill Clinton came to call on us," President Hinckley said.

A native of Panguitch, Utah, Brother Owens served four terms in the U.S. House of Representatives where he established a reputation as a harmonizer of various groups and cultures. In 1993, Brother Owens became founder of and representative for the Institute of Middle Eastern Peace in Israel. President Hinckley praised Brother Owens for living a peace-centered life.

"Any man who is engaged in the cause of peace is engaged in the cause of Christ," President Hinckley said.