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‘Thank you, Mary,’ President M. Russell Ballard memorializes Sister Hales at her funeral

‘Sister Hales always placed the needs of others above her own and was a light to all those around her. She inspired others to find joy in living the gospel of Jesus Christ,’ President Ballard said.

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The casket for Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is moved from the ward meetinghouse during funeral proceedings in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


‘Thank you, Mary,’ President M. Russell Ballard memorializes Sister Hales at her funeral

‘Sister Hales always placed the needs of others above her own and was a light to all those around her. She inspired others to find joy in living the gospel of Jesus Christ,’ President Ballard said.

merlin_2959359.jpg

The casket for Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is moved from the ward meetinghouse during funeral proceedings in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Reflecting on the life of Sister Mary Crandall Hales at her funeral on Saturday, Jan. 21, President M. Russell Ballard said simply, “Thank you, Mary.” 

The Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shared some of his memories of Sister Hales and her late husband, Elder Robert D. Hales.

“The contributions that Robert and Mary Hales made to the kingdom of God are very hard to contain in a few words,” President Ballard said. 

“Everything the Lord asked, they quickly accepted,” President Ballard added, speaking of the assignments and inspiration the Hales received.

The funeral was held following the passing of Sister Hales on Sunday, Jan. 15, at the age of 90. Hundreds of family members, neighbors, friends and present and past Church leaders gathered at the funeral in North Salt Lake to pay tribute to Sister Hales. 

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President M. Russell Ballard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attends the funeral of Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

President Ballard presided at the funeral, which was attended by Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and representatives of the Presidency of the Seventy, Presiding Bishopric and other general authorities and officers of the Church; and several emeritus general authorities. Sister Kristen Oaks, wife of President Dallin H. Oaks, and Sister Mary Cook, Sister Kathy Andersen, Sister Ruth Renlund and Sister Susan Gong also attended.

The First Presidency of the Church — President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors President Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring — joined Elders D. Todd Christofferson, Ronald A. Rasband and Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Friday evening at Sister Hales’ viewing. There they met with the family and spoke with them. 

Elder Bednar spoke before President Ballard toward the end of the service on Saturday morning. He shared that he and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, have a “deep and abiding love” for Sister Hales. 

“As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I witness that God the Eternal Father is our Father,” Elder Bednar said. “He is the Father of our spirits. We are His sons and daughters. And He is the Author of the plan of happiness.” 

He shared the unique feelings that members of the Church have at a funeral because of their knowledge that mortal death is not the end of living nor happiness. “It is precisely because we know who we are and where we came from and why we are here that there is nothing sad about this occasion,” Elder Bednar said. 

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Elder David A. Bednar of Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attends the funeral of Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

He continued by saying that the Savior’s Atonement “makes it possible for us to overcome death.” 

“As we live in this life, through His Atonement, we are blessed with capacity and strength beyond our own,” Elder Bednar said. 

President Ballard invited Elder Bednar to read a letter from the First Presidency to the family of Sister Hales. 

“We rejoice with you in her life of devoted service,” he read. “Sister Hales always placed the needs of others above her own and was a light to all those around her. She inspired others to find joy in living the gospel of Jesus Christ. …” 

“We hope that you will take comfort in the memories you share of your mother’s abiding love for each of you and find peace in knowing she is once again united with your dear father.”

Bishop Kim Bertin, Sister Hales’ bishop from the Fox Hills Ward, conducted the funeral services. 

Family memories

Dennis Crandall, Sister Hales’ brother, provided a look back at her 90-year life of dedication to the Lord and her family. 

“Mary had this unique quality, as you know, this strength of character — perceptiveness, understanding and compassion,” he remembered. 

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The casket for Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is moved from the church during funeral proceedings in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Crandall shared stories of Sister Hales’ compassion with widows, neighbor children and family members. 

Elder Hales was a fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. Crandall shared a story about Elder Hales (a Lieutenant, at the time) flying through a storm and being told after he landed safely that he and his plane shouldn’t have survived the storm they flew through. Despite Elder Hales’ talent and courage, he went from that challenging flight to a phone and called his wife. Crandall said he happened to pick up a phone in the home and overheard the two speaking to each other. 

“I need you,” Elder Hales said pleadingly to his wife. 

Filled with tender emotion, Crandall said he feels Elder Hales may have been saying that to his wife again. 

“I think he needed her now,” Crandall said as he concluded his remarks.

Sisters Mary Kathryn and Emilie Johnson, granddaughters of Sister Hales, spoke at the funeral of their love for their grandmother and the unique ways that she showed love to them and others. 

Mary Kathryn Johnson said she tried to think of the single greatest lesson her grandmother taught her. But she said she was instead flooded by the memories of many lessons instead of just one. This led her to the conclusion that Sister Hales had been the consummate teacher. 

“Our Savior Jesus Christ is the master teacher,” she said. 

“Grandma emulated our Savior Jesus Christ in the way that she loved, cared for and taught those around her. I’m thankful for her example, her love and her lessons that will last a lifetime.” 

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Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Sister Mary Cook and Sister Kristen Oaks attend the funeral of Sister Mary Hales, the wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in North Salt Lake on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2023.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Emilie Johnson was with her grandmother in her final days and shared sweet memories of that time together. At one point, she said her grandmother had been too weak to lift her hands to her face, and that she surprisingly lifted both arms straight out in front of her and crossed her hands over each other as if she were giving someone her hug. 

“I believe with all my heart that was her reunion with Grandpa,” Emilie said. 

Sister Hales’ nephew, Brian Crandall, described his aunt as a problem solver and a north star to everyone around her. 

“She was solid and steady and righteous.” he said. 

“Anyone who ever spent time with Mary… you may feel like you were her favorite,” he said. “I think she made everyone feel that way.” 

The Hales have two sons, nine grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren. Prior to the funeral, son David Hales offered the family prayer. Stephen Hales, also a son, dedicated the grave at the Bountiful City Cemetery following the funeral. 

Prayers at the funeral were offered by Tim Johnson and Dan Clegg, a grandson-in-law and a cousin of Sister Hales, respectively. 

“I think coming to a funeral service is a good time for us all to think a little bit about how our own personal lives are. If there’s something we need to fix, let us do it while we have time,” President Ballard said as the service came to a close. 

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