Elder Wayne M. Hancock, who served as a General Authority Seventy from 1997 to 2001, died on Saturday, May 27, in Salt Lake City. He was 91.
In addition to his time as a general authority, Elder Hancock served as president of the Utah Provo Mission from 1994 to 1997 and as president of the Bern Switzerland Temple from 2005 to 2008.
Wayne M. Hancock was born July 16, 1931, to Wayne M.P. Hancock and Phyllis Lines Hancock. In a Church News article after being called as a general authority, Elder Hancock credited his “angel mother” with teaching him to love the gospel and the difference between right and wrong.
“I didn’t want to do anything in my life to hurt her. Whenever there were temptations, I thought of my mother,” he recalled.
As a child and youth, his father was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Hancock expressed gratitude for his grandmother, Eva Lines, and for several bishops — including Bishop Harry V. Brooks, who he called “my surrogate father” — for their influence on his life and testimony.
In 1950, Elder Hancock submitted his mission papers and was given a mission farewell before finding out the draft board had rejected his request for a draft deferment because of the Korean War.
Sorely disappointed, he felt prompted to transfer from the University of Arizona — “the family university” — to Brigham Young University. There he met Connie Ann Cameron, who would become his wife.
That was just one example of many times in his life where the Lord was able to turn seeming disadvantage to advantage. “After some of the biggest disappointments in my life have come some of the biggest blessings,” he said in a 1997 Ensign article.
After graduating from BYU, Elder Hancock married Connie on June 25, 1953, in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. They have eight children and many grandchildren.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BYU and then a juris doctorate from the University of Arizona.
Through his law degree and with the Lord’s guidance, he was able to be of greater service throughout his career, he said.
“I am so grateful that through life’s experiences I have learned to trust in the Lord.”
In 1967, Elder Hancock began a 27-year career with Dow Chemical Company, which included assignments in Michigan, Switzerland, Italy and other parts of Europe.
Through the years he served as a mission president’s counselor, stake president, stake presidency counselor, high councilor, stake mission president and bishop.
In 1993, he left Dow Chemical to become president of the Utah Provo Mission and from there was called as a general authority.
In an article published in BYU’s Daily Universe at that time, Carl Anderson, Elder Hancock’s second counselor in the mission presidency, said Elder Hancock would bring “unshakable faith and diligence” to his calling as a General Authority Seventy. Anderson’s wife, Rosalin Anderson, said that she was impressed with Elder Hancock’s gospel knowledge back when both families lived in Germany.
“He is a fabulous individual,” said Carl Anderson. “He is totally dedicated to the Church and performing his calling.”
Elder Hancock spoke once in general conference in 1997, where he acknowledged the sacrifices, testimonies and contributions of the women of the Church in their varied circumstances (“Daughter, Be of Good Comfort,” October 1997 general conference).
“There are many sweet, faithful daughters of our Heavenly Father who bless our lives,” he said. “May we better understand them and be as sensitive to their needs as was the Savior when He instinctively sensed the touching of the hem of His garment and the faith of a long-diseased woman behind Him. As Jesus said to her, so may our actions affirm to our noble sisters: ‘Daughter, be of good comfort’” (Matt. 9:22).
Funeral services are pending.