News Release

President Oaks Honors the Life of Former Senator Orrin G. Hatch

President Dallin H. Oaks of the First Presidency said former Utah Senator and United States Senate president pro tempore Orrin G. Hatch lived a life worthy of the “highest honors.”

The Church leader’s remarks came on Friday, May 6, 2022, at the funeral of the 42-year senator of the Beehive State. The memorial service was held at an institute of religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints adjacent to the University of Utah.

President Oaks said he and Senator Hatch, a Latter-day Saint, were close friends for 50 years. They first met at Brigham Young University (BYU) in the 1970s. President Oaks was leading BYU, and Hatch was considering a run for United States Senate.

“What drew us together was our families’ early and common pioneering roots in the same unsettled area of Utah,” President Oaks said. “Both the Hatch and the Oaks families arrived in what is now Vernal in 1879, when there were so few settlers that the area they settled in was first known as Hatchtown. They pioneered there for generations. Our fathers were both born in Vernal just two years apart. Both fathers later left to live elsewhere.”

Now, five decades later, “Orrin and I come together for what I like to refer to as Orrin G. Hatch’s graduation from mortality, with highest honors,” President Oaks said.

The other speakers at the memorial service were United States Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, former U.S. Senator Gordon H. Smith, Zions Bank CEO Scott Anderson, and two of Senator Hatch’s children. Senator Hatch’s grandchildren sang a hymn he wrote in 1998 called “No Empty Chairs.” Opening and closing prayers were offered by Rev. France Davis of Calvary Baptist Church and Richard E. Marriott.

Also present was a contingent of more than a dozen current and former United States senators and representatives, as well as three members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Quentin L. Cook and Elder D. Todd Christofferson.

The First Counselor in the First Presidency, reading from an April 23 First Presidency statement, said Senator Hatch’s “tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefited countless lives and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come.” And, quoting a newspaper article, President Oaks said, “Hatch’s greatest legacy is not that he served 42 years in the U.S. Senate. It is that he was an effective lawmaker. … It’s safe to say Utah, and the United States, have never seen a leader like Orrin Hatch before, and are unlikely to see one quite like him again.”

President Oaks also spoke of the reality of the resurrection and the eternal nature of life.

“To Senator Hatch and to all Latter-day Saints who understand the plan of God, death is but an inevitable step in moving from one place to another in the wondrous unending journey prescribed by God our Eternal Father and made possible by the Atonement of our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ,” President Oaks said. “As an Apostle of Jesus Christ, I testify of the truth of the promised universal resurrection from death. For all of us, the resurrection to a perfect embodied state is real and certain. What a significant assurance! What a glorious reality!”

President Oaks concluded his remarks by reading a letter from the First Presidency to Senator Hatch’s wife, Elaine.

“Although there is no substitute for the love and devotion of a beloved husband, father, and grandfather,” the letter says, “we pray you will receive the comfort and peace in the Savior’s promise: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27).”

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