SALT LAKE CITY -- Several prominent Utahns spoke about the legacy of Elder Robert D. Hales Sunday after the LDS Church announced news of his death.
Hales, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, died Sunday afternoon at the age of 85 due to causes incident to age.
The news comes as thousands of members of the LDS Church are gathered in Salt Lake City for the faith's semiannual General Conference. Fox 13 News' Lauren Handley spoke with attendees about their memories of Hales, see the video above for those interviews.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said Sunday he will always remember working alongside Hales on various local institutions and that Utah and its citizens are better because of his example and ministry:
"Jeanette and I join millions of people around the world in mourning the passing, and celebrating the life, of my friend Elder Robert D. Hales. I will always remember the honor of working alongside Elder Hales in efforts to lift and enhance some of our local institutions. He was always friendly. He was a man with no guile. I consider him an extraordinarily humble and spiritual leader. The state of Utah and its citizens are better because of his example and his personal ministry. He will be missed but not forgotten. My prayers are with his loving wife Mary and the Hales family at this time."
Senator Orrin Hatch said Hales was a model of "servant-leadership" who put the welfare of others above his own:
“Elder Hales provided a model of servant-leadership for all of us to follow. He was a true disciple of Jesus Christ, putting the welfare of others before self and the Kingdom of God above all. He was gracious and loving, thoughtful and kind. In all things, Elder Hales exemplified humility, which was the hallmark of his life. While millions of us grieve his passing, we take peace and comfort in knowing that his service continues on the other side of the veil.”
Senator Mike Lee praised Hales' advocacy for religious liberty and civil dialogue.
“Elder Robert D. Hales was a valiant disciple of Jesus Christ, a true advocate for religious liberty, and a champion for civil dialogue in society. His leadership will be missed, and his message of hope, faith, and duty will continually resound in the hearts of millions of members of the church and his family.”
The Sutherland Institute, a conservative political organization in Utah, touted Hales' decision to leave the business world to pursue "the business of saving souls."
"For Robert D. Hales, leadership and followership were one and the same. Elder Hales walked away from success as a leader in business to commit his life, as a follower of Jesus Christ, to the business of saving souls. His soft replies to harsh voices, his gentle invitations to improve and his steely determination to fulfill his duty stand as a witness to the greatness of the man and leave a pattern for leaders and followers to emulate for generations to come."
Lane Beattie, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber, said Hales was a great champion of the business community.
“Elder Robert D. Hales was a great leader not only in the spiritual sense, but also in the business world. He was a businessman before he was called to full-time church service. His strong principles of doing what is right carried through his leadership and continued throughout his life. The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah’s business community extend our heartfelt condolences to the Hales family. We will miss this great champion of the business community.”