On Friday, May 6, 2022, former Utah Senator and Latter-day Saint Orrin G. Hatch was honored by family, politicians, and Church leaders at a memorial service held at the University of Utah’s Institute of Religion.
Senator Hatch was the former president pro tempore of the United States Senate, the longest serving Republican senator in US history, and the longest-serving senator in Utah history, representing the state of Utah for 42 years. You can read more about Senator Hatch’s political legacy and a statement of condolence from the First Presidency here.
President Dallin H. Oaks presided over and spoke at the memorial service. President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Quentin L. Cook, and Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles along with Utah Governor Spencer Cox, former Utah Governor Gary Herbert, former Utah Governor John Huntsman, Jr., and other officials and legislators were also in attendance.
During his remarks, President Oaks referred to Senator Hatch as an honored statesman and a beloved friend. President Oaks and Senator Hatch were close friends for 50 years. They first met as young lawyers in Utah and can both trace their ancestry to forefathers who pioneered the small town of Vernal, Utah, for generations.
President Oaks called the service, “Orrin G. Hatch’s graduation from mortality, with highest honors.” He bore strong testimony of the Latter-day Saint belief in life after death and said, “To Senator Hatch and to all Latter-day Saints, death is but the inevitable step of moving from one place to another on our journey to the promised universal Resurrection.”
In a letter of condolence to Sister Elaine Hatch from the First Presidency, President Oaks read, “Brother Hatch has returned home to our beloved Father in Heaven. And although there is no substitute for a loving husband, father and grandfather, we hope you will receive the beloved peace of the Savior as recorded in the book of John: ‘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 14:26–27).”
US Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell also gave an eloquent address honoring his dear friend, Senator Hatch. Senator McConnell and Senator Hatch worked together in Washington, DC, for over three decades.
“He spent 42 years as a high ranking politician, but every single day, Orrin marveled anew at the blessings our great country and our mighty God had laid before him. … Much like the parable of the talents, he put his gifts to work so they could multiply.” Senator McConnell also celebrated Senator Hatch’s work in supporting children’s healthcare, the national suicide hotline, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Orrin took his legislation to the same places the Savior took his ministry—to the margins, to the periphery, serving the least of these.”
The lyrics of the two songs performed during the service, “No Empty Chairs” and “Jesus’ Love Is Like a River,” were written by Senator Hatch. The numbers were sung by the Hatch grandchildren and the University of Utah Institute singers, respectively.
Earlier in the week, hundreds of Utahns paid their respects to Hatch as he lay in state in the Utah Capitol rotunda on Wednesday. Shortly after his passing, US President Joe Biden released a statement expressing his condolences for former Senator Hatch’s passing. He wrote, “Senator Hatch was … a man of deep faith; a gentle soul who wrote songs and poems, and shared them with friends, colleagues, and the world. This was the Orrin who looked out for the people who often didn’t have a voice in our laws and our country. … He was, quite simply, an American original.”
Utah Senator Mike Lee said, “Orrin Hatch was a pioneer, through and through. Not just the descendant of pioneers, but a pioneer in his own right.” And Utah Senator Mitt Romney said, “His unwavering dedication to our state and country during four decades of public service will be remembered for generations to come. Few individuals have left such an indelible mark on the United States Senate. ... Like his good friend, Ted Kennedy, he was a lion of the Senate.”
You can watch Senator Romney’s and Senator Lee’s statements honoring the life and legacy of Senator Hatch on the floor of the US Senate in the respective players below.