I read President Hinckley’s official biography, Go Forward With Faith, a few years ago, and it made a major impression on me just how hard he worked and what a great life he lived. Here are three of my favorite anecdotes from his life:
On living apart from his wife for half a year while he worked for a railroad:
Gordon left almost immediately for Denver to assume his new responsibilities and look for housing, and Marjorie remained behind to find a renter for their home….As the weeks rolled by, Marjorie became increasingly anxious. She was eager to join her husband in Denver before her pregnancy became so advanced that it was not feasible to make the move, and she did not want to have her baby alone. While he waited for something to open up, Gordon lived in a small hotel and worked nearly around the clock….There was no such thing as a forty-hour work week. After putting in a long day at the railroad yard, he rode the trains at night to learn the ropes….Gordon and Marjorie disliked their separation from each other, which stretched to nearly six months….Gordon alleviated the situation somewhat by using his Pullman pass to make the twelve-hour trip home on weekends, catching a train west as early Friday as he could get away and returning on a late-night express Sunday evening. (pages 130-131)
On holding two very difficult callings at the same time for a few months:
Four days later, President McKay set Elder Hinckley apart as an Assistant to the Twelve….He would travel extensively–something he endured rather than enjoyed. And his young family would have to adjust to his frequent absence….Because he continued to serve as executive secretary of the Missionary Department, his office wasn’t even changed. Neither were circumstances adjusted immediately in the East Millcreek Stake, where he continued to serve as stake president. He worked by day as a General Authority, held stake meetings on weekday evenings, and divided his time on weekends between his own stake and assignments to attend conferences in other areas….After a couple of months of doing double duty, Elder Hinckley called to the attention of President Joseph Fielding Smith the fact that he was holding down two very demanding jobs….Finally, on August 17, 1958, four and a half months after being sustained as a General Authority, Elder Hinckley was assigned to assist Elder Harold B. Lee in reorganizing the stake… (pages 196-200, emphasis added)
On humility and loyalty:
For some time it had been hard for President Hinckley to avoid comments from individuals, even colleagues, who spoke openly about what they considered to be inevitable–that it was only a matter of time until he became President of the Church. President Hinckley was impatient with (and sometimes upset about) such comments and innuendos, and he routinely cut short any conversations headed in that direction. When Elders Faust and Ballard approached him in late February 1995 about the script for a video about his life that the Church wished to produce, President Hinckley was uncooperative. “I told them that I would not go along with any such thing at this time,” he recorded. “It would be totally unfitting, inappropriate, and counter to my feelings…” (page 503)
What a hero. I only wonder why Presidet Monson has been in office for a year and a half now and yet there’s still no authorized biography of him available. What’s the hold up there, people?