By Ashley Pun Eveson and Abby Gunderson
Hundreds of friends and family honored the life of Senator Orrin G. Hatch at a funeral service this afternoon in Salt Lake City.
Hatch died at age 88 on April 23, 2022 as the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. Senate history.
The funeral service was held at the Institute of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Church leaders who attended were President Dallin H. Oaks, Quentin L. Cook, D. Todd Christofferson, and M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Other notable attendees were Senator Mitch McConnell, Senator Gordon H. Smith and Richard Marriott, Chairman of the Board of Host Hotels & Resorts.
Earlier this week, the Senate honored Hatch by approving a resolution, and Hatch lied Wednesday in the Utah State Capitol rotunda.
Hatch was born in Homestead Park, Pennsylvania on March 22, 1934, and grew up in poverty. He lived with both his parents and was the sixth of nine children. Despite his family’s financial difficulties, he learned to love music at an early age and learned to play the violin, organ and piano.
As part of the service, his grandchildren and great-grandchildren sang one of the songs he had composed alongside Janice Kapp Perry, “No Empty Chairs.” The University of Utah Institute Singers performed another of his songs, “Jesus’ Love is Like A River”.
“It was a privilege to sing for him and his family,” said Gabe Frei, a member of the University of Utah Institute Singers. “Hearing those words and letting them live through us was an honor.”
Hatch is remembered as a loving father, husband, friend and colleague by those who spoke during the service including A. Scott Anderson, daughter Marcia Hatch Whetton, son Brent Hatch, Senator McConnell , Senator Smith and President Oaks.
“Because of Senator Hatch’s heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, and because of his deep faith and belief in the goodness of mankind, he always reached out to those in need,” Anderson said.
Other memories and stories were shared by speakers, highlighting Hatch’s love for God, for his neighbors and for serving the country.
His older brother, Jesse Hatch, died during World War II as a nose gunner for the Air Force, and the incident left Hatch with a white streak in his hair. According to Brent Hatch, the eldest son of the Hatch family and one of the speakers at the service, this event urged Hatch to commit to living two lives, one for himself and one for his brother.
Hatch then attended Brigham Young University, where he met his wife Elaine and studied history, then attended law school at the University of Pittsburgh.
According to Brent Hatch, through his dual efforts, his father was able to become one of the top litigators in Utah because he “surpassed everyone”.
Hatch is also remembered for sharing his testimony of Jesus Christ with everyone he met, even offering to send the missionaries to visit them. “Like the apostle Paul, he was ‘not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes,'” Senator Smith said.
Serving 42 years in the U.S. Senate representing Utah, Hatch began his term in 1977 and retired in 2019 after serving seven terms.
Senator McConnell, U.S. Senate Minority Leader, said he had worked with Hatch for three decades and that “by the time Orrin retired, he had been involved in confirming one-third of all justices in American history up to that time”.
Hatch passed its first law in 1979, The National Ski Patrol System Recognition Act of 1979 (PL 96-489) which helped promote safety in skiing.
He later served as the Republican Party’s sole co-sponsor for the 1988 Health Omnibus expansion, which funded the fight against AIDS.
One of his well-known accomplishments was the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (PL 115-97) in 2017 to help businesses during a major economic expansion.
“He was kind, inclusive and able to bring people together for a common cause,” Chris Ereckson, who is married to one of Hatch’s nieces, said of Hatch’s legacy.
He was also able to use bipartisan efforts to help children, fight AIDS and create the Suicide Hotline, according to McConnell.
“The rising generation is kind and generous and seeks out marginalized people, and I think he (Orrin Hatch) was ahead of his time that way, connecting with people on a personal level,” Abby Cox said. , the First Lady of Utah.
The Utah Army National Guard performed “Final Honors” as a conclusion to the memorial service. After the funeral ceremony, Hatch was buried in Newton Cemetery in Cache Valley, where his wife is from.
“I hope our students will look at his life and his service and realize that you should spend some time thinking about getting into public service,” University of Utah President Taylor Randall said. “Its impact will be felt for generations. If you want to leave a legacy, watch Orrin Hatch’s Legacy.