At the funeral, Orrin Hatch remembered a normal guy who loved music and hugged opponents

Orrin Hatch entered the US Senate at the age of 42 with no political experience and served for seven terms, becoming one of the most successful members of the body, championing conservative causes while listening to liberal opponents, praising mourners at the senator’s funeral Friday afternoon.

The former Republican senator drafted hundreds of laws that affect every American today and left an enduring legacy in the nation’s politics. But the late senator was also remembered at his funeral service in Salt Lake City as a regular guy who played music with friends, enjoyed jazz basketball and all Utah sports, prayed every day, and had a soft spot for Costco’s $1.50 -had hot dogs that came with all the condiments he could pile on the bun.

“Because of his deep-seated faith and belief in the goodness of humanity, he has always cared for those in need, whether they were powerful and rich or oppressed and storm-struck. He believed in the power of politeness and the basic kindness of the American people,” said his longtime friend A. Scott Anderson, a prominent Utah banking executive. “He was a principled man who had a habit of making friends with everyone, even opponents. He was the right person to fight for things people need to grow and thrive.”

Anderson was one of several speakers who addressed a packed audience at the Religious Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Hatch, a lifelong member of the dominant faith in Utah, died April 23 at the age of 88. Latter-day Saint Apostle Dallin H. Oaks conducted the 90-minute service.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pallbearers carry the coffin of former US Senator Orrin Hatch after the funeral service at the Religious Institute of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Friday, May 6, 2022. Hatch , the longest-serving Republican Senator in US history and the longest-serving from Utah, died April 23 at the age of 88.

After the funeral, a procession escorted Hatch’s coffin the 79 miles north to Newton, a Cache Valley town where Hatch’s wife, Elaine Hansen Hatch, was raised. The senator was buried with military rites in Newton Cemetery.

Hatch is survived by his wife, six sons and daughters, and dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Rev. France Davis of the Calvary Baptist Church delivered the invocation at the funeral, which was attended by several sitting senators including Mitt Romney and Mike Lee of Utah, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, John Cornyn of Texas, Steve Daines of Montana and Maria Cantwell Washington, Susan Collins from Maine and Dan Sullivan from Alaska. Utah Governor Spencer Cox and former Governors Gary Herbert and Jon M. Huntsman Jr. also paid their respects.

(Kristen Murphy | Pool) President Dallin H. Oaks, left, First Counselor in the First Presidency, speaks with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) prior to the beginning of the funeral of former Sen. Orrin Hatch at the Institute of Religion in Salt Lake City, Friday, May 6, 2022.

Hatch was a prolific songwriter and the service included two musical numbers written by Hatch with Janice Kapp Perry. Several Hatch grandchildren sang a piece entitled “No Empty Chair,” a celebration of family gatherings.

Marcia Hatch Whetton remembers her father as the busiest, hardest-working person she has ever known.

“Because he was so much fun to be with, we wanted him to be with us always. We knew that even though he was busy and busy, we could count on him when we needed him,” she said. “We also knew in our hearts that this was his calling in life to serve this great country and people of Utah. And while not having him with us felt like a sacrifice at times, it was all worth it.”

Much of the fun revolved around music that Hatch had composed and performed throughout his life.

Brent Hatch recalled his father’s earliest compositions, such as “The Love We Give,” the one song he recorded with a Mormon folk-rock band called Free Agency that was printed on white vinyl, and a holiday song featuring entitled “The Eight”. days of Hanukkah.”

“Check it out,” Brent said. “You’ll never get that out of your head.”

Former Senator Gordon Smith continued the musical theme to characterize Hatch’s rise into the “pantheon of America’s greatest senators”.

“Orrin had the humility and wisdom of being a student of the Senate, which made him listen and learn. So he set about mastering the complexities of process and content,” said Smith, a Republican who represented Oregon in the Senate from 1997 to 2009. “Orrin began to revere the institution of the Senate. I’ve seen him become one of his champions in defense and empowerment. He learned his rhythms. He knew his timing and engaged in the debate with the appropriate tones.”

Though raised in Pittsburgh, Hatch’s roots stretched deep into Utah’s Uinta Basin, where in 1879 his family settled the area originally called Hatchtown but later known as Vernal. Their fathers were born in Vernal and moved away, Oaks said.

“What brought us together was our families’ early and common pioneer roots in the same unsettled area of ​​Utah,” said Oaks, who said the men had been friends for 50 years, since they first met at Brigham Young University had.

Both Oaks and Hatch are recipients of the Canterbury Medal for their efforts in defense of religious freedom.

McConnell told mourners that he and Hatch were both endorsed by Ronald Reagan as Senate candidates.

However, “The Gipper” got both names wrong and endorsed candidates named “Warren Hatch” and “Mitch O’Donnell,” said Senate Minority Leader McConnell. He praised Hatch as a master lawgiver.

“Sometimes that has meant winning bold Conservative victories, from his epic fight against Robert Byrd (a West Virginia Democrat who is the longest-serving Senator in history) and Big Labor during his first term, to historic tax reform during his last ‘ said McConnell. “But Orrin has also championed bipartisan efforts to lift up the vulnerable. children’s health insurance. Americans with Disabilities. Generics, HIV, AIDS. The suicide lifeline. Orrin brought his legislation to the same place where our Savior led his ministry, to the fringes, to the periphery, to minister to the least of these.”

According to Hatch’s son Brent, the senator adopted a tireless work ethic in honor of his brother, an Army aviator who died in combat in World War II. Though barely a teenager, Hatch’s hair began to turn white shortly after learning of the death of Jesse Hatch, a nose gunner in a B-24 shot down over Austria in 1945.

“The realization that his brother’s life had been cut short caused my father to devote himself to work and gaining enough experience for two lives, his and the one his brother could not live,” said Brent Hatch. “That white streak in his hair was a constant reminder of that commitment.”

Smith attributed a compassionate nature to Hatch’s humble beginnings, which enabled him to bring out the best in his peers, especially those with whom he disagreed.

“He understood that legislation required hard, painstaking work. Work that requires building trust, the kind of trust that is earned day after day, year after year,” Smith said. “He tried to understand and consider positions other than his own. Orrin understood in his bones that the best way to ruin a good story is to hear the other side.”

Hatch struggled to overcome the discord inherent in politics and sought to understand positions other than his own, all in search of the “common sense” necessary to make good laws, not just noise, Smith said the funeral attendees.

“All of this sounds counter to the polarization of the present,” Smith said, “but it serves as a model for what politics needs to become again if our system is to work well, our democracy is to thrive.” At the funeral, Orrin Hatch remembered a normal guy who loved music and hugged opponents

Joel McCord

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