SALT LAKE CITY – Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of President Gordon B. Hinckley, passed away at home at 5:05 p.m. on 6 April 2004. President Hinckley and other family members were with her at the time. She died of causes incident to age. Funeral arrangements are pending and will be announced later.
Identified by her husband as the lodestar of their family, Marjorie Hinckley gently guided her children with faith, intelligence and humor. Her happiest role in life was that of a supportive wife and mother.
Born Marjorie Pay on 23 November 1911, in Nephi, Utah, she was the first child of Phillip LeRoy and Georgetta Paxman Pay. She had four sisters and two brothers, but one brother died in infancy. The family moved to Salt Lake City in 1914 where Marjorie began her education. She graduated from East High School in 1929 and went to work at the Owens Illinois Glass Company performing secretarial duties.
As a young girl she was taught by her mother that the best husband for her would be one who loves the Lord. Marjorie met a young man with that qualification living right across the street from her family home. She and Gordon B. Hinckley were married on 29 April 1937 in the Salt Lake Temple by Elder Stephen L. Richards, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (President Hinckley was called to serve as an Assistant to the Twelve Apostles in April 1958, to the Quorum of the Twelve in September of 1961 and became the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 13 March 1995).
The young couple began their married life in Salt Lake City in a small farmhouse in Millcreek. President Hinckley was employed at Church headquarters in downtown Salt Lake, and Marjorie continued her employment at the glass company until the birth of their first child. As the family increased in size, the Hinckleys built a home on property down the lane from their first house, still in the rural East Millcreek area. By 1954 they were parents of five children, Kathleen, Richard, Virginia, Clark and Jane.
Marjorie was an energetic mother and made good use of humor to settle many of life’s difficulties. She was often heard to say, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it.” Marjorie loved being a mother and delighted in every moment with her children. She especially enjoyed the sound of the screen door slamming as the children ran in and out of the house. She was sad every fall when the children went back to school because she missed them so much during the day.
An avid reader, Marjorie encouraged her children to gain knowledge by studying and reading. As the family traveled in the car on vacations, she would read to them from the classics. Although her formal education was interrupted by economic stress during the depression, she encouraged her children to seek degrees in higher education. She was a student of the scriptures and often used the words of ancient and latter-day prophets to teach and inspire others.
Living in Utah most of her life, except for a brief time in Denver while her husband was working for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, Marjorie had the opportunity to travel extensively throughout the world. She developed a special appreciation for the people in the Far East. Hong Kong became a favorite city, and she was delighted when her children and their spouses were able to gather in Hong Kong with her and President Hinckley to celebrate their fiftieth wedding anniversary.
A dedicated student of the lives of her ancestors, Marjorie delighted in the opportunity to share stories of their faith and devotion taken from her research and that of others. Searching for family names in genealogical facilities was a major part of her life. Pedigree charts, pictures and written histories were often visible in her home, and she used this acquired knowledge to encourage others in numerous public addresses.
She developed a close relationship with her 25 grandchildren and 41 great-grandchildren, who always knew she was just a telephone call away. They willingly consulted with her about the joys and challenges in their lives.
Marjorie Hinckley was recognized numerous times, having named for her the Marjorie Pay Hinckley Chair in Social Work and Social Science from Brigham Young University in April of 2003, and receiving an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Utah Valley State College in April of 2001 and the heritage award during the centennial celebration of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers that same year. From BYU she received an honorary doctoral degree in Christian Service in April of 2000. Other recognition included the distinguished Service to Humanity Award in 1998, Freedom Festival Award in 1997 and the Exemplary Womanhood Award in 1996.
Marjorie Pay Hinckley lived almost all of her life in Salt Lake City, but her influence has spread all around the world. She visited nearly every continent. She conversed comfortably with such dignitaries as the queen of Thailand and prime minister of Britain, but felt equally at ease with ordinary people wherever she went.