SALT LAKE CITY — Thousands filled the Tabernacle and other locations on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, July 10, 2015, for the funeral of President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Thousands more around the world watched a live broadcast of the service in English, Spanish and Portuguese. President Packerdied at home on July 3 at the age of 90 after serving as a general authority of the Church for more than 50 years.
The service, held under the direction of the First Presidency, was attended by general authorities and auxiliary leaders of the Church, as well as community and civic leaders and members of President Packer’s family. He is survived by his wife, Donna, their 10 children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Church President Thomas S. Monson, President Packer’s son Elder Allan F. Packer of the Seventy, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles each spoke at the service.
Elder Packer was the first to speak, offering his remarks to the 60 grandchildren and 111 great-grandchildren of President and Sister Packer. “Grandpa has graduated — he has taken the next step,” he said. “I know that Grandpa is still alive and that if we live worthy, we will see him again.”
Elder Packer encouraged the grandchildren to follow President Packer’s example “to know the doctrines and principles of the gospel.” He added, “Most of what he wanted you to know and do are found in his talks.”
“Since his passing, the family has received many letters and emails of condolence and sympathy,” said Elder Packer. “We are grateful beyond words to everyone. We have and continue to pray that the Lord will bless you.”
“President Packer was a master teacher, and I have always tried to be a good student,” said Elder Ballard. “As I have often said of him, he is an Apostle of the Lord from the crown of his head to the soles of his feet. He wore out his life in the service of the Savior of the world.”
“He was always teaching,” reminisced Elder Oaks. “He taught by example, he taught by talks and books, he taught by individual counsel, and he taught in small groups, such as in the instructions he gave in various meetings of General Authorities.
“He often challenged the Twelve — and the Seventy, whom he also loved and led — to prepare for the governance and leadership of a Church with many millions more members than we have now,” explained Elder Oaks. “He repeatedly reminded the Twelve of the importance of each individual member of the Church, especially those who were struggling financially. He sometimes said, ‘We should always act as if they are present here in our councils.’”
“President Packer grew up in humble circumstances, and consequently his mind and heart always related to those in and out of the Church who were struggling to raise families with limited resources,” said Elder Ballard, who also remembered President Packer for his “sense of humor and quick wit.”
Elder Ballard said President Packer had a love for the scriptures and an “anxious desire” for people throughout the world to have the message of the restored gospel in their lives.
“He constantly taught that gospel truths are in the scriptures and we should study and live by them,” said Elder Ballard. “The ordinances and covenants of the priesthood were always on his mind, and he earnestly felt they needed to be explained to all of God’s children so they might have faith and seek the pathway toward eternal life.”
Elder Oaks said, “He loved and promoted the use of the scriptures. And he was renowned for his focus on the central and eternal importance of the family. He taught that the study of doctrine will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior. This encouraged us to teach doctrine and principle rather than rules.”
Elder Ballard and his wife, Barbara, visited with President Packer and his wife, Donna, in their home the Sunday just before President Packer’s passing to give him an update on the recent seminar for new mission presidents. “Two old friends said good-bye that Sunday afternoon, not knowing that it would be some time before we would meet again,” he shared.
“Boyd Kenneth Packer knew the Lord, and the Lord knew him,” said President Monson, who offered the concluding remarks. “He was an inspired and talented teacher. His ability to express gospel truths was a gift he shared freely with the world. He possessed the ability to turn complex ideas into language easily understood by all. He taught with power and with authority.”
“President Packer’s deep and abiding testimony of the Savior and of the gospel has been heard throughout the world and has touched and blessed countless lives,” said President Monson. “Throughout his life he provided a model for others to follow.”
“President Packer is no foreigner nor stranger where he has gone, but a fellow citizen with the noble brethren with whom he served,” said President Monson. “Last Friday afternoon, God touched him, and he slept. His eternal spirit is now free from a body worn by work and impaired by illness. He has gone to that paradise for which he is so well qualified. He leaves to his family and to all of us who knew him a legacy of Christlike love and devoted service.”
President Monson said he and President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, visited Sister Packer in her home on Monday. “We wanted her to know that we had never heard him bear his testimony without expressing his love for her,” he said.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir provided the music for the funeral services. Songs included “Does the Journey Seem Long?” “Be Still My Soul” and “Come Unto Him.” President Packer was laid to rest in the Brigham City Cemetery.
President Packer was serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the time of his death, a position he held since February 3, 2008. Prior to that, he was acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve since June 5, 1994. President Packer was ordained an apostle on April 9, 1970. He served nearly nine years as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. His Church service also took him to New England, where he was a mission president.
President Packer declared the gospel of Jesus Christ and often spoke on the doctrine of the Church. He played a critical role in the growth and development of the global Church, which now numbers more than 15 million members. Latter-day Saint apostles are called to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ just as apostles were called in New Testament times.
President Packer was born and raised in Brigham City, Utah. He was an educator and began teaching seminary, a religious education program for teenagers, in his hometown. His career included service as supervisor of seminaries and institutes of religion for the Church and as a member of the administrative council of Brigham Young University before his call as a general authority. He received a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Utah State University, as well as a doctorate from BYU.
President Packer was a veteran of World War II, serving as a United States bomber pilot in the Pacific Theater. He was an author and a gifted artist who loved nature. Many of his paintings depict wildlife, and he carved intricate birds from wood.
Over the past week, condolences have poured in from all over the world via email and on the Church’s social media channels, including President Packer’s Facebook page.