Howard W. Hunter, who concluded a lifetime of service to the Mormon Church with a nine-month tenure as its president, was remembered Wednesday as a private, uncomplaining man of God.
Hunter’s health had been frail when he became the 9 million-member faith’s 14th president, and he died Friday at age 87. He was buried after Wednesday’s service in the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square.
“That he lived so long is a miracle in and of itself,” said Gordon B. Hinckley, Hunter’s expected successor.
“His chair is vacant today, and I feel that vacancy,” Hinckley said. “Last Friday morning he said ‘Thank you’ to those about him; his spirit left his pain-racked body and stepped across that threshold into a better world.”
Hunter had a long history of health problems. Despite that, he made many trips to church conferences and temple dedications soon after he became president last June, said Elder James E. Faust, a member of the church’s Council of the Twelve Apostles.
Hunter, a former corporate lawyer, became the 14th “prophet, seer and revelator” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on June 5, following the death of President Ezra Taft Benson, a former U.S. agriculture secretary.