Orrin Hatch is remembered as a great senator who kissed opponents at funerals

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, people in mourners at the senator’s funeral were eulogized Friday afternoon.

The former Republican senator crafted hundreds of laws that affect every American today, leaving a lasting legacy on the country’s politics. But the late senator was also remembered at his funeral in Salt Lake City as an ordinary guy who played music with friends, loved jazz basketball and all the sports in Utah, prayed every day and had a thing for Costco’s $1.50 hot dogs that came with all the condiments. it could pile on the bun.

“Because of his deep faith and belief in the goodness of mankind, he always reached out to those in need, whether they were powerful and wealthy or downtrodden and shaken by the storm. He believed in power of civility and the essential goodness of the American people,” said his longtime friend A. Scott Anderson, a prominent Utah banking executive. “He was a man of strong principles who used to befriend everyone, including opponents. He was the man to be trusted to fight for the things people needed to grow and prosper.

Anderson was among several speakers to address the large audience at the Institute of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. A life member of Utah’s predominant faith, Hatch died April 23 at the age of 88. Latter-day Saint Apostle Dallin H. Oaks presided over the 90-minute service.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pallbearers carry the casket of former U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch after the funeral at the Institute of Religion 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 United States history and the longest serving from Utah, died April 23 at age 88.

After the funeral, a procession accompanied Hatch’s coffin 79 miles north of Newton, a town in Cache Valley where Hatch’s wife, Elaine Hansen Hatch, was raised. Along with military rites, the senator was laid to rest in Newton Cemetery.

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

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

(Kristen Murphy | Pool) Speaker Dallin H. Oaks, left, first counselor in the First Presidency, speaks with Sen. Mitch McConnell, (R-Ky.) before the start of the funeral for former Sen. Orrin Hatch at the Salt Lake City Institute of Religion 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 called “No Empty Chair”, a celebration of family reunions.

Marcia Hatch Whetton remembered her father as the busiest and hardest working person she had ever known.

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

Much of the fun centered on the music, which Hatch composed and performed throughout his life.

Brent Hatch recalled his father’s early compositions, such as “The Love We Give,” the only song he recorded with a Mormon-themed folk-rock band called Free Agency, which was printed on white vinyl , and a holiday song called “The Eight Days of Hannukah.

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

Former Senator Gordon Smith took up the theme music to characterize Hatch’s rise in the “pantheon of America’s greatest senators”.

“Orrin had the humility and wisdom of being a Senate student that led him to listen and learn. So he set about mastering the intricacies of process and substance,” said Smith, a Republican who represented Oregon in the Senate from 1997 to 2009. “Orrin came to revere the institution of the Senate. I saw him become one of his champions by defending and strengthening him. He learned his rhythms. He knew his timing and he sat with the appropriate tone in the debate.

Although he grew up in Pittsburgh, Hatch’s roots run deep in Utah’s Uinta Basin, where in 1879 his family settled in what was originally called Hatchtown, but later known as Vernal’s name. Their fathers were born in Vernal and moved away, according to Oaks.

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

Oaks and Hatch are recipients of the Canterbury Medal for their efforts to defend religious freedom.

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

“The Gipper,” however, got the name wrong, endorsing candidates named “Warren Hatch” and “Mitch O’Donnell,” said McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader. He praised Hatch as a master legislator.

“Sometimes that meant leading bold conservative victories, from his epic fight against Robert Byrd (a Democrat from West Virginia who is the longest-serving senator in history) and Big Labor in his first term to tax reform. historic when he was last,” McConnell said. “But Orrin also championed bipartisan efforts to uplift the vulnerable. Children’s health insurance. Americans with Disabilities. Generic drugs. HIV, AIDS. The suicide lifeline. Orrin took his legislation from the same place our savior took his ministry, at the margins, at the periphery, in service to the least of them.

According to Hatch’s son, Brent, the senator adopted a tireless work ethic in honor of his brother, an Army airman who was killed in action during World War II. Although 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 in 1945 over Austria.

“Recognition that his brother’s life had been cut short led my father to engage in work and gain enough experience for two lives, his own and the one his brother was unable to live,” said Brent Hatch . “That white streak in her hair was a constant reminder of that commitment.”

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

“He understood that legislating required hard and careful work. A job that requires building trust, the kind of trust that is earned day after day and year after year,” Smith said. “He sought to understand and adapt to positions different from 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 navigate the divisiveness inherent in politics and sought to understand positions other than his own, all in search of a “common sense center” needed to make good laws, not just law. noise, Smith told funeral attendees.

“It all seems at odds with the current polarization,” Smith said, “but it serves as a blueprint for what politics needs to be back to, if our system is to work well, our democracy needs to thrive.”

Comments are closed.