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Politics & Government

Orrin Hatch memorialized for a life that ‘wanted to do the Lord's work’

Hatch Funeral, May 6, 2022
Kristin Murphy
/
Deseret News, pool
People arrive for former Sen. Orrin Hatch’s funeral at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Friday, May 6, 2022.

Family members, elected officials and religious leaders gathered Friday to celebrate the life of Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch.

Utah’s longest-serving U.S. senator died April 23 at the age of 88.

During the funeral — which featured performances of songs written by the late senator — Hatch was remembered as a spiritual man who believed in the goodness of people and the value of a good deal on a meal.

“We all know Sen. Hatch’s love for Costco's all-beef hotdog combo,” said Scott Anderson, chair of the Hatch Foundation. “The senator would say, ‘Well, they’re so cheap. It’s $1.50 and all the condiments you want, and you get a drink with it. My gosh, it doesn't get any better than that.’”

Hatch Funeral, Hatch grandchildren sing, May 6, 2022
Kristin Murphy
/
Deseret News, pool
The Hatch grandchildren sing “no empty chairs,” a song by Orrin and Janice Kapp Perry during the funeral for former Sen. Orrin Hatch at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Friday, May 6, 2022.

Besides his love of a frugal frankfurter, speakers noted how Hatch’s religious beliefs as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints influenced him.

His daughter, Marcia Hatch Whetton, said her father’s faith remained strong until the end.

“He continued to kneel down each night to offer his prayers, even though it's difficult to do with his bad knees,” she said. “He always wanted to do the Lord's work and the Lord's will.”

Hatch served 42 years in the Senate and is known for shaping the federal courts and sponsoring the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Hatch Funeral, Marcia hatch Whetton, May 6, 2022
Kristin Murphy
/
Deseret News, pool
Marcia Hatch Whetton, daughter of former Sen. Orrin Hatch, speaks during her father’s funeral at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Institute of Religion adjacent to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City Friday, May 6, 2022.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, called him a “master legislator” with an eye toward vulnerable communities.

“Orrin took his legislation to the same place where our Savior took his ministry,” McConnell said. “To the margins, to the periphery, serving the least of these.”

His son, Brent Hatch, remembered him as a lover of music and a “prankster” who once tried to trick actress Elizabeth Taylor over a diamond ring she was wearing.

“Dad asked to examine the ring, claiming to her to be a trained gemologist,” he said. “He, of course, wasn't. After the examination, he proclaimed the ring a fake.”

He also pointed to one event that shaped who his father would become — the death of his brother, Jesse, who was killed in action during World War II.

“Recognizing that his brother’s life had been cut short led my father to commit to work and experience enough for two lives,” he said. “His and his brother’s that he was unable to live … He lived an amazing life. He was not perfect, but he never gave up. He truly lived his life as though living for two.”

Hatch will be buried in the town of Newton in northwestern Utah, which is the hometown of his wife, Elaine.

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