Former president pro tempore of the United States Senate, the longest serving Republican senator in U.S. history and the longest-serving senator in Utah history, Orrin G. Hatch, died Saturday, April 23, 2022, in Salt Lake City, surrounded by his family.
The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released a statement, saying, “Throughout his life, Senator Hatch served with distinction, particularly during the 42 years he represented the State of Utah in the United States Senate.
“Senator Hatch’s tireless efforts on behalf of his country have benefitted countless lives and his strength in promoting religious freedom will be a blessing to all people of faith for generations to come,” wrote President Russell M. Nelson and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks and President Henry B. Eyring.
The statement continued: “[Hatch’s] service in callings he accepted in the Church reflected his commitment to serve his fellowman. Senator Hatch leaves a commendable legacy to his family and to his nation. We express our love to Elaine and to their children and grandchildren and pray the Lord’s blessings will be upon them.”
Hatch is survived by his wife, Elaine, and their six children. Details regarding funeral arrangements will be forthcoming.
Hatch served as a Utah senator from 1977 to 2019. Upon his passing, the executive director of the Hatch Foundation, Matt Sandgren, said Hatch “personified the American dream.”
“Born the son of a carpenter and plaster lather, he overcame the poverty of his youth to become a United States senator. With the hardships of his upbringing always fresh in his mind, he made it his life’s mission to expand freedom and opportunity for others — and the results speak for themselves,” said Sandgren.
On June 1, 2017, then-Elder Oaks, then-Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé were in attendance as Hatch was named the BYU Management Society’s 2017 Distinguished Utahn.
In his address, President Ballard said one of the things he admired most about Hatch was his commitment to God and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“I believe his unwavering commitment to God, his family, his church and his nation are good reasons why Sen. Orrin Hatch is a man of moral and ethical leadership, deserving this honor in every way,” he said.
President Ballard also praised Elaine Hatch for her efforts on behalf of her husband and family.
“Orrin could not have achieved what he has in the Senate without the behind-the-scenes work and support of his beloved Elaine,” President Ballard said. “He and his children praise her for her ability to always keep things running smoothly at home and in the family, so he could devote many hours to the work of the United States Senate.”
Hatch’s work as a songwriter was also mentioned several times throughout the evening.
“He’s a poet and musician with a deep love of the arts,” President Ballard said. “He’s written the lyrics for 42 published songs, all of which celebrate God, family or country.”
Hatch was a member of the U.S. Senate for 42 years. He served during the administrations of seven Presidents, and sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000 before withdrawing his candidacy at the end of January 2000.
At the end of his final term, in January 2019, Hatch was the ninth-longest-serving U.S. senator in American history and the longest-serving Republican.
When he retired, Hatch was known for having passed more legislation into law than any other senator alive. The Hatch Foundation said he sponsored or cosponsored more than 750 bills in total that became law.
He worked with Democrats in the Senate on bipartisan efforts, including working with Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., to pass the Children’s Health Insurance Program in 1997, and Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, to pass the Americans With Disabilities Act in 1990.
A. Scott Anderson, chairman of the Hatch Foundation, said in a statement: “In a nation divided, Orrin Hatch helped show us a better way by forging meaningful friendships on both sides of the aisle. Today, more than ever, we would do well to follow his example. May we honor Orrin’s memory by living as he lived — committed to our country, to our principles, and to each other.”