Mormon leader honored at funeral that draws thousands

AP News
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Posted: Sep 28, 2015 5:00 PM
Mormon leader honored at funeral that draws thousands

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Thousands of people paid their respects Monday to Mormon leader Richard G. Scott, who was remembered at his funeral as a loving husband and beloved teacher.

The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, said Monday that Scott was an honorable man who loved people, his family and God.

"Richard's pleasant smile opened the hearts of others," said Monson, speaking to about 2,500 people under the grand, curved ceiling of the Tabernacle on Temple Square. "He was equally at home with the poor and underprivileged as with the rich and the famous."

Scott died Sept. 22 from natural causes at the age of 86. He is the third member of a top church governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to die this year.

Born in Pocatello, Idaho, Scott did not have a typical Mormon childhood, said his son Michael Scott. His father was not a member of the church, and his mother hadn't been active for years, so Richard Scott attended church activities when others were available to take him.

He decided to serve a mission when his girlfriend Jeanene, the daughter of U.S. Sen. Arthur Watkins, told him she would only wed a returned missionary. The experience solidified his faith and the couple wed after he returned. They would have seven children, two of whom died when they were young.

"Mom and Dad's marriage was the stuff of legends," said Michael Scott. His father never remarried after she died 20 years ago, and never stopped talking of her in the present tense.

"Surely no man ever yearned more for the companionship of a deceased spouse than Richard yearned for Jeanene," apostle Jeffrey R. Holland said.

As a leader of missionaries in Argentina, Scott was a tireless teacher who led by example, said quorum member D. Todd Christofferson. He also had a sense of humor. One day, he stopped at a country winery, something that made the missionaries with him in the alcohol-avoiding faith nervous, and came out with a box of what looked like wine. He mischievously enjoyed their discomfort for a moment before he explained that the winery also made delicious grape juice.

Scott had a successful career as a nuclear engineer before being chosen in 1988 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Modeled after Jesus Christ's apostles, the group serves under the church president and his two counselors in overseeing operations of the church and its business interests.

Scott's death leaves the church with three vacancies in the quorum for the first time since 1906.

Quorum president Boyd K. Packer died in July from natural causes, and L. Tom Perry died in May from cancer. Replacements are expected to be named in the coming months.

Scott's health began deteriorating earlier this year. He was hospitalized with gastrointestinal bleeding in April. He recovered, but church officials announced in May that Scott was experiencing fading memory that kept him from taking part in quorum meetings.