Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was laid to rest in Utah Friday, October 6, 2017. Funeral services for Elder Hales were held in the historic Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. He died Sunday, October 1, in Salt Lake City at the age of 85 from causes incident to age.
“I have observed Elder Hales, worked with him, and learned from him,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, who has known the Mormon apostle for more than 70 years. “We have shared experiences that stretched and strengthened us and some that tested us.”
President Eyring offered words of comfort to the Hales family, his associates and a “legion of dear friends” around the world. “One spiritual gift seems to have been his as long as I have known him. It is the gift to be a perfectly loyal friend.”
The senior Latter-day Saint leader continued: “He was a legend in the business world in his own time, as a 42-year-old. But then a phone call came from a prophet of God. He was asked to leave his career and serve in the Lord’s Church.”
“His contributions to the entire Church and to each member of the Quorum cannot be overstated,” said President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “He was tireless in his ministry.”
President Nelson said Elder Hales “fully magnified” his Church assignments. “In his 42½ years as a General Authority, he has participated in nearly every council and committee at Church headquarters. His wisdom, insight, and influence have had a profound effect on the rolling forth of the kingdom of God across the globe.”
President Nelson, a physician, was with Elder Hales when he passed away in the hospital. He was also with Elder Hales two decades ago when he underwent open-heart coronary artery bypass surgery.
“Bob’s perseverance in the face of health challenges is legendary,” added President Nelson. “He carried on despite the seriously debilitating effects of unrelenting challenges to his health. We who have watched him have wondered how he could do it.”
“As we sat together over these many years, I have witnessed the great courage and complete dedication of Robert D. Hales,” shared Elder Russell M. Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “Many times, I have reached over, touched his arm and held his hand and, in a small way, felt the pain and difficulty he was experiencing.”
Long before they became General Authorities, they were both students at the University of Utah. “I think about how our lives have been entwined over these years. … We made our living in the world of business,” he explained.
Elder Ballard said Elder Hales was a builder of people. “His skills of working with people — giving them leadership opportunities and counseling in the best way as their leader — were outstanding.”
An estimated 2,500 people filled the Tabernacle to capacity for the funeral. Many others attended the services in the overflow seating of the nearby Assembly Hall. Thousands more watched and listened to the broadcast live on LDS.org and on the Church satellite system, as well as through other media outlets.
The service was held under the direction of the First Presidency. General Authorities and auxiliary leaders of the Church, as well as community and civic leaders, joined the Hales family to celebrate his life.
The funeral was conducted by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency.
Music was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The choir opened the funeral by singing “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good.” Other musical selections included “I Need Thee Every Hour” and “God Be with You Till We Meet Again.”
President Nelson said, “With the courage of a jet pilot, the tenacity of a champion athlete, the humility, and devotion of a disciple of the Lord, Elder Hales has completed his life’s mission in a most exemplary way. He has passed the tests of mortality and returned home with highest honors.”
Elder Hales is survived by his wife, Mary, two sons and many grandchildren. Elder Hales’s son, David, offered a family prayer prior to the service.
“My prayer is that Bob and Mary’s example will lead us to seek to be loyal and loving disciples of Jesus Christ,” said President Eyring.
“Mary Crandall Hales has earned her rightful place as one of the noble and great women of this Church. She has with unwearyingness supported, sustained, and cared for her eternal companion,” said President Nelson.
Elder Ballard also expressed appreciation to Sister Hales for providing moral support to her husband. “Ever since those early years, Mary, you and Bob have served together. We thank you for the love, guidance, and strength you give to your family and so many others.”
Burial will be at the Bountiful City Cemetery in Bountiful, Utah. President Eyring will preside at the graveside service where his son, Stephen, will offer a prayer.
Elder Hales served as an apostle of the Church for more than 23 years, after serving as a member of the Seventy. He was Presiding Bishop of the Church from April 1985 until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1994.