“Elder Mark E. Petersen Eulogized at Funeral,” Ensign, Mar. 1984, 75–76
“I know that God lives,” said Elder Mark E. Petersen in his first conference address as a member of the Council of the Twelve in 1944. “I know that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God. I know it as well as if I had seen him, and I shall take great pleasure in declaring his word for the remainder of my life.”
And that is what he did, with remarkable energy, loyalty, and faith, said long time associates at his funeral on 16 January 1984. The funeral, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, saw the full First Presidency in attendance, along with Elder Petersen’s fellow members of the Twelve, other General Authorities, and members of Elder Petersen’s family. (For a review of Elder Petersen’s life, see the article by Elder Thomas S. Monson on page 6.)
“Brother Petersen was a man of tremendous industry, of great loyalty, and of unshakable faith,” said President Gordon B. Hinckley, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, who conducted the funeral. “I have known him for a long time, for more than sixty years.
“In fact, he was my teacher for a time when I was an Aaronic Priesthood boy. Even then, sixty years ago, he bore testimony and witness of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not remember the details of the lessons he taught, but I do remember the spirit and the enthusiasm which he radiated.”
Elder Petersen was well-known as a newspaperman, having been associated with the Deseret News in Salt Lake City for much of his adult life.
“Mark was a man of great faith. He loved this work. He believed in it. He knew it to be true. He testified of it. And he did so with such power that others were quickened in their faith to a point where they were willing and anxious to enter the waters of baptism and devote their lives to the work of the Lord,” President Hinckley said.
He recalled an instance during a meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve a few years ago when Elder Petersen served as voice in offering a prayer on President Kimball’s behalf while the President was hospitalized. “There was nothing lofty in his speech. The words were simple, the sentences short. But he spoke of faith. He spoke of the Almighty as the giver of life. He spoke for each of us assembled together, rallying our faith as he pleaded with God in behalf of our friend and leader, the President of the Church, him whom we sustained as our prophet.
“As he spoke in prayer, it seemed to me that there was a conduit opened to the heavens from that little group in the temple to him who sits on high, the God and Father of us all. Tears welled in my closed eyes and ran down my cheeks. Every man there was touched in his heart.
“The Lord heard that prayer uttered by a man of faith. President Kimball recovered, and years have since passed during which his presence has blessed the lives of all of us,” President Hinckley said.
President Ezra Taft Benson of the Council of the Twelve praised Elder Petersen as a “fearless defender of the truth,” a man “completely devoted to the cause of Christ.”
“Few men have enjoyed the choice and almost perfect union with a companion as did Mark,” he commented. “How he missed her!” (She died in 1975.) “And what a glorious reunion he must have over there now with his beloved Emma Marr—a reunion which he fully appreciated, anticipated, and bore testimony would be a reality.
“Mark was a wonderful combination of Christlike virtues and gentlemanly qualities,” President Benson said. “He was one of the most kind, considerate, and gracious men I have known.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Council of the Twelve talked of the pain that Elder Petersen fought the last ten years of his life. His was a constant battle with physical problems, including cancer. Then when he lost his wife, pain of another kind became a constant companion. “Sometime later, he was assigned to a seminar for mission presidents and their wives,” Elder Packer said. “The first day, being without his wife, his loneliness was so overwhelming he thought he could not bear it. Then, something happened. He became aware that she was with him, there by his side. And she stayed with him for days. And he was greatly comforted.”
Elder Petersen was a man to whom such spiritual experiences were familiar. Elder Packer told of a dream Elder Petersen experienced early in 1944. In it, he saw a newspaper headline announcing his call to the Council of the Twelve. Weeks later, it occurred.
Elder Packer spoke of “the last journey of the Apostle Mark,” an assigned trip to the Holy Land which Elder Petersen completed late in 1983. After quoting from some of the sermons Elder Petersen delivered during this assignment, Elder Packer said: “And so ends the last assignment, the last journey of the Apostle Mark. It does not rob Paul to compare him to Mark, who was a man of great spiritual faith and power.”
Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Council of the Twelve praised Elder Petersen as “a giant among men.” He expressed gratitude for the opportunity to pay tribute to “a man of modesty, a man of ability, a man of love, a man of God.”
He spoke of Elder Petersen’s successes in newspapering and noted that many friends from the newspaper business had expressed their condolences and recalled Elder Petersen’s great ability and great love for those with whom he had worked.
“I admired Mark Petersen. I respected Mark Petersen. I loved Mark Petersen.” And since, Elder Monson added, all that he admired, respected, and loved about his friend and colleague still lives, “I say to Mark, ‘Farewell, Mark, until tomorrow, when we meet again.’”
Music for the funeral was furnished by the Tabernacle Choir, and the opening and closing prayers were offered by Elder Howard W. Hunter and Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Council of the Twelve.
Elder Petersen was buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery. Elder James E. Faust of the Council of the Twelve dedicated the grave.