“Elder Marion D. Hanks Of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, Nov. 1984, 100–101
One of Elder Marion D. Hanks’ first duties as a newly sustained member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy was to meet with the three men who had just been added to the quorum October 6, during the first session of the Church’s 154th semiannual general conference.
At that meeting, members of the quorum presidency—Elders J. Thomas Fyans, Carlos E. Asay, M. Russell Ballard, Dean L. Larsen, G. Homer Durham, Richard G. Scott, and Marion D. Hanks—expressed to their new colleagues feelings about the work in which they are engaged. What Elder Hanks told them is indicative of the way he handles his calling, and his life.
“My approach has always been that, with whatever talents and whatever limitations I may have, my purpose was to try to serve the Lord and be helpful to his work and to those who carried the burden of it. So I have tried to share, and encourage, and strengthen, and lift to the extent I could.”
For half of his sixty-two years he has served as a General Authority. This is the second time since its organization in 1976 that he has served in the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Newspaper reports of his October 1953 call to the First Council of the Seventy at age 31 (born 13 October 1921) record that he had served a full-time mission, had served in the U. S. Navy (part of it as acting chaplain aboard his ship, even though he was an enlisted man), and had received a law degree from the University of Utah. He also had been active in community service and amateur athletics.
For a time after his 1953 calling as a General Authority, Elder Hanks continued as assistant director of the Bureau of Information on Temple Square. He also continued his involvement with teaching, as principal of the West High Seminary in Salt Lake City. “I love to teach, and have former students literally all over the world who are kind enough to communicate with me still,” he explains.
Commenting on his appointment to the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Hanks notes that he could not have functioned as a General Authority without the support of his wife, Maxine, particularly when their five children were small. She has supported him, he says, “in such a remarkable way that any tribute paid to her would be inadequate and couldn’t be overblown.” His callings, he observes, have been learning experiences for both of them.
Currently Elder and Sister Hanks are serving as president and matron of the Salt Lake Temple. That calling “crowned, in a sense,” years of opportunities for association and service on Temple Square, he says. Even as a boy living nearby, he felt a reverence and love for the temple. During his years with the Bureau of Information, he taught “tens of thousands of people on these grounds” through guided tours and lectures. As a General Authority, he was instrumental in initiating plans for the North Visitors’ Center, and for acquisition of its Christus statue.
His service opportunities have been diverse. He has been a member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports (receiving its Distinguished Service Award), and the President’s Citizens Advisory Committee on Children and Youth. He has also been a member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, serving on numerous committees and receiving Scouting’s highest awards.
Elder Hanks has served on the Church Board of Education and on the governing boards of several Utah colleges and universities, including Brigham Young University. He is a past president of the Salt Lake City Rotary Club and a former district governor for Rotary International.
He brings to his calling the perspective of one who has served the Church in assignments around the world. His opportunities have included helping prepare England and the Philippines for the organization and growth of stakes there, and initiating charitable efforts for the Church among refugees in Asia.
And yet, he says, his perspective on the gospel has not changed since he was a boy, watching a faithful widowed mother diligently serve.
“My view of the Church was that it offered the standard around which one rallied, and the center about which one constructed a life.
“The Church provides a vision that centers in what one may do, and become, and give.”