“President and Sister Hinckley Celebrate 66th Anniversary,” Ensign, June 2003, 75
Marjorie Pay was the lovely young woman who had lived across the street and came to consider him her best friend. When they married two years after his mission, on 29 April 1937, Gordon Bitner Hinckley had already begun what would become his life’s work—teaching the gospel of the Master and helping to build up The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Their relationship has grown sweeter and deeper through the years. Today it stands as a model—in some ways a textbook—for anyone wishing to build an eternal marriage. On 29 April 2003 the couple celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary, and as they recently reflected on their lives together, President and Sister Hinckley each spoke of the other’s strengths that have contributed to their relationship.
“The basis of a good marriage is mutual respect,” President Hinckley said in an interview with the Church magazines. “If a husband would think less of himself and more of his wife, we’d have happier homes throughout the Church and throughout the world.”
Sister Hinckley expressed gratitude for the way her husband has lived by that advice, encouraging her growth and development as an individual. His efforts, she said, have “made me feel like a real person.” She spoke with gratitude of his confidence in and respect for the way she taught their children and cared for their household while he was away so often in connection with Church responsibilities.
“Mutual respect makes all the difference in the world—having respect for one another as individuals and not trying to change your partner after your manner,” President Hinckley said. “You let her live her life in her way and encourage her talents and her interests.”
Young Gordon Hinckley first noticed Marjorie Pay’s talents when she was the neighbor girl across the street. They courted in their early twenties while he was a university student. By the time she saw him off on a mission, a step she supported fully, she knew she would miss him as her “best friend and confidant” (see Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith , 41, 58).
When they married in 1937, he had already been working for two years as executive secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee. Except for a short time working for a railroad company during World War II, Gordon B. Hinckley was employed producing Church literature and audiovisual materials until his call as a General Authority—as an Assistant to the Twelve—in 1958. He was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1961.
President and Sister Hinckley have five children: Kathleen Hinckley Barnes, Richard Gordon Hinckley, Virginia Hinckley Pearce, Clark Bryant Hinckley, and Jane Hinckley Dudley. They have 25 grandchildren and 35 great-grandchildren thus far.
Family home evening was always a family priority when their children were growing up, President Hinckley recalled; when he was away on a Church assignment, Sister Hinckley carried through with it. Today, President and Sister Hinckley still enjoy a once-a-month family home evening with their extended family. Their children and grandchildren know that President and Sister Hinckley count as one of their greatest blessings in life the opportunity to spend time with members of their family. Traditionally, that is how they celebrate their anniversary—in an intimate family gathering.
“I don’t know how anyone could have been more richly blessed than we have been,” President Hinckley said. “If you can live with a good woman through your life and see your children grow to maturity as happy, able individuals who are making a contribution, then you can count your life a success.”