This biographical sketch is adapted from "News of the Church: Elder
Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum
of the Seventy" from the” Ensign, Nov. 1984, page 100 on the
occasion of his being called for the second time to the
Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
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, 1984 during the first session of the Church’s 154th semiannual general conference.
At that meeting, members of the quorum presidency—EldersJ. 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 was indicative of the way he handled 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 more than half of his life he 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. Prior to that, he had served as an Assistant to the Twelve and before that as a member of the First Council 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 explained.
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.
Elder and Sister Hanks served 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 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 brought 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
“My view of the Church was that it offered the standard
around which one rallied, and the center about which one constructed a
“The Church provides a vision that centers in what
one may do, and become, and give.”
On October 3, 1992, a grateful Church gave him a vote of appreciation as Elder Hanks was honorably released from the Presidency of the Seventy and from the First Quorum of the Seventy and was named an Emeritus General Authority.