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(KSL News/AP) Officials with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Sunday evening that Church President Gordon B. Hinckley has passed away.
He passed away at his home about 7:00 Sunday evening with his family at his side. President Hinckley was 97 years old. He was the 15th president of the Church.
Church officials say President Hinckley worked hard up until a few days before his death. LDS Church Managing Director of Public Affairs Bruce Olsen said, "He'd wear most people out. He worked, and was in his office in the last few days before he passed away."
Olsen said President Hinckley had an endearing wit, and an incredible intellect. "He was one of the brightest men that I think has ever lived. He just new something about so many things."
Born in Salt Lake City on June 23, 1910; he graduated from the University of Utah and served a mission to Great Britain. After he returned, he embarked on a lifetime of service for the Church.
He was employed as the executive secretary of the Church Radio, Publicity, and Literature Committee before he was called to be an Apostle in 1961.
He was later called to serve as a counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball, President Ezra Taft Benson and President Howard W. Hunter.
Since becoming Church President on Mar. 12, 1995, he has directed the most intense temple building program in the history of the Church in an effort to extend temple blessings to more members.
He has exhibited vitality and energy as he has traveled about the world meeting and speaking to members of the Church.
Through television interviews and national press publications, he has increased media attention and improved the public image of the Church. He has counseled Church members to fellowship new converts, befriend members of other faiths, live exemplary lives, and avoid the evils of the world.
He began his role as president of the Church in 1995 by holding a rare news conference, citing growth and spreading the LDS message as the Church's main challenge heading into the 21st century. "We are dedicated ... to teaching the gospel of peace, to the promotion of civility and mutual respect among people everywhere, to bearing witness to the living reality of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the practice of his teachings in our daily lives," he said at the time.
President Hinckley was preceded in death by his wife, Marjorie Pay Hinckley, whom he married in 1937. She died April 6, 2004.
Family members will meet with Church officials to arrange the funeral.
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is now leading the Church. That body will choose the next leader of the faith. By tradition, it is the senior member of the Quorum, and that is President Thomas S. Monson, who has been President Hinckley's First Counselor.
Flags at Temple Square are now flying at half staff in President Hinckley's honor.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report. Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)