Carole Mikita Reporting Family, friends and thousands from the community paid tribute as Elder Neal A. Maxwell of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was laid to rest today.
This has been the longest period of time in the history of the church -- 10 years, five months -- between the deaths of members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. So church leaders today mourned a dear friend and called him one of the most exceptional men they have ever known.
In music and by the spoken word, Elder Neal A. Maxwell was remembered as a man of great heart and mind, who served his family, faith and all people with compassion. He battled cancer for eight years. At his final meeting with the other apostles, he joked with Elder David B. Haight.
President Packer: "Neal lifted his cane, as if it were a sword and said 'en garde'. David raised his cane and there was a fencing match of sorts."
Elder Maxwell and his wife, Colleen, have four children, 24 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. His son Cory, honored him as a man of true religion.
Cory Maxwell, Elder Maxwell's Son: "He observed that 'disciples, like diamonds, are developed in a process of time and heavy pressures, and both the disciples and diamonds reflect and magnify the light that comes through them."
President Gordon B. Hinckley paid tribute to his friend and colleague saying he knows of no other man of whom so much good can be said; he called him a perfectionist, a genius.
President Gordon B. Hinckley: "Each talk was a masterpiece. Each book a work of art, worthy of repeated reading. I think we shall not see one like him again."
Thousands who waited in the morning sun to pay their respects agree.
Jeananne Hornbarger, Mesa, Arizona: “There will never be another Elder Maxwell. He is unique, one of a kind.”
Mary Darling: "The legacy of his written word and his messages that he has given and his service will live in the hearts of the members of the church for a very long time."
His children and grandchildren placed roses on his casket as President Hinckley said one final farewell, and gave a private word of support to the widow, his cousin, Colleen Hinckley Maxwell.
President Gordon B. Hinckley: “Good night Neal. God bless you. We love you.”
President Hinckley said Elder Maxwell's death ends a chapter in church history, reaching back through 30 years of service.
KSL, Channel 5 will air Elder Maxwell's entire funeral Sunday morning at 10 a.m. following "Music and the Spoken Word".