Elder Robert D. Hales died Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017, leaving a legacy of service and discipleship. President Henry B. Eyring announced the news at the beginning of the Sunday afternoon session of the 187th Semiannual General Conference.
News that the apostle had been hospitalized and would not attend the conference was shared last week. His health had been problematic for some time.
During his talk at the end of the Sunday afternoon session, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke of his beloved colleague, saying Elder Hales had prepared a message for conference even though he did not know if he would be able to speak. Quoting a part of Elder Hales text, he said:
“When we choose to have faith, we are prepared to stand in the presence of God.” Now and in times past, “those who rejected the testimonies of prophets could not behold the Savior’s presence….Our faith prepares us to be in the presence of God.”
Of Elder Hales’ passing just hours earlier, Elder Andersen noted, “How kind of the Lord to impress upon President (Russell M.) Nelson (president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) to quickly leave the morning session….to be there (at the hospital) as Elder Hales graduated from mortality.”
Several people who had gathered in downtown Salt Lake City to watch General Conference shared their thoughts on Elder Hales’ passing with the Daily Universe.
“Of course it’s sad, but I always feel comfort when apostles and leaders of the church die, because you know they bore out their life in service,” said Utah State student Eleanor Watson.
Utah State student Blake Harms said he didn’t have much to add to Watson’s thoughts.
“I think that he was just a marvel and a real servant of God,” Harms said.
Gina Dorsan of West Palm Beach, Florida, said she was devastated to hear of Elder Hales’ death.
“My heart is just heavy right now because an apostle of the Lord has passed away, and it’s a huge difference in our church when one is gone,” Dorsan said. “He was a great leader; very inspirational and influential to the church.”
Carmelite Hennore, from Florida, said the news is sad, but “we know that the church will continue to move forward.”
Kayla Squire, 23, of Houston, Texas, said Elder Hales had a sweet personality.
“He always had such a powerful testimony and always wanted to follow the Savior,” Squire said.
Elder Hales died at 12:15 p.m., at a hospital in Salt Lake City. He was 85, and had served as an apostle for 23 years.