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Republican convention: Mormons tell personal stories of Romney

Published August 30, 2012 11:13 pm

Politics • The nominee's LDS faith takes center stage
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Ken Hutchins, a former police chief who succeeded Mitt Romney as leader of his LDS stake, opened the Republican National Convention Thursday with a prayer asking relief for the poor and homeless.

"We pray for the little children, father, those who are often left homeless and hungry and afraid," said Hutchins. "Bless us to see with compassionate eyes and have our hearts filled with a desire to reach out and provide of our substance so those who have lost homes and those who feel the ravages of disease and war and famine might receive succor … and help them draw close to the."

Hutchins, who graduated from Brigham Young University, was asked by Romney's son, Tagg, to give the invocation, according to the Worcester Telegram, his hometown paper. He is suffering from lymphoma and has been weakend by chemotherapy treatments.

He is one of several Mormons who are expected to speak to Romney's religion and service to his faith Thursday before Romney accepts the Republican nomination for the presidency.

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The parents of a boy dying of non-Hodgkins lymphoma told the Republican National Convention Thursday how Mitt Romney took extraordinary steps to comfort their son and the family.

Ted and Pat Oparowski, a Mormon couple who met Romney in Massachusetts, said that Romney and his son, Tagg, visited frequently when their 14-year-old son, David, was diagnosed and was in and out of a Boston hospital for treatment.

As he was dying, David asked Romney to help write a will, so he could leave his prized possessions to his friends and family. And before he died, David asked to be buried in his Boy Scout uniform and asked Romney to give his eulogy, which he did.

"You cannot measure a man's character based on words he utters before adoring crowds during happy times," said Ted Oparowski. "The true measure of a man is revealed in his actions during times of trouble, the quiet hospital room of a dying boy, with no cameras and no reporters — that is the time to make an assessment."

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As a leader of his LDS congregation, Mitt Romney and his family aided the parents of a premature baby clinging to life.

"Kate was so tiny and very sick," said Pam Finlayson during the Republican National Convention on Thursday.

The baby's lungs had not developed fully, her heart was unstable and she suffered a brain hemorrhage at three days old, leaving her clinging to life. Finlayson said Romney visited the hospital, his eyes filled with tears as he stroked the tiny girl's back.

"I could tell immediately that he didn't just see a tangle of plastic and tubes; he saw our beautiful little girl, and he was clearly overcome with compassion for her," Finlayson said.

When Kate died a year-and-a-half ago, at the age of 26, the Romneys, in the midst of deciding on a bid for president, reached out to express their love, Finlayson said.

Finlayson said she is hopeful the country will be led "by a man who is not only so accomplished and capable, but who has devoted his entire life quietly serving others."

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Grant Bennett, who served as a counselor to Mitt Romney when he was an LDS bishop in his Belmont, Mass., ward, praised the presidential nominee Thursday as someone who devoted long hours serving members of his ward.

He said that Romney would arrange meals for injured members, met with people who were jobless, sick, lonely or in financial distress. He counseled single mothers, couples with marital problems, addicted youth and immigrants away from their families.

Bennett said he would shovel snow and rake leaves for the elderly and sweep church floors.

"Mitt challenged each of us to find our life by losing it in service to others. He issued that challenge again and again," Bennett said. "Mitt taught faith in God, personal integrity, self-reliance and service to our fellow men. And Mitt did what he challenged us to do. He led by example. I treasure every minute we served together."