Public gathers at state Capitol to honor longtime Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch

Hatch will be laid to rest in Salt Lake City on Friday.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Elaine Hatch, alongside her daughter Alysa Whitlock, visits with her husband, former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch at the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

The public was invited to pay their respects to former Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who died on April 23, as he was honored at the state Capitol on Wednesday afternoon — a privilege reserved for distinguished government officials.

“We thought about having a small family gathering, and then we realized that would be really selfish because the state of Utah was his family almost as much as we were,” said Hatch’s oldest son, Brent, before the ceremony began.

The open-casket viewing was held in the Capitol Rotunda and was scheduled from 2-8 p.m. Among other state officials present at the viewing, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Senate President Stuart Adams and State Treasurer Marlo Oaks laid a wreath at the casket in the midst of the ceremony.

Hatch’s friends and family mingled and conversed throughout the afternoon.

“I’ve literally gotten thousands of texts and emails,” Brent Hatch said of the support he’s received. He noted that many of the messages were from people he has never met who wanted to share how his father had impacted them.

Hatch served for 42 years in the Senate from 1977 to 2019, making him not only the longest-tenured Utah senator but also the longest-serving Republican the Senate has known. During his time in Congress, he passed more than 700 pieces of legislation.

“I want them [Utahns] to remember him [for] how hard he worked for them,” Brent Hatch said. “... He gave 42 years to the United States Senate, for the people of Utah, but he really worked about 84 years for the state of Utah when he was in the Senate. And I’m proud of him for that. He was elected to do a job, and he did it.”

Well-wishers came and went, but more than 100 people were in attendance as the wreath was laid. A number of state lawmakers and several apostles from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also made appearances.

Hatch’s funeral services are set for 1 p.m. on Friday, at the Institute of Religion building located at 1780 S Campus Drive in Salt Lake City, according to a news release by the Hatch Foundation.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) The casket carrying former U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch is brought to the Utah Capitol on Wednesday, May 4, 2022.

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