- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Mormon leader Richard G. Scott used his unique gift to connect with people and give hope to thousands of people with broken lives during his lifetime, his son said Wednesday.

Scott died Tuesday from natural causes at the age of 86. A public funeral will be held to honor him Monday at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.

After a career as a nuclear engineer, Scott was chosen in 1988 to join a top church governing body called the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He is the third member of quorum to die this year, leaving the church with three vacancies in the quorum for the first time since 1906. Those vacancies could be filled at an upcoming twice-a-year conference in Salt Lake City on Oct. 3-4.

Michael W. Scott said Wednesday at the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that he commonly heard from people who had met his father and came away impressed with the attention he gave them.

“He gave people hope,” said Michael Scott, tears filling his eyes. “He reached out to people who were on the periphery and had broken lives. He would reach out to those people and pull them in.”

His youngest son said Richard Scott shared a special bond with the people of Latin America. He served his mission in Uruguay as a young man and later served in church leadership positions in Argentina and Mexico. He was fluent in Spanish, and pre-taped his church conference speeches in Spanish so Mormons in Latin America could hear his addresses directly from him rather than a translator, Michael W. Scott said.

“The people in Latin America just love him. They feel like, ‘Elder Scott, he’s ours,’” he said.

He said he considered his father his hero, in large part because he practiced the values he preached. He called him a tender, thoughtful person who never turned away people who needed help - even at the consternation of his family sometimes. Michael Scott said he remembers spending a day chopping firewood so his father could take it to a woman who was broke and needed it to heat her house in the winter.

“The way he lived behind closed doors is the exact same way he taught,” Scott. “This is a man with no hypocrisy.”

Michael Scott said his father dearly loved his wife and mother of their children, Jeanene, who died of cancer in 1995. Her death was hard on Richard Scott, his son said. He never remarried and never stopped talking of her in the present tense.

A key component of Mormon doctrine is that families are for eternity, meaning they believe that Richard Scott will now be reunited with his wife in the afterlife. That gives solace to his surviving family members.

People commonly asked Richard Scott if he planned to remarry, his son said. His father would get a twinkle in his eye and say, “I am married. And she’s waiting for me.”

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