Senator Hatch lies in state at the Utah Capitol

May 4, 2022, 7:10 PM | Updated: Jun 7, 2022, 4:36 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — Family, state officials and everyday Utahns paid their respects to Orrin G. Hatch on Wednesday, as the late senator lay in state at the Utah Capitol rotunda.

“It’s been unbelievable the outpouring of love from people not just in Utah but all over the world,” Brent Hatch said, son of Orrin Hatch. “I can’t keep up with the text messages and emails. It’s just amazing.”

Since his father’s passing on April 23, Brent said the number one call he’s received from people who knew Sen. Hatch in Washington is, “Why aren’t we doing this in D.C.?”

But for Brent, there was never a question of where his father should lie in state. It was always Utah, “because it meant everything to him to represent the people of Utah. He was not a D.C. politician. He was a Utah politician, and he lived that right to end.”

Hatch ran for his Senate seat in 1976, launching a career in politics that would span 42 years. When he retired in 2019, he was the longest-serving senator in Utah history and the longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history.

Hatch’s last chief of staff was Matt Sandgren, who got his start working in D.C. in Hatch’s office more than 15 years ago.

Sandgren said “it’s hard to quantify” Hatch’s legacy. He described him as being exactly the same person on the Senate floor and in front of cameras as he was behind closed doors.

“He’s God-fearing. He’s a family man. And most importantly, he loved Utahns. He loved people,” Sandgren said.

“He was that real genuine person. The kindest person you’d ever meet. He inspired you to be better. That’s the kind of person you want to be around.”

Sandgren is also the executive director of the Orrin G. Hatch Foundation.

“He wanted to have his legacy continue. And in today’s political world, it is needed more than ever. The bipartisan solutions, the civility that we advocate for.”

Before his retirement, Hatch received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. But Brent said his father did not serve as a senator for the honors—but to make a difference in people’s lives.

“There will be a lot of tears shed because he made a difference in their personal life,” Brent said. “That’s a great legacy to leave, and I’m proud that he did that.”

The love people had for him was evident Wednesday, as hundreds lined up in the Capitol rotunda to pay their respects.

A painting of the late senator stood near his open casket. That painting will soon greet students from the University of Utah who will live and intern at the Orrin G. Hatch Center in Washington.

“We will miss him tremendously. But his legacy will continue,” Sandgren said.

Funeral services will begin at 1 p.m. Friday, and KSL TV will broadcast those services in their entirety.

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Senator Hatch lies in state at the Utah Capitol