Christian Steele Hinckley

Christian Steele Hinckley

Dec. 7, 1939 – Jan. 30, 2023

Christian Steele Hinckley, beloved “Papa,” returned to his heavenly home on Jan. 30, 2023, at the age of 83.

He was born on Dec. 7, 1939, in Lovell. He was the oldest of seven children born to DeVere Taggart Hinckley and Madge Marchant Hinckley. The family resided in Cowley. He was very proud of his pioneer ancestry and that his grandfathers were part of the Big Horn Colonization Company. They were the second and third bishops of their town.

Christian grew up on a dairy farm and shared many humorous stories about his daily chores. He drove tractor, mowed alfalfa, put up hay and milked cows by the time he was 7 years old. As a child, he also began piano lessons and was playing advanced classical pieces by Chopin, Mozart and the like by the age of 8 or 9.

He attended school in Cowley and was both an athletic and disciplined student. Christian was chosen to be on the All-State basketball team in both his junior and senior years and had many medals in track. In his senior year, he participated in a BYU-Provo Invitational track meet with more than 1,000 athletes. He received second place in the Decathlon, a combined event consisting of ten track and field events.

Christian graduated from Cowley High School in 1957 as valedictorian with a 4.0 GPA. He then attended Stanford University on academic, football and track scholarships with a minor in music. He sang with the Stanford chorus in conjunction with the SF symphony and the Memorial Church choir. Christian worked summers at a canning factory and on road construction crews to help pay room and board. He graduated from Stanford in 1962 with a BS degree in sociology and economics.

After graduation, he worked for the Department of Immigration and Naturalization in Washington, D.C. Following this stint, he taught English and ancient and medieval history at the Bullis Preparatory Academy, a naval prep school in Silver Springs, Maryland. He was also the assistant coach for the football team there. After a year, Christian attended the University of Wyoming Law School and received a Juris Doctorate in 1969. While there, he took piano lessons from Paul Lyddon, a well-known concert pianist.

After law school, Christian wished to return to Big Horn County. He practiced law in Basin until his retirement in 2007. During this time, he served as a Big Horn County judge for 18 years and was the Town of Basin judge for five years. He also served as Big Horn County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney and a Public Defender for Big Horn, Washakie and Hot Springs counties for a number of years. In 2019, he received a plaque from the Wyoming State Bar for 50 years as a distinguished member of the Bar.

Christian married Nancy Guthrie in 1969. They had one son, Becket Benedict, in 1970 and a daughter, Kniessa Christine, in 1972. The couple divorced in 1992. 

He met Sarah, his second wife, at church, and they were married in 1995 in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple by President Gordon B. Hinckley, his first cousin once removed. Sarah brought four daughters into this marriage, Carissa, Talia, Alicia and Vanessa. They resided in Basin until they moved to Rexburg, Idaho, in 2015. He was living in Rexburg at the time of his passing.

His entire life Christian loved to play piano and sing and was an accomplished pianist and vocalist. He could read any music from sight and was an excellent accompanist. Many admired how much feeling he played with; he really made “music.” 

Christian loved reading great books and discussing current events. He loved God and Jesus Christ, the Bible and Book of Mormon and going to church each Sunday. Christian was a devoted member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served in many callings. 

He dearly loved his family and said that grandkids were the finest thing ever invented. He was a devoted grandfather and attended numerous local activities and sporting events and strove to show his love to his grandkids not nearby. He took great pride and enjoyment in seeing his grandchildren grow.

Christian was a proud defender of the Constitution and had a great love for his country. He also enjoyed traveling to other places and went to Greece, Italy, Hawaii, Fiji, the Mediterranean Sea, Morocco, Egypt and all over America. In his own words, he proclaimed, “I’ve been to the top of the highest mountain, the depths of the ocean, to the end of the universe. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything, read all the books, sought wisdom … and still remain stupid.” He was a lifelong learner.

Christian was preceded in death by his parents, Devere and Madge Hinckley, daughter Kniessa Christine Hinckley, brother Burgess Benedict Hinckley and numerous other loved ones.

He is survived by his wife, Sarah, of Rexburg; son Becket (Gingee) Hinckley; daughters Lisa Bentzin, Carissa Keith, Talia (Ryan) Haughton, Alicia (Sam) Tsukamoto and Vanessa (Charlie) Cauffman; 24 grandchildren; siblings Alexandra Hinckley Cramer, Maurine Hinckley-Cole, Allison (Pony) Munkres, Frank (Karen) Hinckley and Schuyler (Ann) Hinckley; and many nieces and nephews. 

Christian once wrote, “I was born to be perfect, and my parents expected me to accomplish great things.” We believe he did just that.

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