President Hinckley's passing wasn't sudden, nor was it unexpected. He was, after all, 97 years old. Nonetheless, the news came as a shock to my system.
Let me put this into perspective a bit. The Church of Jesus Christ has had 15 prophet-presidents since its founding in 1830. All my life President Hinckley has had a very prominent and visual role in the highest tiers of Church leadership. Furthermore, he has served as president since I was 14 years old, so I've looked up to him more than any other living spiritual leader as I've grown up.
I will always remember President Hinckley. He was a kind, compassionate, and gentle man. When he spoke, he did so with great persuasiveness. He never condoned sinful behavior, but he never ostracized sinners.
President Hinckley was a prophet of God. He qualified as such because he possessed the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). His testimony of Jesus Christ is immortalized in these verses which he wrote:
I know that my Redeemer lives,
Triumphant Savior, Son of God,
Victorious over pain and death,
My King, my Leader, and my Lord.
He lives, my one sure rock of faith,
The one bright hope of men on earth,
The beacon to a better way,
The light beyond the veil of death.
Oh, give me thy sweet Spirit still,
The peace that comes alone from thee,
The faith to walk the lonely road
That leads to thine eternity.
(Hymns, #135, My Redeemer Lives)
I know that President Gordon B. Hinckley was a literal prophet of God. I know this because the Spirit of God has told me so. I will miss him dearly.
Here are some links to videos describing President Hinckley's life and ministry:
President Gordon B. Hinckley
President Hinckley's Testimony
President Hinckley's Bio