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Gordon B. Hinckley

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Gordon B. Hinckley
15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
March 12, 1995 (1995-03-12) – January 27, 2008 (2008-01-27)
Predecessor Howard W. Hunter
Successor Thomas S. Monson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (with Boyd K. Packer as Acting President)
June 5, 1994 (1994-06-05) – March 12, 1995 (1995-03-12)
Predecessor Howard W. Hunter
Successor Thomas S. Monson
End reason Became President of the Church
First Counselor in the First Presidency
June 5, 1994 (1994-06-05) – March 3, 1995 (1995-03-03)
Called by Howard W. Hunter
Successor Thomas S. Monson
End reason Dissolution of First Presidency on the death of Hunter
First Counselor in the First Presidency
November 10, 1985 (1985-11-10) – June 5, 1994 (1994-06-05)
Called by Ezra Taft Benson
Predecessor Marion G. Romney
End reason Dissolution of First Presidency on the death of Benson
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
December 2, 1982 (1982-12-02) – November 5, 1985 (1985-11-05)
Called by Spencer W. Kimball
Predecessor Marion G. Romney
Successor Thomas S. Monson
End reason Dissolution of First Presidency on the death of Kimball
Counselor in the First Presidency
July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23) – December 2, 1982 (1982-12-02)
Called by Spencer W. Kimball
End reason Called as Second Counselor in the First Presidency
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 5, 1961 (1961-10-05) – July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23)
Called by David O. McKay
End reason Called as a Counselor in the First Presidency
October 5, 1961 (1961-10-05) – January 27, 2008 (2008-01-27)
Called by David O. McKay
Reason Hugh B. Brown added to First Presidency
at end of term
D. Todd Christofferson ordained
Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 6, 1958 (1958-04-06) – October 5, 1961 (1961-10-05)
Called by David O. McKay
End reason Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Personal details
Born Gordon Bitner Hinckley
(1910-06-23)June 23, 1910
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died January 27, 2008(2008-01-27) (aged 97)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Cause of death "Causes incident to age"
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
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Alma mater University of Utah (B.A.)
Spouse(s) Marjorie (Pay) Hinckley (m. 1937, d. 2004)
Children Kathleen
Richard (b. 1941)
Virginia (b. 1945)
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom
Silver Buffalo Award

Gordon Bitner Hinckley (June 23, 1910 – January 27, 2008) was a religious leader and author who served as the 15th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from March 12, 1995 until his death. Considered a prophet, seer, and revelator by church members, Hinckley was the oldest person to preside over the church in its history.[1]

Hinckley's presidency was noted for the building of temples, with more than half of existing temples being built under his leadership.[2] He also oversaw the reconstruction of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple and the building of the 21,000 seat Conference Center. During his tenure, the "Proclamation on the Family" was issued and the Perpetual Education Fund was established. At the time of his death, approximately one-third of the church's membership had joined the church under Hinckley's leadership.

Hinckley was awarded ten honorary doctorate degrees, and in 2004, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush. Hinckley also received the Boy Scouts of America's highest award, the Silver Buffalo, and served as chairman of the Church Boards of Trustees/Education.[3] Hinckley died of natural causes on January 27, 2008, and was survived by his five children. His wife, Marjorie Pay, died in 2004. He was succeeded as church president by Thomas S. Monson, who had served as his first counselor in the First Presidency, and, more importantly, was the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; therefore, according to LDS doctrine and practice, Monson was Hinckley's anticipated successor.


Early years

A muiti-generational Latter-day Saint,[4] Hinckley was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, to prominent LDS writer and educator Bryant S. Hinckley and Ada Bitner Hinckley. He graduated from LDS High School in 1928. He grew up on a residential farm in East Millcreek. His home library contained approximately a thousand volumes of literary, philosophical and historical works.[5] Hinckley was known for his optimism and plain-speaking. Hinckley attended the University of Utah, where he earned an undergraduate degree in English, and minored in ancient languages. He studied Latin and could read ancient Greek.[6] Hinckley became a missionary for the LDS Church, an unusual occurrence for Depression-era Latter-day Saints. He served in the London-based British Mission from 1933 to 1935. He would later write the words for LDS hymn no. 135, "My Redeemer Lives".[7]

Work for the church

Hinckley returned to the United States in 1935 after completing a short tour of the European continent, including preaching in both Berlin and Paris. He was given an assignment by his mission president, Joseph F. Merrill, to meet with the church's First Presidency and request that better materials be made available to missionaries for proselytizing. As a result of this meeting, Hinckley received employment as executive secretary of the church's Radio, Publicity and Missionary Literature Committee (he had received schooling as a journalist in college). Hinckley's responsibilities included developing the church's fledgling radio broadcasts and making use of the era's new communication technologies. Starting in 1937, he also served on the Sunday School General Board. After the Second World War, Hinckley served as executive secretary to the church's Missionary Committee. He also served as the church's liaison to Deseret Book, working with Deseret Book's liaison to the church, Thomas S. Monson.[8] At various times, especially in the late 1940s, Hinckley was also a reporter for the Church News, a publication of the Deseret News.

In the early 1950s, Hinckley was part of a committee that considered how to present the temple ordinances at the Swiss Temple. The concern was how this could be done when a need existed to provide them in at least 10 languages; the concern was eventually solved through the use of a film version of the endowment.[9] Hinckley's background in journalism and public relations prepared him well to preside over the church during a time when it has received increasing media coverage.[citation needed]


On April 29, 1937, Hinckley married Marjorie Pay (November 23, 1911 – April 6, 2004) in the Salt Lake Temple. They had five children, including Richard G. Hinckley, a general authority of the LDS Church since 2005, and Virginia Hinckley Pearce, a former member of the general presidency of the church's Young Women organization.

Another of their daughters, Kathleen Hinckley Barnes Walker, co-authored several books with Virginia[citation needed], and ran an events company[citation needed]. Her first husband, Alan Barnes, died in 2001 and in 2004 she married M. Richard Walker. The Walkers served for three years as president and matron of the Salt Lake Temple and in 2010 began presiding over the Missionary Training Center in Preston, England.[10]

Hinckley's other son, Clark, has also served in several church leadership positions, including stake president,[11] as president of the church's Spain Barcelona Mission (2009 to 2012),[12][13] and will serve as president of the Tijuana Mexico Temple, which will be dedicated in December 2015.[14]

General authority

In 1958, Hinckley became a church general authority in the now-discontinued position of Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In September 1961, he became an apostle in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He filled a vacancy created by Hugh B. Brown being added to the First Presidency as the third counselor to David O. McKay.

Member of First Presidency

On July 23, 1981, Hinckley became a counselor in the First Presidency. As the 1980s progressed, the health of church president Spencer W. Kimball and his aging counselors, N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney, led to Hinckley being the only healthy member of the First Presidency. When Tanner died in 1982, Romney succeeded him as first counselor and Hinckley succeeded Romney as second counselor. Because of the ill health of Kimball and Romney, Hinckley had increased responsibility for much of the day-to-day affairs of the First Presidency.[8]

The Mark Hofmann document forgeries, bombings, and investigation occurred during this time. Among the documents forged by Hofmann, the Stowell Forgery—which appeared to implicate Joseph Smith in gold digging—was purchased by the church under Hinckley's direction.[citation needed] Two years later, after media inquiries initiated by Hofmann, the document was released to scholars for study[15] and determined to be a forgery.[16]

After Kimball's death in November 1985, Ezra Taft Benson, who had been President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, became President of the Church and named Hinckley as first counselor, with Thomas S. Monson of the Twelve as second counselor. For several years, all three members of the First Presidency were able to perform their duties. In the early 1990s, however, Benson developed serious health problems that removed him from public view, leaving Hinckley and Monson to carry out many of the duties of the First Presidency until Benson died in 1994.

After Benson’s death, Howard W. Hunter became President and retained Hinckley and Monson as counselors in the First Presidency. At the same time, Hinckley became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles by virtue of seniority.

President of the church

When Hunter died after a presidency of nine months, Hinckley succeeded to the presidency of the church at the age of 84, on March 12, 1995. On November 2, 2006, Hinckley surpassed David O. McKay to become the oldest LDS Church president in history.[1]

Hinckley was known for accelerating the building of temples. When he became president, there were 47 operating temples in the church; at the time of his death, there were 124, over two-thirds of which had been dedicated or rededicated under Hinckley, with 14 others announced or under construction.[2] Hinckley oversaw other significant building projects, including the construction of the Conference Center and extensive renovations of the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

On September 23, 1995, Hinckley released "The Family: A Proclamation to the World", a statement of belief and counsel regarding the sanctity of the family and marriage prepared by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.[17] In February 1996, church membership in countries other than the United States surpassed that of the U.S.[18] The year 1996 also saw the broadcast of a 60 Minutes interview of Hinckley by Mike Wallace during a segment on the LDS Church. In 1998, Hinckley was a guest on CNN's Larry King Live. Hinckley maintained a friendship with both Wallace and King until his death.

In November 2000, Hinckley spoke to the youth of the church and gave them six traits to work on, named the "Six Be's" (Be Grateful, Be Smart, Be Clean, Be True, Be Humble, Be Prayerful), which were first introduced in his New York Times Bestseller Standing for Something[19] and later expanded on in Way to Be.

On March 31, 2001, Hinckley announced the creation of the Perpetual Education Fund, an endowment that provides loans to students in developing nations.[20] On October 22, 2002, Hinckley participated in the dedication of the Gordon B. Hinckley Building at Brigham Young University–Idaho in Rexburg, Idaho. This was the first building at BYU–Idaho to be named for a then-living church president.[21]

Gordon B. Hinckley Building at BYU-Idaho

In April 2003, Hinckley gave a sermon that addressed the ongoing War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War, which had started just two weeks earlier. He said, "as citizens we are all under the direction of our respective national leaders. They have access to greater political and military intelligence than do the people generally," adding, "[f]urthermore, we are a freedom-loving people, committed to the defense of liberty wherever it is in jeopardy." He also noted that "[i]t may even be that [the Lord] will hold us responsible if we try to impede or hedge up the way of those who are involved in a contest with forces of evil and repression."[22]

In March 2005, Hinckley, together with Thomas S. Monson and James E. Faust, celebrated their tenth anniversary as the First Presidency—the first time in the history of the church that a First Presidency had continued for such a period of time without personnel changes.

On January 24, 2006, Hinckley underwent surgery to remove cancerous growths from his large intestine.[23] He was also diagnosed with diabetes at that time.[24] In June 2006, Hinckley traveled to Iowa City, Iowa, to speak at a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the start of the Mormon handcart companies. On June 23, 2006 (his 96th birthday), Hinckley participated in a groundbreaking ceremony at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, for a new building that was to be named in his honor. The building was named the Gordon B. Hinckley Alumni and Visitors Center and was completed and dedicated on Hinckley's 97th birthday.[3]

On March 31, 2007, Hinckley rededicated the Salt Lake Tabernacle after extensive renovation.[25] Hinckley's last public appearance was on January 4, 2008, when he offered the prayer at the rededication of the Utah State Capitol.[26]

During his tenure as president, Hinckley gave over 2,000 speeches;[27] he traveled nearly a million miles over a lifetime to more than 160 countries, as he met with church members and dedicated meetinghouses and temples.[28]

Temple dedications

At the time Hinckley became president of the church, he had dedicated 23 of the church's 47 temples and had rededicated four of the remaining 24.[2] While president of the church, Hinckley presided at the dedication of 65 additional temples.[2][29] Hinckley also rededicated five temples while president of the church, four of which he had dedicated initially. In all, Hinckley dedicated or rededicated 92 different temples—70 as president of the church—at 97 different dedicatory services.[citation needed]


Hinckley receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom from U.S. President George W. Bush in 2004

On June 23, 2004 (Hinckley's 94th birthday), U.S. President George W. Bush awarded Hinckley the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. The press release put forth by the White House stated: "Gordon B. Hinckley ... has inspired millions and has led efforts to improve humanitarian aid, disaster relief, and education funding across the globe."

Hinckley received many educational honors, including the Distinguished Citizen Award from Southern Utah University, Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Utah, and 10 honorary doctorates from schools including Westminster College, Utah State University, Utah Valley University, University of Utah, Brigham Young University, Brigham Young University–Idaho, Weber State University, and Southern Utah University. He received the Silver Buffalo Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Boy Scouts of America, and was honored by the National Conference for Community and Justice for his contributions to tolerance and understanding in the world.


On January 27, 2008, Hinckley died at the age of 97 while surrounded by family in his Salt Lake City apartment.[28][30] According to a church spokesman, the death was due to "causes incident to age." The Deseret Morning News reported that Hinckley had just gone through a treatment of chemotherapy a few days earlier, and had "worked until the very end."[31] The day following Hinckley's death, thousands of LDS youth in 6 states organized a social network campaign to dress in "Sunday Best" to honor Hinckley.[32] Thomas S. Monson became the presidential successor on February 3, 2008.[33] Funeral services were held on February 2, 2008, at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, to which tens of thousands attended.[34] Hinckley was buried at the Salt Lake City Cemetery next to his wife, who had died almost four years earlier. Some of the soil that was used to bury him was imported from the grounds of the Preston England Temple in Lancashire; this was done because Hinckley had been a missionary in this region of England.[35]


  • Hinckley, Gordon B. (2008). My Dear Sisters: Inspiration for Women from Gordon B. Hinckley. Covenant Communications. ISBN 1-59811-595-2<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (2006). One Bright Shining Hope: Messages for Women from Gordon B. Hinckley. Deseret Book. ISBN 1-59038-355-9<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (2005). "Discourses of President Gordon B. Hinckley" (2 vols. ed.). Deseret Book Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>, ISBN 1-59038-431-8 (vol. 1), ISBN 1-59038-518-7 (vol. 2)
  • —— (2002). Way to Be!: Nine Ways to Be Happy and Make Something of Your Life. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-3830-3<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (2001). "Truth Restored: A Short History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" (Revised ed.). LDS Church. OCLC 49300018 Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>. Reprint in part of What of the Mormons?
  • —— (2001). Stand a Little Taller. Eagle Gate. ISBN 1-57008-767-9<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (2000). Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes. Times Books. ISBN 0-8129-3317-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1997). Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley. Deseret Book. ISBN 1-57345-262-9<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1989). Faith: The Essence of True Religion. Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87579-270-7<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1981). Be Thou An Example. Deseret Book. ISBN 0-87747-899-6<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1951). "James Henry Moyle, the story of a Distinguished American and an honored churchman". Deseret Book. OCLC 13963049 Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1947). "What of the Mormons? A Brief Study of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". LDS Church. OCLC 7241540 Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • —— (1943). "A Brief Statement of Principles of the Gospel Based Largely Upon the Compendium (Richards/Little) with Excerpts from Other Writings: Including Also Church Chronology, Priesthood Ordinances, Selected Hymns". LDS Church. OCLC 13965791 Cite journal requires |journal= (help)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Hinckley tied the record for oldest living LDS Church president on November 2, 2006, and broke the record the next day; see: Arave, Lynn (2 November 2006), "LDS Leader Ties Record for Longevity", Deseret News<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2008 Deseret Morning News Church Almanac (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Morning News, 2007) pp. 507–08.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Walch, Tad (June 24, 2007), "BYU's new gateway: Gordon B. Hinckley Center dedicated on his 97th birthday", Deseret News<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Packer, Boyd K. (February 1986), "President Gordon B. Hinckley: First Counselor", Ensign<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. My Redeemer Lives", hymn no. 135, Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Salt Lake City, Utah: LDS Church, 1985).
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dew, Sheri L. (1996). Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. pp. 304, 395–401. ISBN 1-57345-165-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Westwood, Brad (June 1997), "Houses of the Lord", Ensign: 9<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Missionary Training Center presidents", Church News, November 6, 2010<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "'Other' President Hinckley counsels stake to know Christ's healing Spirit", Church News, December 11, 2004<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "Mission President assignments: 2009", Church News, March 7, 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "New mission presidents", Church News, February 7, 2009<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "New temple presidents", Church News, April 3, 2015<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. Allan D. Roberts, "The Truth is the Most Important Thing: A Look at Mark W. Hofmann, the Mormon Salamander Man".
  16. E.g., The Mormon Murders; Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders; Victims: The LDS Church and the Mark Hofmann Case; and Tracking The White Salamander.[full citation needed]
  17. Gordon B., Hinckley (November 1995), "Stand Strong against the Wiles of the World", Ensign<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. Fidel, Steve (February 26, 1996), "Members living abroad outnumber LDS in U.S.", Deseret News<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Johnson, Kirk (3 February 2008), "Mormons Say Farewell to President", The New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Hinckley, Gordon B. (May 2001), "The Perpetual Education Fund", Ensign: 51<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. Hernandez, David (November 11, 2011), "History of campus buildings explained", Scroll, I~Comm Student Media, Brigham Young University–Idaho<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  22. Hinckley, Gordon B. (May 2003), "War and Peace", Ensign<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  23. "Update: President Hinckley in Recovery",, LDS Church, January 26, 2006<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  24. Mormon Church President Gordon B. Hinckley Dead at 97, Fox News, AP, January 28, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  25. "Salt Lake Tabernacle Reopens". LDS Church. March 31, 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  26. Gehrke, Robert (January 4, 2008), "Three years, $227M later, state Capitol reopens", The Salt Lake Tribune<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  27. Stack, Peggy Fletcher (January 31, 2008), "Saturday's funeral services for Mormon leader may mirror wife's in 2004", The Salt Lake Tribune<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  28. 28.0 28.1 "LDS President Gordon B. Hinckley dies at age 97", Deseret Morning News, January 28, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  29. One of these was the Apia Samoa Temple, originally dedicated by Hinckley in 1983 but destroyed in an accidental fire in 2003.
  30. "Beloved Church President, Gordon B. Hinckley, Dies at 97",, LDS Church, January 27, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  31. "World mourns beloved leader", Deseret Morning News, January 28, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  33. "Thomas S. Monson Named 16th Church President",, LDS Church, February 4, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  34. "Funeral Services for President Hinckley Announced",, LDS Church, January 28, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  35. "Millions Pay Tribute to President Hinckley, 'Giant Among Men'",, LDS Church, February 2, 2008<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

Further reading

  • Dew, Sheri L. (1996). Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley. Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book. ISBN 1-57345-165-7.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • McCune, George M. (1996). Gordon B. Hinckley: Shoulder For The Lord. Salt Lake City, Utah: Hawkes Publishing. ISBN 0-89036-583-0.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  • Garff, Melinda T. (1998). Gordon B. Hinckley: Fifteenth President of the Church. Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft. ISBN 1-57008-534-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Howard W. Hunter
President of the Church
March 12, 1995 – January 27, 2008
Succeeded by
Thomas S. Monson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 5, 1994 – March 12, 1995
Preceded by
Marion G. Romney
First Counselor in the First Presidency
June 5, 1994 – March 3, 1995
November 10, 1985 – May 30, 1994
Second Counselor in the First Presidency
December 2, 1982 – November 5, 1985
  Counselor in the First Presidency
July 23, 1981 –December 2, 1982
Preceded by
Howard W. Hunter
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
September 30, 1961 – March 12, 1995
Succeeded by
N. Eldon Tanner