April is General Conference month. For two days, in four general sessions and one priesthood session, members of the Church will receive inspired guidance for daily living from the General Authorities. Presiding at the conference sessions will be President Ezra Taft Benson, the Lord’s prophet. This year President Benson will have been president of the Church for five years. He was ordained and set apart in 1985 at the death of President Spencer W. Kimball.
Now ninety years old, President Benson is not as physically active as he would like to be, but still he fulfills his Church responsibilities. He meets every day with his counselors and other General Authorities, presides at the regular meetings of the Brethren, and attends the temple each week with Sister Benson.
But work has been an essential part of President Benson’s life. He was four-years old when he began helping to operate his family’s farm in Idaho. At fourteen, when his father was called away from the family to serve a three-year mission, young Ezra assumed increased responsibility. Since then his life has been one of work and service to family, Church, community, and country.
Here are scenes from President Benson’s busy life—a continuing example of devotion and service.
President and Sister Benson were married nearly sixty-four years ago in September, 1926.
[photo] President and Sister Benson with their children at the time of his call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1943: Bonnie (on her father’s lap), Mark, Barbara, Beverly, and Reed (standing).
[photos] Above: Elder Spencer W. Kimball, left, and Elder Benson were the newest members of the Quorum of the Twelve in this 1943 photograph. Below: This March 1946 photograph, taken at Stavager, Norway, shows Elder Benson, left, with Norwegian mission president A. Richard Peterson, center, and Norwegian translator Erling Magnesen.
[photos] Elder Benson’s 1952 appointment to United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet (above, center) thrust him into the spotlight. Elder Benson was particularly effective in his role as Secretary of Agriculture, whether through the media (above), or visiting on a farm hit by a drought (left).
[photos] Elder Benson’s service as president of the European Mission in the mid-1960s was a time of joy for father, mother, and youngest daughter, Beth. Below: On “Ezra Taft Benson Day” in July 1976, President Benson served as grand marshall of a parade honoring him in Preston, Idaho.
[photo] Above: The Benson family visited President Eisenhower (center) in the White House, Washington, D.C.
[photo] Above: Elder Benson greets President David O. Mckay (right) at general conference in 1960.
[photos] Associations with his brethren of the Quorum of the Twelve have been a major part of President Benson’s life since 1943. Today, he enjoys the support of men like his two counselors President Gordon B. Hinckley, left, and President Thomas S. Monson. Left: President Benson enjoys a visit in his office with some primary-age children.
[photos] Above: President Benson, right, with Salt Lake City visitor George Bush, then United States vice president. Right: In 1989, President Benson received one of the nation’s highest honors, the Presidential Citizenship Medal for “a lifetime of dedicated service to country, community, church and family.”
[photo] Below: President Benson signals his approval to the Mormon Youth Chorus at a session of general conference, October 1988.
[photo] Above: President Benson’s special message to the Saints has been to study and use the Book of Mormon and to “flood the earth” with its message.