Diary of Action: The Life and Administration of Harold B. Lee


Diary of Action:

Boyhood and Youth—1899–1922

1899

Born on March 28 to Samuel Marion and Louisa Emeline Bingham Lee, Clifton, Idaho. His mother’s family had helped settle the Idaho valley. His father was the 12th and only surviving child of Margaret McMurrin Lee and Samuel Marion Lee, and his ancestors had joined the Church in 1832, suffering through Nauvoo persecutions and the exodus to Utah.

1904

Started school at age five.

1912

Began attending the Oneida Stake Academy in Preston, Idaho, with schoolmate Ezra Taft Benson, now President of the Council of the Twelve.

1916

At 17, entered Albion State Normal School and began teaching in the one-room school at Silver Star, Idaho

1917

Made principal of a four-room school at Oxford, Idaho. He played trombone in a local dance band, and had acquired proficiency with the organ and piano, instruments which he accompanied the General Authorities for their Thursday meetings in the temple. His father was bishop at this time, and he was actively involved both in helping with farm work and with church service.

1920

His father, a bishop, recommended him for a mission. The call, from President Heber J. Grant, sent him to the Western States Mission where he presided over the Denver Conference, the equivalent of today’s mission zone, except that it included members as well as missionaries.

1922

In Salt Lake City, he took summer classes at the University of Utah. He later finished his degree by correspondence courses and extension classes. He again met Fern Lucinda Tanner, a lady missionary in Colorado, and pursued a deepening friendship. He was appointed principal of Salt Lake’s Whittier School and later, Woodrow Wilson School; he was also a salesman and intermountain manager for a library supplier.

Family Man, Servant to Many—1923–41

1923

Married Fern Tanner on November 24, the mother of his two daughters, Helen (married to L. Brent Goates, Regional Representative and associate commissioner of Church Health Services) and Maurine (married Ernest J. Wilkins, professor of languages and former director of BYU’s Language Training Mission; she died in 1966).

1927

Sustained high councilor in Pioneer Stake, Salt Lake City.

1928

Named district manager, Foundation Press, a library distributing organization.

1929

At 30, named second counselor to Pioneer Stake president.

1930

Called to be Pioneer Stake president. Began self-help projects to revitalize his stake members economically.

1932

Appointed to Salt Lake City commission, filling the unexpired term of Commissioner Joseph H. Lake. Organized the Pioneer Stake bishops storehouse.

1931–34

Became first seminary teacher at South High School, Salt Lake City. One student, Victor L. Brown, became presiding bishop of the Church in 1972. Another, D. Arthur Haycock, became personal secretary to President George Albert Smith, President Joseph Fielding Smith, and President Harold B. Lee.

1933

Elected to the Salt Lake City Commission. Served as commissioner of streets and public properties.

1937

Resigned from City Commission to become managing director of the churchwide Welfare Program.

Apostle—1941–72

1941

Called on April 6 to the Council of the Twelve and ordained an apostle by President Heber J. Grant.

1943

Served as chairman of the Serviceman’s Committee through World War II, working closely with Elder Hugh B. Brown, who established an LDS Serviceman’s Home in Salt Lake City. Toured military bases widely in the U.S. Named adviser to the Primary General Board as was Elder Marion G. Romney. Later he was called as adviser to the Relief Society General Board as well.

1945

Gave radio sermons, “Youth and the Church,” published as a book. Toured Hawaiian and Central Pacific Missions.

1951

Awarded Honorary Master M-Men Award.

1953

Honored at Utah State University by delivering annual baccalaureate sermon, then received honorary Doctor of Humanities degree.

1954

Toured Japanese Mission, holding LDS servicemen’s conferences in Japan, Korea, Okinawa, Philippines, and Guam. Pioneer Stake named the Harold B. Lee Hall gymnasium in his honor.

1955

Received honorary Doctor of Christian Service degree from Brigham Young University. Also, served on the executive committee of its Board of Trustees.

1956

Toured Mexican missions.

1957

Named to Union Pacific Railroad Board of Directors. Toured Southern States Mission.

1958

Named to Equitable Life Assurance Society Board of Directors. Toured Central States Mission.

1959

Organized the Andes Mission and Brazil South Mission.

1960

Organized first stake in England. Elected to board of directors of Zions First National Bank, elected president of Salt Lake Oratorio Society. Toured missions of the northern and northwestern states.

1961

Named chairman of Church Correlation Committee.

1962

Visited American servicemen in Germany. Sister Fern Lee died.

1963

Married Freda Joan Jensen. Elected to national board of directors of the Red Cross. Received Silver Buffalo award from Boy Scouts of America. Broke ground at New York World’s Fair for the Church Pavilion.

1964

Received Doctor of Humanities honorary degree from University of Utah; delivered baccalaureate sermon at the Utah State University.

1967

Named chairman of the board of directors, Zions First National Bank.

1968

Appointed supervisor of Mid-America missions.

1969

Named chairman of the Military Relations Committee of the Church.

1970

Called as first counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith and also sustained as president of the Council of the Twelve.

1971

Became chairman of the board of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. Received the Distinguished Service Award presented by the LDS Student Association. Spoke at commencement, Dixie College, St. George, Utah.

1972

Elected chairman of the board of ZCMI, Beneficial Life Insurance Company, and Hotel Utah Company. Named director of the Zions Utah Bancorporation.

The Administration of Harold B. Lee

Although Harold B. Lee was President of the Church for less than 18 months, the shortest administration in this dispensation, it was 18 months of strong, vigorous activity. Many of the programs initiated during his administration will leave their mark on the Church and its members for years to come.

1972

JULY

2

Death of President Joseph Fielding Smith.

7

Harold B. Lee ordained president of the Church with N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney as counselors.

22

Wallace Lowell Castleton named as president of the Oakland Temple.

AUGUST

12

New Sunday School organization introduced to the Church.

13

University of Utah LDSSA honors President Lee in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

17

Immo Luschin von Ebengreuth called as president of the Swiss Temple.

20

John K. Edmunds set apart as president of the Salt Lake Temple.

25–27

Area General Conference in Mexico City.

SEPTEMBER

 

New Boy Scout program begins operation.

16

Administrative changes announced for missionary department.

12–28

President and Sister Lee and Elder and Sister Gordon B. Hinckley tour Greece, Israel, Italy, Switzerland, and England. In London they meet with international publisher Lord Thomson of Fleet.

20

President Lee organizes the Jerusalem Branch, first in Israel.

28

Lee S. Bickmore appointed special consultant to the First Presidency.

OCTOBER

6–8

142nd Semiannual General Conference of the Church. President Lee sustained at a Solemn Assembly. Elder Bruce R. McConkie called to the Council of the Twelve; Elders O. Leslie Stone, James E. Faust, and L. Tom Perry named Assistants to the Twelve; and President Rex D. Pinegar called to the First Council of the Seventy.

14

Elmo Eugene Fletcher called as president of the Alberta Temple.

28

Renovation plans announced for five temples.

NOVEMBER

3

President Lee dedicates the San Diego visitors center.

11

First Presidency announces the restructuring of the MIA program into the Aaronic Priesthood MIA and the Melchizedek Priesthood MIA.

15

New Church Distribution Center is dedicated by President Marion G. Romney.

19

First stake created in Chile.

DECEMBER

16

International Mission organized with Elder Bernard P. Brockbank as president. Elder Joseph Anderson appointed assistant managing director of the Church Historical Department.

23

A Church Music Department organized with Elder O. Leslie Stone as the managing director. General Boards announced for Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood MIAs.

1973

JANUARY

 

Church employees move into new General Church Office Building.

20

Tabernacle Choir sings at the post-Inaugural religious services in White House for President Nixon.

26

Aloha Center at Church College of Hawaii dedicated by President Marion G. Romney.

FEBRUARY

3–4

Marriott Center at Brigham Young University dedicated.

12

New General Deseret Industries Committee holds first formal meeting.

Church College of Hawaii announces expansion plans.

24

President Lee speaks to Salt Lake area seminary students in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Brigham Young University announces plans to expand the J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Library.

MARCH

6

First Presidency meets with Admiral Thomas H. Moorer, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

8

First stake created in Korea.

9

President Lee speaks to seminary and institute students in Pocatello, Idaho.

11

President Lee honored by students and townspeople at Weber State College.

16

First Presidency meets with the Apollo 17 astronauts.

27

Library addition announced at Ricks College.

28

President Lee notes 74th birthday.

APRIL

6–8

143rd Annual Conference of the Church.

13

President Lee announces skyscraper project for the Church in New York City.

28

First Presidency announces expanded Polynesian Cultural Center.

29

President Lee speaks to 14,000 youths at a Harold B. Lee Devotional held in Long Beach, California.

MAY

11

Statue of Angel Moroni placed atop Washington Temple.

13

ABC Television airs documentary of the Church.

20

First stake organized in the Philippines.

26

President Lee visits Northwest Area Dance Festival in Seattle and speaks to a large congregation in the Seattle Coliseum. Five buildings in Nauvoo, Illinois, restored to their 1839–46 condition, dedicated as visitors areas by President Marion G. Romney.

JUNE

9

Sister Florence Jacobsen named curator of the Historical Arts Committee.

21–24

June Conference held for leaders of the Melchizedek and Aaronic Priesthood MIA.

JULY

12–21

Mormon Miracle Pageant at Manti, Utah.

27–August 4

Hill Cumorah Pageant—America’s Witness for Christ. President Lee attends opening night.

28

55,000 attend Southern California Area Dance Festival in the Rose Bowl, thought to be largest single gathering in the Church.

30–August 3

Priesthood Genealogy Workshop at Brigham Young University.

AUGUST

11

Japanese visitors center dedicated at Hawaiian Temple.

18

President Lee dedicates Ensign Stake Center.

25

Edward E. Drury, Jr., called as president of the Washington Temple.

24–26

Area General Conference in Munich, Germany.

27–30

Tabernacle Choir concerts in Paris, France, and London, England.

27

Brigham Young University opens J. Reuben Clark, Jr., School of Law.

SEPTEMBER

11

President Lee receives Exemplary Manhood Award from Brigham Young University male students.

17

Elder L. Tom Perry named chairman of Church Bicentennial Committee.

OCTOBER

5–7

143rd Semiannual General Conference of the Church.

13

Groundbreaking for Church facilities at Expo ’74 in Spokane, Washington.

14

President Lee dedicates Utah Technical School Institute of Religion.

26

New presidents announced for Logan and Manti temples. New president for Logan Temple is Lloyd R. Hunsaker; for Manti Temple, June W. Black. President Lee speaks at Ricks College Devotional.

NOVEMBER

11

National Broadcasting Company airs documentary special on the Church.

DECEMBER

13

Church employees’ Christmas assembly.

26

President Harold B. Lee dies.

[photo] 10. Elder Lee, 1937, as managing director of the Church’s new welfare program.

[photo] 11. Elder Lee deep-sea fishing.

[photo] 12. Elder Lee and daughter Helen.

[photo] 13. Daughter Maurine passed away 1966.

[photo] 14. The Lee family in 1941, when Elder Lee was called to the Council of the Twelve: Sister Lee, daughters Helen and Maurine, Elder Lee.

[photo] 15. Sister Fern Lee with grandsons; Sister Lee passed away in 1962.

[photo] 16. Relief Society sisters of Laie, Hawaii, bestowing the traditional leis of friendship, 1945.

[photo] 17. Early in life he served as a model and teacher for youth.