Messages of Appreciation and Sympathy


Immediately following the announcement of President Harold B. Lee’s death, tributes and messages of sympathy began to arrive at Church headquarters by telegram and by letter. Printed here are excerpts from some of these messages.

Messages of Appreciation and Sympathy

President Spencer W. Kimball, former president of the Council of the Twelve, and newly-ordained President of the Church:

President Harold B. Lee and I have been associated in the Council of the Twelve from 1943 until he was called into the First Presidency by President Joseph Fielding Smith in 1970. Even before that time we had established a friendship. He was my ideal. He had a tremendous understanding of the doctrines of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the organization and functioning of the Church.

President Lee was a great friend of the downtrodden and sorrowing. While he was an outstanding administrator and tireless worker, frequently he found time to visit the sick and those heavy of heart. When President Lee prayed, he really talked with his Heavenly Father.

He truly measured up as a prophet of God in every way—in leadership, perception, activity, and in his responses. He was a man of superior courage. Many times I have seen him stand alone for a principle. He would give his unshakable witness of the divinity of the restored gospel without hesitation to the mighty of the earth as well as to the lowly.

President Lee was loyal to his family, friends, and brethren. Only a few days ago, in a meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve, he spoke of his esteem and affection for his associates in the leadership of the Church.

Resolution of the Council of the Twelve:

The world needed President Harold B. Lee when his time came to be the Lord’s leader among mankind.

He was a prophet continually in tune with heaven who spoke and acted with unswerving courage and boldness in applying the teachings of the Savior to the challenges and problems of these turbulent times. Indeed, it could be said of him, as it had been said of his predecessor, Brigham Young: “He was a lion of the Lord.”

President Lee loved to quote the words of Jesus to Martha:

“I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

“And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John 11:25, 26.)

President Lee lived these words of his Master. Harold B. Lee believed and taught with all the fiber of his soul the divinity of the Lord’s mission, the reality of the resurrection for all mankind, and the restoration of the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President Lee stood tall as a leader among men, both within and without the Church.

To all Church members as well as to people everywhere, we reaffirm the words to the world of Harold B. Lee on the day he was ordained and set apart as President of the Church: “Keep the commandments.”

President Richard M. Nixon:

Mrs. Nixon and I were deeply saddened to learn of the sudden death of Harold B. Lee. All Americans mourn the loss of this dedicated President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we send our heartfelt sympathy to the members of the Church and to President Lee’s family.

As President of the Church, and as an educator, missionary, businessman, and public official, President Lee’s influence for good has been deeply felt. The Church’s successful welfare program that began in the 1930s gives just one example of how President Lee’s administrative and organizational skills combined with his faith and courage to bring hope and inspiration to millions in our nation and in our world.

Hubert H. Humphrey, United States senator from Minnesota, and former vice-president of the United States:

I am saddened by the news of the sudden passing of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Harold B. Lee. He was an eminent church leader and a distinguished American, a man of real capability and compassion. He had the love, respect, and admiration of people throughout the world.

Rear Admiral Francis L. Garrett, U.S. Navy Chief of Chaplains:

On behalf of myself and all Navy chaplains, I extend deepest sympathies to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the death of President Harold B. Lee. We join you in thankful prayers for the leadership he gave to your church during his regrettably short service as president. We will be very grateful for the vigorous support he gave to our Navy chaplains and to your church members engaged in military service in the Navy.

Jack M. Murphy, Lieutenant Governor of the State of Idaho:

All Idaho joins in mourning the death of President Lee. I send my particular condolences and those of Idaho to the members of your faith who have lost a great leader and a wise and kind friend.

F. W. Roskelley, mayor, Pocatello, Idaho:

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of President Harold B. Lee. His visit to the city of Pocatello this spring was a special occasion for our community. We shall remember his timely remarks to many of the young people of our city. I’m sure all citizens of Pocatello join me in expressing our deepest sympathy to his family and the members of the LDS Church.

Lord Thomson of Fleet, London, England, owner of the Times of London as well as some 200 other newspapers:

I have lost a warm friend and the world has lost one of its great leaders in the passing of President Harold B. Lee. He was an inspiration to all who came in contact with him. The work he has accomplished has been a great blessing not only to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints but to all mankind. His passing leaves a great void in my life.

Arthur R. Taylor, president, Columbia Broadcasting System, New York City:

It was with extreme regret that we received the news of the untimely and unexpected death of President Harold B. Lee. We are aware that his loss is felt more deeply because his leadership went far beyond the business enterprise we share.

As spiritual leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints he has been an inspiration to millions who admire dedication to high principles and unswerving faith. Those principles were never more in evidence than when we, in the business world, had the opportunity of working with those men who enjoyed the light of his leadership.

Richard L. Evans, another whose wisdom and talent we were once privileged to share, said, “Those who leave us are welcomed by others.” In that spirit may I extend, on behalf of all of us here at CBS, our most sincere condolences.

Frank E. Barnett, chairman of the board, Union Pacific Corporation, Union Pacific Railroad Company:

It was with profound sorrow that we learned this morning of the passing of Harold B. Lee. On behalf of the entire board of directors and officers of Union Pacific, I convey our deepest condolences on his passing. His influence for good extended throughout the world, and I am confident there were few men more loved and respected. He was a tremendous inspiration to those of us at Union Pacific who had the privilege of knowing and associating with him for almost 20 years. I know that the inspiration and teaching of this great leader will be a force for good for time immemorial.

James F. Oates, Jr., retired chairman of the board, Equitable Life Assurance Society, and a personal friend of President Lee:

No one that I have known has ever lived a more useful life of service than President Harold B. Lee. He was enormously effective, not only in the business aspects of his great enterprise, but also as a spiritual leader. The country will miss him very much indeed.

Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, pastor of Marble Collegiate Reformed Church, New York City:

I was shocked at the news of the passing of my good friend, President Harold B. Lee. I admired him tremendously. He was one of the most enlightened and creative religious leaders in the world. A giant has fallen.

First Presidency of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: President W. Wallace Smith, Maurice L. Draper, first counselor, and Duane E. Couey, second counselor:

News of the passing of President Lee comes as a great shock. We extend our sympathy to you personally and officially on behalf of the presidency and general officers of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Reverend Don Proctor, president of the Salt Lake Ministerial Association and minister of Bountiful (Utah) Community Church:

The loss to the community is great and I mourn with many leaders in all walks of life in this community and Latter-day Saints around the world. And I have lost a friend.

Dr. Elton Newman, president, Utah Council of Churches, Salt Lake City:

The death of Harold B. Lee, president of the LDS Church, is a major loss in religious and community leadership. We unite with all others in expressing genuine sorrow in this loss. President Lee’s deep concern for others was reflected in his interest in the work of the Utah Council of Churches. We mourn his passing.

Father Elias Stephanopoulos, pastor of Holy Trinity and the Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church, Salt Lake City, Utah:

On behalf of the Eastern Orthodox people of Salt Lake we extend our sympathies, first of all to the bereaved family of President Lee, and to all Latter-day Saint communicants who will feel the loss of an outstanding and dedicated leader of their church. We pray that our Lord will give him rest and eternal life.

Rabbi Abner Bergman, Congregation Kol Ami, Salt Lake City:

I knew President Lee both in an official capacity as well as personally, and always found him to be a paragon of warmth, kindness and personal integrity. I will miss him. Many will miss him.

Bishop M. A. Givens, The Church of God in Christ, Salt Lake City:

We are shocked and saddened at the death of our beloved brother and we shall never forget his kindness, fatherly advice, and love shown to us during “Operation Good Samaritan.” We pray God’s blessings upon the family, the Church, and all of his kind friends.

The First Presidency:

On behalf of his family and the General Authorities of the Church we desire to express sincere thanks and appreciation to all those who sent messages of condolence and comfort at the death of our beloved leader, President Harold B. Lee. We were all saddened and shocked by his unexpected passing, and we shall greatly miss his love and friendship, and his inspired leadership.

We are consoled, however, by the knowledge that he has gone to a great reward and that the keys of the priesthood and the saving authority of the Master which he held are still with us.