“He resembles the Prophet Joseph more than any man living. He will become the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” (Matthias Cowley, Wilford Woodruff, p. 536.)
In 1901 Joseph F. Smith became the sixth president of the Church, fulfilling the prophecy made by Wilford Woodruff in 1869. He served as such for seventeen years until his death on November 19, 1918, at age eighty. Nephew of the Prophet, he was the last president of the Church who personally remembered Joseph Smith.
Born at Far West, Missouri, on November 13, 1838, to Hyrum Smith and Mary Fielding, he was the first president born in the Church. His father was martyred when Joseph was only 5 1/2 years old. He crossed the plains at age ten, was orphaned at thirteen when his mother died, and at fifteen went on a mission, the first of several he would fill in America, Europe, and the Hawaiian Islands. In 1866 at age twenty-eight he became an apostle and counselor to Brigham Young; he also served in the First Presidency under the next three presidents—John Taylor, Wilford Woodruff, and Lorenzo Snow.
As President of the Church, Joseph F. Smith initiated family home evening, the seminary system, visitors centers, general courses of study for the Church, the Children’s Friend, and the Relief Society Magazine. Under his leadership the Church Administration Building, LDS Hospital, and the Hawaiian and Canadian temples were built.
His “Vision of the Redemption of the Dead,” received October 3, 1918, was added to the Pearl of Great Price at the April 1976 general conference of the Church.
“No man was more expressive of true love, broad democracy, and pure religion than was he.” (Levi Edgar Young, “President Joseph F. Smith,” p. 3.)