Born in 1856, ten years after the first Saints arrived in the Salt Lake Valley, Heber Jeddy Grant was to become the first President of the Church who had not known the pioneering trials of his predecessors. However, his life was not to be one of ease, or one without suffering and personal loss. He was only nine days old when his father, Jedediah M. Grant, died, leaving a young widow to raise the boy Heber and his brothers and sisters.
As he grew, his mother, Rachel Ivins Grant, often told him of the prophecy of Elder Heber C. Kimball concerning his future: “‘He prophesied in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ that you would become an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ and become a greater man in the Church than your own father, and your father … became one of the counselors to President Brigham Young.’” (Bryant S. Hinckley, Highlights in the Life of a Great Leader, Deseret Book, 1951, p. 27.)
In 1882, at age twenty-five, Heber J. Grant was ordained an apostle, the youngest man so ordained who became President. In 1918 he became the seventh President of the Church and served as such for twenty-seven years, longer than any other president except Brigham Young.
Heber J. Grant guided the Church through hard times, including the Great Depression of the ’30s. He initiated the Church welfare program and the institute program.
On May 14, 1945, he died at age eighty-nine; having served as a General Authority for sixty-three years.
“The predominating characteristics of President Grant are kindliness, friendliness, tenacity of purpose, determination to win, the ability to make and keep friends and the ability to do his tasks. His word is his bond, and honesty is one of the foundation stones of his successful career. He is a great, good man in every sense of the word. He will leave a lasting name among his people and his splendid accomplishments and noble inspiring example will long be remembered.” (Preston Nibley, “Life of President Grant,” KSL Address, Oct. 13, 1940.)
“He was a giant among men, radiating hope, courage, and peace.” (President George Albert Smith, quoted in Hinckley, p. 258.)