Born the year Wilford Woodruff was sustained as President of the Church and three years before the dedication of the Salt Lake Temple, Elder Joseph Anderson spent a century in quiet service to the Lord and others.
Elder Anderson, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, died March 13 at age 102. He served with seven of the thirteen Presidents of the Church and “was an example to all of us. ‘Behold an Israelite … in whom [there] is no guile.’ (John 1:47.) I so look upon Joseph Anderson,” observed President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency and speaker at the funeral. “He was worthy of the total confidence of the prophets of God.”
Other funeral speakers included Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Marion D. Hanks of the Presidency of the Seventy, and J. Robert Anderson, Elder Anderson’s son. President Thomas S. Monson, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the March 17 funeral services, which were held in the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake Center.
Elder Anderson served as secretary to President Heber J. Grant and the First Presidency from 1922 to 1945. He then served as secretary to the First Presidency, working with Presidents George Albert Smith, David O. McKay, and Joseph Fielding Smith. He was called as an Assistant to the Twelve on 6 April 1970 and sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy on 1 October 1976. He received General Authority emeritus status 30 September 1978.
“I think Joseph Anderson knew more and said less than any man I have ever known,” said President Hinckley, who first met Elder Anderson fifty-seven years ago. “He kept the trust that was imposed on him.
“He served always in faith and confidence and trust and always in his own quiet way,” he continued. “He was a man who was trusted, and it was President David O. McKay who said it is a greater thing to be trusted than to be loved.”
Calling Elder Anderson a friend and a teacher, Elder Packer observed that “we will not, in our lifetime, meet another who has known the Brethren as Joseph Anderson did. Five years short of two-thirds of the history of the Church, Joseph Anderson was there. For more than a third of it he was recording the events as they occurred. For half a century, he attended the meetings of the First Presidency and the temple meetings of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. …
“He was a man whose mind and experience stretches back to the past,” Elder Packer continued, noting some of the historical facts occurring during Elder Anderson’s life.
Born on 20 November 1889, Elder Anderson was three years old when the Salt Lake Temple was dedicated and was six when Utah became a state. The automobile was invented the year he turned four, and the Spanish American War started the year he was baptized. He saw the law of tithing reemphasized by President Lorenzo Snow. Elder Anderson had been married for two years when the United States entered World War I.
Calling Elder Anderson a “glorious example of absolute unselfishness,” Elder Hanks talked of the example the centenarian left behind. “Like his Savior, Brother Anderson continued to grow in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man. He began in his youth and continued on for all of his years.
“The Lord has said, ‘Them that honour me I will honour.’ (1 Sam. 2:30.) Joseph Anderson honored God and is and will be forever honored by him.”
Elder Anderson’s son, J. Robert Anderson, spoke of the “great reunion” in which his father was participating on the other side of the veil. “And if it is necessary over there to take minutes, I’m sure Dad is there with book and pencil in hand,” he observed.
Brother Anderson talked of his father’s quiet example of service and love to the Brethren, the Lord, and his family.