Tributes and Messages of Appreciation


Following the announcement of President Ezra Taft Benson’s death, tributes and messages of sympathy began to arrive at Church headquarters. Following are excerpts from some of these tributes.

Tributes and Messages of Appreciation

President Ezra Taft Benson

Office of the president, Republic of Georgia: “On behalf of President Eduard A. Shevardnadze, his parliament and the people of the Republic of Georgia, [we] express our heartfelt condolences. … In recent years, the citizens of Georgia have experienced the generosity and concern of your leader, President Ezra Taft Benson.”

Itamar Rabinovich, ambassador, embassy of Israel: “The State of Israel shares with you and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the grief and sorrow felt at this mournful time. … Our wishes and prayers are with the Mormon people now, as they are always.”

Teddy Kollek, former mayor of Jerusalem: “It was with great sorrow that I learned of the passing away of President Ezra Taft Benson. I remember him well from the time that he was a member of President Eisenhower’s cabinet and I was serving in Washington. … It was under Ezra Taft Benson’s leadership that so many ties between your community and Jerusalem were formed and it was through his perseverance and understanding that the Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies of Brigham Young University was made possible. Jerusalem has lost a truly good and loyal friend.”

Leith Anderson, director general, Papua New Guinea National Disaster and Emergency Services: “We are distressed at the passing of this great citizen of the world. … The Mormons through giving charity are a fine example of personal Christian life and action and are now one of the paradigms of the Christian world. … On behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea we thank the Church for their generosity and kindness to the people of Papua New Guinea in times of disasters and emergencies.”

William S. Clinton, president of the United States: “[He] served our country and his church with ceaseless dedication over a long life productively lived. It is no accident that one of Mr. Benson’s most famous books emphasized the three values his life best represented: church, God and country.”

George Bush, former president of the United States: “Ezra Taft Benson led an exemplary life that was highlighted by his service to his country, his faith, and his devotion to his family.”

James Hansen, U.S. congressional representative from Utah: “President Benson was a rare and special individual with precise clarity of vision and beliefs. … The man was so principled. He could look the devil in the eye and back him down.”

Marty Stephens, Utah House of Representatives majority leader: “Those in government service often find it hard to find a good balance in their lives between politics and religion. He participated in the government of our nation without letting government overcome his ideals and philosophies.”

Lorenzo N. Hoopes, Oakland, California, who served as executive assistant to President Benson when he was U.S. secretary of agriculture: “In my opinion, President Benson was the best qualified secretary of agriculture the nation has ever had. He was uniquely qualified for the position by way of training, experience and dedication.”

William K. Weigand, bishop of Sacramento, Catholic diocese of Sacramento: “I was always grateful for President Benson’s warmth and cordiality whenever we met. Among other things, we inevitably spoke of our common Idaho roots, as well as the importance of strong family life and clear moral guidelines. He was most respectful of me and my role as Catholic bishop. He spoke admiringly of Pope John Paul II and his efforts to bring strong religious and moral leadership to a confused world, as President Benson also tried to do.”

Reverend Donald H. Baird, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City: “He lived a life that was so extraordinarily successful in so many arenas—religious, political and business. To be able to balance all of those was an example and model for everyone.”

John W. Gallivan, publisher emeritus, Salt Lake Tribune: “No American has served both his church and country in such high office. In a world where Me-ism has largely replaced The-ism, he remained strong in defense of basic principles of morality and integrity.”