When Heber Jeddy Grant was only nine days old, his father Jedediah M. Grant, died after an uneven bout with pneumonia. Jedediah, who was only forty years old at that time, had been a missionary stalwart for the Church, second counselor to Brigham Young, and Salt Lake City’s first mayor.
To support herself and to help provide for Jeddy, the boy’s mother Rachel Grant did sewing for hire and took in boarders.
When Jeddy was about six years old, he liked to hitch rides on passing sleighs by hanging on behind for a block or two. Once he got on the sleigh of President Brigham Young, who liked to drive fast. Years later, he recalled, “I found myself skimming along with such speed that I dared not jump off. …
“President Young, happening to notice me hanging on his sleigh, immediately called out–‘Brother Isaac, stop!’ He then had his driver, Isaac Wilson, get out and pick me up and tuck me snugly under the robes on the front seat. President Young … asked, ‘Are you warm?’ and when I answered ‘yes,’ he inquired my name and where I lived. He then talked to me in the most kindly manner, told me how much he had loved my father and what a good man he was, and expressed the hope that I would be as good as my father. Our conversation ended in his inviting me to come up to his office some day and have a chat with him.”
Jeddy Grant did visit Brigham Young again, and often. Of their association he remarked, “I ever found, in calling at [President Young’s] office or home, a most hearty welcome, and I learned not only to respect and venerate him, but to love him with an affection akin to that which I imagine I would have felt for my own father, had I been permitted to know and return a father’s love.”
Jeddy learned early in life the value of hard work and persistence in overcoming weaknesses or a lack of ability. He had a remarkable talent for business, starting out as a book-keeper for an insurance company and later for Wells, Fargo Co.
“I have found nothing in the battle of life,” he once wrote when he had become a successful banker and manufacturer, “that has been of more value to me, than to perform the duty of today, to the best of my ability; and I know that where young [people] do this, they will be better prepared for the labors of tomorrow.”
Jeddy worked just as diligently in his Church service as he did in business. At twenty-three he was called to be president of the Tooele Stake; at twenty-five he became an apostle of the Church; in 1901 he was chosen to open a new mission in Japan.
In 1918 Heber J. Grant was sustained as the seventh president of the Church, and he served in that capacity for over twenty-six years, longer than any president except Brigham Young. His spiritual leadership and valuable business sense helped the Church to grow rapidly during those years. He died in 1945 at eighty-eight years of age.