Our beloved prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball, died November 5, 1985. His wife and companion for nearly seventy years, Camilla Eyring Kimball, was at his bedside.
A grandson of pioneer leader Heber C. Kimball, Spencer Woolley Kimball was born in Salt Lake City March 28, 1895, to Olive Woolley and Andrew Kimball. Young Spencer grew up in Thatcher, Arizona, where he excelled in school and athletics. Later he was successful in banking, real estate, and insurance businesses, and he was active in civic affairs. He was called to be an apostle in the Church in 1943.
Sustaining him in the many challenges of life, including a long series of life-threatening illnesses, was the inner strength he received in his devotion to Church callings. Even as a boy, he felt an urgency to be about his Father’s business. While tromping hay for his older brothers one hot summer afternoon, he heard the bell for Primary ringing about a mile away. Ignoring his brothers’ insistence that he miss Primary and stay with his job atop the hay, young Spencer slipped off the wagon, unseen by his brothers, and was nearly to the meetinghouse before they discovered his absence.
Ever a champion of Indians, one of Elder Kimball’s early assignments as a new General Authority was chairmanship of the Church Indian Committee. He loved his Indian brethren and always encouraged them to realize their potential as a royal people.
As President of the Church since December 1973, he called for worldwide expansion of the Church. During that period there was a near doubling of wards and branches, full-time missions, and number of missionaries serving. Particularly gratifying to President Kimball was the more than threefold increase in the number of missionaries called from countries other than the United States and Canada. Church membership rose from 3.3 million to nearly 6 million.
There were other significant events during President Kimball’s administration:
—New editions of the Authorized King James Version of the Holy Bible and other church scriptures were published.
—A revelation allowing all worthy males to be ordained to the priesthood, regardless of race or color, was received.
—Thirty-one new temples were announced.
—Reconstitution of the First Quorum of the Seventy, with increased responsibilities for its members, took place.
—Three-hour Sunday “block meetings” were put into effect.
An avid journal keeper, President Kimball was also an author; his words offered hope and encouragement to all people. A sensitive counselor to the troubled, no one could be in his presence without feeling the warmth of his loving, sweet spirit. He was a true friend and will be dearly remembered by all who knew and loved him.