President Ezra Taft Benson

President Ezra Taft Benson

Thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson was born eighty-nine years ago on August 4 in Whitney, Idaho. As a boy he learned to play the piano, and he sang solos both at school and in the community—but he says that he loved his trombone best.

Young Ezra loved horses, and he rode three miles each day to his high school, the Oneida Stake Academy. He also loved to swim, camp with his family, and play baseball and basketball. In fact, he starred on both his high school and his college (Utah State University) basketball teams. Among his many favorite foods are corn, fish, buttermilk, raspberries, homemade ice cream, and whole wheat bread.

His father received a mission call when Ezra was thirteen, and he ran their farm during the time his father was gone. (By the time he was sixteen, Ezra could thin an entire acre of sugar beets in a day!) The oldest child in the family, Ezra had only six brothers and sisters when his father left, but a seventh was born four months later, and eventually there were eleven children in the family.

He always loved farming, and he helped other farmers in any way that he could. When Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected president of the United States, he asked Ezra Taft Benson to be his Secretary of Agriculture, and Ezra served in that cabinet position for all eight years of Eisenhower’s presidency.

During one of his trips to Russia as Secretary of Agriculture, Ezra was permitted to go to one of the very few churches where Christians were still allowed to meet. He was asked to speak from the pulpit, and as he bore his testimony of Jesus Christ, it was translated into Russian. The people in the congregation were touched by the Spirit and started to cry.

As he grew up, Ezra could hardly wait to be a full-time missionary, and as a young man he served a mission to England; later he was called as president of the European Mission. Soon after he returned from his first mission, he married Flora Amussen. They have six children, thirty-four grandchildren, and about three dozen great-grandchildren.

Active in the Scouting program, Ezra Taft Benson held several positions, including membership on the National Executive Board, BSA, the governing body of the Scouting organization in the United States. He received Scouting’s three highest awards, the Silver Beaver, the Silver Antelope, and the Silver Buffalo.

After having served as stake president twice, he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1943 by President Heber J. Grant. Ezra Taft Benson became President of the Church in 1985. He continually urges everyone to read and study the Book of Mormon.

All the answers to the crossword puzzle can be found in this article about President Benson.

[Crossword Puzzle]


  1. 3.

    He bore his testimony of _____ _____.

  2. 5.

    One of his favorite foods is __________.

  3. 6.

    In one day he thinned a whole acre of _____.

  4. 9.

    He served as Secretary of __________ for the United States.

  5. 10.

    He was awarded the Silver _____, one of Scouting’s highest awards.

  6. 12.

    He is the ____ President of the Church.

  7. 16.

    His wife’s first name is _____.

  8. 17.

    He urges everyone to study the Book of _____.

  9. 18.

    He and his wife have _________ children.

  10. 19.

    As young man, he served a mission in __________.


  1. 1.

    While he was Secretary of Agriculture, he bore his testimony in a church in __________.

  2. 2.

    He starred on _____ teams in high school and college.

  3. 4.

    He was born in __________, Idaho.

  4. 7.

    He was awarded the three highest awards in _____.

  5. 8.

    He was called to the Quorum of the Twelve by President Heber J. _____.

  6. 11.

    He especially loved to play his __________ (musical instrument).

  7. 13.

    He loved _____ and rode his to high school.

  8. 14.

    He was called to be president of the missions in __________.

  9. 15.

    He was the oldest of _____ children.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer