From the Life of President Harold B. Lee


His Eternal Family

See Harold B. Lee: Prophet and Seer, by L. Brent Goates, pages 76, 83–84, 123–124, 345–346, 357.

Three days after Elder Harold B. Lee arrived in the mission field, he met a sister missionary, Sister Fern Tanner.

Mission companion: Elder Lee, this is Sister Tanner. Wish her happy birthday!

Harold: Pleased to meet you, Sister Tanner. And happy birthday to you!

Later, when he was released from his mission, he had an operation in Salt Lake City. Instead of making an uncomfortable trip back to Idaho, he stayed with Sister Tanner and her family to recover.

Fern: Can I bring you anything else, Harold? I hope you’re feeling all right.

Harold: Thank you, Fern. I’m feeling much better.

Sister Fern Tanner and Elder Harold B. Lee were married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 14, 1923. It was Fern’s birthday—exactly three years from the day they met.

They raised two daughters, Helen and Maurine.

Maurine: Daddy, play one of your marches on the piano! Helen and I want to dance!

Harold: But I want to hear you two practice your beautiful music. Helen, where is your violin? Maurine, sit here at the piano. How I love to hear my daughters play!

After thirty-nine years of marriage, Fern became ill and passed away.

Helen: Daddy, what were you whispering to Mother?

Harold: She always told me that I must speak at her funeral. I knew I could never do that, so I was reminding her now of all the precious truths she liked to hear.

A year later, he told his family he had decided to marry Freda Joan Jensen.

Harold: I love Joan. She comforts me, and she was admired by your mother. I want Joan to become a part of our family.

Helen: We’re glad. Mother never wanted you to be alone for long.

When Maurine passed away two years later, he was comforted by the words in Hebrews 5:8–9 [Heb. 5:8–9] about Jesus Christ. He knew that his sad experiences were teaching him to be more like the Savior.

Harold: “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

When he became the prophet, President Lee realized that the Lord had used trials to prepare him for this mighty calling.