George Albert was very ill. The doctor had diagnosed typhoid fever, a terrible disease at that time, and ordered the boy to stay in bed for at least three weeks. His mother was told that George Albert should have only liquids and that she should brew him some coffee.
At this very young age, he demonstrated a great faith in his Heavenly Father and willingness to follow His commandments. George Albert wanted to get well, of course, but he didn’t want to disobey the Word of Wisdom. He asked his mother to bring him water instead of coffee and to send for their home teacher.
Brother Hawks came quickly in answer to Mrs. Smith’s request and gave George Albert a blessing, promising him that he would soon be well. And the very next morning when the boy awakened, the fever was gone and young George felt much better. Some years later in telling a group of children about this experience, he said, “I was grateful to the Lord for my recovery. I am sure that he healed me.”
As a young man, George Albert worked as a salesman, he presided over agricultural and industrial associations, and was active in banking.
However, his greatest joy was to serve the Church and its youth. He was a worker in the Boy Scout program for almost forty years and received the highest award given in the U.S., the Silver Buffalo, in recognition of his work with his boys. His love for the Church and his contribution to it as a missionary and as president of the European Mission was widely recognized. He also had a special friendship with the Indian people.
On October 6, 1903, Elder Smith was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
In 1909 he suffered a severe illness and was disabled for over two years. One night during the period of his recovery, he had a dream in which his grandfather Smith appeared to him and asked, “I would like to know what you have done with my name.” George Albert replied, “I have never done anything with your name of which you need be ashamed.”
George Albert Smith continued bringing honor to the Smith name. In 1945, after serving as an apostle for forty-two years, George Albert Smith became the eighth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Always an ambassador of goodwill, he helped the world have a better understanding of the Church and a better attitude toward it. He was known as a great humanitarian, who gave to countless people when they were in need.
President Smith died April 4, 1951, on his eighty-first birthday. Former United States President Harry S. Truman said, “I looked upon him as one of our country’s great moral leaders.”