President Ezra Taft Benson


President Ezra Taft Benson

The thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson was born ninety years ago 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. He also loved to swim, camp with his family, and play baseball and basketball. He was one of the best players on both his high school and his college (Utah State University) basketball teams.

His father received a mission call when President Benson was thirteen, and he ran the family farm during the two years his father was gone. The oldest child in the family, “T” as he was known, had only six brothers and sisters when his father left, but a seventh child 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 President Benson served in that important government position for eight years.

On a visit to the Soviet Union as secretary of agriculture, President Benson was permitted to go to one of the very few churches where Christians were then 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, President Benson 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 met and married Flora Amussen. They have six children, thirty-four grandchildren, and almost forty great-grandchildren.

Active in the Scouting program, Ezra Taft Benson has received the highest awards for service given by Boy Scouts of America.

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.

After reading this article about President Benson, see how many of the following questions you can answer about his life. (All the answers are in the article.)

  1. 1.

    He was born in ______, Idaho.

  2. 2.

    He served as secretary of ______ for the United States.

  3. 3.

    He is the ______ President of the Church.

  4. 4.

    His wife’s first name is ______.

  5. 5.

    He urges everyone to study the Book of ______.

  6. 6.

    He and his wife have ______ children.

  7. 7.

    As a young man, he served a mission in ______.

  8. 8.

    While he was secretary of agriculture, he bore his testimony in a church in ______.

  9. 9.

    He starred on ______ teams in high school and college.

  10. 10.

    He has received the highest awards given by the ______ of America.

  11. 11.

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

  12. 12.

    As a young man, he especially loved to play his ______ (musical instrument).

  13. 13.

    He rode his ______ to high school.

  14. 14.

    As a man, he was called to preside over the mission in ______.

  15. 15.

    He was the oldest of ______ children.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Scott Greer