Called to Serve: President Henry B. Eyring


President Henry B. Eyring

During the opening session of general conference on Saturday, October 6, 2007, President Gordon B. Hinckley announced that the vacancy in the First Presidency created by the death of President James E. Faust would be filled by Elder Henry B. Eyring.

Born on May 31, 1933, in Princeton, New Jersey, Henry, or Hal as he was called, was the second of three sons born to Henry and Mildred Eyring. The family lived in New Jersey because his father, a renowned scientist, was teaching chemistry at Princeton University.

Growing up on the East Coast, he and his brothers were the only young people in his branch. Because of gas rationing in World War II which restricted unnecessary travel, the branch met in their home, and the dining table served as the pulpit.

President Eyring tells of an experience he had when he took his turn reading from the Bible in his schoolroom. “Each morning our teacher would have us take turns reading out loud from the Bible. . . . When my turn came, I always chose to read the 13th chapter of 1 Corinthians, which is about charity, the pure love of Christ. I had had a special experience as a little boy that impressed me that the scripture was true and was for me. Every time I read it, I had a strong feeling about my future, including my future family. It was a feeling of kindness and love for them. That seemed like a strange thing for a little boy to feel, so I didn’t tell anyone about it. I didn’t tell my brothers; they probably would have laughed at me. I didn’t tell my parents, either.

“When I was 11, I received a patriarchal blessing from my great-uncle, whom I had never met. In the blessing, I was promised the very things I’d hoped for but had kept hidden in my heart—that I would have the home and family I had always dreamed about. The promises in that blessing have since been fulfilled. I have an absolute testimony of priesthood blessings, and I know that those who are worthy to give blessings are inspired by God” (Friend, Apr. 1997, 6).

The Eyring family moved to Utah where President Eyring attended the University of Utah and studied physics. After the Korean conflict, he served in the Air Force and was assigned to Albuquerque, New Mexico. At the same time, he was called as a district missionary in the Western States Mission. He served for nearly two years.

After his military service, President Eyring attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he graduated with a master’s degree in business administration in 1959 and received a doctoral degree in 1963. While at Harvard he met Kathleen Johnson. They married in the Logan Temple in 1962, and their family was formed as they became the parents of six children—four sons and two daughters.

President Eyring followed his inclination toward teaching, which led to a position as a professor in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. After nine years, he accepted the opportunity to serve as president of Ricks College. He went on to serve as the Church’s Commissioner of Education, in the Presiding Bishopric, and in the First Quorum of the Seventy. On March 31, 1995, he was called to become a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Since that time, President Eyring has continued to teach, often addressing the youth of the Church. In his talks he gives advice that, if followed, can help teens live happier and more successful lives. In a recent conference address, President Eyring said, “The best time to resist temptation is early. The best time to repent is now. The enemy of our souls will place thoughts in our minds to tempt us. We can decide early to exercise faith, to cast out evil thoughts before we act on them. And we can choose quickly to repent when we do sin, before Satan can weaken our faith and bind us. Seeking forgiveness is always better now than later” (Ensign, Nov. 2005, 40).

[photo] Newly sustained Second Counselor President Eyring takes his seat next to President Hinckley.