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Spencer W. Kimball
Full name Spencer Woolley Kimball
Born March 28, 1895(1895-03-28)
Place of birth Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
Died November 5, 1985 (aged 90)
Place of death Salt Lake City, Utah
LDS Church President
Ordained December 30, 1973 (aged 78)
Predecessor Harold B. Lee
Successor Ezra Taft Benson
LDS Church Apostle
Called by Heber J. Grant
Ordained October 7, 1943 (aged 48)
Reason for ordination Deaths of Sylvester Q. Cannon and Rudger Clawson[1]
End of term November 5, 1985 (aged 90)
Reason for end of term Death
Reorganization at end of term Joseph B. Wirthlin ordained
LDS Church General Authority
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Called by Heber J. Grant
Start of term October 7, 1943 (aged 48)
End of term December 30, 1973 (aged 78)
End reason Became President of the Church
Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Start of term January 23, 1970 (aged 74)
End of term July 2, 1972 (aged 77)
End reason Became President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Start of term July 7, 1972 (aged 77)
End of term December 30, 1973 (aged 78)
End reason Became President of the Church
President of the Church
Start of term December 30, 1973 (aged 78)
End of term November 5, 1985 (aged 90)
End reason Death
Grave marker of Spencer W. Kimball.

Spencer Woolley Kimball (March 28, 1895 – November 5, 1985) was the twelfth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1973 until his death in 1985.



Kimball's grandfather, Heber C. Kimball, was one of the original Latter Day Saint apostles and later served as first counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency of the LDS Church. Through his aunt Helen Mar Kimball, he was a nephew of Joseph Smith, Jr..

Early life

Kimball was born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory to Andrew Kimball and Olive Woolley, sister of Mormon fundamentalist pioneer John W. Woolley. When Spencer was three, his father was called to preside as president of the St. Joseph stake and his family relocated to the town of Thatcher in southeastern Arizona.

During his childhood, Kimball suffered from typhoid fever, facial paralysis and once nearly drowned. Four of his sisters died in childhood, and his mother died when he was eleven.

After graduating from high school in 1914, he was called to serve as a missionary in the Germany-Swiss Mission, but due to World War I, was reassigned to the Central States Mission until 1916. In 1917 he attended the University of Arizona, but received an army draft notice later that year. Despite several imminent departures, each was delayed and he was never called up. During this time he courted Camilla Eyring, sister of the famous chemist Henry Eyring, and they married civilly on November 16, 1917 in Pima, Arizona. Seven months later, on June 7, 1918, the couple were sealed in a marriage ceremony in the Salt Lake Temple. They eventually had four children: Spencer L., Olive Beth, Andrew E., and Edward L.

Shortly after marrying, Kimball received employment in banking. After working for several different banks, in 1927 he started his own insurance and real estate agency. Additionally, he made a significant portion of his income as a debt collector. This he continued until his call into full time church service. Kimball was also actively involved in PTA, city council, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, and elected statewide leader of the Arizona Rotary Club in 1936.

Early church ministry

Kimball served in various positions within the church, including stake clerk, counselor, and later president. He was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1943.

Indian Placement Program

Throughout his ministry, Kimball labored among the native peoples of North and South America. As part of this work, he developed the "Indian Student Placement Program" to provide Native Americans the opportunity to attend school while living with host families. Twenty years after its inception, nearly 5,000 students a year participated in the program. The program ended when schools improved among the Native Americans.

Ministry to the "children of Lehi"

Spencer W. Kimball had received a commission to minister to all of Lehi's children from George Albert Smith.[2] This not only encompassed the Native Americans of North America, but also Polynesians and the Indigenous people of Latin America. He was involved in organizing the first stake in Latin America in Argentina and in the start of missionary work in Ecuador.

Health challenges

In 1948, Kimball suffered a heart attack. Several years later he battled recurring throat cancer. This led to one and a half vocal cords being removed in 1957; as a result, he was thereafter barely able to speak above a hoarse whisper. After his heart condition resurfaced, in 1972 a successful open-heart surgery replaced an obstructed artery and failing valve. Because presidential succession in the church is traditionally based on seniority in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he was not expected to become church president.[3] However, the younger Harold B. Lee, who ranked above him in seniority in the Quorum, died suddenly in December 1973. Kimball then became the 12th president of the church.

Ministry as president of the church

Kimball had a vision of a greatly expanded ministry. He urged church members to pray for more nations to be opened to the preaching of the gospel. He constantly counseled church members to "lengthen their stride". Temple building went forward at a pace never before seen in the church. One of these temples was built in São Paulo, and it was the faithfulness of such African descended church members as Helvécio Martins and others in contributing toward the construction of the temple, that was one of the examples of faithfulness that caused Kimball to so often and so strongly supplicate the Lord on the issue of the ordination of brethren of African descent to the priesthood.

Official Declaration—2

Despite Kimball's age and history of poor health, major developments occurred during his presidency. Notable is the 1978 declaration conferring the priesthood on all worthy male members. Prior to this declaration, black males of African descent were not permitted to obtain the priesthood.


The number of missionaries also greatly increased and a burst of temple building occurred. His book The Miracle of Forgiveness is one of the best-known within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

In the 1980s Kimball's health declined and the duties of the presidency were increasingly shouldered by his counselor Gordon B. Hinckley. Following his death, Kimball was succeeded by Ezra Taft Benson.


== See also --


  1. ^ Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson were ordained on the same date to fill the vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve resulting from the deaths of Cannon and Clawson.
  2. ^ Gibbons, Francis M. "Spencer W. Kimball"
  3. ^ Kimball, Edward L. and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr. (1977). Spencer W. Kimball. Bookcraft, Inc.. ISBN 0-88494-330-5


External links

Religious titles
Preceded by
Harold B. Lee
President of the LDS Church
December 30, 1973–November 5, 1985
Succeeded by
Ezra Taft Benson
Preceded by
Harold B. Lee
President of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

July 7, 1972 –December 30, 1973
Succeeded by
Ezra Taft Benson
Preceded by
Harold B. Lee
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 7, 1943–December 30, 1973
Succeeded by
Ezra Taft Benson
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