Savvy Chic

tidbits, thoughts, and ramblings. . .with a Mormon twist

Biographies of the Prophets: Spencer W. Kimball August 23, 2007

Filed under: biographies — savvychic @ 10:29 am

as posted on LDS Image

“We have a commitment to serve our Lord. We have an assurance that the cause is just and worthy. But, above all, we have a knowledge that God lives and is in His Heavens and that His Son Jesus Christ has laid out a plan for us which will bring us and our loved ones eternal life if we are faithful.”[i]


“Lengthen your stride” and “Do it!” are the two themes President Spencer Woolley Kimball preached to the world and lived by in his own life.  Starting out as a child with serious health difficulties and well acquainted with loss, he became a notable, energetic, and determined president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Spencer Woolley Kimball was born to Andrew Kimball and Olive Woolley on March 28, 1895 in Salt Lake City, UT. At the request of the First Presidency, the young family moved to Thatcher, Arizona when Spencer was three years old.  His father served as the Stake President while also providing for the family by farming and working in business.[ii]

 “As a child, Spencer suffered from typhoid fever and facial paralysis and once nearly drowned. Four of his sisters died in childhood, and his mother died when he was eleven.”[iii]  These challenges and losses perhaps gave him the incredible compassion he would later exhibit in his life.

His health problems did not end in childhood though.  In 1948, Elder Kimball had a heart attack.  He suffered from throat cancer a few years later which resulted in the removal of most of his vocal cords.  He had open heart surgery at age seventy-seven and three brain surgeries due to a cerebral hemorrhage.[iv][v]

In his patriarchal blessing (at age eleven), he was promised to perform a great work among the Native Americans.  He could not have foreseen his part in the relief efforts for the Navajos during the winter of 1947, nor of his role in the Indian Student Placement Service.  President Kimball also stood strongly against racial prejudice and it was in his administration as President of the Church, through the inspiration of the Lord, that the priesthood was offered to all worthy males members.

President Kimball was also an advocate for women’s rights.  General meetings for women and young women were started, the Monument to Women was constructed, women were authorized to pray in church meetings, and women leaders began to speak in general conference.

Spencer Kimball graduated with highest honors from Gila Academy at age 19.   He then received a mission call to the Swiss-Austrian Mission, but due to World War I served in the Central States Mission.  [vi]

After returning home, he attended one semester at the University of Arizona.  “He then received an induction notice for army service in World War I. Although expecting to leave any day, he married Camilla Eyring, a school teacher, on November 16, 1917. They eventually had four children: Spencer L., Olive Beth, Andrew E., and Edward L.” [vii]

There were delays in the military unit he was to join and so he was deterred.  He began working at a bank.  That bank failed, but another bank hired Spencer as the chief teller.  With Joseph Greenhalgh in 1927, he started a new business—insurance and real estate.  Hard work and perseverance got the Kimball family through the Great Depression.  Kimball declared that “he would set up a peanut stand before he would become another person’s employee again.”[viii] The flexibility of setting his own hours allowed him to fulfill church callings and to participate in many community activities—“PTA, library, elections, city council, Red Cross, Boy Scouts, the local college, and the organization of a radio station. He was selected as statewide leader of the Arizona Rotary Club.”[ix]

While an apostle, he wrote Miracle of Forgiveness.  His book continues to counsel and comfort members of the Church.  Written with the intent to help people understand the path of repentance, the atonement, and of forgiveness, he drew upon his experience of counseling many people as a church leader.

While still very young, Spencer Kimball accepted a challenge to read the entire Bible.  At age 14, he was a Sunday School teacher.  He was ordained a seventy at nineteen, served as a stake clerk twice, as a counselor to the stake president, as stake president, and at age 48, was ordained an Apostle by President Grant.  He became the 12th President of the Church on December 30, 1973.  He was 78.  He died on November 5, 1985.

In the twelve years of his presidency, many wonderful things were accomplished.  Starting with the Washington DC temple, 21 temples were dedicated.  Missionary numbers increased dramatically as sisters and couples went forth to serve.  The ward meeting schedules were consolidated. The First Quorum of the Seventy was organized.  As mentioned earlier, every worthy male in the Church could now hold the priesthood.  “He led the Church with spiritual power and energetic determination during a period of dramatic vitality and growth. His administration produced significant advances in doctrinal understanding, member unity, and gospel expansion worldwide.”[x]

A year before he left this life for the next, he gave us his testimony and a promise.

“Knowing full well that before long, in the natural course of events, I must stand before the Lord and give an accounting of my words, I now add my personal and solemn testimony that God, the Eternal Father, and the risen Lord, Jesus Christ, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith. I testify that the Book of Mormon is a translation of an ancient record of nations who once lived in this western hemisphere, where they prospered and became mighty when they kept the commandments of God, but who were largely destroyed through terrible civil wars when they forgot God. This book bears testimony of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Savior and Redeemer of mankind.”

“I testify that the holy priesthood, both Aaronic and Melchizedek, with authority to act in the name of God, was restored to the earth by John the Baptist, and Peter, James, and John; that other keys and authority were subsequently restored; and that the power and authority of those various divine bestowals are among us today. Of these things I bear solemn witness to all within the sound of my voice. I promise in the name of the Lord that all who give heed to our message, and accept and live the gospel, will grow in faith and understanding. They will have an added measure of peace in their lives and in their homes and by the power of the Holy Ghost will speak similar words of testimony and truth.”[xi]

Spencer W. Kimball was a gentle, dedicated, humble man.  He exhibited such strength and energy that only a prophet of God may do.  He is a great example to me of working through challenges and trusting in the Lord.  In President Kimball’s words, “We must lengthen our stride and must do it now.”  Let that theme continue to ring true for each of us.

[i] Kimball, S. W. “The Cause Is Just and Worthy,” Ensign, 1974, 118










[xi] “Remarks and Dedication of the Fayette, New York, Buildings,” Ensign, May 1980, 54.  Italics added.



Want to learn more about Spencer W. Kimball?  Check out these websites:




biographies: Gordon B. Hinckley May 29, 2007

Filed under: biographies — savvychic @ 10:01 pm

as posted on LDS Image 

You are creatures of divinity; you are daughters of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it.”i

President Hinckley never fails to inspire me as I listen to him speak. Hearing his words, I always feel more loved, more divine, and more confident to take control of my destiny. President Hinckley’s example extends beyond his words. He has lead a magnificent life, one worthy of emulation. Matthew 7:20 states, “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” I know President Hinckley to be a prime example of how I want to live my life and draw closer to my Savior.

Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born 23 June 1910 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley. In contrast to the energetic, healthy 96 year old man we are familiar with, Gordon was afflicted with life-threatening whooping cough at age two as well as asthma and allergies as a youth. The doctor recommended fresh air and sunlight and so his family moved to a country farm.

On that farm through summers, weekends, and holidays Gordon grew to health and learned to work. And somehow there near the soil and close to nature his confidence in God’s good and provident hand prospered like the hundreds of fruit trees and vegetable seeds he planted, tended, and harvested.”ii

President Hinckley tells of an experience with his brother Sherman. At night, while lying in an old farm wagon, they “looked at the myriads of stars in the heavens, and took turns picking out familiar stars and tracing the Big Dipper, the handle and the cup, to find the North Star.” He was fascinated by the North Star. Regardless of the earth’s rotation, the North Star maintained its position in the heavens and never moved. He said: “I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to be a moving and unstable firmament.”iii

Gordon was blessed with two well-educated parents who encouraged the love of reading. In a home library of over one thousand books and comfortable chairs, he developed a love of good books and learning.

President Hinckley attended the University of Utah majoring in journalism. When he graduated, he also minored in ancient languages. While in school, his mother died. “I also came to know something of death—the absolute devastation of children losing their mother—but also of peace without pain, and the certainty that death cannot be the end of the soul.”iv

He intended to go on to Columbia University School of Journalism in New York. This changed when his bishop called him into his office and got right to the point, calling him to serve a mission. This was in the midst of the depression and not many saints were sent on missions. However, his father confidently stated the family would support Gordon and Sherman offered to help. Gordon planned to apply his savings for Columbia University towards his mission, but soon afterwards the bank that held his savings failed. It was then that the family discovered a savings account from Gordon’s mother– money saved from years of frugal grocery shopping.

Gordon was called to the European Mission with headquarters in London, England. The mission was hard and success seemed impossible. Discouraged, Gordon wrote his father saying, “I am wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.” His father’s reply came, “Dear Gordon. I have your letter. I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work, With love, Your Father.” After pondering this response and reading Mark 8:35, Gordon covenanted with the Lord that he would try to forget himself and go to work. “I count that as the day of decision in my life. Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to the decision I made at that time.”v

On his mission, Elder Hinckley worked closely with the mission president, Elder Joseph F. Merrill, also a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. At the end of Elder Hinckley’s mission, Elder Merrill gave him an extra assignment, to speak with the First Presidency when he returned to Salt Lake City about the need for better media materials for the missionaries.

This Gordon did when he returned, and it changed the course of his life. His comments were well received and he was asked to serve as producer and secretary for the Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee.

Also around this time, the friendship between Gordon and a lovely young woman, Marjorie, blossomed into an everlasting love. They were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on 29 April 1937. To keep their marriage strong, they knew they must always put the Lord first. Sister Hinckley said, “It seemed to me that if you understood the gospel and the purpose of our being here, you would want a husband who put the Lord first. I felt secure knowing he was that kind of man.”vi

Gordon worked most of his career for the Church. In 1958, he was sustained an Assistant to the Twelve. Three years later he was ordained an Apostle. In 1961, he was set apart as a Counselor to President Kimball. President Hinckley remained a counselor for the next 34 years, to Presidents Kimball, Benson, and Hunter. On 12 March 1995, he became the fifteenth President of the Church.

President Hinckley has tirelessly encouraged the saints throughout the world. “Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”vii He has traveled the world over reaching out to everyone. He encourages positive media attention, interviewing with Larry King and Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. More than 124 operating temples (and 6 more under construction and 5 more announced) dot the earth, mostly built (or rebuilt, like the Nauvoo Temple) and dedicated while President Hinckley has held his office. The Conference Center was also created and the Tabernacle’s structure was recently strengthened. Important proclamations have also come during his administration: The Family: A Proclamation to the World and The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.

President Hinckley recently became the oldest president of the Church on 3 November 2006. Yet he still carries his cane. His smile is always sincere and his trust in the Lord is stronger than ever. His example is one of courage and trust, that of carrying on! He issues the challenge to “. . . every one of you who can hear me, to rise to the divinity within you. Do we really realize what it means to be a Child of God, to have within us something of the Divine Nature?”viii

President Hinckley answers, “Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience—positive, wonderful, purposeful experience—that will lead to life eternal. He has given you this glorious Church, His Church, to guide you and direct you. . . May God bless you richly and abundantly, my dear young friends, His wonderful daughters.”ix

i Gordon B. Hinckley, “Words of the Prophet: Daughters of the Almighty,” New Era, Nov 2003, 4

ii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, p. 2–13

iii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, p. 2–13

iv Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Lessons I Learned as a Boy,” Ensign, May 1993, 52

v CES Institute Manual: Church Presidents [2005] pg. 262

vi Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley [1996]

vii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, 2–13

viii Gordon B. Hinckley, “Each a Better Person,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 99

ix Gordon B. Hinckley, “How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?,” Ensign, May 2001, 93