Published: Friday, April 5, 2013
Elder Eldred G. Smith, who served as Patriarch to the Church from 1947 to 1979, died Thursday evening, April 4, at his home. He was 106.
Believed to be the oldest man in Utah, Elder Smith lived longer than any former General Authority.
“The Church lost a valued friend and respected leader with the passing of Patriarch Eldred G. Smith,” said the Church in a statement issued Friday morning. “He was a man who lived a Christ-centered life as he faithfully served as Patriarch to the Church. We pray for the Lord’s blessing to be upon his family at this tender time.”
President Thomas S. Monson visited Elder Smith on his birthday on Jan. 9. “Eldred Smith is my good friend,” said President Monson. “We have traveled many miles together. I love and respect this man.”
Elder Smith is the last person to have held the position of Patriarch to the Church. The office originated in 1833 with the calling of Joseph Smith Sr., father of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Elder Eldred Smith is the great-great-grandson of the Prophet’s brother Hyrum. Elder Smith’s father, Hyrum Gibbs Smith, was Patriarch to the Church from 1912 until his death in1932. Eldred G. Smith was called as Patriarch to the Church on April 10, 1947, by President George Albert Smith.
As a General Authority, Elder Smith traveled to stake conferences with individual members of the Quorum of the Twelve and was a frequent speaker at general conferences.
As a descendant of Hyrum Smith, Elder Smith inherited several artifacts that he displayed on various occasions.
During his birthday visit in January, President Monson recounted that in 1966 he asked Church President David O. McKay for permission to invite the Church Patriarch to travel with him on an assignment to the South Pacific, the area that then-Elder Monson supervised, in order for Elder Smith to provide patriarchal blessings to members in areas where there was no patriarch. President Monson said as he continued on with his travels, Elder Smith remained behind and gave many patriarchal blessings to members in Australia and other areas of the South Pacific. Elder Smith also traveled to other areas, including Europe, to give patriarchal blessings.
He married Jeanne Audrey Ness in 1932; they had five children. Following her death in June 1977, he married Hortense Child; she was then serving as a counselor in the Young Women general presidency. She died in May 2012.