Eldred Gee Smith


Eldred Gee Smith

Eldred Gee Smith, Patriarch Emeritus to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away peacefully in his home on Thursday, April 4 , 2013. At 106, he was the oldest man in Utah.

Alert to the end, he spent the day before his death attending the temple with other General Authorities and handling personal business.

Patriarch Smith was born January 9, 1907, in Lehi, Utah, to Hyrum Gibbs Smith and Martha Electa Gee Smith, the second of eight children. His childhood years were spent in Lehi; in Los Angeles, California, while his father attended USC dental school; and in Salt Lake City, following his father’s call as Patriarch to the Church.

After his father’s untimely death in 1932, Eldred worked at various jobs to support his mother and siblings during the Great Depression, including painting the ceiling of the Tabernacle, delivering ice on his back, and wallpapering for Bennett Paint & Glass.

Eldred married Jeanne Audrey Ness on August 17, 1932 and they had five children. She died in 1977. He married Hortense Hogan Child in May 1978.

During World War II, Eldred worked on the Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. A lifelong engineer, Eldred registered several patents and enjoyed perpetual tinkering, especially on the building and rehabilitating of clocks. His culminating hands-on project was the design and building, with his wife Jeanne, of their home on St. Mary’s Drive.

Prior to his call as a General Authority, Eldred served as a branch president, bishop, and high councilor. Called as Patriarch to the Church in 1947 by President George Albert Smith, he served with nine prophets. He received emeritus status in 1979, but continued to give patriarchal blessings in his office in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building until recently. He gave over 18,000 patriarchal blessings throughout the world during his service as Patriarch.

Patriarch Smith was the oldest living descendant of Joseph Smith, Sr., and of Hyrum Smith, brother to the Prophet Joseph. As the oldest son in a line of oldest sons from Hyrum, he inherited Smith family artifacts dating back to the beginning of LDS Church history. For almost fifty years, he gave fireside talks, many with his second wife, Hortense, using these artifacts to tell stories of the Smith family and the LDS Church beginnings. It is estimated that over 500,000 people heard his presentations over the years.

Eldred has donated many family papers and relics to the LDS Church and BYU library.

Eldred was preceded in death by almost everybody. He stopped reading obituaries ten years ago, as contemporaries’ names were not showing up any more. Among those welcoming him home were his parents; his sisters, Cleone, Helen, Miriam, Verona, and Donna; his brothers, Hyrum and Barden; his first wife, Jeanne; his second wife, Hortense; his daughter Audrey Gay Vance; and two grandsons. Eldred is survived by his daughter Miriam (Ted) Skeen, sons Eldred Gary (Elizabeth) and Gordon Raynor, daughter Sylvia Dawn (Craig) Isom, 22 grandchildren, 63 great-grandchildren, and 22 great-great grandchildren. Eldred was also a beloved step-father and grandfather to Hortense’s two children, Carol Jane Burdette and T.R. Child, and her eleven grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, April 10, at 11:00 am at the Monument Park Stake Center, 1320 S. Wasatch Drive. Friends and family may call Tuesday evening, 6-8 pm, at the Larkin Sunset Lawn Mortuary, 2350 E. 1300 S., and at the stake center Wednesday, 9:30-10:40 am. Interment at Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Published in Deseret News from April 6 to April 8, 2013

Oldest living Utah man celebrates 106 years

By Jennifer Stagg


SALT LAKE CITY — Most of us have to read about what happened 100 years ago in a history book, but one Utah man has lived it.

Eldred Smith, a Salt Lake City man who celebrated his 106th birthday Wednesday, has a title no one else in the state has: He is oldest man in Utah.

In 1907, doctors performed the first successful blood transfusion and a bouncing baby boy named Eldred G. Smith entered the world. Fast forward more than a century, and Eldred is as sharp as ever — though he does get tired a little faster than he used to.

“What’s your secret to a long life?” I asked him, watching his eyes slowly open.

“Getting sleep, apparently,” Eldred said with a laugh.

This great-great-grandfather has lived a lot of life &38212; in years, and experience. During World War II, he worked as an engineer for a company that enriched uranium for the atomic bomb.

He is also the oldest and longest-serving general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And his own great-great-grandfather is Hyrum Smith, brother to the founder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Joseph Smith.

Eldred he spent years travelling, displaying church artifacts. KSL caught up with him when he was a spry 100-years-old.

“I tell ’em exercise is a waste of energy,” Eldred said during our 2007 interview. “I use my energy to accomplish something that gives me all the energy I need.”

He has outlived two spouses — his second sweetheart passed away in May 2012, at age 95. But he is still surrounded by his loving children and grandchildren down the line.

“He’s always talked about being around ‘till 110,” said daughter Miriam Skeen. “(He’s) one year closer.”

Eldred celebrated his birthday Wednesday surrounded by family and friends. Among his birthday visitors was LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, who told Eldred’s family the biggest key to longevity is to just keep breathing.

Jennifer Stagg, Reporter

1837 Letters of Mary Fielding (1801-1852)


Mary Fielding, 1801-1852

Source: Kenneth W. and Audrey M. Godfrey, Jill Mulvay Derr, Women’s Voices (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1982), pp. 60-68.
Kirtland, July 8, 1837

My dear Sister [Mercy],

As I have met with paper I feel inclined to commence the proposed correspondence, as I hope you also do. I shall begin from the time my last letter was written. You would hear what a glorious meeting we had on the Thursday before Bro. Brunell left so I need give you no account of that. On the Sunday following we had a quiet comfortable waiting upon God in his House. President (Sidney) Rigdon delivered a very striking discourse from Daniel, chapter 2 verse 44. It would be useless for me to attempt giving you an idea of the manner in which he handled the subject. You must read the text and remember that he is a masterpiece and then you may perhaps form some idea. He told us with great warmth indeed, that the kingdom which was set up should never be destroyed, nor be left to other people. No, said he, nor yet change governors. I really thought from what he said that all opposers from that time rest satisfied that their exertions would be fruitless, but I do not expect in the least that Satan will give up the contest. No, he’d work in the children of this world, and also in the hearts of the children of the kingdom where ever he can find access to them, until he is bound. O may the Lord preserve us from his subtle power and keep us to that day. It was truly gratifying to see the venerable Patriarch (Joseph Smith, Sr.) with his two aged brothers in the upper stand and in the next, four of his sons with President Rigdon in their midst, all I believe faithful servants of the living God. Joseph and Hirum [Hyrum] I know best and love much. While I looked at them all my heart was drawn out in earnest prayer to our Heavenly Father in their behalf and also for the prophetess their aged mother (Lucy Mack Smith) whose eyes are frequently bathed in tears when she looks at, or speaks of them. Our Thursday meeting was again better than any former one. The hearts of the people were melted and the spirit and power of God rested down upon us in a remarkable manner. Many spoke in tongues and others prophesied and interpreted. It has been said by many who have lived in Kirtland a great while that such a time of love and refreshing has never been known. Some of the sisters while engaged in conversing in tongues, their countenances beaming with joy, clasped each others hands and kissed in the most affectionate manner. They were describing in this way the love and felicities of the celestial world. Although the house of the Lord was more than half filled during this time there were few dry faces. The brethren as well as the sisters were all melted down and we wept and praised God together.

Some of the prophecies delivered in tongues and interpreted were so great that I cannot begin to describe them but I do assure you Brother Hyrum Smith’s prediction that from that hour the Lord would begin to bless his people has been verily fulfilled, I believe as do many others that angels were present with us. A bright light shone across the house and rested upon some of the congregation. What I felt that day seemed to outweigh all the affliction and distress of mind I have suffered since I came here. We have a promise of a still better meeting next Thursday if we humble ourselves as in the dust before the Lord. This will be our fast day. May the promise be verified indeed.

On Saturday, July 8, we all received letters from our brethren (missionaries) in New York giving an account of their journey thither and their preparations for setting sail which did not take place till the 30 of June. You will see that from various causes they were delayed 10 days in New York. They were all well and in good spirits though much disappointed at not receiving the expected money but they contrived to exchange some Kirtland paper (bank notes) or to get provisions for it, so as to enable them to pay their expenses amongst them. The fare was 20 dollars each in one of the largest vessels that has ever sailed, 9 hundred tons burden. Joseph says I must send the money when the next Elders go which will probably be in the fall. But all uncertain they expect to land at Liverpool so that poor Brother James (Fielding) will soon have to receive or reject them. Our prayer to God must be unceasing that he may become as a little child that he may enter into the Kingdom. Sisters (Vilate) Kimball and (Marinda) Hyde are beginning to write to their husbands at Preston (England). They continue to be in good spirits.

While the brethren were in New York they endeavored to do all the good they could by conversing with the people and distributing the prophetic warning to all the priests they could find. About 105 of them were put into the post office.

Elders (Thomas B.) Marsh and (David W.) Patten have arrived from Missouri. They met Elder (Parley P.?) Pratt 300 miles on his way thither and brought him back with them. Elder Marsh is a most excellent man. He seems to be a man of great faith. He says he believes the difficulties between the presidency and the twelve will very shortly be settled. And then we can expect better days than ever. [The remainder of the letter is badly torn, and only parts of the sentences remain.] [ca. September 1, 1837]

My dear sister,

I have this day received a very short note from you and am glad to learn by Brother [Almon W.] Babbit that you are well and comfortably situated. He tells me he is expecting soon to return to Canada so that it is unnecessary for me to say much as he can inform you of the state of things here verbally better than I can by writing. But still I can hardly refrain from sending a few lines.

I am now in a school which I took for one month. The time expires tomorrow when I expect again to be at liberty or without employment, but I feel my mind pretty much at rest on that subject. I have called upon the Lord for direction and trust He will open my way. I hope you will not fail to remember me at the throne of grace. I have no doubt but you have many trials but I am inclined to think you have not quite so much to endure as I have. Be this as it may, the Lord knows what our situations are and he will support us and give us grace and strength for the day if we continue to put our trust in him and devote ourselves unreservedly to his service. I do thank my Heavenly Father for the comfort and peace of mind I now enjoy in the midst of all the confusion and perplexity, and raging of the devil against the work of God in this place. For although here is a great number of faithful precious souls, yea the salt of the earth is here, yet it may be truly called a place where Satan has his seat. He is frequently stirring up some of the people to strife and contention and dissatisfaction with things they do not understand. I often have of late been led to look back on the circumstances of Korah and his company when they rose up against Moses and Aaron. If you turn to and read 16th chapter of Numbers you will there find the feelings and conduct of many of the people and even the elders of Israel in these days exactly described. Whether the Lord will come out in a similar way or not I cannot tell. I sometimes think it may be so, but I pray God to have mercy upon us all and preserve us from the power of the great enemy who knows he has but a short time to work in. We have had a terrible stir with Warren Parish the particulars of which I cannot here give you at length. We are not yet able to tell where it will end. I have been made to tremble and quake before the Lord and to call upon him with all my heart almost day and night as many others have done of late. I believe the voice of prayer has sounded in the house of the Lord some days from morning till night and it has been by these means that we have hitherto prevailed and it is by this means only that I for one expect to prevail. I feel more and more convinced that it is through suffering that we are to be made perfect and I have already found it to have the effect of driving me nearer to the Lord and so has become a great blessing to me. I have sometimes of late been so filled with the love of God and felt such a sense of his favor as has made me rejoice abundantly indeed, my Heavenly Father has been very gracious unto me both temporally and spiritually.

Since I commenced this letter a kind sister has proposed my going to stay for a while with her to take charge of 2 or 3 children who have been in my school. They propose giving something besides my board and I think this will suit me better than a public school if it is but little. I expect to go there in a day or two and hope to be quite comfortable as I know the family to be on the Lord’s side. The mother is a cousin of Brother Joseph and took care of him when a child. Their name is Dort.

I felt much pleased to see Sisters Walton and Snider who arrived here on Saturday about noon, having left Brother Joseph Smith and Rigdon about 20 miles from Fareport (Ohio) to evade the mobbers. They were to come home in Dr. (Sampson) Avards carriage and expected to arrive about 10 o’clock at night but to their great disappointment they were prevented in a most grievous manner. They had got within 4 miles of home after a very fatiguing journey, much pleased with their visit to Canada and greatly anticipating the pleasure of seeing their homes and families, when they were surrounded with a mob and taken back to Painesville and secured as was supposed in a tavern where they intended to hold a mock trial. But to the disappointment of the wretches the housekeeper was a member of the church who assisted our beloved brethren in making their escape, but as Brother Joseph Smith says not by a basket let down through a window, but by the kitchen door.

No doubt the hand of the Lord was in it or it could not have been effected. The day had been extremely wet and the night was unusually dark and you may try if you can to conceive what their situation was. They hardly knew which way to steer, as it had by that time got to be about 10 o’clock. The first step they took was to find the woods as quick as possible where they thought they should be safe. But in order to reach thereto they had to lay down in a swamp or by an old log just where they happened to be so determinedly were they pursued by their mad enemies in every direction. Sometimes so closely that Brother J. [Joseph] was obliged to entreat Brother Rigdon, after his exertion in running, while lying by a log to breath more softly if he meant to escape.

When they would run or walk they took each other by the hand and covenanted to live and die together. Owing to the darkness of the night their pursuers had to carry lighted torches which was one means of the escape of our beloved suffers as they could see them in every direction while they were climbing over fences or traveling through brush or corn fields until about 12 o’clock. When after traveling as they suppose in this manner 5 or 6 miles they found the road which led homeward and saw no more of their pursuers. After traveling on foot along muddy slippery roads till near 3 in the morning they arrived safe at home almost fainting with fatigue.

He, Brother J. [Joseph], told us that he decreed in his heart when first taken that he would see home before sun rise and thank God so it was. And notwithstanding all he had to endure he appeared in the house of the Lord throughout the Sabbath in excellent spirits and spoke in a very powerful manner and blessed the congregation in the name of the Lord and I do assure you the saints felt the blessing and left the house rejoicing abundantly returning their blessing upon him. Brother Rigdon through his great weariness and a small hurt received from a fall did not attend the house but is now well. I suppose all these things will only add another gem to their crown.

I did not think of taking up so much room in relating these circumstances but I have been as brief as possible. I must now give you an account of a very affecting event which took place in Kirtland Sunday before last. You will of course remember a Mr. (Wycom?) Clarke, a miller who has been a great opposer of our church. As he and his wife with some of their children and other friends were returning from the Presbyterian meeting house in a very nice carriage, about one minute after they passed the house of the Lord their horses took fright and started off the side of the hill, overthrew the carriage and hurt Mr. C. [Clark] and one child considerably but Mrs. C. [Clark] so seriously as to prove fatal. She was buried on the Wednesday following. She has left 6 weeping children and a mourning husband indeed. On the day proceeding the accident she was heard to speak very unfavorably of our church but is now gone to prove whether it is the church of Christ or not. I greatly desire that the visitation may be sanctified to the family.

I believe it is not quite a year since Bro. J. [Joseph] told Mr. C. [Clark] that the curse of God would be upon him for his conduct towards him and the Church. You may remember that our people wished to purchase his place, but he would not sell it on any reasonable terms and therefore kept it, and has been a trouble in the place but has prospered in business so much as to say he never prospered better and told a person some time ago that he was ready for another of Joseph Smith’s curses. I feel inclined to think he will never be heard to utter such words again. May the Lord forgive and save him and all others who raise their hand against the Lord’s anointed for I see more clearly than ever that this is no trifling sin in the sight of God. No it is as great as ever it was in any age of the world. I sincerely wish that all the members of the Church had a proper sense of their duty and privilege in this respect.

I expect to hear from you soon and also from England. I hope I shall not be disappointed. Tell me if you and Brother Thompson have any idea of coming to Kirtland this fall, (if the field of labor remains open there), and unless a change should take place in the state of affairs here for the better I should not advise it however much I might like to see you. Here are corps of men out of employ even in the summer and how it will be in the winter I cannot tell but I fear for Kirtland. O, that we as a people may be faithful this is our only hope and all we have to depend on. Give my kind love to Brother Thompson and all other friends particularly Brother and Sister Law. I thank them for their kindness to you. I thank Brother Thompson for his last kind letter and should be pleased with another. I remain your very affectionate sister.

M. F. [On margins] Dadeus Sekins has married a widower with 5 children. Sister Kimble desires her love to you both.

October 7, 1837

My dear sister and brother,

Brother Joseph (Smith) came to see us a few days since for the last time previous to his going on a journey to Missouri. I believe I felt as much at parting with him as an own brother. He, Brother Rigdon, Bro. Hyrum Smith, William Smith and others are all gone on a very important business and are not expected back for some months. May the Lord have mercy upon us and guide us in their absence and preserve us here from the power of the devil and them also while absent. Indeed we all need to pray much. For as the great wheels or stone rolls forward as it is now doing with great success the grand adversary who knows he has but a very short time, will most assuredly rage with all his might.

Some important things were shown to Brother Joseph in vision previous to his going off relative to the enlargement of our borders which has indeed become indispensably necessary for the inhabitants of Zion both here and in the west are crying the cities are too strait for us give place that we may dwell. The people are crowding in from all parts and as President Rigdon said in his last discourse here they will gather and earth and hell combined cannot hinder them for gather they will. Hence the necessity of planting new stakes which they received a command to do before they left and it is expected that after they have set in order the Church in the west they will fix upon 11 new stakes before they return but this is not spoken of in public for reasons you will be aware of. If this were generally known it would probably make there way much more difficult. We had a very affecting time the last Sabbath. Our dear brethren were present and took their leave of the Church. I suppose we had not much less than 1500 persons on the congregation. Brother Rigdon received directions from the Lord in the morning as to the discourse he should deliver that day before he left us and truly it was marvelous, it was great it was glorious far beyond my power to describe. The tears flowed plentifully from Brother Josph [Joseph’s] eyes during the service. When he looked over congregation and considered what had been done and then what was still to be done he seemed to be filled with feelings indescribable. I am truly sorry that I am so unable to give you an idea of what passed. O what feelings ran through my soul while he was pouring his blessings upon all the sincere and faithful saints. How I longed to have a share in them all. Brother Rigdon’s address was upon the enlargement and future glory and purity of Zion when she arises and puts on her beautiful garments which must be before long.

As it is quite useless for me to aim an entering into any particular subject, I must just tell you how he concluded his discourse. After showing us what we have to do and what our privileges are and what our future blessedness would be he spoke out with a loud voice from the fullness of his heart, and let all the people say amen and amen. When it seemed as though all the congregation in one simultaneous voice responded with a loud amen it was the opinion of most that they had never heard the like before.