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George Albert Smith

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This article is about the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For others of the same name, see George Albert Smith (disambiguation).
George Albert Smith
George Albert Smith.jpg
8th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
May 21, 1945 (1945-05-21) – April 4, 1951 (1951-04-04)
Predecessor Heber J. Grant
Successor David O. McKay
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 21, 1943 (1943-06-21) – May 21, 1945 (1945-05-21)
End reason Became President of the Church
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 8, 1903 (1903-10-08) – May 21, 1945 (1945-05-21)
Called by Joseph F. Smith
End reason Became President of the Church
LDS Church Apostle
October 8, 1903 (1903-10-08) – April 4, 1951 (1951-04-04)
Called by Joseph F. Smith
Reason Death of Brigham Young, Jr.
at end of term
Marion G. Romney ordained
Personal details
Born George Albert Smith
(1870-04-04)April 4, 1870
Salt Lake City, Utah Territory
Died April 4, 1951(1951-04-04) (aged 81)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37″N 111°51′29″W / 40.777°N 111.858°W / 40.777; -111.858 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)
Spouse Lucy Emily Woodruff
Children 3
Parents John Henry Smith
Sarah Farr
Signature of George Albert Smith

George Albert Smith, Sr. (April 4, 1870 – April 4, 1951) was the eighth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church).

Early life[edit]

Born in Salt Lake City, Utah Territory, Smith was one of nineteen children of Mormon apostle John Henry Smith and one of his plural wives, Sarah Farr. His grandfather, for whom he was named, was also an LDS Church apostle as well as a cousin of church founder Joseph Smith. John Henry Smith and George Albert Smith are the only father and son pair to have been members of the Quorum of the Twelve at the same time, having served in the Quorum together between 1903 and 1910.

Smith attended high school at Brigham Young Academy, graduating in 1884. He next graduated from the University of Deseret (later the University of Utah) in 1888. In 1896, he had joined the Republican Party and campaigned for William McKinley, who became President of the United States.[citation needed] He also favored Theodore Roosevelt, McKinley's successor.[citation needed]

While surveying for a railroad as a young man, Smith's eyesight was permanently impaired by glare from the sun.[1] After 1903, Smith found his frequent travels debilitating and began to show prominent symptoms of physical weakness. He was eventually diagnosed with lupus erythematosus, a chronic debilitating autoimmune disease.

Smith was known for his patriotism and joined various American patriotic groups. He was also an ardent supporter of the Boy Scouts. In 1934, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America awarded him the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award. Smith was an avid genealogist and family historian and was named national vice president of the Sons of the American Revolution in 1922.

Marriage and family[edit]

On May 25, 1892, Smith married Lucy Emily Woodruff, the granddaughter of Wilford Woodruff, in the Manti Temple. The couple later had three children. Lucy had spent much of her time growing up in the household of her grandfather, Wilford Woodruff, and looked on him as almost more of a father than a grandfather.[2] Smith's son, George Albert Smith, Jr., became a professor at Harvard Business School.

LDS Church service[edit]

Just prior to his marriage to Lucy, Smith served as a Mutual Improvement Association missionary throughout many areas in Southern Utah.

Smith and his new wife, Lucy, were missionaries in the LDS Church's Southern States Mission, with J. Golden Kimball as their president, from 1892 to 1894. Smith was appointed mission secretary.

Smith was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1903. From 1920 until 1923 Smith served as president of the church's British and European missions. In this capacity, he preached in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Germany. From 1921 to 1935, Smith was the general superintendent of the church's Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association. In 1935 he was succeeded in this position by Albert E. Bowen.

With the death of quorum president Rudger Clawson in 1943, Smith was sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and served in the position for two years.

Administration as President of the Church[edit]

With the death of Heber J. Grant, Smith became president of the church on May 21, 1945. When World War II ended, Smith helped send supplies to Europe and was also known for his efforts to revitalize missionary work. He publicly denounced the activities and political influence of the American Ku Klux Klan. Smith dedicated the Idaho Falls Temple on September 23, 1945. Over his lifetime, he traveled approximately a million miles fulfilling church assignments.[3]

Smith was the first church president to visit Mexico while in office. He went there to complete the reconciliation of and return to the church a group of apostates in Mexico known as the "Third Conventionists".[4]


Smith died in Salt Lake City from systemic lupus erythematosus on his 81st birthday.[5] He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery.


  • Smith, George Albert (1951). Sayings of a Saint. Alice K. Chase. 
  • —— (1948). Sharing the Gospel With Others: Excerpts from the Sermons of President Smith. compiled by Preston Nibley. Deseret News Press. 
  • —— (1996). Robert McIntosh and Susan McIntosh., ed. The Teachings of George Albert Smith, Eighth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Bookcraft, Inc. 
  • —— (2011). Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 


  1. ^ Mary Jane Woodger (fall 2008). "'Cheat the Asylum of a Victim': George Albert Smith's 1909-1912 Breakdown". Journal of Mormon History 34 (4): 116.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. ^ Gibbons, Francis M. "George Albert Smith: Kind and Caring Christian: Prophet of God"
  3. ^ George Albert Smith, "Devotional", 1950-01-01.
  4. ^ Gerry R. Flake, "Mormons in Mexico: The First 96 Years," Ensign, September 1972, p. 20.
  5. ^ State of Utah Death Certificate

External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Heber J. Grant
President of the Church
May 21, 1945–April 4, 1951
Succeeded by
David O. McKay
Preceded by
Rudger Clawson
President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
June 21, 1943–May 21, 1945
Succeeded by
George F. Richards
Preceded by
Hyrum M. Smith
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
October 8, 1903–May 21, 1945
Succeeded by
Charles W. Penrose
Preceded by
Anthony W. Ivins
Superintendent of the
Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association

Succeeded by
Albert E. Bowen