Neal A. Maxwell

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Neal A. Maxwell
Neal A. Maxwell.jpg
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23) – July 21, 2004 (2004-07-21)
LDS Church Apostle
July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23) – July 21, 2004 (2004-07-21)
Reason Gordon B. Hinckley added to First Presidency
at end of term
Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar were ordained following the deaths of Maxwell and David B. Haight
Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy
October 1, 1976 (1976-10-01) – July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23)
End reason Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
First Quorum of the Seventy
October 1, 1976 (1976-10-01) – July 23, 1981 (1981-07-23)
End reason Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
April 6, 1974 (1974-04-06) – October 1, 1976 (1976-10-01)
End reason Position abolished
Personal details
Born Neal Ash Maxwell
(1926-07-06)July 6, 1926
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Died July 21, 2004(2004-07-21) (aged 78)
Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
Resting place Salt Lake City Cemetery
40°46′37.92″N 111°51′28.8″W / 40.7772000°N 111.858000°W / 40.7772000; -111.858000 (Salt Lake City Cemetery)
Signature of Neal A. Maxwell

Neal Ash Maxwell (July 6, 1926 – July 21, 2004) was an American scholar, educator, and religious leader who served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1981 until his death.

Life and career[edit]

Maxwell was born in Salt Lake City, Utah to Clarence Maxwell and his wife, Emma Ash. Maxwell attended Granite High School. During World War II, Maxwell served as an infantryman in the United States Army (77th Division), where he saw action in the Battle of Okinawa. After the war, Maxwell served for two years as an LDS Church missionary in Canada.

While pursuing an undergraduate education at the University of Utah before leaving on his mission, Maxwell met Colleen Hinckley. After Maxwell returned from his mission, he resumed courting Colleen, and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple on November 22, 1950.[1] They became the parents of four children and twenty-four grandchildren.

Maxwell earned bachelors and masters degrees in political science from the University of Utah. From 1952 to 1956, he worked in Washington DC, first for the US government and then as an assistant to Senator Wallace F. Bennett.

Maxwell was a professor of political science at the University of Utah. He also held many administrative roles at the university. He first joined the university staff as assistant director of public relations in 1956. In 1958, he became Assistant to the President. In 1961, he was secretary to the Board of Trustees, followed by dean of students in 1962, and later vice president for planning and public affairs. In 1967, he became Executive Vice-President of the University of Utah.[2]

LDS Church service[edit]

From 1959 to 1962, Maxwell served as bishop of Salt Lake City's University Sixth Ward. He was a member of the General Board of the YMMIA and a member of the Adult Correlation Committee for the next five years.

In 1967, Maxwell was called to be one of the first 69 regional representatives, when that position was created.[3] From 1970 to 1974, he served as the tenth Commissioner of Church Education overseeing the Church Educational System. Under his direction, the system received its current name.

Maxwell began serving as an LDS general authority in 1974, when he was called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. In 1976, Maxwell became one of the seven presidents of the seventy, when the calling of Assistant to the Twelve was eliminated.

Maxwell was ordained an apostle by N. Eldon Tanner on July 23, 1981, after Gordon B. Hinckley became a counselor in the First Presidency. He was sustained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on October 3, 1981.

As with all general authorities, among his many assignments was to preside over the organization of new stakes of the church. One of the more notable was the Aba Nigeria Stake in 1988, with David W. Eka called as president. This was the first stake in the church staffed entirely by people of African descent.

Maxwell wrote approximately 30 books concerning religion and authored numerous articles on politics and government for local, professional and national publications. He was well known for his extensive vocabulary and elegant style of speaking and writing. His highly alliterative talks have always presented a great challenge to translators. During one LDS general conference, the translators had categorized each of the talks to be given into five levels of difficulty. All of the talks were assigned to levels one to four, except Maxwell's. His talk was alone at level five.[4] Commenting on his speaking and writing styles at Maxwell's funeral, church president Gordon B. Hinckley said,

I know of no other man who spoke in such an interesting and distinct manner. His genius was the product of diligence. He was a perfectionist determined to exact from every phrase and sentence vivid imagery that brought the gospel to life. Each talk was a masterpiece, each book was a work of art. I think we shall not see one like him again.[5]

Maxwell received an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Utah; an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Westminster College, Salt Lake City; an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brigham Young University (BYU), Provo, Utah; an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Utah State University, Logan, Utah; an Honorary Degree from Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho; and an Honorary Degree from Salt Lake Community College.

The University of Utah established the Neal A. Maxwell Presidential Endowed Chair in Political Theory, Public Policy and Public Service in the fall of 1998.

Maxwell's business career included serving as a director of several business firms, including Questar Corporation, Questar Pipeline, and Deseret News Publishing Company. He also was active in public service, including service as chairman of the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission.

Maxwell received the Liberty Bell award from the Utah State Bar in 1967 for public service. In 1973, the Institute of Government Service at BYU named him Public Administrator of the Year.


Maxwell died in Salt Lake City, from leukemia. He was originally diagnosed with leukemia in 1996, eight years before his death. He was buried at Salt Lake City Cemetery. According to Hinckley, Maxwell "accomplished more in these last eight years than most men do in a lifetime."[5] Maxwell was survived by his wife, Colleen, four children, 24 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. With the death ten days later of fellow apostle David B. Haight, the vacancies created in the Quorum of the Twelve were filled by Dieter F. Uchtdorf and David A. Bednar.

The BYU Institute for the Study and Preservation of Ancient Religious Texts was renamed the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship after Maxwell's death.



  1. ^ Moore, Carrie A. (July 23, 2004). "Elder Maxwell dies at 78". Deseret News 
  2. ^ Wilkinson, Ernest L.; Arrington, Leonard J.; Hafen, Bruce C., eds. (1976). Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years. 3. Provo: Brigham Young University Press. pp. 749–750. ISBN 978-0-8425-0708-0. OCLC 1857978 
  3. ^ Hugh B. Brown, Conference Report, October 1967. Archived September 29, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ "Elder Neal A. Maxwell: A Devoted Life". New Era. September 2004 
  5. ^ a b Moore, Carrie A. (July 28, 2004). "'We shall not see one like him again'". Deseret News 


External links[edit]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
James E. Faust
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
July 23, 1981 – July 21, 2004
Succeeded by
Russell M. Nelson