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Biographical overview – Spencer W Kimball (biosswk ** )

 A biographical overview of the life of Spencer W. Kimball, 
the twelfth President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ

Following is a brief summary of some major events in the life of Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


  • Spencer Woolley Kimball was born on March 28, 1895 to Andrew Kimball and Olive Woolley Kimball. Spencer was the sixth of eleven children, and the third son.
  • Spencer was the grandson of Heber C. Kimball, one of the original Twelve Apostles and a counselor to Brigham Young in the First Presidency. Andrew Kimball, Spencer’s father, served as the stake president of the St. Joseph Stake for 26 years.
  • He was baptized on his eighth birthday by his father. He was baptized in a hog-scalding tub that the family also used as a bathtub. He was re-baptized in a canal at age 12 due to questions about the propriety of the tub baptism. Spencer’s father was not in the water with him when he was baptized in the tub.
  • His mother died when he was just eleven years old (1906).
  • Spencer was raised on a small farm in the Gila Valley of eastern Arizona.
  • He graduated with honors from Gila Academy, a church-owned high school, in 1914. While at the school, he was the student body president and a star forward on the basketball team (despite his diminutive size).
  • From 1914 to 1916 (age 19-21), he served as a missionary in the Central United States mission. His mission call was originally to the Swiss-Austrian Mission, but the call was changed due to the unstable situation in Europe surrounding World War I.
  • After his mission, he attended and graduated from the University of Arizona, studying banking, real estate, and insurance. He eventually became the manager-president of Kimball-Greenhalgh Realty and Insurance Company.
  • He married Camilla Eyring on November 16, 1917 (age 22).
  • He was called to serve as the 2nd Counselor in the St. Joseph Stake Presidency on September 8, 1924 (age 29). It was his own father’s death which necessitated a change in this stake presidency.
  • He was then called to serve as the Stake President of the Mt. Graham Stake on February 20, 1938 (age 43).
  • He was ordained an apostle by Heber J. Grant on October 7, 1943 (age 48).
  • In 1946 (age 51) he received a special assignment from President George Albert Smith to work with the American Indians. He was named chairman of the Church Indian Committee.
  • In 1948, he suffered and recovered from a serious heart ailment.
  • In 1951, he lost his voice through a serious throat ailment. His voice was restored following a priesthood administration.
  • In 1957, he was operated on for cancer of the throat. One and one-half vocal cords were removed. This operation saved his life but left him with a soft, raspy voice.
  • From 1964 until 1967 he supervised the missionary work in South America.
  • He was named Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1970.
  • He was set-apart as President of the Quorum of the Twelve in 1972.
  • He was ordained as President of the Church on December 30, 1973 and was sustained by the membership of the Church on April 6, 1974. He chose as his counselors in the First Presidency N. Eldon Tanner and Marion G. Romney.
  • He dedicated the Washington, D.C.Temple on November 19, 1974.
  • During his administration, temple building and temple work greatly expanded.  He announced and commenced the construction of six temples in five years, this being more than a third as many as the 17 built in the preceding 144 years of Church history.
  • Under his direction, the First Quorum of the Seventy was reconstituted in 1975.  He later instructed that the Assistants to the Twelve were to be released and called into the First Quorum of Seventy.
  • He created an ’emeritus’ status for some general authorities, honoring them for their long and faithful service but relieving them of the heavy responsibilities borne by all general authorities.
  • Under his direction, two new sections were added to the Doctrine and Covenants in 1976.  These sections included Joseph Smith’s vision of the celestial kingdom and Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the redemption of the dead.  This was the first formal addition to the church’s canon of scripture in 86 years.
  • He eliminated auxiliary general conferences, replacing them with regional meetings and area conferences.
  • In 1978 (age 83) he received a revelation to extend the priesthood to all worthy males, regardless of race.
  • From 1979 to 1981, the new LDS edition of the standard works was published.
  • During his tenure, the genealogical name-extraction program was instituted, wherein names of the dead were collected much more efficiently by extracting them directly from civil and church records.
  • President Kimball stressed simplification in many ways to save effort, time, time, travel, and expense for church members.  This
    simplification included shortening general conference to two days, reducing the number of stake conferences to two per year, and making meeting and interview schedules more flexible.  He also introduced the new consolidation, unification, and simplification program throughout the church, ultimately placing highest priority on the home and family.
  • President Kimball oversaw a vast increase in missionary emphasis, with special attention given to the three-quarters of the world’s population where no missionary work was being performed.  The number of missionaries increased 36 percent during his administration.
  • President Kimball introduced profound organizational changes in church administration.  This included clearly dividing ecclesiastical responsibilities under the Twelve from temporal responsibilities under the Presiding Bishopric, clarifying the role and administration of the youth organizations, and redefining the roles of the Twelve and the Seventy.
  • President Kimball gave special attention to the problems of women in today’s world, including official statements on abortion and the proposed ‘equal rights amendment’, organization of a women’s resource center, and the holding of the first church-wide women’s meeting on a scale comparable to the general priesthood meeting.
  • President Kimball instituted mass media methods of spreading the gospel, including a nationwide prime-time television program on the family, a series of inserts in Readers’ Digest, and a number of family-centered rallies featuring church leaders and celebrities in entertainment and sports.
  • President Kimball oversaw the construction of the Orson Hyde Memorial Gardens on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to focus attention on the church’s particular interest and involvement in that part of the world.
  • He instituted the assignment of general authorities as general auxiliary heads.
  • President Kimball approved the two-piece garment.
  • President Kimball passed away on November 5, 1985. He was 90 years old.
  • President Kimball’s legacy as an indefatigable worker is well documented. Two of his favorite expressions were “DO IT!” and “Lengthen your stride!”.


Timeline for President Spencer W. Kimball

  • 1895 — Born on March 28 in Salt Lake City, son of Andrew Kimball, grandson of Heber C. Kimball
  • 1907 — Baptized on October 5
  • 1914 — Graduated with High Honors from Gila Academy, student body president, played on basketball team, enjoyed singing and playing piano
  • 1914 — June 6, ordained a priest by his father, Andrew Kimball
  • 1914 — September 15, ordained an elder
  • 1914 — October 16, ordained a Seventy by his uncle, President J. Golden Kimball and called to serve in the Swiss-Austria Mission.  Sent to the Central States Mission due to World War 1
  • 1917 — November 16, married Camilla Eyring
  • 1918 — January 1, named Stake Clerk of the St. Joseph Stake, entered the banking business
  • 1924 — September 8, becomes Second Counselor in stake presidency, ordained high priest by President Heber J. Grant
  • 1938 — set apart as President of the Mount Graham Stake
  • 1941 — involved in the welfare program aiding victims of the Gila River flood
  • 1943 — called to the Apostleship by President Heber J. Grant
  • 1943 — October 7, sustained as an apostle by the church
  • 1948 — Suffered severe heart ailment
  • 1951 — Lost voice due to a serious throat ailment, voice was restored through priesthood blessings
  • 1957 — Operated on for throat cancer, most of his vocal cord apparatus was removed
  • 1969 — Received honorary Doctor of Law from Brigham Young University
  • 1970 — Acting president of the Council of the Twelve
  • 1972 — President of the Council of the Twelve, underwent open-heart surgery
  • 1973 — Sustained as President of the Church

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