Howard W. Hunter

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Howard W. Hunter was the fourteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is remembered for stressing the importance of temple work and attending the temple regularly.

Howard W. Hunter, Church president and prophet, 1994–1995

Early Life

Howard W. Hunter was born on November 14, 1907, in Boise, Idaho. His father was not a member of the Church, and when Howard wanted to be baptized at age eight, his father forbade it. He finally persuaded his father to let him be baptized when he was twelve years old. At fifteen he earned his Eagle Scout; he was only the second scout in Boise to earn this award. Hunter also excelled in music and learned to play the piano, violin, marimba, drums, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet. After high school, a band he had formed was able to play on a cruise ship during a two-month tour of the Orient. When he returned he learned that his father had finally joined the Church.

On June 10, 1931, Howard W. Hunter married Clara "Claire" Jeffs, a young lady he had been dating for some time. They had three children, one of whom died in childhood. Soon after their marriage, Howard found a job working for the Los Angeles Flood Control District. It was in this job that he became interested in legal matters and decided to study law. He graduated with his law degree in 1939 and was admitted to the bar the same year.

On Hunter's 46th birthday his parents surprised him by showing up at the Mesa Arizona Temple ready to be sealed to each other and him, along with his sister, who had also made the trip. This was a pleasant surprise for President Hunter—he and the members of the Pasadena California Stake over which he presided had traveled quite a distance in order to attend the temple in Mesa. The Los Angeles California Temple would open three years later in 1956, also during his tenure as stake president.


In the early 1970s, Clara Hunter's health began to decline. She experienced a series of strokes that left her bedridden. Boyd K. Packer noted that Hunter cared for her during her long illness and that he was "an example to all the church."[1] She died on October 9, 1983.

Hunter had been acquainted with Inis Egan Stanton while he lived in California and served as a bishop. They became reacquainted when she worked in the lobby of the Church Office Building. In April 1990, while he was serving as president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Hunter told his fellow apostles following a meeting that he had an announcement to make.

"I thought I'd just let you know that I'm going to be married this afternoon," he told the group, explaining that, "Inis Stanton is an old acquaintance from California. I've been visiting with her for some time, and I've decided to be married." At 2 p.m. on April 12, 1990, the couple was married by President Gordon B. Hinckley—then a counselor in the First Presidency—in the Salt Lake Temple.[2]

Professional Career and Church Service

In 1940, Howard W. Hunter started his own private law practice. A year later, he became bishop of his ward; he served in that position for eight years. Two years after his release from that calling, he was called to be stake president and served in that calling for nine years. During that time he helped in the building of the Los Angeles Temple, and helped start the early-morning seminary program in the area.

In 1959, Howard W. Hunter went to Salt Lake City to attend general conference, and while there he was called to have an interview with President David O. McKay. When he arrived for the interview, President McKay immediately began, "The Lord has spoken. You are called to be one of his special witnesses, and tomorrow you will be sustained as a member of the Council of the Twelve" (Eleanor Knowles, Howard W. Hunter, p. 144). Hunter was stunned, but accepted the call and was ordained on October 15, 1959.

From 1964 to 1972, Howard W. Hunter served as the President of the Genealogical Society of Utah and oversaw the first uploads of records to computers. In 1970 he was called to be the Church Historian. In 1989, Elder Hunter was called to be the resident of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and on May 30, 1994, was sustained as the prophet and president of the Church]. Of his calling President Hunter said, “I have shed many tears and have sought my Father in Heaven in earnest prayer with a desire to be equal to the high and holy calling which is now mine” (Church News, "I Pledge My Life and ... Full Measure of My Soul," June 11, 1994). He encouraged all members to become temple worthy, heralding the huge temple-building program of his successor, Gordon B. Hinckley. Howard W. Hunter served for only nine months until his death on March 3, 1995.

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Quotes from President Howard W. Hunter

  • “Let us be a temple-attending people. Attend the temple as frequently as personal circumstances allow. Keep a picture of a temple in your home that your children may see it. Teach them about the purposes of the House of the Lord. Have them plan from their earliest years to go there and to remain worthy of that blessing.”
“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign, Nov. 1994
  • "Modernization has transferred the responsibility of education from the family to public institutions where modern thought has become paramount and moral principles have become abandoned. The crime rate has increased alarmingly. Drug addiction, disobedience to law, increase in venereal disease, and corruption in all forms seem to be accepted. In this day of modernization, freedom of thought and action is sponsored and promoted without consideration of the responsibilities that must accompany such freedoms if society is to be stabilized. Surely we would agree that the family institution has been seriously, if not irreparably, damaged in our society."
“Of the World or of the Kingdom?” Ensign, Jan. 1974
  • “To those who have transgressed or been offended, we say, come back. The path of repentance, though hard at times, lifts one ever upward and leads to a perfect forgiveness.”
"Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign, Nov. 1994
  • “I am grateful for my membership in the Church; and my testimony of its divinity hinges upon the simple story of the lad under the trees kneeling and receiving heavenly visitors—not one God, but two separate, individual personages, the Father and the Son, revealing again to the earth the personages of the Godhead. My faith and testimony hinge upon this simple story, for if it is not true, Mormonism falls. If it is true—and I bear witness that it is—it is one of the greatest single events in all history.”
“Joseph—The Seer,” address given on Dec. 15, 1960, in Logan, Utah.

See also Quotes from the Prophets

External Links

Presidents of the Mormon Church
Joseph Smith | Brigham Young | John Taylor | Wilford Woodruff | Lorenzo Snow | Joseph F. Smith | Heber J. Grant | George Albert Smith | David O. McKay | Joseph Fielding Smith | Harold B. Lee | Spencer W. Kimball | Ezra Taft Benson | Howard W. Hunter | Gordon B. Hinckley | Thomas S. Monson | Russell M. Nelson