Joseph Fielding Smith, Patriarch

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Joseph Fielding Smith, the son of apostle Hyrum M. Smith and Ida Elizabeth Bowman, served as Patriarch to the Church from 1942 to 1946. The calling had been vacant for ten years since the passing of Hyrum G. Smith. Three other men had served as Acting Presiding Patriarch (Nicholas G. Smith, Frank B. Woodbury, George F. Richards). The scope of the responsibilities of Patriarch of the Church had changed in that Joseph Fielding Smith did not ordain or formally supervise local stake patriarchs.

His grandfather Joseph F. Smith was the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his uncle, also named Joseph Fielding Smith, served as tenth president of the Church.

Smith was born on January 30, 1899, in Salt Lake City, Utah. He served a mission to Hawaii from 1920 to 1922. He was a professor of speech and head of the Speech Department at the University of Utah and pursued further studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also president of the National Speech Association.

At the time of his calling as Church Patriarch, he was a member of the Mutual Improvement Association general board. After four years of service, he was released from his calling, the announcement citing “ill health.”[1] It is generally reported that he had been involved in several homosexual affairs and had been released for that reason.[2] After his release, he took his wife, Ruth, and their seven children and moved to Hawaii. He continued to work as a teacher of English and drama. The family returned to Utah after several years and Smith served as a member of his stake’s high council.

He died on August 29, 1964, in Salt Lake City.