Ezra Taft Benson
President Benson was born August 4, 1899, in Whitney, Idaho, and was the oldest of eleven children. When he was a youth, his father was called on a mission. The family worked hard to keep up the farm while he was gone, but his father’s example touched the children, and all eleven served at least one full-time mission.
In 1918, Ezra Taft Benson enlisted in the army just as World War I was ending. He then pursued a career in farming and took courses from Utah State University in agriculture. In 1921, he was called on a mission to England. Following his mission, Ezra Taft Benson attended Brigham Young University, where he was named the most popular man on campus and graduated with honors.
On September 10, 1926, Benson married Flora Smith Amussen, a woman with many talents. She had won the women’s singles tennis championship in college and had served a mission to Hawaii. Together, they had six children.
In 1929, President Benson was appointed to be the Franklin County agricultural agent and helped farmers solve agricultural problems. In 1930, he was appointed to serve as the executive secretary of the Idaho Cooperative Council, and he remained in this office for five years. He left in 1936 for additional graduate study at the University of California. When he returned in 1938, he was called to be a Stake President. In 1939, Ezra Taft Benson was asked to be the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.
On July 26, 1943, Elder Benson was called as an apostle. He was called in 1945 to oversee the European mission and help the people who were suffering from the war. In ten months he delivered 92 boxcar loads of food, clothing, bedding, and medical supplies. He also helped reopen the missions in Europe.
In 1952, President Benson accepted a cabinet position under Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Secretary of Agriculture. He served in this position for eight years. His presence in politics helped the Church become accepted throughout the world. In 1973, Ezra Taft Benson became the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and in 1985 became the President of the Church. He was 86 years old. President Benson emphasized the importance of reading the Book of Mormon, missionary work, and strengthening families. He served as president until his death in 1994.
See also Beware of Pride, President Benson's classic talk from general conference
Quotes from President Ezra Taft Benson
- “We have a sacred responsibility to fulfill the threefold mission of the Church—first, to teach the gospel to the world; second, to strengthen the membership of the Church wherever they may be; third, to move forward the work of salvation for the dead.”
- “A Sacred Responsibility,” Ensign, May 1986
- "Pride is a sin that can readily be seen in others but is rarely admitted in ourselves. Most of us consider pride to be a sin of those on the top, such as the rich and the learned, looking down at the rest of us. There is, however, a far more common ailment among us—and that is pride from the bottom looking up. It is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous."
- “Beware of Pride,” Ensign, May 1989
- "The Church will always stand for that which is honest, virtuous, true and praiseworthy. Such a pronounced stand for righteousness constitutes a repudiation against every evil and all false philosophies. The First Presidency and the Twelve are not oblivious to false philosophies and evils and will continue to warn the world and the Saints as the Lord directs."
- “May the Kingdom of God Go Forth,” Ensign, May 1978
See also Quotes from the Prophets