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David O. McKay Diaries – “First Presidency”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “First Presidency.” You can view other subjects here.

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Thur., 28 Sep., 1950:

“Came to the office at 8 o’clock this morning–dictated to Clare until 8:30 a.m., at which time I went into a First Presidency’s meeting.  Discussion was held at this meeting regarding the sustaining of the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles [McKay] at the Conference Saturday afternoon, and also pertaining to the sustaining of an Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve.”

Sat., 30 Sep., 1950:

“2 p.m.–This session was conducted by President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.  I presented the names of the General Authorities for the sustaining vote of the people.  At this session I was sustained as the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and Elder Joseph Fielding Smith as Acting President of that Council.  Elder Delbert L. Stapley was also named and sustained as the new apostle to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of President George F. Richards.”

Mon., 2 Oct., 1950:

“At about 12 o’clock, I left for the Temple where I met for a few moments with the members of the Council of the Twelve who were assembled there for their Quarterly meeting.  As President of the Quorum of the Twelve, I met with them to give them my love and greeting.”

Mon., 12 Mar., 1951:

“7:30 a.m.–Sister McKay and I left by auto for Los Angeles.

We drove to St. George and enjoyed the trip very much.  We took rooms at the Hales’ Auto Camp.  Spent a very restless night, and awoke with the distinct impression that it would be unwise to continue our journey to Los Angeles.  When I mentioned the impression to Sister McKay, she agreed that we should return, and so without further hesitancy, instead of continuing our journey westward, we drove back home, and after another six-hour drive we were in Salt Lake City to spend our vacation and rest at 1037 East South Temple Street.  We concluded that we would answer no telephone calls, but just to act as though we were as far away from the office as though we were in Los Angeles.  Subsequent events proved the wisdom of our decision.”

Thur., 15 Mar., 1951:

“Today, and the balance of the week I spent at home under doctor’s orders.”

Wed., 21 Mar., 1951:

“At 1:30 p.m. received a telephone call from President Clark who reported that Dr. LeRoy Kimball had just telephoned to say that he was called up to President Smith’s home at midnight last evening. He was accompanied by a neurologist.  They found that Pres. Smith had suffered a thrombosis, which apparently affected his whole right side, and his speech was ‘pretty thick.’  His temperature, however, was not much above normal–99.6 degrees.

Dr. Kimball said that this is the most serious thing that has happened so far, and that he and the neurologist know that there is not much that can be done about it; that they will just have to wait and see.”

Fri., 23 Mar., 1951:

“Sister McKay and I called on President Smith this afternoon.  He seemed to brighten up during our visit with him–conversed with Sister McKay and recalled school teachers of 40 or 50 years ago. His mind seemed as clear as a bell.”

Mon., 26 Mar., 1951:

“At 11 o’clock Pres. Clark came in to report Pres. Smith’s condition–said he is definitely not any better, and the doctors are very concerned.  Wanted to put something in the paper about it, and I suggested that this not be done at this time; that it would do no good to publish his condition at this time.”

Mon., 2 Apr., 1951:

“The office being closed today because of Arbor Day, I spent the morning hours at home.  At 10 o’clock I received word from the doctor that President Smith was in a very serious condition.  I went immediately to the house and was shocked at his appearance. He did not seem to recognize me–the first time during his sickness.  I realized that possibly the end was not far off.  It came as quite a shock to my nervous system, for I fully sensed then what his passing means.  I remained at his bedside until about 12:30 p.m.  At about 11 o’clock I called Ray and had her come up to the Smith Home, and she stayed with me until 12:30 p.m.

Winslow, President Smith’s brother, was there and stayed all day. Arthur Haycock, the secretary, was trying to get in touch with young George Albert telling him not to wait for the train, but to take the plane in Chicago and come at once.

At 1 o’clock p.m. Ray and I went home for lunch, after which I came to the office and dictated notes on two of my talks for conference. Between 2:30 and 6 p.m. I was at home.  Lawrence and Mildred, Llewellyn and Alice, Edward and Lottie called at the home during the afternoon.

At 6 o’clock I went back up to President Smith’s, and found him, I thought, just a little weaker than he was about noone when he seemed to be brighter and a little better.

George Albert Smith, Jr. arrived home by plane at 8:30 p.m., and was recognized by his father who smiled and expressed himself as grateful that his only son had arrived at his bedside.  Their greeting of each other was really touching, and an inspiration to behold.”

Tues., 3 Apr., 1951:

“After a very busy morning, I left for home where I had lunch and rested for a few moments, and then left for President Smith’s residence where I found President Smith to be somewhat better, at least I thought he seemed so.  As we left, he smiled at us and said goodbye.

Mayor Weatherford of Independence, Missouri telephoned to say that he had just received word that President Smith is critically ill. He said: ‘I was very much disturbed to see this news in the press; I think so much of him and respect him highly.  Has he been ill for sometime?’  I answered that Pres. Smith has been in the hospital for a while, but has been home for two weeks or so, and has been absent from the office for six weeks.  Said that yesterday morning we became very much worried–we were at his home all morning.  At about 12:30 p.m. he rallied and was better.  Last evening at 6 p.m. he was the same, and at 8:30 p.m. when his only son arrived home, Pres. Smith recognized him, smiled, and said: ‘I am very glad that you have come.’

Mayor Weatherford then said: “We are very sorry that he is ill–will you please let his daughters know that we have called, and tell them that we think a lot of their father and of them.’

Mayor Weatherford expressed himself as being very much impressed with our Mission President in the Central States Mission–Brother J. Orval Ellsworth.  He said that Pres. Ellsworth is a member of their Kiwanis Club, and is doing a ‘swell’ job in that Mission.

I thanked Mayor Weatherford for calling and assured him that I would immediately call the Smith family.

Called Emily Smith Stuart and conveyed the foregoing message to her.”

Wed., 4 Apr., 1951:

“At 8:10 a.m. a Don Christiansen, photographer for ‘NewsWeek’ magazine, called by appointment.  He took several pictures of me. He had been instructed by the head office to do so.”

“Wed., 4 Apr., 1951:

“At 10 a.m. received a telephone call from Dr. Leroy Kimball, President Smith’s personal physician, who reported that President Smith is failing, and that the end is near–perhaps within an hour. I told him to keep in touch with me, and let me know when I should come to his bedside.

11 a.m.–Went up to Pres. Smith’s–the Family asked me to give him a blessing.  In doing so I broke down with emotion.  (Sister McKay accompanied me.)  Returned to the office, immediately afterwards.

Waited at the office until 1 p.m.,–having received no call from the doctor, I went home for lunch.

. . . .

At 3:30 p.m.–returned to the office, and found that there was no further word from the doctor concerning President Smith.  I drove up home to rest for a few moments feeling weary from the great strain and worry over the serious illness of the President.

Just a few moments after 7 p.m. received a call to come to the bedside of President Smith as the end was drawing near.  Arrived there just a few moments prior to his passing, at 7:27 p.m. President Clark and members of the immediate family were present.”

Thur., 5 Apr., 1951:

“Statement regarding the death of President George Albert Smith, published in local newspapers.

In the passing of President George Albert Smith, a great character has left us.  We, his associates, sorely miss him.

He has gone to those rewards which await the Lord’s faithful servants in the Celestial Kingdom.  He has joined those of his own who have gone before and he will await those near and dear to him who are to come after.

His was a life of high example, lofty concepts, and righteous achievement.  He loved the Gospel and lived it.  He loved the people.  He sought and obtained their love, trust, and confidence in return.  The people will miss him.  The world has lost a great spiritual leader.

We extend our deepest sympathy to his bereaved family, and pray that the Lord will bring to each of them the peace and comfort which he alone can bestow.

J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

David O. McKay”

Thur., 5 Apr., 1951:

“9 a.m.–President Clark conferred with me relative to statement from the Counselors regarding President Smith’s passing.”

Thur., 2 p.m.–Attended and spoke at the Primary Conference.  My subject was–Ever Present Factors in Primary Work.  It was with great difficulty and deep emotion that I fulfilled this promise to the Primary Presidency–the passing of President Smith has filled my soul with sorrow.

. . . .

At home this evening–I studied until about 9:30 and then retired. Was completely exhausted!”

Fri., 6 Apr., 1951:

“10 to 12–General Conference.  Conducted this session of conference–Made the following statement:  As you all know, through general announcements already given, last Wednesday, April 4, at 7:27 p.m., there came to a close, on his 81st birthday, the earthly career of our beloved leader President George Albert Smith.

A few moments after his heart beats stopped, one of his daughters, (I do not recall definitely at this moment whether it was Emily or Edith) said with aching heart: ‘This is the only way he could attend Conference!’

Though his chair is vacant this morning, let us hope that the influence of his Christ-like character will pervade every heart, and his high ideals be an inspiration to us all.  His was a noble soul–happiest when he could make others happy.  In his daily life he strove sincerely to apply the teachings of Jesus to ‘love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength and thy neighbor as thyself.’

Pres. Smith’s passing leaves the Quorum of the First Presidency disorganized, and the presiding authority of the Church now rests with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.  These brethren have requested that the counselors to President Smith conduct the exercises of this Conference.”

Sun., 8 Apr., 1951:

“4:30 p.m.–Special council meeting was held in the Salt Lake Temple.  Presented to the Twelve the names of my counselors–Elder Stephen L. Richards as First Counselor, and Pres. J. Reuben Clark, Jr. as Second Counselor.”

Mon., 9 Apr., 1951:

“8 a.m.–Arrived at the office–prepared notes for the meeting this morning.  At 9 o’clock, left the office, instructing Clare to bring the typewritten notes to the Tabernacle.  I then drove home where I found Sister McKay ready and waiting for me.  Shortly thereafter we left for the Tabernacle.

10 a.m.–A special Solemn Assembly was held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  At this meeting I was sustained as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  The two counselors whom I had chosen–Elder Stephen L. Richards, First Counselor, and Elder J. Reuben Clark, Jr., Second Counselor, were also sustained by the membership of the Church.

(See attached for my remarks made on that occasion.)

Before proceeding further with the exercises of this session, I am prompted to say a word in answer to a question which undoubtedly is in every one of your minds.  Particularly to those not members of the Church, and to members of the Church as well, may I call attention to the policy of the Church with regard to choosing of counselors.

When a President is chosen and sustained (that includes the president of the Aaronic Priesthood who is the Bishop of a Ward, also Presidents of quorums or superintendents or presidents of auxiliaries) it is the practice of the Church to let the president name his counselors.

Anticipating that the Council of the Twelve would grant to me that same privilege, I thoughtfully and prayerfully considered what two men would be most helpful and most contributive to the advancement of the Church.  The impression came, I am sure, directly from Him whose Church this is, and who presides over it, that the two counselors whom you have this day approved should be the other members of the quorum of the First Presidency.  Both are members of the Council of the Twelve, though counselors might have been chosen from High Priests outside that presiding body.

I chose these two members from the Council of the Twelve–two men with whom I have labored closely for many years, whose worthy, whose ability I know.  I have been associated with Elder Richards directly in Church affairs and in presiding positions for over thirty years.  I have been associated with President Clark in two quorums of the First Presidency for over sixteen years.  With these and other facts in mind, the question arose as to the order they should occupy in this new quorum.

Each man I love.  Each man is capable in his particular lines, and particularly with respect to the welfare and advancement of the Kingdom of God.

I realized that there would be a question in the minds of some as to which one of the two should be chosen as first counselor.  That question resolved itself in my mind first as to the order of precedence, seniority in the Council of the Twelve Apostles.  That should make no difference according to the practice of the Church, because members of the Council had heretofore been chosen irrespective of the position a member occupied in the Council of the Twelve.  And, as I have already said, high Priests have been chosen even as first counselors who were not members of the Council.

I felt that one guiding principle in this choice would be to follow the seniority in the Council.  These two men were sitting in their places in that presiding body in the Church, and I felt impressed that it would be advisable to continue that same seniority in the new quorum of the First Presidency. I repeat, not an an established policy, but because it seemed advisable in view of my close relationship to these two choice leaders.

Now I mention this because we do not want any member in this Church, nor any man or woman listening in to harbor the thought for a moment that there has been any rift between the two counselors who sustained President Smith in the Quorum of the First Presidency, and President Grant for the years that we were together with that inspired leader.  Neither should you feel that there is any demotion.  President Clark is a wonderful servant.  You have had demonstrated here this morning his ability in carrying out details, and he is just that efficient in everything pertaining to the work.

You should understand further, that in the counselorship of the Quorum of the First Presidency these two men are coordinate in authority, in love, and confidence, in freedom to make suggestions, and recommendations, and in their responsibility not only to the Quorum but also to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the people generally.

They are two great men.  I love them both, and say God bless them, and give you the assurance that there will be harmony and love and confidence in the Quorum of the First Presidency as you have sustained them today.

Following the meeting, I met the photographers from ‘Life’ Magazine who had previously asked for photographs of me.

While they were taking the pictures, hundreds of people gathered around.  I shook hands with all who came up to me.  Sister McKay and I then left for home, where I remained until late afternoon.

4:30 p.m.–Consulted with Joseph Anderson regarding the duty of employees in the office of the First Presidency.”

Tues., 10 Apr., 1951:

“[Clare] William Cook, who attended the meeting in Scotland when it was predicted that you would one day sit in the ‘highest councils of the Church’ telephoned to pay his respects.”

Tues., 10 Apr., 1951:

At 9 a.m.–Attended a First Presidency’s meeting.  From now on a meeting of the President and his counselors will be held every morning at this hour.

. . . .

At 4:30 p.m. attended special meetings of the Board of Directors of the Beneficial Life Insurance Company.  At this meeting I was elected as President of the Beneficial Life Insurance Company.”

Tues., 10 Apr., 1951:

“On this day I was elected as President and Director of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.”

Thur., 12 Apr., 1951:

“10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.–Council meeting.  At this meeting I was ordained as President of the Church.  Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Quorum of the Twelve, was voice.

4 p.m.–Dr. John A. Widtsoe, and Richard L. Evans called at the office, and extended an invitation for me to be the Editor-in-chief of the Improvement Era.”

Fri., 13 Apr., 1951:

“At 2:45 p.m. returned to the office to attend the directors’ meeting of the Zion’s Savings Bank, and at 3:30 p.m. the directors’ meeting of the Utah First National Bank.

I was elected as President of these companies at these meetings.”

Tues., 17 Apr., 1951:

“3:30 p.m.  Returned to the office.  In making adjustments among the officer personnel in the office of the First Presidency, I spoke to the following:

1. Geraldine Bearnson–Asked her to assist Clare in the office of the President.  Sister Bearnson seemed willing to accept the position, but later reported that sometime in the Fall she may leave the city to live in California.

2. Arthur Haycock–Told him that we would like him to be an assistant to Brother Joseph Anderson for the present, but that later I will feel free to call on him if I need someone to drive a car for me.  I hinted to him that the matter of salary will have to be adjusted by the committee under whose jurisdiction this comes.

3. Pearl Bridge–Advised her that President Stephen L. Richards has expressed the wish that he might have her for his private secretary.  Pearl said she would prefer to stay where she is; that she enjoys her work with Brother Anderson.

4. Elder Albert E. Bowen of the Council of the Twelve–Spoke to him about having him help me in the applications for cancellation of sealings, taking it out of the hands of Brother Joseph Anderson, and putting it in the hands of one of the Twelve.  Brother Bowen agreed that this is a wise thing to do, and said he would accept ‘not reluctantly, but freely.'”

Wed., 18 Apr., 1951:

“Called Mr. George M. Gadsby of the Utah Power and Light Company and told him that at the Executive Committee meeting of the Z.C.M.I. this morning, it was the unanimous wish of those present that he might serve on the Board of Directors, and that I was appointed to get his permission to have his name brought up for nomination this afternoon at the Stockholders meeting.

Mr. Gadsby explained that heretofore, because of his connection with the Utah Power & Light, he had refused all invitations to become directors of different companies, even turning down an invitation from President Grant at one time, but that now as he is nearing retirement it makes a different situation and that he would very much like to be associated with our men.  However, he asked for an hour to give the matter a little consideration.  He promised to call me at 12:30 p.m. at my home.

I also told Mr. Gadsby that for the present Stephen L. Richards will continue on his board–that later it may be considered advisable to have probably one of the Twelve take his place–asked Mr. Gadsby to be thinking about that possibility.

12:30 p.m.–received a telephone call from Mr. George M. Gadsby, General Manager of the Utah Power & Light Company, which was in answer to a telephone message I had conveyed to him earlier in the day.  (see notes above).  Mr. Gadsby said that he had considered the matter of serving on the Board of Directors of the Z.C.M.I. and had decided to accept the invitation.  I told him that the brethren would be very happy over his decision to accept this directorship.”

Wed., 18 Apr., 1951:

“At 2 p.m.–I met Harold Bennett, Manager of Z.C.M.I., who drove me out to the Wholesale Distributor’s building where at 2:30 p.m. we attended directors’ and stockholders’ meetings, at which meetings I was elected President of Z.C.M.I.”

Wed., 18 Apr., 1951:

“Bishop Watson of the 25th Ward this city telephoned regarding Mrs. Annie Wilson Graham, 71, who is in the hospital for amputation of her leg.  The doctors have pronounced her condition cancer and advise amputation, and Mrs. Graham asked for President McKay’s advice in the matter.  The Bishop called because he knew that this decision must be left to the family and to the doctors.  Her son–Brother Harold Graham of Bountiful–called a day or so ago and left word with the secretary that Mrs. Graham would like to come to the office for administration and advice.  The secretary told Bishop Watson that President McKay has been under the necessity, due to the reorganization of the Presidency, of attending meetings from early morning until late at night, and therefore suggested that Mrs. Graham’s name be placed on the prayer list for the meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve tomorrow morning at 11 a.m.  Bishop Watson expressed himself as feeling sure that this would satisfy Mrs. Graham, and that he thought under the circumstances it is all that can be done.”

Thur., 19 Apr., 1951:

“Arose at 4:50 this morning.  Came to the office at 6:45 a.m.

8 a.m.–Clare came in with notes concerning meetings and appointments to be made.  She reported that the telephone has rung almost constantly since my appointment–many people are asking for appointments, business men in the city asking for audiences, Bishops, Stake Presidents, etc. arranging for speaking appointments, Managers of church-owned businesses making appointments for reorganizations.

The past three weeks have been the most strenuous and trying that I have ever spent in my life, and I have been through many trying periods in the past!”

Fri., 20 Apr., 1951:

“At 2 p.m. Attended Stockholders’ meeting of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.  At the directors’ meeting held on the 17 of April I was elected as President of the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, and at this meeting I was nominated Chairman of the Stockholders’ meeting.”

Mon., 23 Apr., 1951:

“On this day my secretary moved my office belongings to the new headquarters.

[Deseret News article dated 25 Apr.:]


It is moving day at the Church Office Building near the head of South Temple Street.  Reorganization of the First Presidency has made necessary a change in offices and clerical personnel.

Pres. David O. McKay has moved into the spacious office in the northeast corner on the first floor of the administration building formerly occupied by the late Pres. George Albert Smith.

Pres. Stephen L. Richards will occupy the southwest corner office previously used by Eldred G. Smith, patriarch to the Church, who has moved into President Richards’ former quarters on the second floor, and Pres. J. Reuben Clark Jr. will continue occupancy of the office in the northwest corner on the main floor.

Joseph Anderson, who has long served as secretary to the First Presidency, will now be assisted by D. Arthur Haycock, former secretary to President Smith.  Clare Middlemiss will continue as secretary to President McKay, assisted by Geraldine Bearnson.

Pearl Bridge will serve as President Richards’ secretary and Rowena Miller will continue her duties as secretary to President Clark.”

Tues., 24 Apr., 1951:

“At the Directors meeting of the Hotel Utah held at 4 p.m. today (which meeting I did not attend) I was elected President of the Hotel.”

Wed., 25 Apr., 1951:

“Dr. William M. Parkinson of the Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. called me from Philadelphia.  He extended greetings and congratulations on my ‘elevation to the Presidency of the Church,’ and then said: ‘President McKay the President of the University has asked me to contact you to see if you would be our Commencement speaker on June 14, at 10 a.m., and also be the recipient of an honorary degree.  You are the first on our list.  There will be from 10,000 to 12,000 people present and 1400 graduates.  We should like to have your son present you with the honor since he is a graduate of our school.  If it is possible for you to come, you will receive the official invitation from the President.  The commencement address should be from 20 to 30 minutes.’

Dr. Parkinson said that several of the boys from Utah were there at his side, having been informed that the President of the School was very much interested in having me accept the invitation.

I expressed deep appreciation for the honor, and said that I should like to check up on my appointments and let him know later whether or not it will be possible for me to be present on this occasion.”

Thur., 19 Jul., 1951:

“Telephone Conversation with Emily Smith Stuart

July 19, 1951

After preliminary remarks concerning her health, etc., she said: ‘President McKay:  I want to ask your advice or judgment on something I want to do.  I don’t want to be embarrassed, nor have anyone else embarrassed.  At the time we sent the car to the Hotel after father left us, I really wanted to keep it, but I didn’t say anything.  We then went to Laguna Beach and when I returned, I learned that the car was still at the Hotel garage, so I called Frank Newman of the garage and asked him to get me a Blue Book listing on it, which he did, and the price quoted was within my reach.  I really wanted to keep the car because it was father’s and it was something extra special to me, and I thought it was at a price I could afford.  I asked Bishop Isaacson of the Presiding Bishop’s office regarding it, and he offered a price that I cannot reach whereas the Blue Book price I could reach.’

I said to Emily:  ‘What is the difference in the two figures?, and she answered: ‘$600.00.’  Emily then continued:  ‘Bishop Isaacson told me to put my offer in writing, and I did not want to put it into writing, and that’s why I have waited until now.’

I said, ‘Now, Emily, I haven’t turned my hand over on these cars–I did not use the old Cadillac.  Bishop Isaacson told me that we could get a later model for just a few hundred dollars more, and I answered that I would leave that in his hands, and that is all I know.’

Emily then said:  ‘If I put in to writing my offer for the car, which will be the Blue Book listing, will I be embarrassed?  I don’t want anybody to know about it.  I know the conversation that goes on around there.’  I said:  ‘I don’t believe I would put it in writing.  You call Bishop Isaacson and see what the church is offering it for, and if it is too high you tell him that you cannot pay it.’

Emily then said that she felt she had saved the church hundreds of dollars by not using a chauffer during her father’s administration. I then said: ‘You call Bishop Isaacson up and say what you would like it for and if he agrees to the price named, then we shall talk about it.’

Emily then asked me when Sister McKay and I are going to Laguna Beach–I answered that I had tried several times to get down there, but that every time I make up my mind to go something important comes up and it is impossible to go.  Emily said:  ‘I can’t see why you could not have a private line between the office here and Laguna Beach, then you could sit in on round-table discussions if you cared to; it would not be as expensive as railroad fare.’  Said that she had tried to get her father to do this; that during the war years private lines of this nature were used frequently.  I stated that it may be a very good thing, and that it is worth looking in to.

Emily also brought up the matter of the night problem at our home. She said that they had found during her father’s administration that in order to gt any rest at all they had to cut off the regular telephone, and have a private line (the number of which was known only to a very few) put in, and then they know if something important came up their family or any of the brethren could reach President Smith.  She said: ‘You are entitled to live; you cannot go day and night; it is impossible.’  I answered ‘We shall try to run down to Laguna within the next seven or eight days–that’s a stake, and if we have to pull it up we shall let you know.’  She answered that she hoped we would get a little rest and enjoy our too-few hours down there.

Emily then said that she hated to report the bad news regarding the Polio situation here in Salt Lake City, but polio officials are fearful that it has reached the epidemic stage; that just a few moments ago the report had come that a mother, father, and three children are stricken with it; that we have never before had it strike a whole family in this community.  Said that she might have to approach the church for some financial aid if things get worse; that so far the church has contributed only about $300 to the cause and that upwards of a million dollars have been spent in this territory on Polio.”

Fri., 5 Oct., 1951:

“9:40 a.m.–In company with President Clark left for the Tabernacle to attend my first Conference as President of the Church. President Richards who went to his apartment to get Sister Richards, followed a few moments later.

10 a.m.–Presided and conducted the first session of the 122nd Semi-Annual Conference of the Church.  I delivered the opening address, the subject of my talk being Counteracting Pernicious Ideas and Subversive Teachings.  The Tabernacle was crowded beyond capacity–It being a beautiful day, many people were listening to the loud speakers on the grounds, and many were in attendance in the Assembly Hall where the proceedings of the Conference were broadcast over Television.

Henry D. Moyle, Thomas E. McKay, Mark E. Petersen, and Richard L. Evans were also speakers at the opening session.

The spirit of the Lord attended this meeting in rich abundance.

At the conclusion of the meeting I shook hands with hundreds of the Saints who came up to meet me.  As soon as possible, Sister McKay and I left for home.

2 to 4 p.m.–Second session of Conference was held.  Presided and conducted.  At the conclusion of the meeting spent an hour or so shaking hands with the people.

Returned to the office at 5:15 p.m., at which time I met Elder El Ray L. Christiansen, President of the Logan Temple.  I told him that at the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve he had been chosen as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve and that his name would be presented tomorrow morning for the sustaining vote of the people.

Just after Brother Christiansen left, Elder Romney called at the office.

Later, at my home, I interviewed Elder John Longden and advised him that he too had been chosen at the meeting of the Council in the Temple yesterday as an Assistant to the Twelve.”

Sat., 6 Oct., 1951:

“Third Session of Conference

10 a.m.–Presided and Conducted the third session of the 122nd Semi-Annual Conference.

This was an outstanding session–the new General Authorities as follows were presented for the sustaining vote of the Church Membership:

Marion G. Romney

George Q. Morris

Stayner Richards

ElRay Christiansen

John Longden

They were unanimously sustained.

Elder Romney, the new apostle, gave a humble testimony of the divinity of the Saviour, and a rich out-pouring of the spirit was felt during his remarks, and in fact during the entire meeting. Many persons on the stand and in the audience were in tears as was also Elder Romney.

After the meeting I spent some time shaking hands with people who were again gathered around the General Authorities’ door in the rear of the Tabernacle.

2 p.m.–Another inspirational meeting was held, it being the fourth session of the Semi-Annual Conference.

7 p.m.–General Priesthood meeting.  Presidents Richards, Clark, and I were the speakers at this meeting.

At the conclusion of the Priesthood meeting remained to shake hands with hundreds who had gathered around, among them was Bishop Ralph J. Harmon of the Kingman Ward (Moapa Stake) who had brought his Quorum of Deacons.  I took time to greet and shake hands with each one of the boys.  After returning to his home Bishop Harmon sent me a nice letter of appreciation, stating that the boys were very much impressed and thrilled that I had taken time to shake their hands.  I told Bishop Harmon in my answer to his letter that his close companionship to these boys was an illustration of a phase of Aaronic Priesthood Quorum work that should characterize the relationship of the Bishoprics to the Lesser Priesthood Quorums throughout the Church.”

Thur., 11 Oct., 1951:

“9 to 9:50–held the regular First Presidency’s meeting.  These daily meetings of the First Presidency are proving to be extremely helpful in expediting the work, and we are kept in daily touch with the correspondence and problems that confront us.”

Mon., 3 Dec., 1951:

“9 to 10:30 a.m.–Convened in First Presidency’s meeting.  Many problems pertaining to the Church are taken care of daily at these meetings.  First Presidency’s correspondence is also carefully considered and answered.”

Thur., 21 Feb., 1952:

“10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.–Attended regular Council meeting in the Salt Lake Temple.  At this meeting I was impressed to say the following to the brethren:  When this responsibility of Presidency came upon me, I said to the people: Never before have I so fully realized the force and significance of the commandment of the Lord that the ‘three Presiding High Priests’ of the Church shall be ‘upheld by the confidence, faith and prayer of the Church’  With the united support of the people and divine inspiration given to those appointed and sustained as leaders, no power on earth can destroy the influence or prevent the progress of the Lord’s work.  Now, with the clear sense of the great responsibility that comes with the office of President, I sense more keenly than ever the significance of the support from those two sources.  In my association with the Twelve and the Presidency, I have always felt the power of fellowship and the spirit of true brotherhood.  I felt it when I sat next to Brother Joseph in the Council, Brother Whitney, and Brother Richards, with whom I had a closer association because our beginning was so close.  Now I sense more clearly than ever, and wish to express here in your presence, my appreciation and gratitude for the support of those two noble men associated with me in the Presidency, President Richards and President Clark. Their loyalty, their devotion and concern, the work which they carry, are more outstanding than any in the Church realize, but you Brethren, I know perceive more clearly than anybody else.  I love them and hereby express in your presence my appreciation and gratitude for their support.  I wish to say, Brethren, I have never sensed more keenly the need of your support, and I wish to express gratitude for your loyalty, for your subordinating any personal hesitation to your loyalty to the office.  I sense the need of it more than I have ever sensed it before.  I thought that while we are here in the Circle I wanted to say ‘Thank you’ for your loyalty, your willingness to carry your responsibility as representatives of the Presidency, and also appreciation of your ability as leaders to inspire the membership of the Church and to establish confidence in the Church, in the hearts of non-members and others whom you meet.  I just wanted to say thank you and God bless you!”

Thur., 31 Jul., 1952:

“Note:  Willie Cook called at the office at 3:10 p.m. during President McKay’s absence.  Said he was in the Scottish Mision at the time President McKay was there, and he attended the meeting of missionaries when ‘President McMurrin told them there were angels in the room.'”

Mon., 29 Sep., 1952:

“The 9 o’clock First Presidency’s meeting was not held.  Hereafter, it is decided that we shall not hold a meeting on Mondays, thus giving the brethren a chance to rest after the week-end appointments, etc.”

Mon., 20 Oct., 1952:

“It has been decided to discontinue holding a First Presidency meeting on Monday, thus giving us a chance to attend to personal church matters and also to have a respite from strenuous week-end meetings and assignments.”

Fri., 7 Nov., 1952:

“[First Presidency meeting]  Some discussion was had in regard to the Welfare Committee.  President McKay suggested that the Committee hold its meetings without the presence of the First Presidency, and submit their recommendations to the First Presidency for consideration the same as recommendations from any other committee.  President Richards thought it was questionable propriety for the Presidency to sit in on a discussion where the Presidency are committed by the acts of the committee.  He felt that if the brethren of the Presidency have any different views on any of the subjects they ought to have an opportunity to state them before the Presidency alone and not before a committee.  President Clark said it had always been the understanding that that was a meeting at which the First Presidency would be in attendance.  He expressed a willingness to do whatever President McKay desired.”

Tues., 20 Jan., 1953:

[Note from Clare added later:  “President McKay did not dictate this for the diary, but I feel it should be given as it expresses the viewpoint of so many people both in and out of the Church who have the pleasure and privilege of meeting President McKay.

The man from Canada said:  ‘President McKay, I am not in the habit of giving compliments to people to their face; I should rather them (the compliments) come second-hand; but I am going to tell you now what I think of you—As I watched you tonight at the dinner table, I have come to the conclusion that you have the most benign countenance, the most Christ-like attitude, of any man I have ever known.”]

Wed., 25 Mar., 1953:

Telephone Conversation with Dr. Arthur Schuck, Chief Executive of the Boy Scouts of America.

Dr. Arthur Schuck telephoned from Los Angeles, California at 12:30 p.m. today.  Said he had called about two things—(1) ‘I am very happy to say to you (and we feel honored over it) that we have a committee on award for Distinguished Service, and that the Committee each year recommends to the National Executive Board the names of those whom they believe out of all America are best deserving of having our Silver Buffalo Award, and your name has been submitted and approved as one the receive this award.  We feel highly honored because we know what you have done for the Youth throughout the years.’

The second item is that the National Committee would like me to be the speaker at the closing luncheon of the Annual Meeting of the National Council to be held at Hotel Statler in Los Angeles, July 17, emphasizing the ‘Place of Religion in Scouting.’  On this same day the Awards will be made.

Dr. Schuck then said:  ‘I was hopeful that you would accept the award and that you could tell me now if you would be with us so that we can go forward with our program.

I answered, ‘I think the thing for me to do is to put July 17 on my calendar and make other things conform to it.’  Dr. Schuck expressed appreciation for this.

Dr. Schuck then said that Dr. Paul Hoffman (?) will speak on a subject giving the General public and businessmen’s viewpoint on scouting, and that Dr. Spraul (?) of the University of California will speak from the stand-point of education, and that ‘we think we shall have a balanced program to have you wind it up with the place of Scouting in religion, and we are looking forward to your participation.’

I said that I would make just one comment and said, ‘There is an added beatitude which is worded:  Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.’  Dr. Schuck then said, ‘I am sure we shall not be disappointed.  We shall tell our program people that you have accepted, and I’ll have someone in our program division communicate with you and give you the details.’

I expressed thanks and stated that I feel highly honored.  I commended Dr. Schuck for the excellent work he is doing in the Boy Scout Movement, and he answered that he could not do it if it were not for the cooperation of the outstanding me of our country.”

Fri., 17 July, 1953:

“At the Statler Hotel, Los Angeles, California

Speaker at the National Council meeting of Boy Scouts of America.  Following the meeting, a National Court of Honor was held, and I was one of six nationally prominent men who were awarded Scouting’s Silver Buffalo.  (see attached newspaper clippings and report)”

July to July 21, 1953:

Report on National Court of Honor and luncheon meeting held in the Statler Hotel, Los Angeles, California.  (This was a session of the 43rd Annual meeting of the Boy Scouts of America)

The following program was carried out:

Opening Ceremony by the Verdugo Hills Council, Glendale, Cal.

Invocation:  Elder Ezra Taft Benson, Council of the Twelve, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Session of the National Court of Honor:  Dr. George J. Fisher, National Scouting Commissioner, Chairman.

Presentation of Awards of the Silver Buffalo for Distinguished Service to Boyhood.  John M. Schiff, President of the Boy Scouts of America, made presentations.  (See newspaper clipping for President McKay’s citation)

Presentation of the Gold Honor Medal with Crossed Palms to Sea Explorer Brookner Brady, Jr. of Sea Explorer Ship 26, Monterey California, representing 21 Scouts and Explorers who received the Gold Honor Medal in 1952.

Address:  Dr. David O. McKay, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  (Elder Ezra Taft Benson introduced President McKay as the speaker–see newspaper clipping for tribute paid)

Closing Ceremony:  Presented by the Los Angeles Area Council

The following were also honored with Awards:

William H. Alberts, Merchant and Business Executive of Cincinnati, Ohio

Alton Fletcher Baker, Eugene, Oregon, Journalist, Publisher of the Eugene Register Guard since 1930

Henry B. Grandin, San Marino, Calif. Business Exec. Vice Pres. of the Louisiana Central Oil and Gas Co.

Ross L. Leffler, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Business Executive, Assist. to the Pres. of the Carnegie-Illinois Steel Corporation, civic leader in Pittsburgh, Pres. of the Pennsylvania Game Commission

Charles Francis McCahill, Cleveland, Ohio, Newspaper Exec. and Journalist, General Manager of the Cleveland News since 1933, Pres. of the American Newspaper Publishers Association.

It was a very inspiring meeting.  The honor bestowed upon me, howsoever unmerited, tends to inspire me with an increased desire to be of greater service to the youth of America.

At this meeting (The National Court of Honor) I sat next to one of those who were given honors.  He is not a member of our Church, and during our conversation he told me that he had been in Salt Lake a number of times and that our Church is the only church in the United States that expresses in daily life our belief.  He said it is not just a Sunday affair, but that we live up to our religion and ideals.  He said:  ‘I want to say to you it is your consistent living that has made me active in my church.’  I asked if I might quote him on that and he said that he gives to the Mormon Church all the credit for this interest in his own church, and, said he, ‘We do not reach what you reach.’

I attended several of the meetings and events of the Jamboree.  There were special features which were most outstanding.  For example, the pageant ‘The Making of America’–the sacred service Sunday night, July 19, the National Court of Honor, etc.

On the night of the 17th, Dr. Arthur A. Schuck gave a talk to the 50,000 Scouts of the subject of Prayer.  It was the most timely and impressive address given.  Dr. Schuck is truly a spiritual man!

On July 21, 1953, Sister McKay and I were pleased to greet Scoutmasters and Scouts of Scout Troop 159, Midvale, Utah, at the National Jamboree site at Santa Ana, California.  We had been invited earlier by letter from the Scoutmasters to have a meal with them while we were attending the Jamboree, but our time was so taken that it was impossible to stop with them for the meal, or to grant their requests to give them autographs.  However, in response to a question from one of the Scouts, I spent nearly an hour with them talking about the Church.  We enjoyed our brief stay with these outstanding boys.  (Later, upon arrival to his office, President McKay sent each of the boys of this troop an autographed card bearing the date of his visit with them.)

The Third Annual Jamboree of the Boy Scouts of America is now a treasured memory.  It was great in its entirety, and its influence for good upon the Youth of our land and beyond our country’s borders will continue to reverberate for years to come!”

Wed., 13 Apr., 1955:

“Note by Secretary (Clare Middlemiss)

*Shortly after President McKay’s personal interview in the office of the First Presidency with the officials of the General Motors Corporation, Mr. Gus Backman, Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, called Miss Middlemiss by telephone and reported the following:

‘I though you would be interested in a remark made by Mr. N.C. Dezendorf, Vice President of the General Motors Corporation, as we were going down the steps of the Church Office Building following our interview with President McKay.   He said: ‘There is the most god-like man I have ever met.  If you wanted to make a man in the image of God, there is the pattern.’   Later, as heretofore recorded, President McKay attended and spoke at a luncheon of all the General Motors officials and leading business men in the State of Utah.  All present were impressed with the message given by President McKay.  (cm)

Sun. 29 May, 1955:

In the afternoon, upon the insistence of Sister McKay, I visited the home of Mrs. Cameron – the former Mrs. William E. Ryberg – whose home is for sale.  The house, with all its modern equipment, is really a ‘dream’ house, and one any woman would love to have, but it is far too expensive for the McKay family.

May 9, 1956

Notes on Meeting of the First Presidency

2.  Resolution Commending Church for Influence in California.

Letter was read from President Hugh B. Smith of the San Fernando Stake stating that the California Legislature has passed a Resolution, which is signed by the Governor, commending the Church and its membership for their influence on the State of California.  President Smith suggests that President David O. McKay be in Los Angeles on May 22 to receive this Resolution officially.  It was explained that the Resolution refers back to the time of Samuel Brannan and mentions in a favorable way the activities of the Church since that time.

President McKay said he would arrange to go to Los Angeles to receive the Resolution.  (see May 22 report)

Tues., 22 May, 1956:

“(Receiving of the California Legislature Concurrent Resolution, formally presented to President McKay at ceremonies held in the Bureau of Information, Los Angeles Temple Block, Los Angeles, California.)

Under date of May 5, 1956, I received a letter from Hugh C. Smith, President of the 

San Fernando Stake, Van Nuys, California, in which he stated that Brother Harold E. White, an attorney and member of Sherman Oaks Ward, San Fernando Stake, and Sister Mabel Tolley of Encino Ward, who is on the Republican Central Committee, have been in touch with the Honorable Patraick D. McGee (R) Assemblyman from the 64th District of California, in regard to a resolution being passed by the State Legislature and signed by the Governor, to commend the Church and its membership for the things they have accomplished in California.  President Smith then asked as to when I could come to California to formally accept this Resolution.  In answer I sent a letter stating that I would be in Los Angeles on May 22, and would meet with them at 2 p.m. that day.  (See copies of letters following.)

Later I received the following formal invitation:








TUESDAY, MAY 22, 1956 – 2:00 P.M.




The following invitation was sent to Stake Presidencies, Bishops and their Wives by President Hugh C. Smith, under date of May 16, 1956:


2730 E. 11th Street, Los Angeles 23, California

May 16, 1956

To:  Stake Presidencies and Wives and Bishops and Wives:

Since the dedication of the Los Angeles temple the California State Legislative Assembly has adopted a resolution commending the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the great history they have made in the State of California, being climaxed by the dedication of the temple here in Los Angeles.  This resolution will be a permanent record in the historical files of California.  It will be presented to President David O. McKay at the Bureau of Information May 22, 1956 at 2:00 p.m.

You are invited to attend this event if you wish to do so.  Governor J. Goodwin Knight, and other state, county, and city officials will be present on this occasion.


Sister McKay and I arrived at the Bureau of Information, Los Angeles Temple Grounds at 1:30 p.m.

At 2:00 p.m. we met in the West Wing of the Los Angeles Temple Bureau of Information where impressive ceremonies were held for the formal presentation of a concurrent Resolution of the California State Legislature.

The Church, the State, and the City of Los Angeles were represented by an imposing and representative gathering of officials, including Lt. Gov. Harold J. Powers, who represented Governor Goodwin Knight, who was detained by another engagement; Mayor Norris Poulson of Los Angeles; Congressman Joseph F. Holt, who represents California in Washington, D.C.; Assemblyman Patrick D. McGee of Van Nuys, sponsor of the resolution; Assemblymen Thomas M. Rees and Charles H. Wilson of Los Angeles, and a large group of stake, ward, and mission officials in the surrounding stakes were present.

President Howard W. Hunter of the Pasadena Stake represented our brethren and gave a good talk, outlining the work of the Church.  He called it the ‘Church in Action,’ and did very well.  Brother John M. Russon, President of the Los Angeles Stake, offered the opening prayer, and Representative Joseph F. Holt spoke, expressing admiration for the contributions of the Latter-day Saints toward the life of the people of California, including San Fernando Valley.  He was followed by Lt. Gov. Powers, who remarked that there are ‘so many things that have to be taken care of in our country that the Government cannot do’, and it was therefore proper that the Legislature, in connection with the dedication of the Los Angeles Temple, pass a resolution recognizing the great contributions of the Mormons to the civic benefit of the State.  Mayor Poulson paid tribute to Brother Ezra Taft Benson.  He thinks his work is outstanding.  He also expressed satisfaction at having gone through the temple before its dedication.  He stated that in his estimation, it is not the greatness of the building, but the greatness of the people who built it.  Assemblyman McGee then told of the unanimous pleasure of the Legislators in preparing and passing the resolution, and made the formal presentation to me, representing the Church.

They spoke most flatteringly of the Church, and were sincerely complimentary.  The presentation was made in a dignified way.

I responded and expressed appreciation in behalf of the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve, and the other General authorities, and of the entire membership, not in thanks only, but in gratitude for this outstanding expression of appreciation of the people, the formal expression of a sovereign state.  They seemed to be satisfied with my acceptance, and all in all, I think it was one of the most outstanding tributes in the history of the Church.

The resolution was passed unanimously by the California State Assembly in session in Sacramento on March 29, 1956, and extended congratulations upon the recently dedicated temple in Los Angeles, and noted that an important part was played by the ‘heroic Mormons in the colonization of California in the mid-years of the nineteenth century.’  Mr. McGee noted that when the resolution was introduced at Sacramento shortly after the dedication of the temple, nearly every member of the State Assembly asked to be listed as a co-author of the document; that when it was read in the Lower House, more than half of the members took the floor to voice their feelings of appreciation and admiration for the Church’s accomplishment.  He noted that a few days later the same thing was repeated when the resolution came before the Senate for its action.

Mr. McGee himself is a staunch Catholic.  However, he mentioned the fact that he used to have a lovely Latter-day Saint girl in his office, who now works in the Judge’s office, and he has been exposed to the Church.  He made a talk on the Assembly floor, and it happened that 50 or 60 members of the Church in Sacramento were touring the building, and he noted their presence while he was speaking.  Fifteen men seconded it formally.

Three copies of the resolution were made.  One was given to me, as President of the Church; one was given to President Hugh C. Smith of the San Fernando Stake; and one will be retained by the State.  (see copy of resolution following — also newspaper clippins concerning this event.)

On May 21, 1956 I received a letter from H.A. Dixon, Congressman from Utah, enclosing a copy of the extension of remarks of Honorable Joseph F. Holt of California, which appeared in the Congressional Record, May 16, 1956.  It includes the Resolution of the California State Legislature.  (A copy of this is in the scrap book.)

Several telegrams and letters were received by me from members of the State Legislature, Assemblymen, etc. sending their regrets at not being able to be present on this auspicious occasion, and extending their greetings and congratulations.  (These are preserved in the scrap book.)”

Tues., 25 Mar., 1958:

I told President Richards that people are coming up to the home, and that only last night at 12:30 o’clock someone knocked on the door, but that we had retired and did not answer the door bell.  At 5 o’clock this morning the doorbell rang again, and Sister McKay got up to answer it, thinking it might be an emergency.  There stood a man dressed in an olive drab U.S. enlisted man’s coat and grey trousers, no hat, asking to see me.  Sister McKay told him that I was ill and could not see anyone, and he answered, ‘Oh, but, what I have to tel him will make him well.’  She again told him it was impossible to see me, and referred him to someone else.  Later, he came to the office and A. Hamer Reiser, Assistant Secretary to the First Presidency interviewed him.  He reported that the man’s name is Paul G. Martin of Parma, Idaho.  He is a farmer by occupation and is buying a farm in Parma.  He is 27 years of age, married; has a wife and four children.  He is not a member of the Church, although he says he is because he keeps all the commandments.  He says he has received a vision in which he was told that the Book of Mormon is true and that he should become a member of the Church.  He has had a revelation that the Pearl of Great Price is false; that he is to be the next successor to President McKay as head of the Church of Christ, etc., etc.

President Richards was very perturbed that anyone could get to my home and break my rest as this man did, but I told him that it is not unusual for us to be disturbed in this manner.

Thurs., 11 June, 1959:

“1:30 to 2:10 p.m. – Elder Henry D. Moyle came to my office following Council meeting to take up some Welfare matters with me.  Following our conversation on Welfare problems, I told Brother Moyle that I had chosen him to be my second counselor.  (See June 12 for details of conversation.)”

Fri., 12 June, 1959:

8:15 a.m. – Elder Henry D. Moyle’s call to the First Presidency.

Yesterday afternoon following Council meeting, I had a conference with Elder Henry D. Moyle at which time he presented several welfare problems to me.  After we had considered these matters, I said to him, ‘Elder Moyle there is another matter that will have to be considered immediately as it pertains to your trip to Europe — (Bro. Moyle having received permission from me a few days ago to take his wife and grandson to Europe during the summer vacation) — you heard what Brother Marion G. Romney said about his being in Europe this Summer and visiting the German Missions at which time we told him that we should like him to make the same visit that you made last year during your trip and go behind the Iron Curtain.  I know that you would like to go again this year, and that is all right for you to arrange that trip, but I am going to say something to you now — I should like you to be my second counselor.’  Tears welled up in his eyes, and he said ‘My goodness!  Then, I’ll not go to Europe!’  That was his first reaction, and I said to him, ‘Yes, you had better take Sister Moyle, as you have planned, but I thought you should know about this now, and if you feel all right about it and can support the President–‘ ‘Support you!  I should say I can!’ interrupted Brother Moyle.  Then Brother Moyle told about when President Grant chose me as his counselor and he said, ‘I responded to that appointment with all my heart, and have ever since.’  I then said, ‘Do not say anything about this as yet; you may talk to Alberta (Sister Moyle), and no one else.’  So this morning, Brother Moyle came in and said: ‘Sister Moyle and I didn’t sleep all night — we have decided that we had better not go to Europe; we feel that I should stay here and be by your side to help you.’  I was very pleased with Brother Moyle’s attitude.  (Bro. Moyle – Pres. Clark set apart June 18, 1959  See note on that day.)  (see copy of wire from Dorothy and Fred Schluter regarding Elder Moyle’s appointment following, also see copy of reply to this wire.)

President Clark’s call to be First Counselor to President McKay.  

8:30 a.m. – Following Brother Moyle’s departure, I called President Clark and asked him to come to my private office.  I said to him:  ‘President Clark, I think the time has come when we should reorganize the First Presidency, and I should like to have you as my First Counselor.’  ‘Well, now,’ he said, ‘I do not want you to feel obligated to take me, but I feel honored in being asked, and I pledge you my wholehearted support,and all that I have I want to give to the Cause and to the support of the Church and the First Presidency, and I pledge my allegiance to you.’  I thanked him, and then told him that I should like to have Brother Henry D. Moyle as my second counselor.  President Clark was agreeable and said that Brother Moyle would give good support.

9 a.m. – Called a special meeting of all members of the Twelve who are in the City.  We met in the office of the First Presidency.  I announced to the Brethren that the purpose of the meeting was to present for their approval the reorganization of the First Presidency.  I said that some of the members of the Twelve will be mentioned at the Mutual Improvement Association Convention as advisors, and that I thought this matter of appointing counselors in the First Presidency should have attention first so that the people might be informed of the true situation.  (see newspaper clipping following on announcement of new counslor)

I told the Brethren that undoubtedly all had felt the loss of Brother Stephen L. Richards, that his clear vision, sound judgment, loyalty to the truth and the Church, and to the Brethren are greatly missed.  However, I stated that he had been called Home and that this work is greater than any man or any set of men.  I said further that the Savior is at the head of the Church, and He has been with us as we have deliberated and presented to Him the problems that we are facing, and the need of His continual guidance.

I then recommended that President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. be sustained as first counselor in The First Presidency, and that Elder Henry D. Moyle be sustained as second counselor.  Elder Harold B. Lee moved for the approval of this recommendation, and the motion was seconded by Elder Spencer W. Kimball, and unanimously approved.

President Clark and Brother Moyle then briefly expressed their feelings and their willingness to give their all in serving the best interests of the Church. 

I then said that it would be necessary to release Brother Moyle from his position with the Welfare Committee, and that he would talk with Brother Harold B. Lee in regard to a reorganization of that Committee.  I also said that I should like to have Brother Moyle sustained today as head of the Missionary Work, and would refer to him and his associated some matters which will need immediate attention.

Brother Moyle expressed himself in favor of the proposed changes, and the recommendation was unanimously approved by the Council.

It was also decided that Brother Moyle should not now be sustained as an Advisor to the MIA as heretofore acted upon.

Brother Moyle’s calling

The announcement of the appointment of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. as First Counselor and Elder Henry D. Moyle as Second Counselor was made Friday afternoon in the MIA Conference held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle so that the convention could recognize the Brethren as sustained.  It was unique in that for the first time in the history of the Church, Counselors in the First Presidency were presented at an MIA gathering.

It was later repoted to me that at an early morning meeting at which Brother Moyle addressed the Mutual Conference, the spirit of his calling was resting upon him greatly even though his call had not yet been made known to the public.”

Thurs., 18 June, 1959:

“President Clark and President Moyle set apart as counselors in First Presidency.

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. – The meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve convened in the Salt Lake Temple.

Important matters as follows were taken care of at this meeting:

(1) Set apart President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.

(2) Set apart Elder Henry D. Moyle as Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.  (See June 13, 1959 for the calling of these Brethren)

I am sure and bear testimony to the fact that after the experience of the last week or two that the Lord’s will was done when President Clark and President Moyle were set apart this morning as First and Second Counselors in the First Presidency.

Tues., 8 Sept. 1959:

“8:15 a.m.

The first to call to extend congratulations on my birthday was Elder Hugh B. Brown of the Council of the Twelve.  The warmth of his friendship, his devotion to the Church and to me in helping to discharge some of the duties associated with this office are deeply appreciated by me.  I was very grateful for his visit this morning.”

Wed., 14 Oct. 1959:

“8 a.m.

Mr. M.A. Atkinson, Jr., District Sales manager, of the American Airlines, stationed at Phoenix, Arizona, came in representing the American Airlines of New York.  He told me that the American Airlines would like to name me an ‘Admiral’ in their Company.  This, he explained, is the ‘highest honor that can be bestowed’ by their company.  There is no publicity whatever associated with this honor – it is a policy of their company to ‘recognize outstanding leadership, and men who have made a real contribution to the welfare of the world.’  Mr. Atkinson said further, ‘We have had many fine reports about your contributions to mankind and we should like to confer this honor upon you.  We have picked only a few men to receive this honor.’

Mr. Atkinson said that he will now meet with the Board of Directors of their company, and they will decide when several of their officials will come out here to present a plaque to me.

Fri., 7 Oct. 1960:

‘8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and President Henry D. Moyle.  We three decided upon the calling of the following men to be Assistants to the Twelve:

Nathan Eldon Tanner, President of the Calgary Stake, Alberta, Canada

Franklin D. Richards, President of the Northwestern States Mission

Theodore M. Burton, former President of the West German Mission,

          now teaching at the Utah State University, Logan, Utah.

After we had taken up the matters before us, President Clark broke down and said that he would not be able to attend Conference — said he is not well enough; that his legs are weak, and that he cannot get up the steps.  I wept with him, and reluctantly said that he probably should not attempt to attend the meetings.

Sat., 8 Oct. 1960:

“Missed President Clark

I missed President Clark today, especially at the morning session when he was not present to present the names of the General Authorities and general auxiliary officers of the Church for the sustaining vote of the people — a duty he has performed for many years!”

Sun., 9 Oct. 1960:

“10 a.m.

Presided at and conducted the sixth session of the 130th semi-annual conference of the Church.  Much to my joy, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. was able to attend this session and to give the opening address.  His voice was strong, and he seemed well as he stood up to address the congregation.  His difficulty is mostly in a weakness of his legs, but he was able to stand without any trouble during his 20 or 25 minute address.  I was thankful that he was all right as I helped him back to his seat at the conclusion of his address.  (see newspaper clippings following)”

Fri., 14 Oct. 1960:

“11 a.m.

President Moyle came in and consulted with me about President Clark’s being carried by chair up the steps to the Church Offices when he is able to come, and also up the steps of the Temple when he is able to attend the Thursday’s meetings.  I said I felt that it would be better for President Clark not to exert himself in this way.  President Moyle said that he agreed with me.  I said if we have to hold a meeting with President Clark we can go up to his home.

Tues., 7 Feb. 1961:

“President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. attended Expenditures Committee meeting after an absence of three months — see clipping following.  I told President Clark that it was in very truth good to see him back at his desk.”

Wed., 14 June 1961:

“9 a.m.

The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.  The following are some of the items we took up:

8.  President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

At our meeting today President Clark said to me:  ‘Whenever you feel it would be well to relieve me of my position because I cannot get around, it will be satisfactory to me.’  I said:  ‘Let me tell you, you are not going to be relieved of your position.  We are going to call in another man to do work that we need done, but we are not going to release you of any position.  You are the first counselor in the First Presidency, and you will remain that, so you need not be worried.  We shall call in the necessary help.  The Lord Bless you!  The work will go on, and you come whenever you can.  There is no embarrassment to us.’

President Clark answered:  ‘You do whatever you think best, and if that means relieving me, it will be all right.’ “

Wed., 21 June 1961:

“9:00 to 11 a.m.

The meeting of the First Presidency continued.

Help for the First Presidency

I announced to my counselors this morning that if it meets with their approval, I should like to call somebody to help the First Presidency, but that the present members of the Presidency would continue as they are.

President Clark said:  ‘May I say right here – do with me as seems to you best.’  I answered:  ‘That is what we are going to do, and keep you right where you are.’

President Clark said that he was more grateful than he could say, but that he would not feel right to go to his grave with a charge that in any way his own selfishness had interfered with the operation of the Church.  I said:  ‘It is not going to interfere with it, but I am sure this is going to aid us all.  The Church is growing, and we shall present this matter tomorrow at Council meeting.’  President Clark reiterated, ‘Please do not consider me for a moment; I appreciate it; and love you for it, and all that, but this is the work of the Lord.’  (See diary of June 22 about this matter)

Thurs., 22 June 1961:

“Elder Brown Appointed to First Presidency

8:15 a.m.

Called Elder Hugh B. Brown of the Council of the Twelve and asked him to come down to my private office.

I then explained to him that the heavy volume of work accumulating in the office of the President requires some additional help.  I then said:  ‘Elder Brown, I feel, and in this I have the support of President Clark and President Moyle, that the Quorum of the First Presidency should be enlarged to four members — Brother Brown, we wish you to become a member of the First Presidency of the Church.’

Brother Brown, after swallowing a lump in his throat and wiping his eyes, said, ‘President McKay, I could nominate eleven other men in our Quorum, any one of them would be a better man than I.’

Whereupon I said: ‘I remind you, Brother Brown, that the right of nomination does not rest in you, but in me, and you are the nominee.’

It was a touching scene for a few moments when the eyes of both of us were filled with tears, and then Brother Brown said, ‘President McKay, I pledge to you the very best I have.  I should like to get under one corner of your load and lift a bit, and I hope you will be perfectly free to assign me any duties that you think I am capable of handling.  I have loved you through the years and am happy, though humble, at this opportunity to become even more closely associated with you.’

Help for First Presidency — Choosing of Elder Brown as Counselor in First Presidency.

I reported that it was my intention to present to the Twelve in our meeting today the matter of calling one of the Brethren of the Twelve to assist the First Presidency.  I mentioned that I had spoken to Elder Hugh B. Brown this morning in regard to his being chosen for this service.  President Moyle indicated his approval.

10 a.m. to 2:10 p.m.

Was in attendance at the regular meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple.  President Clark was absent, being indisposed.

Choosing of Another Counselor in the First Presidency

I referred to the fact that President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. has been incapacitated for some time now, which has worried President Clark more than it has his associates.  He has been coming to the First Presidency’s meetings of late, and also attending the meetings of the Council, but the work has increased a great deal, and it is felt that we should have more help in the First Presidency.  I mentioned that there is historical evidence of other times when the Presidency had to have added help, and that I felt it was in keeping with the mind of the Lord that we should do so at the present time.

I told the Brethren that I had spoken to President Clark yesterday, and that President Clark had suggested that it would be all right to release him, but that I had told him that he would not be released; that he would continue in his present position in the First Presidency.  President Clark broke down and wept, and said he appreciated it.  I told President Clark that we were going to call in another counselor and let him share the burdens of the First Presidency.

I then told the Brethren that the First Presidency are united in recommending that another counselor in the First Presidency be chosen, and that he share in the responsibility of the First Presidency.  I asked if there was any objection to this or any remarks to be made.  There being no objections voiced, or comments made, I asked all who were in favor of the proposition to so indicate by vote, and the vote was unanimous.

I then announced that the First Presidency had chosen Elder Hugh B. Brown for this position; that President Brown has been laboring closely with the First Presidency in the cancellation of temple sealings, and that I felt that he should be chosen and sustained here this morning as a counselor in the First Presidency.

I further announced that Brother Brown would be taken from the Quorum of the Twelve and join the First Presidency, and that in due time his successor in the Twelve will be chosen, perhaps at October Conference time.  I thereupon asked Brother Brown if he would accept that call and responsibility, to which Brother Brown answered, ‘In humility, I will, President McKay.’

I then asked all who could sustain Brother Brown as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church to manifest it, and the voting was unanimous.

Thereupon President Moyle and I of the First Presidency and the Brethren of the Council of the Twelve, all being present with the exception of Elder Ezra Taft Benson, unitedly laid our hands upon the head of Elder Hugh B. Brown, and I was voice in ordaining and setting him apart as ‘a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’

This appointment was given to the newspapers as soon as possible following the setting apart.

3 p.m.

Elder Hugh B. Brown and I were interviewed by newspaper reporters regarding Brother Brown’s appointment.  Radio and Television men also came in with their equipment and made pictures and recordings of comments.

4 p.m.

Went over to the apartment where photographers from the Deseret News and Tribune took pictures of Sister McKay and interviewed her regarding her 84th birthday to be celebrated tomorrow.  This took an hour or so.

This has been a history-making day!  The releasing of all General Authorities from the Genealogical Board, and the choosing of a third counselor in the First Presidency have been accomplished after many weeks of prayerful consideration!”

Fri., 23 June 1961:

“8 a.m.

First meeting of the First Presidency where a Quorum of four were present — Elder Hugh B. Brown, newly appointed counselor, attended his first meeting with the First Presidency.  In behalf of the First Presidency, I extended a hearty welcome to him as a member of the First Presidency’s Council.

11:30 a.m. — Returned to my private office where I had short interviews with the following:

Pres. Hugh B. Brown

Lorin Wheelwright

Brother Henry Smith, Church Section editor, who reported that the choice of Brother Brown as a counselor in the First Presidency has been well received by people everywhere.”

Sat., 24 June 1961:

O. Preston Robinson of the Deseret News came in following our meeting and I handed to him the manuscript of an editorial that had been prepared for publication in today’s paper regarding the appointment of President Brown as a counselor in the First Presidency.  (see Thursday, June 22, 1961)”

Thurs., 27 July 1961:

Following the departure of Elders Hanks and Tuttle, we continued with the regular business of the First Presidency.

First Presidency’s Signatures on Letters and Documents

We considered this morning the question as to how letters of the First Presidency should be signed, and we decided that in the future they should carry four lines so that the signature of each member of the First Presidency could be attached.”

Thurs., 3 Aug. 1961:

“8:30 a.m.

Attended the First Presidency’s meeting.  President Moyle is in Florida, and President Clark still indisposed at home.

President Brown and I read a number of letters containing matters of general church interest.

Counselors in the First Presidency

An inquiry regarding the appointment of a third counselor in the First Presidency, and asking as to which other Presidents of the Church have had three counselors, was referred to President Brown for handling.  (see copy of his answer following)

Thursday, August 3, 1961

August 3, 1961

Roy Christophersen

57 South Main Street

Malad, Idaho

Dear Brother Christophersen:

Replying to your undated letter, we are pleased to advise you that you were quite right in your statement that the Prophet Joseph and ‘one other prophet’ had more than two counselors.  In one of the early editions of the Doctrine and Covenants, published in 1835, the following appears on the title page:

‘Carefully selected from the revelations of God, and compiled by Joseph Smith, Junior, Oliver Cowdery, Sidney Rigdon, Frederick G. Williams, (Presiding Elders of the Church).’  You will see here there were four men referred to as presiding elders of the Church, or, undoubtedly, the First Presidency.

Again, in the History of the Church, page 509, the minutes of a conference are recorded and the following occurs:  ‘President Smith then presented Sidney Rigdon and Frederick G. Williams as his counselors, and to constitute with himself the three first Presidents of the Church . . . President Smith then introduced Oliver Cowdery, Joseph Smith, Sen. Hyrum Smith, and John Smith for assistant counselors.  These last four, together with the first three, are to be considered the heads of the Church.  Carried unanimously.’

In 1873, four years before his death, President Brigham Young named five additional counselors to himself, viz: Lorenzo Snow, Brigham Young, Jr., Albert Carrington, John W. Young, and George Q. Cannon.

There are doubtless other precedents, but these will suffice to show that there are precedents if they were needed, but, in fact, it is not necessary to have precedents when you have a prophet at the head of the Church who carries his heavy responsibility under Divine guidance, and who has the right and authority to call in such help as changing circumstances may require.

Sincerely your brethren,


By  David O. McKay

      J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

      Hugh B. Brown”

Wed., 6 Sept. 1961:

“8:35 a.m.

Attended the regular meeting of the First Presidency.

Protest Against Selection of Fourth Counselor in First Presidency

A letter addressed to President McKay from J. Edward Johnson of San Francisco, was read in which the writer protests against the selection of a fourth counselor in the First Presidency and cites references in support of his contention that there should be only three in the First Presidency.  I stated that I would not answer the letter but at the General Conference would make the necessary explanation in connection with the sustaining of the General Authorities.

Fri., 22 Sept. 1961:

Presentation of General Authorities — Sustaining of Hugh B. Brown as Counselor:

We gave some consideration to the matter as to how the First Presidency should be presented at the October Conference.  I said that I felt that the Brethren should be presented as they were ordained and set apart — David O. McKay as President, J. Reuben Clark, Jr. as First Counselor, Henry D. Moyle as Second Counselor in the Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the four to be voted upon in that order.  I said that it was not an innovation in the Church organization, and in that way we keep in mind the revelations of the Lord regarding the three presiding high priests consituting the First Presidency.  In other words, we sustain the First Presidency, and Hugh B. Brown as counselor in the First Presidency.  It was suggested that if any explanation is made in regard to this matter, the General Priesthood Meeting would be the better place to make the explanation.  I agreed to this suggestions.

October Conference:  As the newspapers were asking about pictures of the First Presidency for October Conference, it was decided that it would perhaps be well at this conference to have the pictures of the Brethren of the First Presidency taken separately rather than having a group picture taken.

President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.’s Attendance at Conference:

I expressed the feeling that President Clark should be with the Brethren at the General Authorities meeting next Thursday if possible for him to do so.  I will call on President Clark and discuss matters pertaining to the conference with him.

Sat., 23 Sept. 1961:

“10 a.m.

I called on President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. at his home at 80 D Street, and presented to him, as I have done for 27 years (having been chosen Counselor one year after he became Counselor to President Grant), official Church matters.  His devoted daughter, Louise, (Mrs. Mervyn Bennion) answered the door and took me to President Clark who was in his wheelchair with a shawl around his shoulders.  With tears in his eyes he listened to the matters that I presented to him, and gave his approval of the proposals made.  I could see that it would be impossible for him to be with us at our Conference meetings.  This was my last conference with him in this mortal life.  He did not pay much attention to the details.  He said, ‘Whatever you Brethren have decided, I approve.’

We went back even to our schooldays.  We remembered that he and Sister McKay graduated together from the University of Utah.  There were six graduates who got degrees that year, in 1898: Sister McKay (Ray Riggs), Molly Connelly (Mary Elizabeth Connelly), President Clark, Dr. Chamberlin (Ralph Vera Chamberlin), Dr. Hills (Herbert Thayer Hills), and Albert Johannsen.

President Clark was very emotional as he recalled the schooldays, and particularly the 27 years that we have stood shoulder to shoulder in the First Presidency.  We caressed and bade each other goodbye.  I left the house with a heavy heart and went directly to our apartment in the Hotel Utah.”

Thurs., 28 Sept. 1961:

“8:55 a.m.

As I returned to my private office the telephone was ringing — it was Dr. LeRoy Kimball to tell me that President Clark is ‘sinking.’  Dr. Kimball said he does not know just how long it will be before the end comes.  My heart sank as I heard this news.

“7 a.m.

Dictated notes to my secretary, Clare, to be used in remarks I shall make in releasing the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, in the choosing of a third counselor, a new apostle, two new assistants, and a new Presiding Bishopric.

7:30 a.m.

Met by appointment in my private office Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, and interviewed him regarding his filling the vacancy in the Council of the Twelve.  He was moved to tears, and said that he would do whatever we ask him to do.

7:45 a.m.

I then met with Brother Boyd K. Packer and told him that we should like him to accept a call to become an Assistant to the Twelve.  Brother Packer was really overcome, and the tears flowed freely.  He humbly accepted and said that he would do his best to merit the call.

8:30 a.m.

Met with my counselors, President Moyle and Brown.  I asked President Moyle to present the General Authorities for the sustaining vote of the people at this morning’s session of the Conference.  I said that before the General Authorities were presented that I would say a few words to the conference about the appointment and setting apart of Elder Hugh B. Brown as a counselor in the First Presidency; also, the appointment of Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin as Secretary-Treasurer of the Deseret Title Holding Corporation, and the necessity of releasing him as Presiding Bishop, and with him his counselors Thorpe B. Isaacson and Carl W. Buehner.  I said that I would then present to the congregation the release of the Young Women’s MIA Presidency, and leave the names of the new Bishopric and the members of the new Presidency of the YWMIA to be presented with the other General Authorities in the usual way.

I then told the Brethren that I had talked with John H. Vandenberg, and that he had accepted the responsibility of Presiding Bishop of the Church, and felt well over his appointment; that Brother Vandenberg had chosen Robert L. Simpson as his first counselor, and Victor L. Brown as second counselor.  I stated that I had spoken to Sister Florence S. Jacobsen about her accepting the position as General President of the YWMIA and that she had called me this morning and named as her counselors Margaret Romney Jackson and Dorothy Porter Holt.

9:15 a.m.

Presided at a special meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the office of the First Presidency.

I presented the recommendation to the Council that Elder Gordon B. Hinckley be approved for ordination as an Apostle, and to be set apart as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve.  I then recommended the following brethren for Assistants to the Council of the Twelve:  Elders Thorpe B. Isaacson and Boyd K. Packer.

I then referred to the earlier consideration that had been given to the matter of reorganizing the Presiding Bishopric of the Church, and presented the recommendation of the First Presidency that Elder John H. Vandenberg be made the Presiding Bishop, succeeding Elder Joseph L. Wirthlin.  Robert L. Simpson was presented as first counselor, and Victor Lee Brown as second counselor.  I then referred to the decision to reorganize the presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, and presented the name of Sister Florence Smith Jacobsen for President, and as counselors, Margaret Romney Jackson, and Dorothy Porter Holt.  On motion, all the above were approved by the Brethren.

At the conclusion of this meeting, we left immediately for the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

10 a.m.

Presided at one of the most history-making sessions of a General Conference ever held in the Church.  Just prior to the presentation of the General Authorities for the sustaining vote of the Conference, I made the following statement regarding the appointment of SIX new General Authorities, and a new General Presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association, after which President Henry D. Moyle presented the names of the General Authorities, General Auxiliary officers for the sustaining vote of the members of the Church:

1)  ‘The call and appointment and setting apart of Elder Hugh B. Brown as counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, June 22, 1961.  It became evident to the First Presidency at that time that it would be necessary to have some help in the First Presidency.  As a result, the First Presidency recommended to the Council of the Twelve the appointment of Elder Hugh B. Brown of the Council to be a counselor in the First Presidency.  The Council of the Twelve unanimously approved the recommendation.  

2)  The appointment of Joseph L. Wirthlin, Presiding Bishop of the Church, as Secretary-Treasurer of the Deseret Title Holding Corporation, and the release of the Presiding Bishopric.  (Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson and Bishop Carl W. Buehner)  

The accomplishment of these three men as the Presidency of the Aaronic Priesthood of the Church has been apparent to all who have had occasion to note their diligence and success with the young men under their immediate direction.  (see letter of appreciation from Brother Carl W. Buehner)

Last Thursday in a meeting of all the General Authorities when called upon to represent the Presiding Bishopric, Bishop Carl W. Buehner gave a very enlightening and inspirational address regarding the details and comprehensive activity of this important department of the Church.

Their work in taking care of the statistics of financial phases, and particularly their remarkably successful efforts with members of the Senior Aaronic Priesthood, will mark their era of service with everlasting distinction, and rebound to the blessing of thousands.

With their release of these important positions go the commendation and blessing of the General Authorities of the Church and all who have been blessed by their inspired efforts.  

3)  Release of the General Presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association.

Never before in the history of the Church has there been such a marked increase in attendance at Sacrament meetings and other important meetings in the Stakes, Wards, Missions, and Branches throughout the Church in all the world.

That increased attendance is largely due to the work of the Presiding Bishopric and General Superintendency of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association among the young men of the lesser priesthood, and the General Presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association among the young women of the Church.

With this release of the Presiding Bishopric and the General Presidency of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association goes the assurance of our gratitude to the Lord that you have rendered to Him, and to His Church such concentrated effort and devotion.

Please accept of our heartfelt gratitude for the service you have so ably and unselfishly rendered — May the blessings of the Lord and His divine protection be with you always.’

The great body of members of the Church seemed in one accord with these new appointments.  At this session, a member of the First Presidency, a member of the Council of the Twelve, two new Assistants, three new members of the Presiding Bishopric, and three new members of the General Presidency of the YWMIA were sustained, making a total of nine new appointees!  There are now 39 General Authorities, the highest number in the history of the Church!  I was relieved and happy that the meeting was so inspirational and successful!

Fri., 6 Oct. 1961:

Death of President J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

At 2:20 p.m., Mrs. Luacine Clark Fox, daughter to President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. called for me at the office, to notify me that President Clark had passed away at 2:10 p.m.  My secretary, Clare Middlemiss, immediately got in touch with my daughter, Emma Rae, who was at our apartment in the Hotel Utah, and left word with her.  I was asleep, being pretty tired after having been busily engaged since six o’clock this morning, but my daughter awakened me to tell me of President Clark’s passing.

I immediately got up and drove up to President Clark’s home to express my sympathy to members of the family, and to make arrangements for funeral services.  I returned to the office and called President Hugh B. Brown and all members of the Twelve for a meeting at which time they were notified of President Clark’s passing.  We then arranged for committees to take care of funeral services.  (See October 10) (see also report following)

President Henry D. Moyle, who had just taken a plane for Europe, called me from Denver, Colorado.  He said that Gordon Hinckley had called him at the Airport in Denver and notified him of President Clark’s passing.  I told him that we were now in meeting discussing plans for the funeral.  I asked him when his first meeting in Europe was scheduled, and he said it was for Sunday, October 8, but that it was a servicemen’s meeting and he was not scheduled to speak so he could easily cancel that appointment.  I said that I thought it would be a great comfort to the family for him to return and to speak at the funeral; that he could then attend the Council meeting on Thursday and leave Friday for Europe.  I asked him about his wife and daughters, who are accompanying him to Europe, and President Moyle said that they have gone on to New York, and that they would remain there a week and that it would not hurt them.  I said, ‘please be back for the funeral Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.’  President Moyle answered, ‘I shall be there.’

Following the meeting, we prepared a statement for the press regarding President Clark’s death.  (see newspaper clippings following giving account of Pres. Clark’s death, and the statement made by the First Presidency).

3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Was busy in my private office with telephone calls regarding President Clark’s death, arrangements for funeral services, reading and signing of letters, etc.

5:35 p.m.

Left for home — extremely tired following the events of this day!  

The following report on President J. Reuben Clark, Jr. was given at a Special Meeting of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve, held in the office of the First Presidency, Friday, October 6, 1961, at 3:30 p.m.:

‘President McKay stated that when the First Presidency met this morning they concluded upon the information they had received from Dr. J. LeRoy Kimball that it might be several hours at least, and probably a day or two, before President Clark’s passing; that he was in a serious condition.  The President mentioned that President Moyle had left this afternoon at 1:45 p.m. by plane for New York, intending to go from there to Europe; that when he left he had been told that should anything happen to President Clark in the meantime he had better continue to carry on with his assignment, and that explanation would be made to the family.

‘President McKay said that he lay down for a few minutes and was sound asleep when the word came the President Clark had passed away at about 1:45 p.m.  Sister Louise Bennion, daughter of President Clark, had called also, President McKay said, and told him that her father had passed away about 15 minutes previously.  President McKay immediately went to the Clark home where he met the family.  Brother Lee had received word and was there just before the body was taken by the mortician.

‘Asked by President McKay to report regarding the situation, Elder Lee said that President Clark had been failing for the past few days.  It was very evident that he was gradually losing strength, and losing consciousness.  The periods of his comatose condition were increasing.  He would rouse momentarily, recognize the family and take some nourishment, and then immediately lapse into complete unconsciousness.  Yesterday, he took the full measure of orange juice, and a little gruel, and talked to them a little.  Last night he seemed to be about as usual.  Dr. Kimball said that since he took a turn for the worse he has been more composed and had not been fighting like he did previously.  He would not take any nourishment this morning, and his fever went up to 102 and some tenths.  Dr. Kimball said this made them alarmed because with the high fever and his semi-consciousness it could spell the end.

‘That is the first time they had sensed that he was in a critical condition.  The doctor was there late this morning, and the girls were all three ———————-passed away.  He has had three nurses waiting on him ———————reported that they heard a peculiar gurgling in his throat.  The nurse quickly went to him, and said, ‘It is all over.’  That is the only warning they had.  There was no struggle in his passing.  His son, Reuben, came shortly thereafter.  Elder Lee said that the girls and Reuben are stunned, of course, by the passing of their father, but his release has given them great peace.  They knew that is what he has been pleading for all these months.  Elder Lee said he thought that the visit of President McKay was a great comfort to the family; that when they heard the President was there their faces lit up.

‘President McKay had phoned President Moyle, who had left this afternoon by plane for Europe, and reached him at Denver.  He will return and attend the funeral and go to Europe later.

‘According to present plans the funeral will be held Tuesday, October 10, at 12:30 p.m. in the Tabernacle.  President McKay said that President Moyle would represent the First Presidency in speaking at the services.  The President asked President Joseph Fielding Smith to appoint the usual committees to take care of funeral arrangements and to consult the family regarding the speakers.  President McKay said the prayer offered at the Council Meeting last Thursday seems to have been answered even better than anticipated at the time.

‘President Joseph Fielding Smith had visited the family since the passing of President Clark, and said they feel reconciled over the passing of their father, and they are satisfied it is as President Clark would have it.  

‘President McKay said he had told the family that we would keep in touch with them.’

Tues., 10 Oct. 1961:

“12:30 p.m.

Funeral Services for President Clark

Funeral services were held in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.  I presided and conducted the last rites for my companion in the First Presidency for twenty-seven years!  President Henry D. Moyle, Elder Harold B. Lee, and Elder Marion G. Romney paid fitting tributes to him in their excellent remarks.  I made a few brief remarks at the beginning of the services, and also made the closing remarks.

From the Tabernacle a long procession of cars formed the cortege to the City Cemetery where we gathered around the grave.  President Clark’s son – J. Reuben, III – offered the benediction and dedicated the grave.

Following these rites, Sister McKay who accompanied me, and other members of my family left the cemetery and went directly home.”

Wed., 11 Oct. 1961:

“Appointment of Counselors in the First Presidency

I told Brother Henry D. Moyle, second counselor in the First Presidency, that I should like him to be my first counselor, and also told Brother Hugh B. Brown that I should like him to be my second counselor.”

Thurs., 12 Oct. 1961:

“9 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple.

New Counselors in the First Presidency

After the Brethren had all assembled in the Council room, I made the following remarks:

President Clark has received the Call for which he has been waiting for a long while.  He has finished his work, and it is our duty now as the Presidency to complete the Quorum of the First Presidency.  I then said:  ‘I recommend to you Brethren this morning that Brother Henry D. Moyle fill the vacancy caused by the passing of President Clark, and become the First Counselor to the President of the Church; and that Brother Hugh B. Brown be sustained as Second Counselor.’

President Joseph Fielding Smith moved approval of the recommendation.  Motion seconded by Elder Spencer W. Kimball and unanimously approved.

President Brown, the Brethren of the Council of the Twelve, and I then placed our hands upon the head of Brother Henry D. Moyle, and I was voice in ordaining him and setting him apart as First Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.  President Moyle, the Brethren of the Council of the Twelve and I then laid our hands upon the head of Brother Hugh B. Brown and I was voice in ordaining him and setting him apart as Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.”

Thur., 4 Jan., 1962:

Signatures of First Presidency – President Moyle read a report of signatures of the First Presidency affixed to letters and certificates and other documents by Brother Cannon Lund. One group included 18,750 signatures requiring 185 hours of overtime. Over 10,000 missionary certificates signed with three names required 300 hours of overtime. Signatures of Selective Service correspondence, totalling nearly 100,000 were signed by the autopen machine.

Volume of Correspondence and Dispatch of Correspondence in the

Office of the First Presidency — The volume of the correspondence

in the office of the First Presidency and methods of dispatching it more expeditiously were thoroughly reviewed. Report was made that all letters prepared by the Building Committee, the Expenditures Committee, the Missionary Department and the Office of the First Presidency are first delivered to President Brown’s office where those to be signed by autopen and those to be signed by hand are indicated. They then go to President Moyle’s office where the same procedure is followed, after which they come to my office for my signature, either by autopen or by hand. After those letters designated for signature by autopen have been signed by the autopen, they are then returned to my office. The letters are microfilmed and are then ready for mailing.

Ways of shortening the time between the preparation and mailing were considered.  It was decided that investigation be made into the possibility of increasing the number of letters to be signed mechanically, and if possible, by means of signing three signatures at once rather than one at a time. President Brown suggested that form letters to be signed by the First Presidency be by a member of the First Presidency who is assigned to the department or office, for example, the missionary form letters to be signed by President Moyle, the genealogical letters by President Brown.

I made inquiry into the procedure which raises the implication that the accumulation of letters is in my office. Comment was made that the accumulation is not in any one office.  I reviewed my practice of going over each letter early in the morning, and said that we should have the assurance of letters which go out from the First Presidency are absolutely right.

After discussion, it was agreed that the microfilming step can be omitted, and the filing of the letters can be of the carbon copies.  The assignment of office tasks among the staff were reviewed as follows: LaRue Snell prepares for Brother Anderson the council minutes and the correspondence arising therefrom, and is receptionist who meets the public coming to the office; Marjorie Golder does other correspondence for Brother Anderson and prepares the minutes

of the meetings of the First Presidency; Rowena Miller is assigned the responsibility for all filing and assists with letters and minutes as assistance is needed .

It was decided that letters from the First Presidency’s office continue to have the signatures of the three members of the Presidency as heretofore, and an investigation into a more expeditious way of signing by machine, to speed up the time between preparation and mailing, should be thoroughly investigated.”

Wed., 7 Feb., 1962:

I told my counselors that I was considering the possible advisability of

having our telephone number at the Hotel listed in the telephone directory.

Presidents Moyle and Brown advised against this listing as they felt that there would be many who would call this number and that it could be a great annoyance to Sister McKay and me. It was finally agreed that the number should not be listed.”

Fri., 9 Feb., 1962:

“[First Presidency Meeting]Signatures on First Presidency Letters

The question was raised as to how the First Presidency letters should be signed when one or more of the Brethren are away.  It was suggested that the letters be signed ‘The First Presidency, by . . . .’ and those who are present would attach their signatures.”

Thurs., 19 July 1962:

I did not agree with Brother Joseph Anderson and Brother A. Hamer Reiser that Mrs. Rowena Miller’s work with the files in the office of the First Presidency is ‘providential’ as they stated; that really it is a reflection on them as supervisors of the office that the files are in such a state as they say they are — ‘there is nothing providential about a person’s being in the office who will challenge a secretary in the office of the President when asked for a letter out of the files as follows:  ‘When are you people going to learn that this office closes at 5 o’clock.’

Thur., 13 Sep., 1962:

1:40 p.m.

Returned to my private office. Brother James Campbell, son of a brother Campbell, who was present at the historic Priesthood meeting held in Scotland in 1899 when a prediction was made about my sitting in the leading councils of the Church, came in to extend belated birthday greetings. He brought with him a recording he had made of Scottish poems and songs, which he said in Scottish brogue, “will tak ye back to your days in Scotland.” Brother Campbell stated again that his father related to him many times the event of the sacred meeting held in Scotland many years ago, when angels were present.”

Fri., 12 Oct., 1962:

8:00 a. m.

By appointment made with Brother Gus Backman, I met Mr. Jack O’Keefe, General Manager of the Utah Copper Division of Kennecott Copper Company, who is now serving as President of the Salt Lake City Chamber of Commerce. Brother Backman accompanied him.

Mr. O’Keefe expressed his pleasure and satisfaction with the Pioneer Memorial Theatre Dedicatory Services last Wednesday evening (October 10). He then said to me, “President McKay. why do you treat us like you do? “I looked surprised, and asked him what I had done, and then he said: “You know, President McKay, you do not treat the non-Mormons in this town as fairly as you do the members of your Church; you meet with them, hold conversation with them, but you never meet with us. And do you know that we non-Mormons love you as much as your mem- bers do? Now, we want to have a meeting with you — just for non-Mormons.”

Then Brother Backman and he said that they would like to have a dinner or banquet for me at the Hotel Utah, and invite all the leading business men to be present. They would like to hold this on December 10.

With emotion, I told them that I felt they should not do this, but that I accepted with all my heart their invitation to meet with the non-Mormon business men — that it would be a great pleasure and an honor for me to do so. (Kennecott Copper Company gave a large contribution toward the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. )

Note by Clare Middlemiss 

The morning following the dedication of the Pioneer Memorial Theatre, Gus Backman called me, and said that President McKay had made a “wonderful impression” upon the business men that were at the Pioneer Memorial Theatre Dedication, and especially upon Mr. O’Keefe of Kennecott Copper. He said that Mr. O’Keefe called him the next morning and said, “I should like to do something to honor that wonderful man.” He asked “Could you make an appointment for us to see him?” An appointment was accordingly made for him.

Fri., 18 Jan. 1963:

“8:30 a.m.

I met with the Presiding Bishopric.  President Moyle was absent, being in the hospital preliminary to having some teeth extracted, and President Brown is in South America.  Bishop John H. Vandenberg and Bishop Victor L. Brown were present.

Among matters brought to my attention by them were:

President Moyle’s Illness

Just as I was concluding the meeting, Dr. Jack B. Trunnell of the Brigham Young University medical staff called on me and reported that President Moyle’s condition is a lot better, and that his health will be even more improved after his abscessed teeth have been removed, which extraction is scheduled for 10:00 tomorrow morning.  He said that it was necessary to get the heart problem under control before extracting the teeth so that there would be no possibility of infection being scattered in his system.

Tues., 2 Jul., 1963:

Communications with the First Presidency

President Moyle raised the question as to whether or not the principle that all correspondence of mission presidents is to be with the First Presidency has been changed.  I asked for a copy of the original statement on this subject.  The practice of having printed on the letterhead to the First Presidency that communications are to be addressed to the First Presidency was mentioned.  I said ‘If I am right we sent out letters several years ago.’  President Moyle said he remembered it, but that the practice is broken down.

Wed., 17 July 1963:

“4:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Signed many legal papers and decided to leave the signing of a large pile of letters for in the morning.  I was extremely tired.

I said to my secretary as I contemplated the problems of the day:  ‘Clare, it is not the work that takes the virtue out of me, but the pressures and insistence of these men — and I shall not give in to them unless I feel certain it is right to do so!'”

Fri., 13 Sept. 1963:

“Regular Meeting of the First Presidency held.

President Moyle to attend Florida Meetings

President Moyle stated that he will leave this noon to go to Florida for the meetings to be held next week, and that he will attend the Sacrament meeting in the Orlando Ward this Sunday evening, where he will be the speaker.

I advised that Brother Leo Ellsworth attend the meetings, and asked President Moyle that during his association with Brother Ellsworth he tell him that the First Presidency have in mind asking him to help in the project of diking the Utah Lake.  President Moyle explained that in the meeting of the Board of Directors of Deseret Farms of Florida, consideration will be given to two matters:  One, selling 2,500 acres of land to meet the tax situation;  and two, to authorize the president of the Company to meet with the President of the Georgia Operations and the President of the Church to work out a plan whereby the problems of the two ranches can be solved.  No details will be gone into.

Note:  This was the last meeting of the First Presidency attended by President Henry D. Moyle.  He became ill while speaking at the Sacrament meeting mentioned above, and word was received of his death early Wednesday morning, September 18, 1963.

Wed., 18 Sept. 1963:

“5:30 a.m.

News of President Henry D. Moyle’s Death

My son, Dr. Edward R. McKay, called at the apartment and said that he had bad news for me, and then reported that President Moyle’s daughter had called him at home and said that her father had passed away in the home of Brother Leo Ellsworth, at St. Cloud (near Orlando) Florida during the night; that Sister Moyle had found him dead in bed at 6:00 a.m.; when she went to see why he was not up as he had planned to be before that hour.

I immediately got in touch with Sister Moyle.  She answered very clearly and bravely over the telephone.  Few women are called upon to experience such a shock.  (see Diary, September 21, 1963, for newspaper clippings, etc.)

6:30 a.m.

Went over to the office where I met with President Hugh B. Brown, and discussed with him matters pertaining to the death of President Moyle — the notifying of his son, Henry D. Moyle, Jr., who is presiding over the French East Mission, of the death of his father, and of plans for his departure for Salt Lake.  We also decided that we should call Elder Harold B. Lee, who is in Hawaii for Stake Conferences.

At 7:00 a.m. my secretary, Clare, came in, and I asked her to put in long distance calls for Henry D. Moyle, Jr. in France, and Elder Harold B. Lee in Hawaii.

A little later the call came from Elder Lee, and I had President Brown talk to him and notify him of President Moyle’s death, and to tell him to come home immediately; that he should be here for the arrangements of the funeral.  Brother Lee said he would get the first plane out of Honolulu.

At 7:20 a.m., I instructed Clare to get by telephone my son, Lawrence, who was with President Moyle in Florida attending a meeting of the Deseret Farms of Florida, Inc.  Bob Sears of Phillips Petroleum, Texas, had called earlier, stating that their private plane, used by President Moyle many times, was available in which to bring his body home.  Later, Lawrence’s wife, Mildred, got in touch with him at Leo Ellsworth’s home in St. Cloud, Florida, where President and Sister Moyle were staying, and conveyed this information to Lawrence.  Arrangements were then made for the bringing of President Moyle’s body by the Phillips Petroleum Company’s private plane tomorrow.  Sister Moyle, Lawrence, and Wendell Mendenhall will arrive by United Airlines at 8:45 o’clock tonight.

Later it was learned that they could not get the coffin into the Phillips Petroleum Company private plane, so plans were changed to have the body brought by United Airlines Thursday morning.

9:15 a.m.

Met by appointment Sister Florence Jacobsen and her counselors, Margaret R. Jackson, and Dorothy P. Holt, who came in for a conference with the First Presidency regarding the Lion House.  However, several telephone and other matters pertaining to the arrangements for the return of President Moyle’s body from Florida came into the meeting, and Sister Jacobsen asked if the Brethren preferred to have them bring their matters for consideration at another time.  I replied that I thought it would be just as well if it would not inconvenience them.  President Brown suggested that probably an appointment can be made next week after the funeral services for President Moyle.

Hotel Utah Meeting Postponed

Telephone word came confirming the postponement of the Hotel Utah meeting of Board of Directors scheduled for this morning.

KSL Meeting Postponed

I talked by telephone with Arch L. Madsen of KSL and arranged for the postponement of their Board meeting scheduled for today.

Newspaper Statements with Reference to President Moyle’s Death

I asked President Brown to arrange for the preparation for a statement for the newspapers with reference to President Moyle’s death.  I asked that the statement be brought to me so that I can have opportunity to read it before it is released.

Funeral Services for President Moyle

Consideration was given to the day most likely to be convenient for the family for the funeral services.  Saturday noon was tentatively set subject to Sister Moyle’s wishes, it being thought that President Moyle’s family may need that time to travel to Salt Lake City.

10:00 a.m.

Telephone call came from Brother Bill Marriott of Washington, D.C.  He expressed his sympathy and condolence over the passing of President Moyle.

11:00 a.m.

Returned to my private office.

11:05 a.m.

Bishop Thorpe B. Isaacson called at the office and expressed his sympathy at the passing of Brother Moyle.

11:25 a.m.

Dictation to Clare.  During this time received long distance telephone call from Sister Henry D. Moyle, Jr. in France, who said that her husband is enroute from Switzerland.  I told her to tell her husband to arrange to fly home to take care of affairs here, even though he may have to return later to his mission.  Although the connection was very poor, Sister Moyle said she got the message and that they would take the first plane possible for home.

I feel that Brother Moyle should be here, because Sister Moyle will have her hands full taking care of Brother Moyle’s affairs.

Thurs., 3 Oct. 1963:

“7:00 to 7:30 a.m.

New Counselor in First Presidency Chosen

By appointment, Elder Nathan Eldon Tanner came into my private office.  At this time I told him that I should like him to be Second Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.  Brother Tanner was greatly overcome.  It was hard for him to understand why he, one of the youngest in point of service, should be selected.  I told him that it is the Lord’s will.  With tears in his eyes he accepted with all his heart, and said that he would do the best he could.

7:30 to 8:30 a.m.

Dictated notes to Clare on the Opening Address of the Conference.  Also went over the Conference program which she has been preparing.

8:30 to 8:40 a.m.

First Counselor in First Presidency Chosen

A short meeting of the First Presidency was held.  At this time I notified President Brown that I had chosen him as my First Counselor, and Elder Nathan Tanner as Second Counselor.

8:40 a.m.

In company with President Brown, left for the Salt Lake Temple.

9:00 to 2:00 p.m.

Pre-Conference meeting in the Salt Lake Temple of all the General Authorities of the Church was held.  This was followed by the regular meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency.

Reorganization of the First President

I mentioned to the Brethren the vacancy in the First Presidency caused by the death of President Henry D. Moyle, and that it is now considered advisable to reorganize the First Presidency.

I said that I had chosen President Hugh B. Brown to serve as First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Elder Nathan Tanner as Second Counselor.

Elder Gordon B. Hinckley moved approval.  Motion was seconded by Elder Howard W. Hunter, and unanimously approved.

Thomas S. Monson to Fill Vacancy in the Twelve

I then mentioned that the calling to the First Presidency of Elder Tanner would leave a vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve.  I presented to the Council the recommendation of the First Presidency that Thomas S. Monson be approved to fill this vacancy.  I said that I had not yet consulted Elder Monson, but would do so this afternoon.

On motion of President Joseph Fielding Smith, duly seconded, the Council approved Brother Monson for ordination as an Apostle and to fill the vacancy in the Council of the Twelve.

2:15 p.m.

Returned to the office.  Had a conference with Clare on the coming duties of the General Conference.

2:30 p.m.

New Apostle Interview – Elder Thomas S. Monson, age 36.

By appointment, Elder Thomas S. Monson came into my private office.  I told him of his call as an Apostle of the Lord.  He seemed stunned for a moment, and then broke down and wept.  My heart melted with his as I remembered the Call that had come to me in my youth.  I was 32 years of age, so I could fully sympathize with Elder Monson in the great obligation that has come to him.”

Tues., 26 Nov. 1963:

First Presidency Correspondence

President Brown asked me as to what my pleasure is regarding the signing of the First Presidency mail, that is whether the letters should carry the signatures of all three of the Brethren.  I said that all three should sign the letters.  

Mon., 20 Jan. 1964:

“10:30 to 12:00 Noon

My secretary, Clare, came over with a number of office matters.

John F. Kennedy Music Center – donation to from the Church

I noted in the Church Section an announcement that the Church had made a donation of $10,000 to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

As I did not remember approving of this contribution, nor had I seen a letter transmitting these funds, I called President Hugh B. Brown and asked him when we had approved of this donation.  He said that it was his understanding that it had been approved; however, I called Joseph Anderson and asked him to look in the minutes and see when we had approved of this amount of money being donated for this purpose.  He read to me over the telephone from the minutes of the First Presidency that this matter had been brought up by President Brown at the request of Brother Willard Marriott of Washington, D.C., who is on the National Committee sponsoring the project.  The minutes stated that I had asked that before making the donation I should like a report on the amount of money being donated by other churches, and then we should decide about what we should do.

However, as the decision had been made, and the money sent directly to Willard Marriott, there was nothing more to do about the matter.  Several letters have been received since from members of the Church objecting to tithing money being used for this purpose.  (see copy of letter of thanks for the $10,000, and newspaper clipping following)

Thurs., 6 Feb. 1964:

“Kennedy, President John F. – Contribution to Cultural Memorial

I mentioned that I have received letters from Church members complaining because the Church has made a contribution of $10,000 to the John F. Kennedy Cultural Memorial in Washington, D.C.  President Tanner agreed that there is nothing to be gained by publicizing these matters.  This contribution was made without my approval.

Tues., 18 Feb. 1964:

“Church Matters of Importance to be Brought to President of the Church

President Tanner said he was not clear in his mind just how much responsibility I wish him to take in some of the things that come before him, that he wanted to do whatever I desired him to do, but did not want to overstep.  He mentioned that there are quite a number of decisions that have to be made.   I asked that he bring these matters to me before action is taken.”

Tues., 17 Mar. 1964:

“April Conference

President Hugh B. Brown submitted the question of Bishop Victor L. Brown as to whether or not President McKay would like to have his chair on the rostrum of the Tabernacle nearer to the pulpit in the place where President Tanner’s chair is, and thus have the two counselors on the right, and then I would be nearer the pulpit which I can reach with greater ease than from the present position of my chair.  I said that I think this would be an improvement.

Tues., 5 Jan. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with my counselors at which time we went over a number of letters and regular items.  These are recorded in the minutes of the First Presidency.

Church Administration

The counselors then discussed with me at some length administration problems which they felt needed clarification.  At this time, President Nathan Eldon Tanner expressed himself quite freely about the administrative duties of the Church.  Felt disturbed and greatly concerned after their departure.

Tuesday, January 5, 1965


First Presidency Meeting January 5, 1965

There were present at the meeting President David O. McKay and his counselors Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner.

President Tanner mentioned a letter from Roy Simmons of the Zions First National Bank, attached to which letter was one from the senior vice-president and chairman of the Finance Committee of the Lincoln National Life Ins. Co.  He mentioned that some time ago Roy Simmons and Gus Backman and someone else (he did not remember his name) had talked to the First Presidency about borrowing money to re-do the Hotel Utah, and approval was given to go ahead and arrange to borrow the money up to $2,000,000.  Roy Simmons had said then that he felt for that kind of loan it would possibly run about 5 1/2%.  President Tanner said he thought we should be able to get the money at a rate lower than 5 1/2.  This question was raised in the Executive Committee and authorization was given for them to go forward.  But Brother Isaacson said he could get the money for 5%.  He thought that with the Church behind it we should be able to get it for less.   President Tanner said at that time that the Church is not behind this that we do not sign guarantees of that nature, that the Hotel would have to stand on its own feet.  It resulted in the matter being referred to Brother Isaacson and Brother Simmons.  President Tanner said he had not heard a report from Brother Isaacson, that perhaps the President had as he comes to see the President alone all the time.

President McKay:  He doesn’t come alone all the time.

President Tanner:  He had never faced us here with you, and I know he is bringing you a lot of things about which he does not know very much.  It would help you in many of your decisions if you could hear the other side of the question while he is here.  It makes it very difficult, in fact I feel I cannot serve you nearly as well with the conditions as they are as I could if I knew what was going on.  He comes and talks to you, tells you this and criticizes that, and so on, and we do not know a word about it until a decision is made.

President McKay:  You know everything that is discussed.

President Tanner:  I hadn’t heard a thing about this committee that was set up, that was talked about being set up for the building.  You did not ask President Brown or me; you might have asked President Brown but you did not ask me what I thought about it.  I would like to take time to sit down with you, as I said the other day, and just calmly tell you what I know and how I feel, and I want you to know that you are precluding my giving you the service and advice that I could give you.  If you want it that way that is fine but I want to be sure that is what you want.  I cannot understand why when Isaacson comes and talks to you he cannot talk to the three of us.

President McKay:  You are making quite a charge.

President Tanner:  I am and I am doing it intentionally.

President McKay:  I think you haven’t a clear understanding about any of our conversations with Brother Isaacson or anyone else.  This is the place where we discuss those things.

President Tanner:  President McKay, we do not, we never have Isaacson here.  You asked him to look into that San Jose thing without us knowing anything about it.  I raised the question.  I said I had started to investigate that.  That doesn’t offend me but I want you to know what is going on.  I would give my life for you, President McKay, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart, and I think you need to be protected about some things that are going on.  In fact, I am going to be as plain and frank as I can possibly be with you.  I will support you with my life if necessary but I do not think a man should come here — if you want it that way it is fine, but I do not see why you have counselors and you have him come in and talk to you and you make decisions without us knowing anything about it.

President McKay:  What do you mean?

President Tanner:  Setting up this committee for the building and the investigation in San Jose.  Those are two things.  I am not on a fight, I have no desire but your interests and the interests of the Church, and I know there are things that you do not know.  We should know them with him here.  You see, President McKay, this is not fair, it is not fair to anybody for you to have him come in and talk to you about these matters and we know nothing about it.  That isn’t fair.  I think you are getting advice that could be checked and double-checked, and not somebody talking to you an hour or two and telling you these things and getting you upset about it.  I am not offended but I do not see how you can expect me to give you much help if you do not take me into your confidence.  If you do not want to take me into your confidence I cannot help that.

President McKay:  You are entirely wrong with that.

President Tanner:  President McKay, I am not wrong.  I am not accusing you of anything; all I am saying is the way it is being administered we cannot help you.  That is all I am saying.  I am not offended, I am not upset only as I know what is going on.  That is the only interest I have.  As I have said before, and I say it again, I mean it, no matter how I disagreed my thought is your thought after I know what it is, but I think you are entitled to have all the information, which you are not getting.

President McKay:  I do not know of a thing that affects the Church without bringing it to you two men.

President Tanner:  I do not think we have time this morning, President McKay, but I am going to write out a number of things so that you can sit down and discuss them.  I do not object to Isaacson being your confidential advisor, economically and otherwise, but I say if he is going to do it without us knowing what is going on we cannot give you the help we could and we cannot give you all the facts without knowing what is going on.

President McKay:  This is new to me.

President Tanner:  I don’t know why you say that, because I know that Isaacson has been in here talking with you about several matters, but I do not object to that, but they are matters pertaining to the Church, they are matters we should be consulted about.  If you want it to go on this way you will not hear another word from me — I am just saying you make it very difficult for me — I am not talking about Brother Brown — to administer the affairs of the Church.  I came in here twice last year and recommended to you that we set up a committee to work with the building committee.  Nothing was done about it.  Isaacson comes in and recommends we set up a committee and you set it up immediately and the wrong kind of a committee in my opinion; they are men who are prejudiced against the building committee and their idea is to replace the leader without a study.  I have nothing for Mendenhall, all I am interested in is straightforward administration of this Church, but when I made those recommendations last year no consideration was taken; Isaacson comes in here and says we should set up a committee and get rid of Mendenhall, without saying a word to us.  I am working my head off with the building committee to get this thing shaped up.  If you want to talk to Brother Romney, Brother Kimball, Bishop Simpson or Bishop Brown who are on the Expenditures Committee I am sure they will tell you we have made much progress this year.  That does upset me.  I make a recommendation and nothing is done; he comes in and makes a recommendation and tells you who should be on the committee and he goes ahead and sets up that committee.

President McKay:  What committee do you refer to?

President Tanner:  I refer to Isaacson, Stapley, LeGrand Richards and Howard Hunter.

President McKay:  They came in and made a recommendation?

President Tanner:  Why were they asked to make a recommendation?  I maintain they shouldn’t have been set without consultation with your counselors.  I have worked my crazy head off trying to clear this building committee, and I have asked you to set up a committee to work with us and you have ignored us, and he comes in and you set it up like that.  All I want to say to you is I cannot give you the help I could give you if I were taken into your confidence, if we knew what was going on, that these decisions were made with one man sitting with you and your counselors knowing nothing about it.  The only way I can work is to be straightforward, nothing less than the truth, and I want you to know exactly how I stand, and regardless of the position you take, regardless if you use Isaacson or whomever you choose as your personal advisor, I am going to have to wait until you tell me what to do instead of giving you recommendations.  I am giving you a straightforward, clear example.  When I sit in that Expenditures Committee, and Isaacson doesn’t know about it, I talk with Brother Romney and we discuss how we can cut out certain expenses, and then have this come on, it really shakes a person — it does me, I don’t know how it would affect anybody else.  When I work with you you can rest assured — I probably shouldn’t have to say this — you can have my full confidence and support without any reservation, I will support you as a prophet, I will support you in anything you decide, but I think your decisions are being made without all the facts being given to you, and I am saying this without any feeling against you, President McKay, it is against the influence that is being brought to bear on you.

President McKay:  You have a misconception of my confidence in any one man or any several men.   

President Tanner:  I am not complaining about that, I am pointing this out to you, that you are, there is no question about it, listening to complaints and suggestions from this particular man which you are putting into effect.  I can give you more of them if you want them.  I am not going to give them to you this morning but I will have my case prepared, but I am giving you one today which I wish you would explain to me.

Another thing, when you said you had asked Isaacson to make a study of that San Jose thing I said at the time that I questioned the advisability of that man making a study.  Have you received a report from him?

President McKay:  No.

President Tanner:  Why?  I would like to see his report.  Now he is taking another approach.  I am not supporting Mendenhall; I will support whoever is right, I will support him in everything he is doing that is right.  I want to tell you Isaacson is out to get Mendenhall, Mendenhall in whom you have had the finest confidence, whom you have given your support.  The last time you and I were together you congratulated him on the thing he had done, the progress he had made, the service he had given to the Church, and this man comes in and it looks like you are ready to kick him out.  I can only talk frankly to you President McKay; I cannot leave things misunderstood or a question in your mind.  I will be that straightforward with you and once you make your decision you will never hear another word from me.

President McKay:  I am glad you mention this case; you have had confidential conversations with men independent of us on some matters.

President Tanner:  I would like to know what you are referring to.  If I have not been honorable and straightforward with you I would like to see the man who has.  I do not know whom you mention.  I do not know what thing you refer to, you cannot point to one place where I have not been as loyal to President McKay as it is possible for a man to be.

President McKay:  I do not question your loyalty.

President Tanner:  What kind of conference are we talking about?  I love you and would give my life for you but I hate to see you being abused; you are being misinformed and you do not have all the facts and I think that is terrible.

President McKay:  I do not act on anything, I leave it to you.

President Tanner:  Oh yes you do.  That San Jose thing and the setting up of this committee, and I know how that committee was set up.

President McKay:  Didn’t we bring that here?

President Tanner:  Not a word except what I read in the minutes, you were setting up this committee.  You said this committee was set up to reorganize the building committee, and I said, “President McKay, I question the advisability of that; I would like to sit down and talk to you about it.’  I wanted to talk to you alone but it has come up this way and I want to express it here.

President McKay:  I think you should take it up with the three of us.  What are you referring to?

President Tanner:  I have given it to you as plainly as I could.  These two things you have taken on his advice, and set it up without referring it to us, and twice during the year I recommended that we do certain things and you ignored both of them and when he comes to you you set him up a committee.  I do not object to that if that is the way you want to carry on.

President McKay:  I certainly haven’t set up anything in San Jose.

President Tanner:  Yes it is right in the minutes where you asked him to go and make a study and report to you.  There are a lot of things in connection with that that I gave you before and you did not pay any attention to them.  He tries to do all his work entirely secret.  I have enough information I can show you if you will listen beyond prejudice without any question of doubt.  I have nothing against Isaacson.  I heard many criticisms from general authorities and others when I came here but I determined I would pay no attention to anybody else.  It hit me and it certainly has hit me.

President McKay:  Not intentional, I am sure of that.

President Tanner:  I did not think it was done intentionally to hit me but in my administration where I am trying to serve you and this church there is nothing you would ask me to do that I would not do, but I tell you you are being misinformed.

Here is another thing, he knows what is going on in some of these discussions.  Why did he have a copy of a letter we wrote Mendenhall the other day?  Why would Isaacson have a copy of that letter?

President McKay:  I do not know. 

President Tanner:  I know he had it.

President Brown:  I think he has access to all our minutes.

President Tanner:  I am only going to accuse where I am able to back up what I am saying.  I haven’t time this morning but I think it is very serious, President McKay.

President McKay:  I will say it is serious.

President Tanner:  I can tell you several things.  The other day in a group Isaacson said ‘Why Tanner and Mendenhall are just like that’ (two fingers together).

President McKay:  What did you answer?

President Tanner:  He didn’t say it to me, he said it in a group.  The one who told me said ‘This is the only criticism I have heard of you in this administration.’

President McKay:  Somebody is talking and he doesn’t know what he is talking about.

President Tanner:  Isaacson is one of them — I can prove that to you.  I will tell you two things that happened shortly after I came here.  Do you remember Isaacson coming here and criticizing the First Presidency for the deal they made on the bank and the Kennecott Building, and I said ‘I am going to get Isaacson and Flint together, because I do not think this kind of thing should be going on, we should have complete harmony among our general authorities and when one of the General Authorities is out telling the people the Presidency made a bad deal I think it is terrible.’  I said ‘I am going to get Flint and Isaacson together,’ and you said ‘fine.’  I told Isaacson I wanted them to get together and he agreed.  I told Flint and he said he would love to do that, that there was some misinformation going out.  They agreed to get together with me.  Two or three days later Isaacson called me over the phone from Flint’s office and said ‘I am here with Flint today.  We have gone into this thing and I was mistaken, I did not have the facts.’  That was not significant with me at the time but he would not come to my office and go into this with me.  I said at the time that I was pleased with the bigness of the man to say that he was wrong.  He called me from the office where Flint was.  And just last month he was criticizing this thing again.  Now why does a man do that?

President McKay:  I do not know.

President Tanner:  Neither do I.  President McKay, I have no fight with you whatever but if I am to serve you I am going to be honest with you, I am going to give you all the information, I am going to give you all the criticisms I know and everything, but I would like to have the same in return.  If you want the best out of me it is the only way you can get it.

President McKay:  I am glad you unburdened yourself and pointed out my weakness.

President Tanner:  No, not your weakness; it is a weakness in administration in my humble judgment.  I do not want to be misunderstood — if I haven’t had as much experience in economics, in business administration, of things pertaining to this as Isaacson has had I would like to see.  If he is any more loyal to you than I am — he is not; there isn’t a man more loyal to you than I am, I do not care who he is.  If I weren’t loyal to you I would not be talking to you.  I think you are being hurt, because I want to tell you that there is nobody who has the confidence of the General Authorities less than the man you are listening to.

President McKay:  I am not listening to him.

President Tanner:  I don’t know why you say that because I know you are; I know you are listening to Isaacson when you are setting up a committee like that.  I do not want to argue any more.  I was gong to make my case, but if that is the position you are going to take, I will say, President McKay, I will do anything you ask me to do from now on.

President McKay:  You do as you are doing now.

President Tanner:  I cannot.  I do not want any appreciation or anything of the kind, but I put my nights and my days into getting this thing organized and getting things done that need to be done, but to have this man come and upset things is very discouraging.  The setting up of this committee to go into this thing the way it was set up is really disturbing to me, President McKay.  Why doesn’t he come here and listen to what I have to say?

President McKay:  He has no right.

President Tanner:  He comes to you and knows what I have said.  Imagine him having that letter that we wrote to Mendenhall.  That is offensive to me.

President McKay:  What letter?

President Tanner:  That last letter about the way he should handle the situation.  Should we just let it go the way it is?

President McKay:  Did I sign it?

President Tanner:  We three of us signed it, but why did he have a copy?  There is no reason in the world why he should have it.  I do not know whether you gave it to him or Clare gave it to him, but he had it.  You asked me to carry on the best I could but I want you to know I cannot serve you as well with this kind of operation as I could otherwise, but I will do my level best, and that is the end of it.  You will never hear another word from me about this, President McKay.  That is what introduced it this letter from the Lincoln National Life Insurance Co.  They said we discussed a five percent interest rate on a twenty year amortized schedule.  However, no terms were agreed up since we have not seen the financial statement nor have we inspected the property, nor do we have a clear idea of remodeling, refurbishing,’ etc.

President McKay:  I think we will consider this at another time; we will consider it again tomorrow morning.

President Brown:  I think it is a very good thing this matter has been brought out to the front.  I have sweat under it for two or three years and it has been very difficult.  I wish I had come out with it in the beginning and told you where I stood on it, but I thought I wouldn’t do it.

President McKay:  What are you saying is that I have a third counselor in Brother Isaacson.

President Brown:  I think you have.

President Tanner:  In some ways when you think of these two things I have mentioned, and I can mention others, I would not call him a third counselor.  I say his advice is taken in preference to mine.

President Brown:  You say ours.

President McKay:  It isn’t true.

President Tanner:  President McKay, I have definitely this morning contradicted you and I do it with love in my heart, but I do not want any misunderstandings — if I know something I want you to know that I know it, and I say you have taken his advice on this committee business after I have recommended twice and you paid no attention to me and when he comes along you set up another kind of committee and it is not the kind of committee that will do the job, it is only set up to get rid of Mendenhall and reorganize the Building Committee.

President McKay:  Mendenhall was not in mind at all.

President Tanner:  He certainly was in mind, there is no question about that.  He is the one who was in mind, no question about it.  It might not have been in your mind but when you said reorganization to me the other day that isn’t all it could mean to these men.  I am too well acquainted with what is going on.  It is a dead issue as far as I am concerned unless and until you want to raise it, because I will serve you to the best of my ability but I cannot do it as well as I could otherwise.

President McKay:  All right, you had better go to your meeting now and we will meet tomorrow morning.

President Tanner:  I want you to know I love you, I pray for you; there is nothing I would not do for you, and I feel I am not doing it unless I tell you these things.

President McKay:  You give me quite a shock, quite an insight into my own weaknesses, but they have been unintentional.  I have not taken Brother Isaacson into this.

President Tanner:  I have just given you two definite cases where you have.  There is no doubt about it, where you have taken his advice and have done what he suggested which was contrary to what I recommended; and the other, in spite of what I recommended.  those are two and I can give you others.  I cannot be anything less than honest with you.

President McKay:  You must never be.

President Tanner:  I would not do anything to offend you but I must tell you what I know and then I say it is entirely up to you what you possibly do.  You have a right to ask counsel from anybody, all I am saying is that as a counselor I cannot serve you nearly as well unless I know what is going on, and I think we should know before instead of after.

President McKay:  I thought I was giving you everything.”

Wed., 13 Jan. 1965:

“4:00 a.m.


8:30 a.m.

Held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  Some of the matters discussed were:

Personal Journals – Excellent Work done by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary — Journals to go to Family

I talked with my counselors about the excellent work my secretary, Clare Middlemiss, has done during the nearly thirty years she has been my secretary, and especially mentioned

the journals she has kept of my activities during these busy years.  I said that no secretary in the world has done what she has done in keeping records of my speeches, appointments, etc., and in tending to the business of my office.

In referring to the journals, the question was raised as to what would ultimately be done with them, and I said that my personal journals should go to my family, and that the journals containing a record of my Church activities as written in minutes of the First Presidency’s meetings and Council meetings, should be placed in the Church Library.*  (See end of day.)

*(From page 1)

President Tanner expressed himself very freely regarding what he feels his responsibilities should be in the Presidency.”

Thurs., 25 Feb. 1965

“Note by CM

At 11:30 a.m. Lawrence McKay and Dr. Edward R. McKay came over to the office.  After reporting that they had just brought their father home from the hospital, they said to me:  ‘Now father’s condition is such that any matters brought up to him which will worry him will have an effect upon his heart, so please do not take up any matters that will cause him any concern.’  I answered that I should surely follow their wishes in this respect; that, in fact, I had tried for several months now not to bring anything to President McKay which would bother him.  Lawrence said that I should take everything to President Tanner, and I answered that it has always been the practice to refer anything of an official nature to the First Presidency and that it was then taken to the First Presidency’s meeting for attention.  Other matters directly concerning President McKay or that needed his personal attention were held until convenient for the President to give his attention to them.

Thurs., 4 Mar. 1965:

10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

Called my secretary, Clare, and asked her to come over.  It is the first opportunity that I have had to see her since coming home from the Hospital.  She brought many letters of thanks written to those who had remembered me while in the Hospital with flowers, cards, and messages.

Clare stated that she had hesitated bringing any matters to me as she had been told by members of the family to take up everything with President Tanner, even personal letters such as those coming from President Johnson and others which are entirely personal.  Clare said that President Tanner would only have to take them up with me as he would not know what to do.

I told Clare that it is her duty to bring ALL matters that come to my office to me for my attention as she has done heretofore.  I said that I shall instruct her when I want matters referred to the counselors.  Clare explained that she has always referred anything of an official nature or matters that would involve Church policy to the First Presidency to be taken up at their regular meetings; that the files are full of such referrals.  I said, ‘Well, you keep on as you have been doing.’  I said that the counselors have brought over a good number of problems to me since my illness.  Clare answered that she has tried to attend to all matters that would upset me, holding others that she could to handle until my health is better.

April Conference

At this time, I instructed Clare to start preparing for April Conference — to prepare the prayer list and letters, the program, material for speeches, etc.

As Clare presented her work to me in such a manner as it was of no worry to me, I said to her, ‘I am grateful to you for the great assistance you have always been to me.’

Thurs., 8 Apr. 1965:

“Drew Pearson Column and Jack Anderson

I mentioned that I have received word that Jack Anderson, who assists Drew Pearson in preparing his newspaper column and who writes independently, infers in letters he has written that he has had confidential talks with President Brown.  President Brown stated that he had met Jack Anderson on one occasion only and that was in a Stake Conference in Washington.  He said he shook hands wit him and that is the only contact he had with him.  President Brown said that he had never in his life had a confidential talk with this man and would not know him again if he saw him.”

Fri. 18 June 1965:

“Friday, June 18, 1965

June 18, 1965

My dear Mr. Balch:

In your letter of May 23, 1965, you invite me to send you an autographed photograph, together with a signed statement, which you state you would like to have displayed on the Balch Wall of Fame in the Seattle Public Library.

I am pleased to comply with your request, and hope that the enclosed will suit your purpose.

Please be assured that I feel honored to be numbered among the distinguished men whom you have included in your collection.

With every good wish, I remain

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Mr. Albert Balch, President

Crawford and Conover, Inc.

8040 -35th Avenue, NE

Seattle, Washington

Friday, June 18, 1965

So long as we can make God the center of our lives, we are happy; and as soon as we make self the center, we approach the animal life.

Any happiness we have will spring from within, because we give God the glory and realize our dependence upon Him, and how glorious and kind He has been to us!  If we entertain hatred, jealousy, and enmity for others, we shall be miserable.  This is an eternal law of life, and we are never going to have peace in this world until we first have peace in the individual heart.  That is the Savior’s message.  Make peace with your self, have peace in your homes, have peace in your neighborhood, then you can talk about going out beyond to the nation and other nations.  What you are as an individual contributes to the peace and happiness of the world as well as to your own.

Man’s earthly existence is but a test as to whether he will concentrate his efforts, his mind, his soul upon things which contribute to the comfort and gratification of his physical nature, or whether he will make as his life’s purpose the acquisition of spiritual qualities.

The spiritual road has Christ as its ideal — not the gratification of the physical, for he that will save his life, yielding to that first gratification of a seeming need, will lose his life, lose his happiness; he will have the pleasure of living for the present moment.  If he would seek the real purpose of life, the individual must live for something higher than self.

Spirituality, our true aim, is the consciousness of victory over self and of communion with the Infinite.  Spirituality impels one to conquer difficulties and acquire more and more strength.  To feel one’s faculties unfolding and truth expanding in the soul is one of life’s sublimest experiences.

David O. McKay


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”

Fri., 15 Oct. 1965:

“After Clare had presented numerous letters and other important matters, I expressed appreciation to her for her devotion and steadfastness.  I told her that I cannot remember when she took a vacation or any time off for herself; that she must not break her health.

Choosing of Another Counselor

I then told Clare that I think I shall choose Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson as a Counselor in the First Presidency; that I need more help.  I told her to say nothing about it; that I have been giving it serious thought for some time.”

Mon., 18 Oct. 1965:

“10:00 a.m.

Counselor Chosen

Had a conference with Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson.  He presented his itinerary for assignment under Elder Ezra Taft Benson to visit the European Missions.  He said he is leaving a week Saturday, and if the schedule outlined is followed he will be gone until the middle of December.

I told Elder Isaacson that he had better not be gone so long; that someone else would have to take the Stake Conferences.

I then said that after much prayer and serious thought, I had decided to call him as a Counselor in the First Presidency; that I should like to make the announcement before he leaves for Europe.

Brother Isaacson bowed his head and wept.  He said he wanted me to know that he had never expected anything like this; that his only desire had been to help me.  He then said, ‘I believe that I can say to you as Dr. Willard Richards said to the Prophet Joseph Smith, ‘I will die for you if necessary.’  We both shed tears of brotherhood and affection.  I told Elder Isaacson to plan to go over to Europe for about two weeks, filling necessary appointments; that I should like to make this announcement right away.  I turned to Clare, who was present during this interview, and asked her to remind me of this.

After some discussion, Elder Isaacson left for his office.

I then took up office matters with Clare, who also shed tears, saying she, too, has had only one aim during her years with me, and that is to assist me in my heavy duties, and to serve the Church.  I told her that she has to start taking care of herself, as I cannot get along without her.”

Tues., 19 Oct. 1965:

“9:30 to 10:30 a.m.

President and Sister Joseph Fielding Smith visited with Sister McKay and me.  President Smith and I sat together on the couch in the living room, and as we clasped hands in brotherhood and understanding, talked and reminisced about our service together for nearly sixty years.  Sister McKay and I enjoyed their visit very much.”

Thurs., 21 Oct. 1965:

“1:15 to 3:45 p.m.

Choosing of Two Additional Counselors in the First Presidency

Met with my secretary, Clare, for a few moments, and then told her to call Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson and tell him to come in.

Told Elder Isaacson that I had decided that someone should be assigned to take his Stake and Mission assignments in Europe.  I again discussed with him the matter of his becoming one of the Counselors in the First Presidency.  I stated that probably I should call the First Presidency and members of the Twelve into a special meeting right now, but when I noted the time, decided that it was too late to do that this afternoon.  I then called my secretary and asked her to have Brother Ezra Taft Benson, who was waiting in the outer office, to come in.  It told Brother Benson that I planned to call Elder Isaacson to be a counselor in the First Presidency, and asked him if he could support me in this, and he answered ‘One hundred percent, President McKay — I have expected it, and have been glad that you have used him over the past few months for various phases of your work.’

Brother Benson then explained that he had wanted to see me about the fact that a very prominent man, representing a large group of Americans who are strongly in favor of freedom and the preserving of a conservative government, had approached him and solicited his support in their efforts to preserve freedom and conservative government in the United States.  He said that even the Republicans are becoming soft toward socialism and Communism, and that they may have to start a third party.  I told Elder Benson that he must not have anything to do with a ‘third party’; that it would be completely useless; that, however, he should look into what these men have in mind.

Elder Benson then referred to an article by J. Edgar Hoover, and asked if it could be printed in the Improvement Era.  He told me of the contents of the article, and I said that it would be all right to have this printed in the Era.  Elder Benson then left the office, and I continued my conversation with Elder Isaacson.  I asked my secretary to call President Joseph Fielding Smith and ask him to come down, and when he came in I told him that I had called Elder Isaacson as my Counselor and asked him whether he could sustain me in that action, and President Smith said that he could one-hundred percent.  I also asked him if he could support Elder Isaacson, and he said that he could with all his heart.

I then took President Smith by the hand, and said that I wanted him also to serve as a Counselor in the First Presidency.  That took President Smith by surprise, and he said, ‘You mean you want me to serve in the First Presidency?’  With tears in his eyes, President Smith said, ‘I’ll do anything you ask me to do.’  He then reminded me of the years we have been together in the Council.  I told President Smith that I knew he had been loyal to me and that I trusted him completely.

I told the Brethren that I would decide when to call them, and that they should stay close; that I would call a meeting of the Twelve and present this matter to them.  I told President Smith to assign one of the other Brethren to take the Stake and Mission assignments in Europe that had been given to Elder Isaacson; that Elder Isaacson could take the Servicemen’s Conference in Germany and then return home.  

Thursday, October 21, 1965


Thursday, October 21, 1965                            3:45 p.m.

Today at 1:20 p.m., Brother Darvey Wright, building manager, came to my office and told me that Sister Clare Middlemiss, President McKay’s secretary, had asked him to step into my office and tell me that President McKay was in his office and that he would like to see me.  So I went with Brother Wright to President McKay’s office.  President McKay had me come in and take a seat by the side of him.  He told me that someone would be assigned to take my conference assignments in Germany.  He stated that he had just come from the meeting of the Twelve, but that he had left his notes on his desk in Huntsville.  He came directly from Huntsville to the temple meeting, and he did not, therefore, take up with the Presidency and the Twelve the matter he had discussed with me on Monday.

He hesitated and then stated that perhaps he should call in the Presidency and the Twelve for a special meeting in the board room next to his office.  Then he looked at his watch and thought it was too late.  He asked me when I would be leaving for Germany, and I told him next Saturday, October 30.

President McKay asked me to remain seated where I was, that Brother Benson was coming in and he wanted me to stay there with him.  He asked his secretary, Clare Middlemiss, to have Brother Benson come in as he was waiting in the outer office.  Brother Benson entered and greeted both of us.

President McKay asked Brother Benson whether it was all right with him if I remained there while they talked, and Brother Benson agreed and said it was all right.  Then President McKay stated to Brother Benson that he had called me to be his counselor and asked Brother Benson whether he could sustain him in this.  He said he could support President McKay in this 100%.  He congratulated the President and congratulated me and told the President that he felt that he needed me very badly.  President McKay said that was why he had called me.  Brother Benson assured President McKay and me that this decision met with his approval 100% and expressed to President McKay that he had expected it and was glad he had used me over these past months.

After that announcement, President McKay asked Brother Benson to proceed with the things he had on his mind.  Brother Benson told President McKay that on Wednesday in New York City a very prominent man who represented a large group of Americans who were strongly in favor of freedom and the preserving of the conservative government had approached him.  He did not wish to divulge the name of this man because it was so confidential.  Brother Benson explained to President McKay that they had solicited his support in this movement to preserve freedom and to develop a conservative attitude and conservative government in the hopes that we could stem the tide of socialism and the softness toward communism.  President McKay concurred and asked Brother Benson how they would proceed.  Brother Benson answered by saying that they wanted him to contact Senator Thurmond of South Carolina and that they wanted Senator Thurmond and Brother Benson to get together and they would take this throughout the states of the nation, hoping they could get it into the Republican Convention.  Although Brother Benson explained that the Republicans were becoming soft toward communism and drifting toward socialism and away from conservatism about as badly as the Democrats.  They hoped they could keep it in the Republican Party; but if not, they may have to start a third party.  President McKay strongly disagreed and expressed his opinion and hoped that Brother Benson would not become associated with any third party because it would be completely useless.  Brother Benson stated that he did not care to get into politics, but he thought the Church should take a stand; that if somebody did not do something it would be too late.  President McKay agreed with this.  Brother Benson asked whether he should look into it further or forget it.  President McKay told him to go ahead and make further inquiry and to do what he thought was right.

Brother Benson discussed with Brother McKay an article by J. Edgar Hoover and wondered whether it could be put in The Improvement Era.  He told President McKay of the contents of the article and asked President McKay whether he could talk to Brother Green and have it put in The Improvement Era.  President McKay authorized him to contact Brother Green and have this article published in The Improvement Era.

That ended our discussion with Brother Benson and he left.  I was going to leave, but President McKay told me to stay there and asked Sister Middlemiss to call President Joseph Fielding Smith and have him come down, which she did.  President Joseph Fielding Smith came in and greeted President McKay.  President McKay told President Smith that he had called me as his counselor and asked President Smith whether he could sustain him in that action, and President Smith said he could 100%.  The he asked him whether he could support me, and President Smith said he could completely and was very complimentary in his remarks.

Then President McKay took President Joseph Fielding Smith’s hand and said he wanted him to serve also as a counselor in the First Presidency.  President Smith was shocked and said, ‘You mean you want me in the First Presidency?’  President McKay said he did.  President Smith answered President McKay and said he would do anything President McKay asked him to do.  They exchanged greetings and President Smith reminded him of the years they had sat together in the Council.  President McKay said he trusted President Joseph Fielding Smith and knew he was loyal to him.

President McKay then made some confidential remarks and stated that the Church would receive a ‘shock’.  I did not know nor did I try to interpret what he meant.

President McKay said he would decide when to call us, but for us to stay close.  He had not determined as to when he would talk to the Twelve.  He did state that he wanted to do it before I left.  He asked us to stay close in the next few days.

That finished our conversation.  President McKay asked President Joseph Fielding Smith to arrange to assign someone else to take the four stake conferences in Germany and Switzerland that had been assigned to me so that I could go to the Servicemen’s Conference at Berchtesgaden, meet with the mission presidents of that area, and return home as soon as possible.  Then President Smith and I went and talked to Vella.  She and President Smith studied the assignments and decided to send Elder S. Dilworth Young to attend these conferences – one to be in midweek, and one to be on the weekend.  

/s/Thorpe B. Isaacson”  

Thurs., 28 Oct. 1965:

9:40 a.m.

Left the apartment for the Salt Lake Temple.

10:00 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

Was engaged in the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple.

Announcement of the Choosing of Another Counselor in the First Presidency

Following the reports of the Brethren, I announced to the Brethren that after much deliberation and prayer, that I have considered it advisable to choose another counselor in the First Presidency, which would not be a violation of any precedent, and that I should like the approval of the Brethren in this.  I mentioned that there is nothing wrong with me physically except when I start to talk, and then I have difficulty, and that a large part of my work involves a lot of talking.  I said that I feel well enough, but my legs are not responding as I should like them to.  I stated that I feel my present counselors should be relieved of some of their work and given some help.  I told the Brethren that I would report to them later if they feel to approve of my choosing another man to be a counselor.  Elder Benson moved approval, and the motion was seconded and unanimously approved.

I then said that I appreciate the opportunity of meeting with the Brethren; that I love them all, and that I am sorry I cannot give them more help; that I keep pretty close to the office, to Sister McKay and family, and have enjoyed being in Huntsville the past week where the weather has been perfect — not a cloud in the sky; however, Huntsville is beautiful whether it is raining or snowing or the sun is shining.

I thanked the Brethren for their faith and prayers, and said Sister McKay is getting along very well; that she looks well and is feeling well.  (See Friday, October 29, 1965, for special meeting of the Council and the choosing of two counselors.)

3:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson came down to the office.

4:30 p.m.

First Presidency – The Choosing of Two Additional Counselors

Called Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson into the office and told him that I had presented to the Brethren at Council meeting today the matter of choosing another counselor to which they gave their approval.  I then called President Joseph Fielding Smith into the office, and in Elder Isaacson’s presence told him again that I should like him to serve as a member of the First Presidency; that he would not lose his status as President of the Quorum of the Twelve.  President Smith answered:  ‘President McKay, I love and respect you, and I will do anything you want me to do.’  I said, ‘I know how you feel, and you have shown your loyalty.  Can you work with Elder Isaacson?’  President Smith answered, ‘Why certainly!’

I then directed my secretary, Clare, to call Henry Smith of the Deseret News and ask him to come over to the office.  I gave him a statement regarding the appointment of the Brethren to the effect that they will be Counselors in the First Presidency, and set apart as such.  Brother Smith is to prepare a statement for the press tomorrow and submit it to me tomorrow morning.  I said that I shall have a meeting with the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve tomorrow morning and present this matter to them before anything is done.”

Fri., 29 Oct. 1965:

“7:00 a.m.

Was examined by the doctors.  They seemed to be satisfied with my physical condition, however, cautioned me not to overdo.

7:30 a.m.

Clare called by telephone and said that President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, and Henry Smith of the Deseret News wished to see me this morning to read the statement that has been written up regarding the announcement of the appointment of two additional counselors in the First Presidency.  I told her to have them come over right away.

7:45 a.m.

President Smith, Elder Isaacson, and Henry Smith of the Deseret News came to my office in the Hotel.  Clare Middlemiss, secretary, accompanied them.  Brother Smith then read the statement which he has prepared to go into the Deseret News today, which included the following statement from me:

‘Due to the increased work of the First Presidency, I should like to

announce the choosing of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder

Thorpe B. Isaacson as Counselors in the First Presidency, to assist

in all duties of the First Presidency.  They will be set apart as Counselors

in the First Presidency.  President Joseph Fielding Smith will maintain

his status as President of the Quorum of the Twelve.’

We approved of the statement as it is prepared.  I then gave Brother Smith permission to have this printed in the papers if approved at the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve to be held this morning at nine o’clock.

9:00 a.m.

First Presidency – Calling of Two Additional Counselors Approved

The following is a copy of the minutes of a special meeting of the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve which was held in the Church Administration Building at 9:00 a.m.:

‘Present:  Presidents David O. McKay and N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency; also the following Brethren of the Council of the Twelve: President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elders Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Delbert L. Stapley, LeGrand Richards, Richard L. Evans, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley.  (President Hugh B. Brown in the South Pacific with Elder Thomas S. Monson.)

The opening prayer was offered by Elder Ezra Taft Benson.

Calling of Counselors in the First Presidency

President McKay referred to his announcement in the meeting of the Council yesterday to the effect that he proposed to choose an additional Counselor to serve in the First Presidency, and that on that occasion the Council had indicated their approval by unanimous vote.

President McKay said:  ‘This morning we report to you the fulfillment of that recommendation, and present the names of two brethren to act as counselors in the First Presidency; namely, Joseph Fielding Smith, President of the Twelve, and Thorpe B. Isaacson.  We present those two for your consideration.’

Elder Lee responded:  ‘I being next to President Smith, if it is in order, I move the approval of your recommendation.’

Elder Spencer W. Kimball said, ‘I would like to second it.’

President McKay then said:  ‘This will not affect the standing of either member.  President Smith is President of the Twelve.  This is just an addition.  Brother Thorpe B. Isaacson is an Assistant to the Twelve.  Brother Isaacson was notified to be present and he is here now.’

President McKay the asked these Brethren:  ‘Are you Brethren willing to accept this additional work?’

President Smith and Brother Isaacson both answered in the affirmative, and Brother Isaacson stated that he would do the best he could.

President Tanner then asked this question of President McKay:  ‘You said that these two brethren would be Counselors to the First Presidency.  Do you mean Counselors to the President in the First Presidency?’

President McKay answered, ‘Yes.’

‘President Tanner then inquired, ‘Wouldn’t it be right and proper then to have President Smith as your First Counselor?’

President McKay answered, ‘No, we have two Counselors in the First Presidency already.  You remain.’

President Tanner then said, ‘These two Brethren will be Counselors in the First Presidency, not ‘to’ the First Presidency.  You said ‘to the First Presidency.’  I was just trying to get this clear.  They will be Counselors ‘in’ the First Presidency and not ‘to’ the First Presidency.’

President McKay said, ‘That is right.  There will be four Counselors in the First Presidency, and President Smith will remain the President of the Twelve just the same.’

President Joseph Fielding Smith then commented that this is not something that is new, because a similar situation existed in the days of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President McKay then asked for the vote of the Brethren as to whether they favored the proposition, and the vote was unanimous.  He asked if there was any opposition vote and there was none.

President McKay commented:  ‘I am feeling a little better.  The Lord is blessing me, and I am using my right hand better than I have done, but I find that talking is one of my important duties and my speech is affected, so if you will be patient with me, with my stuttering, I will do the best I can to fulfill my duties.’

The President then said that these Brethren would be set apart later.

The meeting adjourned.’

9:45 a.m.

Following the meeting with the Council of the Twelve, held in the First Presidency’s office, President N. Eldon Tanner, President Joseph Fielding Smith, Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, and I remained in the office of the First Presidency, and at this time I was voice (with President Tanner) in setting apart President Joseph Fielding Smith as a Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in conferring upon him all the powers and authority of that position, and prayed the Lord’s blessings to attend him in this special calling.  I told him that he will continue as President of the Twelve and as a member of the Council of the Twelve, but that this is an extra ordination conferred upon him, and that he now becomes one of the First Presidency of the Church.  (See copy of setting apart following.)

Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson Set Apart to First Presidency

We then layed our hands upon the head of Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, and I asked President Nathan Eldon Tanner to be voice in setting apart Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson as a Counselor in the First Presidency and in conferring upon him all the powers and authority of that position.

Later, Brother Henry Smith, reporter, was given permission to release the announcement to the newspapers.  (See newspaper clippings following.  See also copies of letters received expressing approval of the appointment of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson to the First Presidency.)

10:00 to 11:30 a.m.

Regular meeting of the First Presidency and Presiding Bishopric held in the office of the First Presidency.  Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson attended their first official meeting with the First Presidency. 

Friday, October 29, 1965

October 29, 1965

Friday, October 29, 1965, at 9:45 a.m., President David O. McKay and President N. Eldon Tanner met in the First Presidency’s office with President Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson, and President McKay was voice (he was assisted by President Tanner) in setting President Joseph Fielding Smith apart as a counselor in the First Presidency as follows:

Setting Apart of Joseph Fielding Smith

Brother Joseph Fielding Smith, esteemed fellow-worker, by virtue of the Holy Priesthood and the authority of us vested, we members of the First Presidency unitedly lay our hands upon your head and confer upon you the authority and position of counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; and all the powers and authority of that position we confer upon you, and pray the Lord’s blessings to attend you in this special calling.

You will continue as President of the Twelve and a member of the Council of the Twelve, but this is an extra ordination that we confer upon you, and you become one of the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  May the Lord bless you in this extra calling.

We give you power to respond to every assignment and appointment with which you will be associated in the office of counselor in the First Presidency of the Church.  The Lord bless you.

Our Father in Heaven, seal and ratify this added blessing upon thy servant.  He has spent years of faithfulness as a member of the Twelve Apostles and as president of that body.

These authorities and blessings we confer upon you by virtue of the office of the First Presidency, in the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.”

Mon., 1 Nov. 1965:

“11:35 to 12:10 p.m.

President and Sister Joseph Fielding Smith made a courtesy call on Sister McKay and me.  We had a delightful visit.

President Smith expressed again his appreciation for the appointment that I have given him as one of my counselors.  He said:  ‘You can depend upon me, and I’ll do whatever you ask.’  I told him that he will work closely with me, and be by my side in all the meetings.”

Tues., 2 Nov. 1965:

First Presidency – Signatures of new Presidency

The question was considered as to how the First Presidency’s mail should be signed, also the missionary certificates — whether three signatures should be used or five that we now have five members in the Presidency.  At this time we came to the conclusion that only three signatures should be used:  namely, those of Presidents David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, and N. Eldon Tanner, as has heretofore been the case, and that ‘The First Presidency’ should appear under these signatures.

However, later, having had more time to think this matter over, I realized that the effectiveness of the two new counselors would be lessened, and, therefore, changed this decision so that the five signatures would appear wherever the three signatures have appeared before except upon the missionary certificates, which I shall sign alone, and in cases where the letters were inconsequential, the signature of only one member of the First Presidency should be used.”

Thurs., 4 Nov. 1965:

“7:45 a.m.

At my request my secretary, Clare Middlemiss, came over to the office in the Hotel Utah apartment.  At this time I went over letters prepared for the usual signatures of three members of the First Presidency.  I considered again the question as to whether the two new Counselors — Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson — should sign all letters and documents needing the signature of the First Presidency.  Although this matter had been discussed in the meeting of the First Presidency last Tuesday and the decision made that just the two counselors; namely, Presidents Brown and Tanner, should continue to sign the correspondence, I decided this morning if the two newly-appointed brethren (Presidents Smith and Isaacson) are to be members of the First Presidency as they have been set apart, and announced in the newspapers, they should also sign the letters and fully participate as members of the First Presidency.

I decided that I would take this matter up again with the counselors and tell them that I have decided that the two new counselors should participate in the signing of all letters, documents, etc., which have heretofore been signed by the three members of the First Presidency.  One exception will be the missionary certificates, which are too small to carry the five signatures.  I shall sign these alone.

Fri., 5 Nov. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with President Joseph Fielding Smith in the apartment office.  President Hugh B. Brown was absent, he being indisposed, President Nathan Eldon Tanner is attending the dedication service at the BYU, and President Isaacson is attending the Servicemen’s Conference in Germany.

Some of the matters discussed by President Smith and me were:

First Presidency – New Counselors

The secretary, Joseph Anderson, read the galley proof of an article prepared by Albert L. Zobell, Research Editor, for publication in the Improvement Era regarding the appointment of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson as Counselors in the First Presidency.

There was also read to us by Joseph Anderson historic information regarding assistant Counselors to President Joseph Smith and President Brigham Young.

I reiterated my decision that Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson are Counselors in the First Presidency and not Assistant Counselors. 

First Presidency – Signatures on Letters and Missionary Certificates

Consideration was given to the question as to what signatures should be attached in the future to First Presidency letters.  President Smith and I were in agreement that the First Presidency letters should be signed as follows:  ‘The First Presidency, By’, and one line on which one member of the First Presidency could attach his signature, and that as a general rule this should be the President’s signature.  In special cases, however, where it seems important that a letter or statement should bear the signatures of the full First Presidency, provision should be made for five signatures with the title ‘The First Presidency’, underneath the signatures.

(This was later changed.)

Consideration was also given to the question as to what signatures should appear on the small missionary certificates which heretofore have carried lines for three signatures with the name “The first Presidency’ underneath.  We decided that in the future these certificates should be signed by the President of the Church only.  In other words, that there should be only one line for signature attached to the certificate, on which line the President’s name would appear, and underneath the line would be the word ‘President’.

First Presidency – Sustaining of in Stakes and Wards

It was mentioned that the question has been raised as to whether or not in sustaining the General Authorities in the Wards and Stakes a new form should be provided listing for the sustaining vote of the people the new First Presidency consisting of President David O. McKay and Counselors — Hugh B. Brown, Nathan Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Thorpe B. Isaacson.

I said that new forms to this effect should be prepared and sent to the Stakes.

First Presidency – Christmas Greeting to Missionaries in South Africa

Attention was called to a letter that had been prepared as a Christmas Greeting to the missionaries and saints in the South African Mission, which letter has been signed by David O. McKay, Hugh B. Brown, and N. Eldon Tanner as the First Presidency.

I instructed that this letter be re-written and provision made for the five signatures of the Brethren of the First Presidency.

Our meeting concluded at 9:50 a.m.

Tues., 9 Nov. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

First Presidency Meeting with all Four Counselors Present for the First Time

Held a meeting of the First Presidency, at which meeting all four Counselors were present for the first time since Presidents Smith and Isaacson were set apart as Counselors.

I greeted the Brethren and made the following comments:

I welcome you as the Counselors in the First Presidency, and acknowledge with hesitancy that I am not so well as I used to be, and have called you Brethren as Counselors in the First Presidency to help carry on the work.  I pray the Lord’s blessings to attend us in this Quorum of the Presidency.  It is nothing new in the Church — The Prophet Joseph had several Counselors; President Brigham Young had seven at one time.  I think; and this will constitute the Quorum of the First Presidency now.

I should like to meet regularly with you and take up matters and preserve the Quorum as occasion requires.

I then asked each Counselor if he is willing to support me, and asked him to state his willingness this morning.

President Joseph Fielding Smith said:  President McKay, speaking, of course, for myself, I want to be absolutely loyal and bear you up; sustain you, pray for you, that the Lord will bless you and lengthen your life that you may have His Spirit with you always.’

President Hugh B. Brown said:  ‘I would like very much to continue, President McKay, with the loyal support which I have tried to give you, and help you in any way I can.  I have no hesitancy and no reservation in expressions of love, admiration, and support.’

President Nathan Eldon Tanner then said:  ‘I can reiterate what I have said before several times.  You are the President of the Church and we certainly sustain you as a Prophet of God, and I just hope that I can be worthy of the great honor that has come to me to be a Counselor to you in the First Presidency.’

President Thorpe B. Isaacson said:  ‘I am very happy to be here this morning.  I came home sooner than a lot of people expected, but I remember one of the statements in your letter, that we should make our visits effective and brief.  I have had a great experience, particularly in the LDS Servicemen’s Conference, something that would take me a long time to report.  I am very glad to meet with you Brethren.  I sincerly hope that we can have a feeling here of oneness; that there shall not be anything but what is right and proper and open and frank.  I am sure we can develop a great love and affection for one another.’

First Presidency’s Meetings

I then said that this meeting this morning is an official meeting of the First Presidency, and that the First Presidency should meet regularly each morning — Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, at 8:30,and that these meetings should be held in the First Presidency’s office.  I said that I think I shall be able to attend the meetings there each morning.

First Presidency – Article for Improvement Era

There was brought to the attention of the Presidency additional items that had been submitted by Doyle Green of the Improvement Era which he suggests be included in the article that is being prepared for publication in the Improvement Era regarding the addition of Counselors to the First Presidency.  The First Presidency had approved the manuscript as submitted by Brother Green on Friday last.  The further information now submitted reads as follows:

‘At the October 1873 Conference, Brigham Young was sustained as ‘Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in all the world.’

George A. Smith, Daniel H. Wells, Lorenzo Snow, Brigham Young, Jr., Albert Carrington, John W. Young, George Q. Cannon, Counselors to President Young.  (Journal History, October 8, 1873, page 2.)

‘No one was designated as first, second, or seventh Counselor.

President Young was in Southern Utah in April 1874, and the Annual Conference was not held until May.  There were sustained:  George A. Smith and Daniel H. Wells, Counselors to President Brigham Young.

Lorenzo Snow, Brigham Young, Jr., Albert Carrington, John W. Young, and George Q. Cannon, Assistant Counselors to President Brigham Young.  (Ibid., May 9, 1874, page 1.)

Following the death of President George A. Smith, at the October 1876 Conference ‘John W. Young and Daniel H. Wells’ were presented as ‘Counselors to President Brigham Young.’  That left four Assistant Counselors. (Ibid. October 7, 1876, page 2.)

Following the death of President Brigham Young, Elders John W. Young and Wells were sustained as ‘Counselors to the Twelve Apostles for many years.  Elder Young absented himself for a time in the East on personal business, but was re-sustained.  Elder Wells was sustained for the last time in October 1890, and at the October 1891 Conference: ‘Brother George Q. Cannon stated a letter had been received from Brother John W. Young requesting…’

I approved the publication of this material.

The Brethren left at 10:00 a.m. in order to attend the Expenditures Committee Meeting.”

Wed., 10 Nov. 1965:

“8:30 a.m.

The regular meeting of the First Presidency was held.  President Brown asked to be excused.

First Presidency – Signatures of

The question was raised as to how the various certificates and letters should be signed by and for the First Presidency.  I made the following decisions in which the Counselors concurred:

Bishops, Stake Presidents, and Patriarch Certificates to be signed by the First Presidency — five signatures. 

Missionary Certificates to be signed by the President of the Church only.

Divorce clearance letters to be signed by the First Presidency by President McKay.

Call and release of Priesthood Regional Chairmen to be signed by the First Presidency by President McKay.

Call and release of Priesthood committee members, to be signed the First Presidency by President McKay.

Letters prepared by Fenno Casto, Secretary to the Expenditures Committee, covering actions of the Expenditures Committee to be signed by the First Presidency by President McKay.

Approval of Bishops to be signed by the First Presidency by President McKay.

Appointment and release of Stake Presidents to be signed by the First Presidency, five signatures.

11:35 a.m.

Clare came in at my request.  There was a stack of letters on my desk for my signature, signed ‘The First Presidency, by’, and a line for my signature.

First Presidency – All Letter Heretofore Signed by All Three Members of the Presidency will be Signed by All Five Members

Clare raised the question as to why all these letters from the Missionary Department, legal Department, Building committee, Expenditures committee, which will run into the hundreds each week, should be signed by me alone, when heretofore they had been signed by the three members of the First Presidency.  She called attention to the fact that with only my signature on these letters I shall be responsible for all that goes out.  She called attention to the further fact that with my signature on all these letters, replies and inquiries by the hundreds will come addressed to me each week, instead of coming addressed to the First Presidency, as has been the policy heretofore.

I called Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency, and asked him if all these letters which are now on my desk have heretofore been signed by all three members of the First Presidency, and he answered ‘Yes, they have.’  I asked him why they should now have only my signature on them.  He said that it was to avoid having all five signatures put on the letters which would delay the correspondence.  He said that sometimes all the Brethren are not available for signature; that they may be out of the City on appointments, etc.  I said that in that case, only the Brethren that were in the City would have their signatures on the letters.

After listening to this latest presentation of this matter, I ruled that all letters that have heretofore been signed by the three members of the First Presidency, will be signed by all five members of the First Presidency as now constituted.

1:30 p.m.

Left for home, very much tired and weary over the problems and matters that have been brought to my attention this morning.

Tues., 16 Nov. 1965:

“9:00 a.m.

Following our discussions, we went through the tunnel to the Church Administration Building and on into the First Presidency’s Office, where we held the regular meeting of the First Presidency.  A number of items were discussed, among them were the following:

First Presidency, Signing of Letters by

President Tanner called attention to three letters that had been prepared for the signatures of the First Presidency as follows:

1) A letter to President James Martin of the French East Mission regarding furnishing financial assistance to a sister who is serving as a missionary in the French-Polynesian Mission.

2)  A letter addressed to President C. Elmo Turner of the Brazilian South Mission, regarding his returning home on leave of absence to have the doctor check a leg injury.

3)  A letter addressed to President Fletcher of the Swedish Mission in regard to dividing the First Quorum of Elders in the Goteborg District.

It was unanimously agreed by the Brethren that these letters and letters of this type should be signed ‘The First Presidency’, with one signature; that signature to be that of any one of the Brethren of the First Presidency.

First Presidency – Sustaining of at Quarterly Conferences

There was brought to our attention the question as to the language that should be used in sustaining the First Presidency in the record of officers sustained at the Quarterly Conferences of the Stakes.  It was the decision of the First Presidency that the language should be as follows in the matter of sustaining the First Presidency:  ‘David O. McKay as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator, and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Hugh B. Brown as First Counselor in the First Presidency, and Nathan Eldon Tanner as Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson as Counselors in the First Presidency.’  It was also agreed that the name of Thorpe B. Isaacson should be removed from the list of Assistants to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles to be sustained.”

Wed., 24 Nov. 1965:

“President Hugh B. Brown – Expresses Personal Feelings

Before leaving the room, President Hugh B. Brown asked to speak to me alone.  He expressed his personal feelings regarding several matters, including the choosing of two new Counselors in the First Presidency, and the signing of letters and documents by five members of the First Presidency.

I told him that we should have harmony, and that I have nothing but love for the Brethren.  I was not feeling very well, and really not up to a long discussion.”

Tues., 30 Nov. 1965:

“8:00 a.m.

Met the Brethren of the First Presidency.  Arrangements previously had been made for colored pictures to be taken of the First Presidency, including all five members; however, President Brown was not present, having called President Tanner last evening and told him that he was going to the hospital for a check-up.  Since the photographers, who had come from Logan, said that it would be impossible to insert a picture of President Brown in color, we decided to postpone the taking of the picture until a later date.  We were disappointed, because cameras and lights were arranged all over the room, and it meant a lot of dismantling of equipment.

Thurs., 2 Dec. 1965:

“8:15 a.m.

Went into the office of the First Presidency where I held a meeting with Presidents Tanner and Isaacson.  President Brown was absent in the hospital, and President Smith was attending a meeting with the Council of the Twelve in the Temple.

After we had taken up the regular matters, I asked Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency, for the three items I had instructed him to bring to the meeting today.  He had forgotten what they were, and apparently had made no notes regarding them.  I recalled all three of them to him, and asked him to get this information for our next meeting.

Thurs., 13 Jan. 1966:

“7:30 to 8:10 a.m.

Deseret News – Appointments to Board

Had a conference with President Thorpe B. Isaacson regarding general Church matters, among them being the advisability of releasing the present Temple Square Mission Presidency, and the announcement in last night’s Deseret News that at a meeting of the stockholders held Wednesday, a new position of chairmanship of the Board had been created and that Nathan Eldon Tanner had been appointed to that position.  I had previously sent a letter to George L. Nelson, President of the Board, and instructed him to appoint Thorpe B. Isaacson as a member of the Executive Committee, and also a member of the Board, but I knew nothing about the appointment of President Tanner.

Later I asked my secretary Clare to call Brother Nelson and inquire of him when the appointment of President Tanner was decided upon, and to tell him that the announcement came as a complete surprise to me.

Clare reported that Brother Nelson said that several months ago when President Tanner, Elder Thomas S. Monson, and Bishop Victor L. Brown were appointed members of the Board, he (as President of the Board) was embarrassed to preside at Board meetings with President Tanner sitting there; so the Board decided to create the office of Chairman of the Board.  Brother Nelson said that President Tanner was asked at the time to accept this office, but he said he wanted to think about it.  ‘Then’, said Brother Nelson, ‘just recently I asked him again to take the position, and he accepted, so we had him voted in at the meeting held yesterday.’

Clare said that she said to Brother Nelson, ‘Did you present the matter of appointing President Tanner to President McKay?, and he answered, ‘No, I didn’t think it was necessary.’  The secretary said she remarked, ‘And yet you had a letter from President McKay authorizing you to appoint President Isaacson.  The President was surprised when he read the announcement, because he had other plans for the Deseret News Board, and he feels that as President Tanner is his Counselor, he would like to say which Church positions he accepts.’

Brother Nelson said, ‘I’ll go over to the President and explain about this.’  The secretary said, ‘Well, it is done now; I’ll give this report to President McKay as he instructed me to do; then if he wishes you to come over, he will call you.'”

Fri., 28 Jan. 1966:

“9:00 a.m.

Met with the Presiding Bishopric.  A number of items were discussed with them, one of which concerned the designation to be given to certain General Authorities in the new Church Directory.  We informed them that they should be listed as follows:

President Hugh B. Brown, First Counselor in the First Presidency

President Nathan Eldon Tanner, Second Counselor in the First Presidency

President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Thorpe B. Isaacson as Counselors

in the First Presidency.

President Isaacson is not to be listed as an Assistant to the Twelve.

The Missionary Executive Committee should be as follows:

Spencer W. Kimball, Chairman

Gordon B. Hinckley, Managing Director

Thomas S. Monson

President Thorpe B. Isaacson’s name should appear as a member of the Board of Education following President Joseph Fielding Smith’s name.”

Tues., 8 Feb. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with Presidents Hugh B. Brown, Nathan Eldon Tanner, and Joseph Fielding Smith.  President Isaacson is in the LDS Hospital.

President Brown reported that he is back at the office today for the first time in several weeks, and that the attack from which he is recovering is the most serious one he had ever had.  He said that he coughed incessantly for four weeks, night and day; that his lungs were affected, and he is happy to be restored to health.

President Tanner reported that he and President Smith went to the hospital yesterday and administered to President Isaacson who had a stroke.  His condition is considered serious.

Fri., 15 Apr. 1966:

Note by CM

At this point President McKay stated that he misses President Isaacson very much, and that he would have to appoint another counselor.  He seemed greatly worried over the affairs of the Church.”

Tues., 19 July 1966:

“In Laguna Beach, California.

Sent flowers and a telegram to President Joseph Fielding Smith expressing my congratulations and love on his Ninetieth Birthday Anniversary.  (See newspaper clippings following giving a brief history on President Smith’s life.)

Note by CM

President Smith said to the reporter interviewing him, ‘I was highly honored when President McKay asked me to be an additional Counselor in the First Presidency as well as continuing to serve as President of the Twelve.’  He further said, ‘I welcome the additional responsibilities that come with this appointment.'”

Tues., 20 Sept. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

I met my counselors, Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith and Isaacson, and photographers from the Deseret News and Tribune.  The first official photographs of the five members of the First Presidency were then taken.  President Isaacson had been brought from his home to the office by his son Richard.  He looked pretty well, and seemed very happy to be able to meet with the Brethren once again.  It was good to see him, and I realized more than ever how I had missed him.

Note by CM

Many pictures were taken for an hour or more and President McKay was patient and smiling through all the poses and instructions given by the photographers.

9:45 – 10:30 a.m.

Met with the First Presidency for a regular meeting.

President Isaacson’s Presence

I expressed my pleasure at the presence of President Isaacson after such a long period of illness.  President Isaacson met with us and participated as much as possible in the meeting.  It was indicated that it is now about eight months since President Isaacson went into the hospital because of a serious stroke.  Mention was made of the approaching Conference, and President Tanner stated that he supposed ‘there are more people praying for the health of President McKay and President Isaacson’ than for anything else in the world.  I said I hoped that President Isaacson and I would continue to improve in health.  I also said, ‘We have the assurance that the Lord is with us and there is nothing else to worry about.’

Tues., 15 Nov. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency.  Presidents Brown and Smith and I were present.  President Tanner is in Hawaii, and President Isaacson is still absent because of illness.  Some of the matters discussed were:

10:00 a.m.

Interview with Los Angeles Times Religious Editor

By arrangements made by letter dated October 9, 1966, I met Mr. Dan L. Thrapp, Religion Editor of the Los Angeles Times.  He was accompanied by Brother Richard Maycock of the Church Information Service and Henry Smith of the Church News.

Mr. Thrapp is in the city to gather information for an article he intends to write on the progress of the Church under my presidency.  He said that we first met at the ground-breaking services of the Los Angeles Temple in 1951, and later at the dedication of the Temple in 1956 when I gave permission for the Times to carry interior pictures of the Temple in an article concerning the dedication.  He said he had always appreciated the courtesy extended to him at this time.

Mr. Thrapp said that he has been very much impressed with the things he has seen and heard about the Church the past two days; that Brothers Maycock and Smith have been very kind to him in furnishing information about the Church.  He said that he had spent an hour or more in my private offices with my secretary, Miss Clare Middlemiss, and was amazed at the detailed records she has kept on my presidency.  He stated later to Brother Arch Madsen of KSL that ‘I do not believe any man including Presidents of the United States has ever had such a record kept on his activities, speeches, etc., as Miss Middlemiss has kept.’

Mr. Thrapp asked me many questions concerning the Church and its growth.  He said, ‘Do you think that you personally have had anything to do with this growth?’  I said, ‘No, it is the blessings of the Lord and the work and devotion of the members of the Church.’

He then asked me about my impressions of the Church’s value to the world.  I said, ‘I think it has great value to everyone, Mormon and non-Mormon alike, because the applicability of its principles in our lives will bring happiness and peace to mankind everywhere.’

After an hour’s consultation, Mr. Thrapp said that he should not take any more of my time, and I expressed pleasure at meeting him.  He stated that he had enjoyed the interview, and that his stay in Salt Lake had been enlightening as well as a great pleasure.  (See newspaper clippings following, also copies of letters from Mr. Thrapp and answers thereto.)

11:00 – 12:00 noon

Conference with Clare.  I thanked her for handling the interview with Mr. Thrapp so well, and in arranging for his schedule during the past two days. 

Tuesday, November 15, 1966

Mr. Thrapp’s Account of Interview with Pres. McKay





…astounding to sit in discussion about the American Presidency with a representative of a faith driven 1,400 miles into the wilderness by violent persecution little over a century ago.

Yet the life of Dr. McKay bridges that enormous gap.

Born in a sturdy frame ranch house near Huntsville, in Ogden Canyon north of here, four years before Brigham Young died, David McKay knew many of the 1847 pioneers.

Some Knew Smith

Among them were some who had even known Joseph Smith, the prophet, whose translation of the Book of Mormon forms the doctrinal basis for the Church.

Young visited from time to time at the McKay home, although not, to David’s recollection, during the years after the boy’s arrival.

McKay became president of the church in 1951.  Since then it has more than doubled its membership, to 2.4 million today.  Many church people give much of the credit to him, although he discounts it.

‘Just natural expansion,’ he explained.  ‘I came in as president at the right time.’

Tall, with a Scottish face topped by a shock of white hear, Dr. McKay was born of parents who emigrated from the British Isles after conversion to Mormonism in the 1860’s.

Young Missionary

As a young man he went to Scotland as a missionary, and there tasted persecution for the first time.  Many young Mormons contribute two years of missionary service to their church, which has no professional missionaries but depends upon laymen for that, as for preaching and other duties.

Dr. McKay went from door to door, seeking to distribute Mormon literature.

‘Many a housewife slammed the door in my face,’ he recalled, ‘You don’t get my daughters, you polygamist!’

He gave a rich, throaty chuckle as he recalled those incidents.

It was at a time when the church was undergoing withdrawal pangs from the period when polygamy was practiced openly by many of its members, and the somewhat sensational news reports on the matter had wide circulation.

‘Those good Scottish ladies didn’t know that I had a sweetheart back in Utah and, far from being a threat to their daughters, I wanted only to return and marry her,’ he said.

He did so.  On Jan. 2, the McKays will mark their 66th wedding anniversary.  She, born Emma Rae Riggs, is 89, and bore him seven children of whom six still live.  The four sons include a lawyer, a university professor, a physician-surgeon and a businessman, and the daughters are married to an attorney and a neuro-surgeon.

A graduate of the University of Utah, where he was valedictorian of the class of 1897, McKay entered a lifelong teaching career when he was appointed to Weber College, Ogden, upon his return from Scotland.

He was called in 1906 to become a member of the church’s Council of 12 Apostles, its cabinet, or administrative control group.  He became second counselor in the first presidency of the church in 1934.  This means he was the second assistant to the president of the church, moving by progression to first counselor and then to president.

A past president, Heber J. Grant, once jokingly explained that the ‘way to become president of this church is to get appointed one of the 12 apostles, and then outlive all the others.’

Longest Service

If not doctrinally true, it has been true in the past, the president being the man with longest service on the council.

This custom might not be followed when Dr. McKay passes, however, since next in line would be the Mormon theologian, Dr. Joseph Fielding Smith, who already is 90.  Behind him is Harold B. Lee, 67, a former educator and businessman, who would be, Mormons believe, ‘a vigorous, progressive’ leader in the pattern of Dr. McKay.

Dr. McKay, as have his predecessors, believes in divine revelation and continuing revelation, as providing guidelines for his church.

Sometimes he refers to it as ‘inspiration,’ explaining that, following prayer, ‘I feel this is the will of the Lord, that we do thus and so.’

Now greatly enfeebled physically following a recent stoke, Dr. McKay remains mentally vigorous and alert, even though his speech has become somewhat impaired.

At a semiannual conference a couple of months ago, he even delivered a 30-minute address from a stool in the Brigham Young-designed Mormon Tabernacle where the acoustics are so excellent one can actually hear a pin dropped at the pulpit from the rear of the auditorium.

‘He will,’ said a Mormon official, ‘be primarily remembered, perhaps, for the international look he has given the church.’

But he will be remembered for more than that.

He has contributed hugely to its missionary program, to its entry into the field of communications with radio and television properties from New York to Seattle, to its vast genealogical work, to the strengthening and coordination of its teaching program, to the building of many of its temples in this country abroad.

This tall, rugged Scotsman personifies in more than one way the self-reliant, sturdy, mystic and yet often pragmatic believers he leads.

They have pride in their church, in its businesslike organization, its history – singular in American annals, and perhaps in those of all the world – and its future.

This pride shows itself in many ways, none more clearly than in the craftsmanship with which they have constructed the towers to their faith through the years.

But if the Mormons have much going for them – their history, their faith, their tenacity in it, their resourcefulness, their vigor, their growth, their dedication, their zeal, they also have some things pointing the other way.

Among them, in addition to those things already cited, are their apparent defensiveness about their beliefs, their ‘touchiness,’ as one might put it, about their tradition, their aloofness or even a tendency toward clannishness, their sometimes seeming lack of concern for, or empathy with, those not of their persuasion.

Yet some of these things no doubt date from their remembered years of persecution and alienation.  With a Mormon pointed toward the pinnacle of public life in America, perhaps such memories will pass.

Surely the open-hearted, warm, sincere friendliness of their president leads a non-Mormon to hope this will be.  Perhaps Gov. Romney will give the development a push in the political area.

Dr. McKay has a word of advice to people of the world he will one not distant day leave behind:

‘Do your duty,’ he said, ‘but have faith unto the Lord – that’s the whole of it.’

‘Do what the Gospel teaches.’

”To me the Gospel is simply doing what’s right; you’ll be happier.  Obedience is the core of salvation.’

Los Angeles Times – Sunday, November 27, 1966″ 

Wed., 30 Nov. 1966:

“Was busy with various matters in my office in the apartment until 10:00 a.m., at which time my secretary, Clare, came over at my request.

She presented for my approval a list of those to whom I shall send Christmas cards, gifts of flowers, plants, candy, fruit, etc.  She also presented letters and other matters needing my attention.

In discussing the affairs of my office, I stated that one of the biggest disappointments of my life was the sudden illness of President Thorpe B. Isaacson; that I was so thankful for his support and loyalty that I felt relaxed and secure.  I said that I had had great hopes that he would get well, but that now it looks as though it is not to be.  I expressed regret over the opposition that had been shown toward him, and said that ‘no man either out or in the Church has ever talked to a President of this Church as I had been talked to by a certain counselor a little while before I appointed President Isaacson as a counselor.  This has been a source of real concern to me.”

Thurs., 1 Dec. 1966:

“8:30 a.m.

Met with Presidents Hugh B. Brown and Nathan Eldon Tanner for a regular meeting of the First Presidency.  President Smith was in a meeting of the Council of the Twelve in the Temple.  Some of the matters discussed were:

Note by CM

Remarks by Brethren about President McKay’s Inspiration at Council Meeting

Following the Council Meeting above referred to, several of the Brethren stopped at the office and told the secretary, Clare Middlemiss, that President McKay’s presence and statement had inspired and uplifted them; that his voice was clear and strong as he talked without hesitation.  Elder Ezra Taft Benson said that the remarks President McKay made at the conclusion of the administration of the Sacrament was one of ‘the greatest spiritual experiences I have witnessed in our Thursday meetings.  We were so impressed with his remarks and testimony that as we went in to dress, not a word was spoken in the large room until we had finished dressing and came back into the meeting room.  I think I have never felt the spirit of the man and witnessed how the Lord operates through him more powerfully than I did last Thursday.”

Wed., 4 Jan. 1967:

“10:30 a.m.

My secretary, Clare, came over — the first time in several days.  She took up letters and other office matters with me.

I told her that with President Brown’s frequent illnesses, and President Isaacson’s physical impairments caused by his stroke, I may have to take steps to call some additional counselors.

Clare mentioned that I looked tired, and suggested that I take a rest.  She said she would come back tomorrow and take up the balance of the work she had brought with her.

I admitted that I was tired, and did not feel up to take up more work today.  Clare then left, and I took a rest on the couch in the office.”

Thur., 5 Jan., 1967:

11:00 – 12:10 p.m.

Clare came over.  She presented for my consideration ten cases of petitions for cancellation of Temple sealings.  After listening to the reports on these cases, I decided to grant the cancellations.

Clare also read several letters that had come to me at the Church Administration Building.  One was from a student of Weber Academy days, who quoted in his letter ‘gems’ of literature which I had assigned the class to commit to memory.  He said that the training he had received at the Academy had been of value and help to him all his life, and that he is now taking the time to thank me for the training he had received.  (See Weber College scrapbook for letter.)

Clare mentioned that I looked worried, and I said that I am worried, and that I must have more help in the First Presidency; that I am seriously considering choosing two new counselors.”

Fri., 6 Jan. 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with Presidents Tanner and Smith.  President Tanner reported that President Brown is leaving this morning for Southern California for a rest, to be gone for several days, in accordance with permission given to him the other day when he said he would like to take a rest.  He was planning to go to Hawaii, but Sister Brown could not stand the trip.

Tues., 10 Jan. 1967:

“10:30 a.m.

Building Department – Decrease in Expenditures

Elder Mark B. Garff, Chairman of the Building Committee, came in and reported on financial conditions.  In discussing his experiences in the Building Department since I called him to take Wendell B. Mendenhall’s place, Brother Garff said that he has saved the Church millions of dollars.  He has cut down the number of employees in the Department proper from 800 to 200; has altered the plans for our Church buildings which will save the Church $50,000 on each building.  Telephone bills, travel expenses, etc. have been cut.  He mentioned many other ways in which the expenses have been curtailed.

I told Brother Garff that I am very appreciative of the service he has rendered, and feel satisfied that he is doing an excellent job for us.

Note by CM

At this point, Elder Garff, with tears in his eyes, said to President McKay:  ‘President McKay, I did not know you too well before you called me to be the Chairman of the Building Committee, but I want to tell you that you have had a great effect on my life.  I used to have quite a temper, and would let off a lot of steam, but since knowing you, I have hardly said an angry word to anyone.  I have known a few great men in my day — I knew Presidents Heber J. Grant and George Albert Smith, both of whom I admired, but they did not effect me like you have.  I have made quite a study of the lives of great men, and I have come to the conclusion that there are a very few men who have that indefinable something that attracts men and touches their hearts.  Winston Churchill was one of those men who could lift men up and encourage them to do better.  Dempsey, the fighter, has that quality to some extent.  It takes generations to produce a man like you, President McKay, and I cannot tell you what you have done for me.  The people of this Church love you — they will do anything for you, because you have that ‘something’ that lifts a man up and gives him a desire to do better.’

Big tears welled up into President McKay’s eyes, but he could not answer Brother Garff — he just took his hand and shook it.”

Wed., 18 Jan. 1967:

11:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Conference with my secretary Clare.  Told her of my great worry that all is not right; that I need more help, and that I shall have to appoint another counselor to help carry on the work, as President Brown is ill a good deal of the time, and President Isaacson has not improved as I have hoped and prayed he would — his speech has gone almost completely; he is crippled so that it is most difficult for him to get around.  I have been thinking of someone who can take President Isaacson’s place.

Note by CM

At this point President McKay leaned his head back on the chair, closed his eyes, and in deep thought said to his secretary, ‘Name to me the Brethren.’  She called off the names of the Brethren of the Twelve, and President McKay said, ‘No, not among them — like President Isaacson.’  She then named the Brethren of the Assistants to the Twelve, among whom was Elder Alvin R. Dyer.  As the secretary gave Elder Dyer’s name, President McKay raised his head, opened his eyes, and said, ‘That’s the one.  I like him.  He is the one I have been thinking of; he is a man of good judgment and dependability.’

Thurs., 26 Jan. 1967:

“10:00 – 12:30 p.m.

Presided and conducted the weekly meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, held in the Salt Lake Temple.

Just following the opening song and prayer, I expressed appreciation for the privilege that I have of coming into the presence of this body of men.  I said, You brethren do not know how noble you are, and the worth of your judgment in matters pertaining to the Church.  My heart is overflowing with appreciation from the knowledge of who you are and what you are.  May the Lord continue to bless you with the radiation of His Spirit — you are His chosen Twelve.  With all my heart I say, God bless you!

I then asked each of the Brethren to make their reports.

President Thorpe B. Isaacson, Report on

Elder LeGrand Richards reported having visited President Thorpe B. Isaacson and his wife yesterday, and said that President Isaacson still cannot talk so that you can understand him; that it will be a year next week since he had the stroke, and he has not come very far with his speaking.  Elder Richards said he asked President Isaacson if he would like to bring his love and greetings to the Brethren, and he nodded that he would.  Elder Richards said that President Isaacson can use his legs better now, and can get along, but has practically no control of his right hand.

Note by CM

Later, Elder Ezra Taft Benson of the Council reported that President McKay ‘inspired us all again today; he conducted the Council Meeting in his usual efficient way, and seemed stronger than ever, his voice was strong, and the words came out readily and distinctly.

When the names for new Mission Presidents were being read to the Council, he asked why he had not seen any of these men, and said, ‘I want to meet them and look them in the eye.’

Elder Benson reported further, ‘President Tanner spoke up and said that he had an appointment for this afternoon to interview Brother Howard Badger for the presidency of a South African mission, and said, ‘Do you wish me to interview him first, or shall I send him to you first?’, and President McKay said, ‘You send him to me first; I want to see how he feels before anyone else has any influence on him.’

1:00 p.m.

Returned to the apartment.

3:00 p.m.

Interview with Howard Badger Regarding Presiding over South African Mission

Brother Howard Badger came over to the apartment by appointment and I interviewed him regarding his going to the South African Mission.

I had a very satisfying and interesting visit with him.  Brother Badger is willing and eager to accept the appointment to preside over the South African Mission.  I told him of my visit there; of the interesting country; of the meetings held with the members, etc.  I then inquired about his wife and family, financial conditions, etc.  There seems to be nothing to interfere with his accepting this call.”

Tues., 7 Feb. 1967:

President Thorpe B. Isaacson, Report On

President Tanner reported that he had visited President Thorpe B. Isaacson and that his condition does not seem to change.  President Tanner said that he did not see any improvement in his speech, that he does move about very cautiously with a cane.  President Tanner said that in talking with President Isaacson, he suggested that he should go to the coast for a month of relaxation, get into the water, etc.   Sister Isaacson told President Tanner that President Isaacson is going to the gymnasium and taking some exercises in the pool and seemed to be enjoying it.  President Isaacson said that he would like to go to Laguna Beach as suggested.  President Tanner said that he was wondering if I would like to invite President Isaacson to go to Laguna and use the President’s housing accommodations there for a little while.

I said that I do not know just what the situation is at the present time concerning the Laguna Beach home, and that I think it would be a good thing for President Isaacson to go there; that there is no reason why he should not be permitted to do so.  President Tanner asked if I should like him to investigate the situation and make the necessary arrangements, and I asked him to do so.”

Wed., 15 Feb. 1967:

11:15 – 1:00 p.m.

My secretary, Clare, came over and presented a number of letters and Church matters that had come to my office.

After talking over a few matters, I remarked that President Isaacson is not going to get better, that I am going to call Alvin R. Dyer as my counselor.”

Mon., 20 Feb., 1967:

11:30 to 12:00 noon

Clare took up a number of important letters and office matters with me.

After talking with her about the work and the fact that President Isaacson is not improving to the point where he will be able to come back to the office, I said that I have in mind choosing Brother Alvin R. Dyer as a counselor in the First Presidency.'”

Fri., 24 Feb. 1967:

10:45 – 1:10 p.m.

My secretary, Clare, came over with a brief case full of letters and other office matters.  She presented five petitions for cancellation of Temple sealings, which I considered and passed upon.

One other letter which I read with concern had come from a man who expressed dissatisfaction at the way a letter he had addressed to me, and which was referred to the office of the First Presidency had been answered.  He had written on a matter of payment of tithes and the difficulty he is having in meeting the expenses of his family, etc.  He was told that he had not budgeted his money correctly, whereas he had given a list of his income and expenses and had very carefully budgeted his money.  Now he has quit paying tithing, and does not go to Church anymore.  Clare had written another letter to him explaining why I had not personally written to him, and had sent him some of my editorials on the value and blessing of tithing.

Clare said that she wished one of the Brethren would take some of these difficult letters and answer them, but the Counselors are now seemingly too busy to answer them and the letters are referred to Joseph Anderson.  I said that I am going to call another Counselor and that these letters will be referred to him for answer and attention.

I commended Clare for her interest and devotion to the work.”

Wed., 19 Apr. 1967:

“12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Had a conference with my secretary, Clare.  She presented letters and Church matters which had come to my office.  She read some of the letters pertaining to the recently-concluded General Conference which told of the satisfaction and spiritual uplift the persons who had sent the messages had received.

Note by CM

These people expressed their deep appreciation for President McKay’s presence on the stand, and for his three messages.

After Clare had finished reading the letters to me, I expressed my gratitude to her and commended her for help to me.  She said that she wished that I had more help so that I would not have to worry as I do, and I said, ‘Well, I have someone in mind, and shall call him to help me along the lines I need.'”

Fri., 26 May 1967:

“11:00 – 12:00 noon

Clare came over and took up letters, petitions for cancellation of Temple sealings, etc.

One letter presented for my approval was a call to a brother assigning him as President of a Mission.  This letter had only one signature on it — signed by one of my counselors.

I told Clare to tell Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, who is in charge of preparing these letters, that no letter of appointment should go to any Mission President telling him to what Mission he is to be called without the signature of the President of the Church.

Later, this message was relayed to Elder Hinckley, who said that the Counselor had said he would sign the letters.  Elder Hinckley said that for sometime now calls to Mission Presidents have been signed by all members of the First Presidency.  However, the Mission President was not always assigned to a particular Mission, just informed that he would be called to preside over a Mission.  Then later when the decision was made as to which Mission he was to be assigned, one of the Counselors had signed that letter.

Elder Hinckley was told that President McKay said he would sign the letters himself.”

Wed., 11 Oct., 1967:

“Did not hold a meeting with my Counselors this morning.

10:15 a.m. 

Elder Alvin R. Dyer came in and took up a number of items with me pertaining to the general jurisdiction of the Church.

Alvin R. Dyer – Attendance at All Meetings of First Presidency 

Elder Dyer stated that I had announced in the Temple at the time I presented his name as an Apostle, that he was to attend all meetings of the First Presidency, and said it might be well for me to make it clear to the Counselors that he should attend such meetings, both when I am present and when I am not present. I heartily agreed with Elder Dyer, and said that I would so inform the Counselors.

Wed., 8 Nov., 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with my Counselors–Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith.  Elder Alvin R. Dyer who now meets with us in these meetings, is on his way to visit Nauvoo at my request.

Council Minutes – Deletion of Paragraph

I then picked up the Council minutes from my desk which had be given to me, and went over them again, and I instructed Clare to tell Brother Joseph Anderson that I wanted the following statement by President Brown stricken out:

“President McKay is in a weakened condition. His bodily strength is waning. He is not as alert as he was.”

I said, “I am alert; and I know what I am doing.”

Later, Clare reporter that Brother Anderson said he could not take the statement out unless he obtained President Brown’s approval, and she answered that after all, the President of the Church had asked him to take it out; that probably he had better telephone him and get the instructions directly from him.

A little later, President Brown called Clare into his office and asked her if she had called my attention to his remarks at the Council Meeting, and she said, “No, the President reads all of the minutes of the Council meeting — he read that statement himself, and when he read it, he looked up and said, ‘I am alert; I know what I am doing and I want that paragraph stricken out.'”

Clare said that she had written up an account of her conversation with President Brown for her own records, but would not include them in this diary. At any rate, the phrase “he is not as alert as he used to be”, was finally taken out by Joseph Anderson after he had received permission from President Brown to do so.

Clare then left, and I joined Sister McKay for lunch.”

Thur., 9 Nov., 1967:

9:00 a.m. 

Note by CM 

Received a call from President Hugh B. Brown. He asked me to come into his office. He apologized for the way he talked to me yesterday. He said, “How do you feel?” I answered, “Well, I didn’t sleep very much last night.” I told him how I felt about some of the things he said to me, and then he said, “Well, I was upset and nervous; I want you to know that I have no ill feelings toward you — you have done a wonderful job for the President.” I told President Brown that the President does what he wants to do; that no one tells him what to do. At this we parted with good spirits and feelings.”

Tues., 5 Dec., 1967:

(Elder Mark E. Petersen and I Meet With The President) 

Re: Pamphlet Containing October Conference Address

After returning to my office from The First Presidency meeting, I learned from Clare Middlemiss, the secretary of President McKay, that the pamphlets which contained the main address of President McKay at the October Semi-Annual Conference of the Church of this year, upon printing had been delivered to the PBO distribution center but had never been sent out to Stake Presidencies and Bishoprics. This distribution was the intent of those concerned with its publishing, spearheaded by Elder Mark E. Petersen who was very much concerned at the whole matter. Apparently Presidents

Brown and Tanner had deliberately held them up. Because of this Elder Petersen wanted to seek the counsel of President McKay in the matter.

I also, with Clare Middlemiss, felt that the letter to President Patten of the Tampa Stake would be brought up by the counselors on Wednesday morning, and not being there myself, the counselors may push it through.

I asked Clare Middlemiss to arrange a meeting for me with President a McKay, and if Mark Petersen had not already seen the President, that we could go together and each take up our separate matters with him. Sister Middlemiss called me back later with the information that President and Sister McKay were being driven to Huntsville for a change by their son Lawrence, but that he would be back later that day and we could see him at 3:45 P. M.

3:45 p. m – Meeting with Elders Alvin R. Dyer and Mark E. Petersen

We were there precisely at the scheduled time to find the President seated in his office, looking and feeling especially fine. I spoke a little German to him “Wie Geht Es Ihnen Herr President.” He replied quick as a flash, “Sehr gut, sehr gut.” He said he had enjoyed the ride to Huntsville very much. Brother Petersen told him how well he looked. The President replied by saying that he would like to go horseback riding, but wasn’t sure whether he could get on or not. 

Pamphlet of October Conference Address

Elder Petersen presented his matter first at my request. He called President McKay’s attention to the pamphlet that had been printed of his Conference talk; that it had been approved to mail them to various Church leaders, but that this had never been done, and they couldn’t do much good stored in the PBO distribution. I commented that they were just a stack of paper unless they were sent out to the Church Stake and Ward leaders. The President asked why this had not been done. Elder Petersen then related his conversation with Bishop Vandenberg, who said they were waiting for approval from The First Presidency to mail them.

Elder Petersen had typed a proposed letter to Bishop Vandenberg from the President authorizing that they be shipped immediately. The President gave approval to have Clare Middlemiss prepare the letter for his signature. (See copy of letter following) 

Letter Re: Joining John Birch Society by Stake President, Bishops, etc

I next discussed my matter with the President, referring to the letter that had been prepared for mailing to President Patten of the Tampa Stake, contained in which was a paragraph, the last, that the President wanted deleted. I reported to the President that I had requested Joseph Anderson to re-type the letter with the deletion as requested, but that he had not done it but had turned it over to President Tanner; that it no doubt would be brought back before him on the morrow, and that I would not be present to advise him of it. I had a copy of the letter and the President read it again, and said to Mark Petersen, “What do you think about it?” (I had showed the letter to Mark before our meeting.) His answer was, “I agree with Alvin, that last paragraph should not be in the letter.”

The President said, “I fully agree”, and asked that I again request Brother Anderson to prepare the letter without the last paragraph. I said he no doubt will not do it unless he is told to do so by the counselors. This irked President McKay and he said, “Who is Joseph Anderson; he is to do what he is told.” I agreed to convey the President’s wishes to Joseph Anderson a second time.


Having completed the purpose of our visit with the President, we rose to leave. But the President said, “What is your hurry?” We both replied that we were in no hurry but did not want to tire him. He said, “Sit down with me, it feels so good to have you both here.” We stayed another precious 15 or so minutes with the President. It was most enjoyable. The President looked better and seemingly felt better than for many weeks; Elder Petersen said two years.

President McKay again said to us, “They think I am a sick man; but I am not, tell them I am not sick!”

Elder Petersen spoke of the Christmas lighting on Temple Square and invited President McKay to be present when the lights were switched on. The President replied he would look forward to attending.

When we did leave, the President said how happy he was that we had come. I told him that it was like “hitting the jackpot” twice in one day for me. He asked me when I would be back from my trip on Wednesday. I told him late on the same day. He said that was fine and that he would see me when I returned.

I left Elder Petersen in the Hotel Foyer and went to Joseph Anderson’s office, where I again advised him of the President’s wishes. He confirmed that Elder Tanner was going to bring up the matter before the President since, as Brother Anderson said, President McKay had approved extending the original letter to President Patten and thus it should go back for clarification. I said that the President nor did I ever agree to the addition of such a paragraph. I suggested that if they were going to take it to the President again, that they should prepare the letter as it originally was. But this he seemed reluctant to do.”

“December 5, 1967

Bishop John H. Vandenberg

Church Administration Building

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear Bishop Vandenberg:

This is your authority to mail to the Stake and Mission Presidents the pamphlets containing my address given at the last General Conference of the Church, with instruction to have one delivered to each Latter-day Saint home by the Home Teachers.

The pamphlets should be distributed immediately, with instruction that the Home Teachers should deliver them during their regular visits in January of 1968.

I shall appreciate your cooperation in this matter.

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Tues., 19 Dec., 1967:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting with Presidents Brown, Tanner and Smith, and Elder Dyer.

“(Minutes of a Meeting of The First Presidency in the Hotel Apartment)


TUESDAY, December 19, 1967

I met with The First Presidency in President McKay’s Apartment. All were present. Upon arriving, we found Brother Shaw and others from the BYU, together with Church News Photographers. Preparations had been made to play for the President a taped recording of News Correspondent Paul Harvey’s comments concerning his recent visit to the BYU Campus. I found his commentary exciting and realistic. It pleased all who heard it.

Apparently the President’s mechanical device reception was not so good. The nurse replaced his glasses, which are fitted for voice amplification, and the tape was played the second time. Hearing it more clearly, the President expressed his delight with the comment.

Pictures were taken of the President receiving the tape. First it was thought to photograph the President alone; then someone suggested that the Counselors should be in it. Presidents Brown and Tanner rose promptly and took their places. I wondered why President Smith did not do likewise. I took his arm and suggested he join the group. Then someone said, “Elder Dyer should be in the picture.” I hesitated. Then President Tanner said, “Come ahead Alvin.” So I stood next to President Smith, with my arm around him so as to be close, as the group was a little crowded as we stood at the side and in back of the President, who was seated at his desk. The Photographer, J. Malan Heslop, indicated that I could not be seen. I stood back of President Brown, but he did not move. But President Smith and the others did. Perhaps I got in the picture after all.

Mon., 15 Jan., 1968:

“NOTE by CM:

10:30 a. m.

Went over to President McKay’s office in the apartment. Mrs. Noyce, the nurse, answered the door; I said goodmorning to her and walked on into the President’s office where he was sitting at his desk. He had the oxygen apparatus on, but looked very alert and well. He commented upon my happy smiles, and I said: “I am always happy to see you and to see you looking so well.” He then asked me if I knew of the meeting which was held earlier this morning at which time the Presidency met with the Brigham Young University Seminary personnel and viewed the film “After School, What?” I said, “No, Secretary Anderson never informs me of any meeting that is scheduled; although I should know so that there will be no conflict of appointments.” President McKay said, “Well, he should.” Then I told the President that yesterday I had placed on my desk by Anderson’s secretary, First Presidency’s Minutes dated as far back as December 8, 1967–over a month’s minutes which I shall now have to go through all at once. This makes it so that I have to work in the dark so to speak regarding appointments the President has had and his decisions and wishes regarding Church matters which should be entered in his diary. The President was not pleased over this.

I then took up with President McKay letters and other office matters. I read a number of letters of “thank you” for Christmas remembrances from friends and associates, and also letters congratulating Sister McKay and him on their 68th Wedding Anniversary. Tears glistened in the President’s eyes as I read of the love, respect, and admiration the people have for him.

President McKay then discussed with me office matters; one of which was the occupation of President Isaacson’s office which has been unoccupied ever since his illness two years ago. He said that President Tanner had suggested in a recent meeting of The First Presidency that Patriarch Eldred Smith occupy the office, but that he (President McKay) after giving the matter much thought, felt that this would be unwise because it would mean the bringing into the office of The First Presidency mothers with their babies, and many members of the Church seeking Patriarchal Blessings, and they would have to wait around and pass right through the offices of The First Presidency.

President McKay then said that he had had a conference with Elder Alvin R. Dyer regarding the office, and inasmuch as Elder Dyer needs another office because of the undesirability of the one he now occupies, he feels that Brother Dyer should move into President Isaacson’s office. President McKay said he wanted Elder Dyer to have an office nearer to The First Presidency.

President McKay then told me to tell Elder Dyer to move into the office immediately. I asked the President if he wanted to call him, and he said, “No, that is not necessary; we have already talked the matter over and Elder Dyer is the one who should occupy this office; you call him and tell him that I want him to move in that office immediately.” Clare said that Dick Isaacson reported to her that Mrs. Tanner had told his mother a year ago that President Tanner would like to move in that office. President McKay looked surprised at that. (See January 19, 1968, for further word on this from Dick Isaacson.)

Clare also said that Brother Dyer had reported that when he went in to talk to President Tanner and told him that President McKay for sometime had wanted him to occupy President Isaacson’s office, that President Tanner said he had no business going to President McKay and changing his mind about Eldred Smith’s occupying the office. He also said, “You and Clare see him more than I do; you two are running the Church.” At that President McKay smiled broadly and said to me: “Well, I think you are a pretty good “runner” of the Church. I have wished many times that you were a man (Not always, because no man would have done what vou have done for me) so that I could appoint you as my counselor. You have been and are a great girl–you have been dependable, wise, and have had good judgment.” Brother Dyer also reported that President Tanner said that President McKay had appointed Elder Dyer in the wrong way — that he should not have presented his name before all the General Authorities (i.e., the PBO, Seventies, Assistants, the Twelve at the pre-Conference meeting) but just to the members of the Twelve; and that furthermore, Elder Dyer has interpreted the Doctrine and Covenants all wrong when he claims that President McKay may have up to twelve counselors. Elder Dyer told him that he (President Tanner) did not understand the scriptures; that President Joseph Fielding Smith interprets them to mean just as President McKay does. President Tanner also said that it is a known fact that Clare had a lot to do with putting him (Elder Dyer) in that office. Elder Dver reported that he told President Tanner that that is not true; that his relationship with President McKay had been very close ever since their trip to Missouri a year or so ago; and that President McKay had called him to be a counselor before he left for South America, and that they (President Tanner and President Brown) had done everything in their power to prevent President McKay from having him sustained as a counselor. President McKay remarked at that point, “Did he tell President Tanner that?” I said, “Yes, so he reported. ” President McKay answered, “Good for Alvin; I am glad he told him that. ” President Tanner further said, “President McKay will no doubt have you sustained at the April Conference as a counselor in The First Presidency .” Elder Dyer answered, “That is up to President McKay.” President Tanner also was told bv Elder Dyer that so far as Clare and he running the Church is concerned, that that is just what people are saying about him — that he, “President Tanner, is running the Church.”

Wed., 3 Apr., 1968:

“8:30 a.m.

Held a meeting of the First Presidency in my office in the Hotel Utah apartment. Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer were present. President Thorpe B. Isaacson still absent on account of a stroke.

The First Presidency — Discussion Regarding Counselors “In” or “To” the First Presidency

It seemed that the matter of choosing additional counselors in the First Presidency most concerned the counselors this morning. Secretary Anderson was asked to read the following excerpt from the minutes of the Council meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve held Thursday, March 28, 1968, at which meeting I was not in attendance:

“Elder Lee mentioned that there is something that is confusing the Church which he wished to mention, namely, the appointment of counselors in the First Presidency. He said that if these brethren were given the designation of counselors ‘to the First Presidency,’ there would be no discussion or confusion. He referred to the 22nd verse of the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants reading as follows:

“‘Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the Church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.’

“Elder Lee thought the Twelve should make an expression on the matter here for what it is worth. He said we have precedents; that, for instance, when Brigham Young became the head of the Church as the president of the Twelve after the Prophet’s death for three years he presided over the Church as President of the Twelve, and at that time two brethren were sustained as counselors to the Twelve. That was done again in President Taylor’s time when President Young’s counselors were made counselors to the Twelve.

“President Tanner said that as he understood it Brother Lee was suggesting that he would like an expression from the Twelve as to a resolution recommending that additional counselors should be designated as counselors ‘to the First Presidency’ instead of counselors ‘in the First Presidency.’

“Elder Romney moved that this be the sentiment of the Council.

“Elder Petersen suggested that this change should be made also in the list of General Authorities that is used when they are sustained in the stakes. He said there is a lot of talk about it.

“Elder Lee said that this does not take anything away from these brethren, but it does define accurately what the Lord has said. President Joseph Fielding Smith said he thought that this was absolutely right.

“Elder Romney suggested that it would set forth the matter more accurately if the First Presidency were sustained, and then the counselors ‘to the First Presidency’ were sustained in a separate vote. President Smith agreed with this upon being asked his opinion about it.

“Elder Romney’s motion that it be the sentiment of the Council that these three additional counselors be designated as counselors ‘to the First Presidency’ was seconded by Elder Howard W. Hunter and unanimously approved.

“Elder Lee said that he felt the President should be informed of the discussion that is going on all over the Church by gospel scholars and others, and of the action taken this morning by the Council of the Twelve. He said he felt that the revelation is explicit on the matter.

“It was agreed that this should be called to the President’s attention at once so that if it meets with his approval, these brethren would be sustained in the manner indicated at the coming conference. “

After hearing the foregoing President McKay indicated his approval and said he felt that that is the way it should be.

(See later decision made by President McKay after a meeting with President Joseph Fielding Smith, and Elder Alvin R. Dyer on April 4, 1968 — Decision reversed. Also see copy of Council minutes held April 11, 1968, and copy of Elder Dyer’s minutes for a further discussion of this matter, at which time the term “counselors ‘in’ the First Presidency”was upheld.)

Counselors — sustaining of as “Prophets, Seers and Revelators”

The question was raised as to whether, in presenting the General Authorities of the Church at General Conference, the counselors to the First Presidency should be sustained as Prophets, Seers and Revelators. Elder Dyer maintained that when one is called to the apostleship he is automatically a Prophet, Seer and Revelator by virtue of that calling. He also mentioned that when he was chosen to be an apostle last October this matter had come up and that I had ruled at that time that he was to be sustained as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator because of his calling to be an apostle. He mentioned that it was in Kirtland, Ohio when the apostles were first designated as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, that before that time they had not been sustained as Prophets, Seers and Revelators, but that the Prophet Joseph Smith at that time said that they who hold the apostleship were Prophets, Seers and Revelators and they were so sustained at that conference in Kirtland. President Smith agreed with President Tanner that this had reference to the Twelve. It was mentioned that President Smith is sustained as a Prophet, Seer and Revelator as President of the Twelve, that President Isaacson is not an apostle, and that Elder Dyer is the only one involved.

I gave my consent for Elder Dyer to be included in the group to be sustained as Prophets, Seers and Revelators.

The First Presidency — Signatures on Letters, Documents etc. 

The question was raised as to whether the letters to be signed by the First Presidency in the future should carry the names of the three brethren of the First Presidency, namely, President David O. McKay and his counselors Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, or if the signatures of the counselors to the First Presidency should be included. The suggestion was made that inasmuch as it has been decided that the First Presidency consists of the President and his two regular counselors that it would seem that the First Presidency letters should carry their signatures only. President Smith indicated that it was his feeling that that is the way it should be done. President Tanner questioned the desirability of attaching four or five signatures to a letter sent out by the First Presidency except in very special cases. President Smith and Elder Dyer concurred in this feeling.

I said: “All right”.

Elder Dyer said that he thought that as counselors to the First Presidency they should be kept advised, and it was decided that President Smith and Elder Dyer be given copies of letters setting forth decisions made by the First Presidency in their meetings. (See Elder Dyer’s minutes on the above discussion which follow.)


WEDNESDAY, April 3, 1968

At 8:00 a.m. I attended the opening exercises of the Regional Representatives of the Twelve Seminar held in the 17th Ward Chapel, but was called out of the Seminar by note, the information of which came from my secretary, to attend the meeting of the First Presidency.

(Meeting of the First Presidency)

I arrived at the President’s apartment at 8:35 a.m., and was greeted by the words of the President, ‘He is here.’  All were present.

The following matters were discussed before the President.

(Counselors to the First Presidency)

Joseph Anderson next read a joint resolution from the Quorum of the Twelve, which they had arrived at with Presidents Brown and Tanner present in a meeting following the pre-conference General Authorities meeting in the Temple on March 28, 1968.  Wherein they recommended that those called to serve in the First Presidency, other than the first and second Counselor, be sustained before the members as Counselors to the First Presidency, instead of Counselors in the First Presidency, that only the three constituted the Quorum of the First Presidency.

I opposed the motion simply because President Smith and I had been called by the President to serve him, and this manner of presentation nullified that particular relationship.  But the Counselors, (Brown, Tanner), persisted with the President, obtaining from President Smith, without his really recognizing any distinction between “in” and “to.”  So he said he approved the motion.  There was some discussion regarding the revelations on the subject, and President Smith attempted to read D&C 107:79, but was told that this did not apply.  It was plain to see that he was confused about the issue, and President McKay, after hearing brother Smith’s assent, gave approval, but I am confident that he did not understand what the two Counselors were getting at.  This was borne out by events that followed.

(Prophets, Seers and Revelators)

With this approval, President Brown and President Tanner next pursued the matter of whom were to be sustained as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, contending that only the First Presidency, meaning the three, the members of the Quorum of Twelve, and Presiding Patriarch. I took issue with this that all Apostles were so designated, that these powers were inherent with the calling, and President McKay sustained this, because I made it clear to him as to what was involved and his answer was definite.

(Signatures on First Presidency Letters)

The next motion by the Counselors, and these three things seemed to be linked together, concerned the signatures to be placed upon First Presidency correspondence. President Tanner said it was confusing, misleading, and cumbersome to have so many signatures on their letters. But, what with the first motion being apparently approved, there seemed no point in taking issue with this point.

I asked the question how the additional Counselors could be kept informed if they did not sign the letters. The answer was that carbon copies would be given to President Smith and I, on rnatter discussed in First Presidency meetings.


It is a matter of record that these three points were discussed, and contended against by the First and Second Counselors, when Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson were made Counselors in the Presidency at the 135th SemiAnnual Conference of 1965. It has been an aggravation to them since, and now that I am to be placed as a Counselor in the First Presidency, the whole matter is up again. This time however, with regard to the first point, that of Counselors “in” or “to”, they have sought for and obtained a recommendation from the Quorum of the Twelve, with Elder Lee spearheading. It is to be noted that President McKay was not present at this meeting, and since he is the President and it is he who has called additional Counselors to him, it seemed to me that his right took precedence over that of the Quorum.

(Unanimous Approval in Temple Meeting)

It is to be noted also, that in the Temple meeting, President McKay himself proposed my name to become a Counselor in the Presidency, and this was unanimously approved. No one dissented. Yet in a later meeting, as heretofore referred to, they proceeded to alter, by joint motion, the words of the President.

(President McKay Designated the Proper Way)

When the matter came up before President McKay in 1965, then in better health than now, clearly and distinctly directed how the additional Counselors were to be sustained by the members, and this as “Counselors in the First Presidency.”

(Telephone Calls from President Joseph Fielding Smith and Ezra Taft Benson)

During the late evening I received telephone calls from President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Ezra Taft Benson both referring to the motion of the Quorum of Twelve that additional Counselors be sustained as Counselors to the First Presidency.  President Smith said he had already been sustained as a Counselor in the Presidency and that it should not be changed.  Elder Benson said it should be as the President wanted it, since it involved Counselors whom he had called.

Both suggested that I see the President about it the following morning and each said that he would go with me if necessary.  Clare Middlemiss, knowing of the same problem that existed in the minds of the Counselors (Brown and Tanner) when Presidents Smith and Isaacson were called, and knowing of the President’s decision at that time, suggested that I should talk to the President to make sure that he understood what they were attempting to do.

Because of the urgings of these two brethren, and the President’s question to me earlier in the day as to ‘what that was all about’ in the morning meeting of the First Presidency, I determined after prayerful thought to attempt to see President McKay the following morning.”

Thur., 4 Apr., 1968:

“8:00 a. m. Controversy over Sustaining Counselors in the First Presidency 

In accordance with appointment, I met Elder Alvin R. Dyer in my office in the Hotel. I asked him to explain to me again what the counselors are so concerned about in the sustaining of the counselors at the coming Conference. He said that the issue in question is whether or not the counselors, other than the first and second counselors, should be sustained as counselors “In” the First Presidency or counselors “To” the First Presidency. Elder Dyer said that he felt that sufficient time had not been given to the matter yesterday morning at the First Presidency’s meeting to give me a chance to go into the matter and understand the real significance of the issue, or what it would mean in operation.

Brother Dyer said that he had not said much in the meeting yesterday because President Smith seemed to concur, but that later, when he learned of President Smith’s true feelings in the matter, he felt, as did President Smith, that the matter should be considered again. He said that President Smith had commented that he would like to talk to me about it if I wanted him to.

I told Elder Dyer to get President Smith on the telephone and have him come right over. He was attending the Seminar of Regional Assistants to the Twelve, but excused himself from the meeting and came right over.

President Smith soon arrived and expressed to me his real feelings in the matter, stating, “I do not know what the Counselors (Presidents Brown and Tanner) mean by the word “To”, or any other word. I feel that any man that the President calls to be a Counselor is IN the First Presidency, and nothing can change that.”

Counselors to be sustained as “In” the First Presidency. 

I said that the sustaining should be done as it had been done previously when I called President Brown, President Smith, and President Isaacson–Counselors “In” the First Presidency. That they will be sustained as such.

At this point I called Joseph Anderson and told him to come right over, since he is preparing the list of the General Authorities to be presented for the sustaining vote of the Church, so that he could make minutes of this meeting and have the list properly prepared.

Just before he arrived, Sister Clare Middlemiss had brought over the list of General Authorities which previously had been prepared by Joseph Anderson. On this list Brother Anderson had changed the word “In” to “To”.

I told Brother Anderson to change the word “To” to “In”. and to notify Presidents Brown and Tanner that the change had been made by me this morning. Brother Anderson was quite upset, and I was displeased with the manner in which he accepted my instructions. He argued with President Smith and Elder Dyer, taking it upon himself to say: “I do not agree with your interpretation of Section 107:79; it is erroneous.”

Elder Anderson at this point asked that Presidents Brown and Tanner be called over to defend the other side, and I said, “It is not necessary; I have given him instructions as to what he was to do.” (For further details see copy of minutes by Elder Alvin R. Dyer.)

President Smith and Elder Dyer then left.

April Conference — Newspaper Announcement of Counselors 

Henry Smith, Press Secretary for the Church, called at the office by appointment. My secretary Clare accompanied him. Brother Smith explained that he had heard that there is some indecision about the manner in which the counselors are to be sustained, and that he had gone to Elder Mark E. Petersen, under whom he works, and asked him how he is to have the announcement printed in the news media. He said Elder Petersen had told him to go directly to President McKay and get his answer from him.

I instructed Brother Smith that the counselors in question would be sustained as counselors “IN” the First Presidency. Consequently the news media carried the announcement as I had instructed, although President Brown had presented President Smith and President Dyer to the Conference assembled as counselors “TO” the First Presidency.

Following the departure of Brother Smith and Clare, I took a much needed rest. A troublesome day!”

“(Minutes by Elder Alvin R. Dyer)

At 7:30 a. m. I called the President’s apartment. Nurse Jerry answered. I asked if the President was in his study and if so could I speak with him on the telephone. She replied that he was in the study looking at the newspaper, but doubted if he could handle a phone conversation. I then asked her to ask the President if I might see him this morning. The nurse asked and the President said for me to come right over.

(Meeting with President McKay)

I reached his apartment shortly after 8:00 a. m. He greeted me with a smile and said he was glad to see me. I expressed my appreciation for his willingness to see me and that I was glad that he was looking better than yesterday.

For the next 30 minutes I endeavored to explain to the President what was happening. I was confident that sufficient time had not been given in the First Presidency meeting of the day before, for him to fully understand what had transpired. I made up on two separate sheets of paper the two methods of presenting the First Presidency and Counselors to the Saints for their sustaining. He read each carefully and asked me to explain, and this I did. He repeated this same question twice more, and each time I explained it as best I could, pointing up the “in” and the “to” elements.

I felt that I was not getting through, and said I was sorry that I was not able to explain it better. He said, “You have done just fine.” I really believe at this point he could see the difference; at least as the Counselors were endeavoring to set it up.

I called his attention to the meeting of the previous morning when he had nodded his assent to the Counselors being sustained as “to” the First Presidency, and had offered no personal opposition because President Smith seemed to concur. But that when I learned of President Smith’s true feelings in the matter, and that the whole affair was a repeat of what the Counselors had sought before, then I determined to see him. I said to the President, “I trust I have not done wrong in bringing this to you.” His answer was very affirmative that I had done right. He then said that the sustaining should be done as before with the Counselors “In” the First Presidency.

I mentioned to him that President Smith had said he would come and express his feelings if he wanted him to. He said that President Smith should be sent for. (He was attending the Seminar for Regional Representatives.)

(President Brown Calls on Phone)

About that time, or a little before, the nurse, Mrs. Noyce, came in and said that President Brown was on the phone and wanted to know if the President wished to hold a meeting with the Counselors. I intimated to the President that if they came it could be settled, but he told the nurse that he did not want to see them.

(President Smith Arrives)

President Smith soon arrived and conveyed to the President his feelings in the matter which were essentially as I had reported to him. President McKay asked President Smith how he felt about the sustaining, and President Smith replied that he did not know what the Counselors meant by the word “to”, and then he said that no matter what word was used — “in”, “to”, or any other word, he felt that any man that the President called to be a Counselor is in the First Presidency, and that nothing could change that. President McKay at this point said again that the sustaining should be done as it has been done in the previous conferences.

(Joseph Anderson Called In)

In order to get the sustaining properly set up in type, President McKay asked that Joseph Anderson be sent for, since it is his responsibility to prepare the list. Before he arrived, Clare Middlemiss brought in to the President the list of General Authorities which he had prepared. It contained the two changes which have been referred to, namely, that the President, the first and second Counselors in one block, and then the other Counselors in another block as Counselors “to” the First Presidency.

President McKay instructed Brother Anderson to change the word “to” to that of “in”. He seemed quite upset and said that the reason he had typed it this way was because of the meeting of the First Presidency the day before and it was, he thought, decided that it was to be that way.

There was some disputation about the matter between Brother Anderson, President Smith and myself. Brother Anderson felt to say that President Smith’s interpretation of Section 107:79 was erroneous, and that President Smith had approved the motion of the Quorum of the Twelve, and he wondered now why he was seeking to have the sustaining done as before. President Smith replied that it did not matter to him whether the word “to” or “in” was used, he felt he was a Counselor to President McKay and this should not be changed.

Joseph Anderson asked that President Brown and President Tanner be called over to defend the other side. But President McKay apparently did not feel this needful.

It was a little difficult to understand Brother Anderson’s contention against continuing the sustaining as heretofore, in the face of the President’s wishes.

As we left, he said to the President that he was just a secretary and had no voice in the matter; that he wanted it to be the way the President wanted it. The President said all right. (President Smith later commented to me that he had never heard anyone talk so insolently as did Joseph Anderson to him and to the President.)

(Not the Last of It)

I walked over to the Office with Brother Anderson. He seemed quite upset, saying, “I am afraid that you haven’t heard the last of this.” He stated further that he wished all this controversy did not exist, and that he would have to advise Presidents Brown and Tanner of the President’s desire. At this point, we both were looking at the front page of the sustaining of officers. I said, “All you will need to do is to change the word “to” to that of “in”, and all else will fall in line.” He reached down and with his pencil crossed out the word “to” writing above it the word “in” — saying, “I will advise the Counselors to change their copies.”

(Henry Smith Confers with President McKay)

Late in the afternoon, Henry Smith called at my office to get a copy of my talk for the conference, which I gave to him. He stated that he knew of the controversy on how President Smith and I were to be sustained at Conference and had asked Mark E. Petersen how he was to have it printed in the newspaper. Brother Petersen told him to go directly to President McKay for the answer as he would not commit himself. He told me that he had done this and that President McKay instructed him that we were to be sustained as Counselors in the First Presidency.

Both the Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune account of the sustaining published it as “in” the First Presidency.”

Sat., 6 Apr., 1968:

“2:00 p. m. 

Being very tired, I followed doctors’ orders and remained home for the fourth session of the Conference, and watched the proceedings by Television.

At my request President Tanner conducted this session. Statistical and financial reports were read by the clerk of the Conference, and President Hugh B. Brown presented the names of the General Authorities and General Officers of the Church for the sustaining vote of the Conference.

Two General Authorities were advanced to new assignments, and two new leaders were named to fill vacancies as follows:

Elder Alvin R. Dyer — was named as a counselor “to” the First Presidency.

Elder Marion D. Hanks — a member of the First Council of Seventy since 1953, was named as an Assistant to the Twelve.

Elder Hartman Rector, Jr. — of Fairfax, Virginia of the Potomac Stake was named to the First Council of the Seventy.

Elder Loren Charles Dunn — a native of Tooele, Utah and now a resident of Natick, Massachusetts, was named to the First Council of the Seventy.

Sustaining of Counselors 

I noted with concern that President Brown in presenting the names of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Alvin R. Dyer had them sustained by the members as counselors “to” the First Presidency instead of as counselors “in” the First Presidency as he had been notified to do.

This matter will have to be settled later. (See Council Minutes for April 11, 1968.)”

Mon., 8 Apr., 1968:

Elder Dyer’s Setting Apart 

While we were talking Joseph Anderson, the secretary, who had reached the hall, came back to inquire if I were going to set Elder Dyer apart, and if so he would remain to make minutes. I said, “No, I shall take care of that later.””

Tues., 9 Apr., 1968:

“9:00 a.m.

Did not hold a regular meeting of the First Presidency this morning; however, Brother Alvin R. Dyer called me and asked if he could see me, and I told him to come right over. He was at the office within ten minutes, and discussed the following matters with me:

April Conference — Sustaining of President Joseph Fielding Smith and Elder Alvin R. Dyer 

Brother Dyer reported that my desires had not been adhered to with regard to the sustaining of President Smith and him as Counselors IN the First Presidency; that President Brown had presented them as Counselors TO the First Presidency. Furthermore, that he, Elder Dyer, has not been sustained as a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.

I told Brother Dyer that I am vitally concerned about this, and asked him to bring the matter up in a meeting of the First Presidency.

As Elder Dyer got up to leave the office, I said to him: “I want you to stay close by my side”. I had a good feeling of the spirit of brotherhood as he came over to shake my hand and to say goodbye to me.”

Wed., 10 Apr., 1968:

“Setting Apart of Elder Alvin R Dyer as Counselor in the First Presidency 

I told Clare that there are some matters I want cleared up before I set apart Elder Alvin R. Dyer as a member of the First Presidency. Clare explained that at the Saturday afternoon session of the April Conference (April 6), President Hugh B. Brown had presented both President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Thorpe B. Isaacson, together with Elder Alvin R. Dyer, as counselors “TO” the First Presidency instead of “IN” the First Presidency as I had instructed him to do.

I said, “Well, it is wrong, and it should have been “IN”.”

I then called secretary Joseph Anderson. He was not in so I asked Pearl his secretary to tell Brother Anderson to send me copies of ordinations I have previously given to Presidents Hugh B. Brown, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Thorpe B. Isaacson, all of whom were set apart as counselors “IN” the First Presidency.

I shall discuss this with my counselors at the first opportunity and have this matter cleared up.

Thur., 11 Apr., 1968:

“As I was not feeling very well today, I did not hold a meeting with the First Presidency this morning, nor did I attend the meeting of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve held in the Salt Lake Temple starting at 10:00 a.m.

Sustaining of the Counselors IN or TO the First Presidency Discussed

Later I read the minutes of the meeting held in the Temple today, and have asked my secretary to include them with my diary of today so that a record will be made of the discussions the Brethren held regarding my appointments of additional counselors. I am also including a copy of Elder Alvin R. Dyer’s minutes as he was called upon at this meeting to make quite a defense of his position before all the Brethren.

My decision, after I had time to give more thought and prayer to the matter, as in the case of President Hugh B. Brown, President Joseph Fielding Smith, and President Thorpe B. Isaacson when I called them to be counselors, was that President Smith and Elder Dyer be sustained at the April Conference as counselors “IN” the First Presidency instead of “TO” the First Presidency. President Hugh B. Brown was so instructed through secretary Joseph Anderson on April 4, 1968 following a meeting with President Smith and Elder Dyer.”

“(These are minutes of Elder Dyer’s account of the discussion re: Sustaining of Counselors “to” or “in” the First Presidency)

J O U R N A L  R E C O R D  A L V I N  R.  D Y E R

THURSDAY, April 11, 1968

(Temple Meeting of First Presidency with the Quorum of the Twelve)

I did not receive any invitation to attend this meeting, and as I think of it, there is no reason why anyone should feel that I needed one. Nevertheless, since I had been sustained to the First Presidency, I felt it my responsibility to be there.

Upon arriving at the fourth floor of the Temple, the Quorum of Twelve were still in session of their regular Thursday meeting. It was about 9:45 a. m.

A little later Presidents Brown and Tanner arrived. President McKay had sent word that he would not attend. President Brown, especially, seemed disturbed that I was there. I told him I was not completely sure, but felt that it was my duty to attend the meeting. I inquired if the Independence Visitors’ Center would be brought up, that I was concerned about this. President Tanner then said, “You mean you want to attend that part of the meeting and leave.” I think he was asking a question. I said, not necessarily, since I felt it my place to be there.

We were in the small President’s ante room, as this conversation took place. President Brown stated that when Thorpe Isaacson attended the meetings, he dressed and undressed for the temple clothing in the other room with President Smith.

The custom, as I learned this morning, is to dress in the temple clothes for the first part of the conjoint meeting which is devoted to a prayer circle. Elder Benson loaned me a white shirt. I had the rest of the clothing in my locker.

President Brown conducted the meeting and welcomed me as having been sustained but not yet set apart, to the First Presidency. Following the prayer circle, the temple clothes were taken off for regular street clothing, and upon re-assembly to the First Presidency’s Room, matters of business were given attention. These principally on this day concerned a considerable back-log, because of General Conference and no temple meeting, of the following.

(President Broxvn and Tanner Speak to the Twelve on Certain Matters

Affecting the First Presidency)


President Tanner read a statement which he prepared related to the Doctrine and Covenants 107:79; which he said had been used by different ones, (he meant President Smith and myself), to justify the calling of additional Counselors in the First Presidency. He stated that the calling of additional High Priests, as indicated in this scripture, pertained to the handling of Church Court cases, referred to the Presidency of the High Priesthood by Bishops. Yet he said when they were to be called they were designated as Counselors to the First Presidency.


President Tanner then said, it made no difference to him whether additional Counselors were sustained as “to” or “in,” the First Presidency, so long as harmony and cooperation existed, and that effort should not be made to reverse decisions reached by the First Presidency, for one reason or another, or by saying the President did not understand a particular matter today but he did on the following day.


President Tanner, then said he was glad that I was present, so that I could not say he had brought the matter up behind my back. He said he had discussed this with me before, and felt that this cooperative effort was needed for harmony.


President Brown then took over with comments which he referred to as “end runs,” and private talks with President McKay to influence his decisions.

He went into great detail to explain why he had presented the sustaining of Church Officers the way he had, particularly with regard to the additional Counselors as “to” the First Presidency and not “in” the First Presidency, which was unanimously approved and taken to President McKay for his consideration, and that the President had given approval in a meeting of the First Presidency to proceed with the change in the sustaining.


And that after this, I had gone with President Smith to President McKay and changed his mind on the subject. But of the change he had no official word, and consequently had presented to the members the order of sustaining in accordance with his last word from the President.

(My Reply to These Statements)

With these statements having been made, which I listened to patiently, but I cannot say without internal upheaval, placed a burden of responsibility to answer as best I could. Perhaps this whole affair should not have been cured here, but since it was brought up I had to answer. For the record, my answers will be oriented to the statement number.


That President Tanner’s reference to 107:79, and his understanding of it represented an interpretation, the principle of which both President Smith and I did not agree with. For if the President could call additional Counselors, as many as twelve, “with power to act,” for court case he could also call them for other “important business,” as the revelation suggests.

I also stated two other things concerning this particular revelation. These are, that President Smith and I were not called by the Presidency of the High Priesthood, but by the President of the High Priesthood, therefore we could not rightfully be Counselors to anyone other than he who had called us. Secondly, if as President Tanner stated, this revelation refers only to the calling of additional High Priests to act as a High Court, then why were they trying to apply the wording of “the Presidency and its Counselors” to the case of President Smith and myself.


With regard to President Tanner’s statement that it was not important to him whether the sustaining was done as “to” or “in”, I replied that it made no difference to me either providing there was no implication in sustaining us as “Counselor to the First Presidency,” to take from me in particular the Priesthood rights and privileges of my office and calling to the Apostleship, which was proven to be the case by the manner of sustaining by President Brown. For his wording had denied me the sustaining as a “Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” which rights are inherent in the calling of an Apostle, and also denied my place on the Board of Education, both positions to which I was called by a Prophet of God. I stated further that to ordain me an Apostle, then sever my rights of this calling was not consistent. And this in the face of the confirmed feeling of President McKay so manifested in a recent First Presidency meeting.

At this point both President Brown and Tanner admitted before all that this was an oversight and should not have been done.

I then went to the record to show that only in one instance, had an additional Counselor ever been sustained as “to” the First Presidency. (This, no doubt, because the First Presidency united in making the call.)

The following were all sustained “in” the Presidency: John C. Bennett, Amasa Lyman, Hugh B. Brown, Joseph Fielding Smith, and Thorpe B. Isaacson. And that in the only five other instances the additional Counselor was sustained as a Counselor “to” the President of the Church and not the First Presidency. These were: Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young Jr., Albert Carrington, John W. Young, and George Q. Cannon.


When President Tanner said he was glad I was there to hear his pointed statements instead of talking about them behind my back, it made me very grateful that I was present at the meeting to defend myself. But the fact remains that both he and President Brown intended to speak of these things before the Twelve, with hopeful anticipation, maybe, that I wouldn’t be there. This makes everything they said somewhat insincere.


In answer to President Brown and also President Tanner with regard to my meetings with President McKay, which they invariably referred to as “end runs,” and of trying to change the President’s decisions, I related to the brethren assembled, (all of the Quorum of Twelve were present except Richard L. Evans and LeGrande Richards), the complete events that transpired in my going to see President McKay concerning the sustaining of officers, which is covered in detail in the foregoing pages of this Journal. Sufficeth it to repeat here, that I went to the President for two reasons which seemed to me to be proper.

A. The President on the very morning of the First Presidency meeting, when the President is supposed to have approved the change in sustaining, in fact right after, asked what had been discussed that morning and what was it all about, and he wanted me to tell him.

B. The telephone call from President Smith, (Jessie talked to me, but President Smith was right by her side and told her what to say), wherein he stated that the manner in which he had been sustained “in” the First Presidency should not be changed, and asked if I would see the President, and if need be he would go with me or come if called.

I related to them further that my willingness to go along with the resolution from the Quorum of the Twelve in the meeting referred to was based on the nod of approval from President McKay and the sustaining of it by President Smith. But since the aftermath convinced me that neither were fully aware, at that time, of that which was agreed to, I determined to meet with President McKay and endeavor to explain the situation to him, which I did, as heretofore explained, and without imposing any answer upon the President. I stated that as the President understood the proposed change in sustaining, he spontaneously said that no change should be made.

I further related that President McKay then asked me to send for President Smith, who was attending the Regional Representatives Seminar. He came at once and conveyed to the President his feelings, which were the same as he had talked to me about the night before.

I stated that Joseph Anderson was then called to the President’s office to make sure that the wording for the sustaining of the additional Counselors was stated properly.

I related how, when I first sat down with the President regarding this matter, President Brown had called to see if the President wanted to hold a meeting, and of how I had suggested to him that they, the Counselors, should perhaps be invited to come over to settle the matter, but of how the President had said he did not want them to come over at that time, and he repeated this again after Brother Anderson’s arrival, who expressed to the President that he thought Presidents Brown and Tanner should be called over to discuss the change to be made on the sustaining sheets.

I related that Brother Anderson was instructed by President McKay to make the change and to advise Presidents Brown and Tanner of the change. (It is to be noted here that the Counselors already had their copies, and it amounted to only the changing of one word to conform to the President’s wishes, that of the word “to” to that of “in”.)

I stated that Joseph Anderson reported to me that he had advised President Brown and Tanner of this change twice, but that President Brown chose to ignore the President’s desire.

It was at this point that President Brown said that he did not take any orders from Joseph Anderson or anyone else, only from President McKay. But I replied, the message Brother Anderson gave you was from President McKay. He then said he felt justified in presenting the added Counselors as he did, based upon the earlier meeting.


In responding further to my reasons for meeting with the President, mostly alone, that I did this because of the President’s direct charge given to me many times to “stay close to him,” and to “be by his side,” and that actually, as an advisor to the President, I had the right to do this, because the Prophet so requested.

I related the conditions that came out into the open, at the first meeting of the First Presidency after the October 1967 Conference, whereat President Brown right at first raised the question as to my status in attending these meetings. That I had made an effort then to be recognized as a Counselor for smoother working relations, but both President Brown and Tanner vigorously opposed this. But they would recognize me as a special adviser to the President. I stated that at that time, as an advisor to the President, I would meet with him individually as occasion would necessitate it, that there was no other possible course, since I was denied a voice, so to speak, in the Presidency’s meetings.

(More About “End Runs”–Utah Idaho Sugar)

President Brown then said yes, but that I was not to make “end runs, ” and try to change the President’s mind. That if harmony was to exist, the Counselors would all have to abide by this.

I replied that this was agreeable to me unless the President called for me, and also if all the Counselors would follow the same procedure, which had not been the case. President Brown quickly retorted “Such as”–

I then related the instance in a First Presidency meeting when President Brown submitted the name of a non-member to serve on the Board of the Utah Idaho Sugar Company. The President requested that this be given further study and be re-submitted, but this was never done at a First Presidency meeting. Instead, President Brown got Lawrence McKay and Doug Love, and saw the President separately to obtain his approval of the non-member appointment.

That seemed to bring to an end President Brown’s contentions about “end runs”.

(End of Discussion, Thoughts on Sustaining)

This, with these few statements, seemed to end the discussion on this matter which, perhaps, should never have been brought before the Quorum of the Twelve, since as one of the Apostles (Elder Benson) said, “This is a matter for the President to decide.”

(The Whole Matter Just a Repeat)

Elder Benson raised the question as to whether or not this whole idea of the position of the added Counselors as to “in” or “to” was not first brought up when Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson were first called. President Tanner replied that there was some discussion, but not on the “in” or “to” phase of it. Elder Hunter than stated that he remembered distinctly that the ”in” or “to” was discussed and that the President had ruled upon it then.

Elder Benson stated that it was the right of President McKay to say how it should be, and that when the two brethren were first called, and the President was more vigorous, he made the decision that they were to be sustained “in” the Presidency.

(Henry Smith Is Instructed by President McKay)

I referred to the quandary of Henry Smith, who sought an answer from Elder Mark E. Petersen as to how it should be carried in the news releases. I asked Elder Petersen to report on this. He stated that when Henry Smith asked him, he directed him to President McKay for the answer, and that Henry had gone to the President, who instructed him that the additional Counselors were to be sustained “in” the Presidency.

I mentioned, “Yes, and I was not around when President McKay gave him this instruction.”

Elder Stapley asked the question as to how the error could be corrected, and ventured should another conference session be called? But there was no action taken in response to his questions.

(Independence Visitors’ Center)

President Brown next brought up the proposed Visitors’ Center at Independence, Missouri. He mentioned the matter coming up before the expenditures committee, almost unsupported as to reason, and he felt that before $600,000.00 was spent in this out-of-the-way place, where there are only 9,000 members of the Church, he had recommended to President McKay that the matter be brought here for discussion.


President Brown’s statement indicated a further effort to strike back at me, saying it was another “end run” and also because President McKay had made certain decisions regarding the project on his own, and had so notified Presidents Brown, Tanner, and Smith by letter. This project is simply the President’s desire, and the Counselors had not lined up on it.

“(Minutes of Temple Meeting Held in the Salt Lake Temple – April 11, 1968.)


At the request of President Brown, President Tanner reported on the action taken by the First Presidency on a resolution passed by the Quorum of the Twelve on March 28, and on the events following. The resolution was pertaining to the appointment of additional counselors in the First Presidency. It stated that the matter of appointing additional counselors in the First Presidency was causing some confusion in the Church inasmuch as the 22nd verse of the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants indicates that “Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests. . . form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.”

The action of the Council was unanimous in the resolution that the three additional counselors be designated as counselors to the First Presidency, and the sentiment was expressed that President McKay should be informed of the discussion and the action taken by the Council of the Twelve.

President Tanner said this resolution was taken to the First Presidency and discussed, and that the statement of President Joseph F. Smith was also read, in which he said that was the way it should be. Before proceeding with the report, President Tanner referred to a statement he had made in a meeting of the General Authorities on Thursday, March 28, which he said to him is most significant, that is, that the Lord has said, “Unless you are one you are not mine,” and at that time he pleaded for unity.

He said that as far as he was concerned any action taken by the President, even though it might have been contrary to his thinking at the time, would receive his whole-hearted support.

President Tanner said that when Brother Dyer was called as an apostle and invited to attend the First Presidency meetings, he welcomed him and was sincere about it. He said if the President wants anybody in any position, he would support the President, but it is essential that we have unity and that we support one another.

President Tanner said he had discussed this question of unity with Brother Dyer before the present situation arose, and tried to emphasize how important it is that we work together. He said that the resolution was discussed by the First Presidency with President Smith and President Dyer in attendance, and approved by them, as the minutes so stated as clearly as could be stated. The decision was that the First Presidency consisted of the President and his two counselors, and that the other brethren were counselors to the First Presidency.

He said that the day following this meeting word had come that Brother Dyer and President Smith had met with President McKay in a meeting to correct or change this so that these three additional counselors would be sustained as counselors in the First Presidency. He said that without any ill feeling toward Brother Dyer, and certainly not criticizing President McKay, he did think that such action was wrong and should have careful consideration; that if members of the Twelve, the First Presidency, and General Authorities cannot be united, he did not see how the world could be.

President Tanner said it did not make any difference to him whether they were sustained as counselors in the First Presidency or to the First Presidency. He had understood that the reason for recommending that they be sustained as counselors to the First Presidency was so that people would understand that the First Presidency consists of three, and that other members are to work with the First Presidency, attending meetings, receiving assignments, and rendering to the President any personal help he may desire.

President Tanner said that as a result of the meeting of President Smith and Brother Dyer with President McKay, Brother Anderson was told that these brethren should be presented as counselors in the First Presidency. He said that to him this action of these brethren was far more serious and more important than the use of the word “in” or the word “to”, as long as we understand what it means. He said he thought it was most unfair for a brother who was put in this position to carry on with the practice of going to the President alone, or with someone else, and especially when a decision had been made by the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, and especially in President McKay’s present physical condition and there try to persuade him to do things contrary to what had been decided with the whole Presidency in attendance, and then with the explanation or feeling that “Well, President McKay did not know what we were talking about that day”, or “He did not have a clear understanding of it.”

President Tanner said further that since this came up he had gone into the matter of the composition and responsibilities of the First Presidency. He referred to statements by President Joseph F. Smith, and another statement by President George Q. Cannon, which make abundantly clear Verse 22 of the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants.

He also said that Brother Dyer has referred to the 79th Verse of the 107th Section as an argument that the President could or should be able to appoint as many counselors in the First Presidency as he wishes. He then read Verses 76 to 79 inclusive of the 107th Section, and explained that this referred to dealing with most important business and difficult cases of the Church, inasmuch as there is not satisfaction upon the decision of the bishop or judges, and emphasized that in any event the “Presidency of the council of the High Priesthood shall have power to call other high priests, even twelve, to assist as counselors” in trying these cases.

He stated that he was not arguing for one minute that other counselors could not or should not be appointed and used if the President desires. President Tanner said he did feel, however, the importance of doing things the way they should be done; that if we are going to talk to the President on questions of this kind, then the Presidency should be there, but not one or two of the brethren in an effort to persuade him what to do in a situation of this kind, and especially to get him to rule contrary to a previous decision.

President Tanner said he wished the President were here because he was not questioning the President, but that he was unhappy with the tactics used to try to get him to change his decisions. He said as he understood the situation now, the Presidency is made up of the President and two counselors, whether the additional counselors are counselors to or in the First Presidency.

(At this point statements by President Joseph F. Smith, George Q. Cannon, and Roy W. Doxey were given to Joseph Anderson to be included in the minutes. )

Elder Dyer said there had never been any question in his mind about the position of the Council or the First Presidency of the Church, which consists of a President and two counselors; that when he was called as an apostle to sit in with the First Presidency, the call came from the President of the Church, and not from the First Presidency. He mentioned in this regard that when other counselors have been called, these counselors have in most part been sustained in the First Presidency.

He referred to John C. Bennett, Amasa Lyman and Hugh B. Brown, Joseph Fielding Smith and Thorpe B. Isaacson; also Heber C. Kimball, Brigham Young, Jr., Albert Carrington, John W. Young and George Q. Cannon. He said the only single instance where a counselor other than the Quorum of the First Presidency has been sustained to the First Presidency was President Smith’s father, Joseph F. Smith. He was sustained as a counselor to the First Presidency, but not on the records of the Church.

Referring to the meetings with President McKay, Elder Dyer said that at the close of the meeting of the First Presidency to which reference has been made, President McKay was present when this matter was presented, as were the other brethren of the First Presidency. He, Brother Dyer, did not oppose it because President Smith had agreed, and President McKay had nodded his assent; but that as he said goodbye to the President that morning, President McKay said to him, “Brother Dyer, what was this all about that we talked about this morning?”

Elder Dyer said he told the President that this had to do with the sustaining of the counselors in the Presidency other than President Brown and President Tanner, and he said no more and left. Then, in consultation with President Smith, President Smith said he had been called as a counselor to President McKay and nobody could change this because he had been sustained this way three or four times, and he suggested that Brother Dyer talk to the President about it; and that is the reason he went to see President McKay, and he did so with the idea of explaining to him the difference because he honestly did not believe President McKay understood because of what he said to him when he left the meeting the day before.

Elder Dyer said he took with him two sheets that had been prepared which he presented to him relative to the proposed presentation of the General Authorities, wherein it was indicated that the counselors would be sustained as counselors to the First Presidency; that he went over these sheets carefully with the President, and he took the sheets in his hand and said, “Go over it again,” and he said this three times, and it was he who made the decision that they should be sustained as they had been sustained; that nobody had put that idea in his mind.

He said that while he was there President Brown phoned, and he, Brother Dyer, asked the President if this wouldn’t be a good time to have President Brown and President Tanner come over and discuss the matter, and he said that he would rather that they would not come.

Brother Dyer said the matter of “in” or “to” did not really make any difference to him, although there is an implication in it, and that implication showed itself in the conference, because in the sustaining President Brown did not sustain him, Brother Dyer, in the position of a prophet, seer and revelator, and this was agreed to in the meeting of the First Presidency, as the minutes attest. He said neither was he sustained as a member of the board of the Brigham Young University. He said that when he was called to be an apostle, the question was brought up in a meeting of the First Presidency, and it was agreed that Brother Dyer would be sustained as a prophet, seer and revelator, and this was not done. Brother Dyer said he asked President McKay what his wish in the matter was, and he said, this is the way it is to be done, and that Brother Anderson was called over so that he could prepare the presentation sheets .

Elder Dyer said that Brother Anderson mentioned to the President that inasmuch as the Quorum of the Twelve had issued this resolution, and the First Presidency had approved it, he thought the counselors should be present before final decision was made, but the President said that would not be necessary. Brother Anderson was instructed to change the wording from “to” to “in”, which he did on his copy, and he said that he would notify the brethren, which he later said he had done.

Elder Dyer said that President McKay made the decision; that he did not superimpose it upon his mind because he had decided in the meeting, as President Tanner had said and as President Smith had said, it had been agreed upon, it was a resolution of the Quorum of the Twelve; therefore, he was content to let it stand, until the President himself had indicated that he did not know what it was all about.

Elder Dyer said he thought it was a good thing to bring this out in the open because he had always felt that he was called by President McKay personally to be of some help to him in some way, whatever it was, that he did not ask to be called. He was called by the same authority that called President Brown and President Tanner. He said that when he was called to be an apostle and set apart to that position, President Brown had asked what his status was in these meetings, and he got the understanding that he was sort of an advisor to President McKay, that he did not have the status of a counselor; therefore he had no voice in the Presidency. He said that he said to President Brown at that time that it would seem to him that it would be better if he were listed as a counselor than as an advisor, that as an advisor to the President he would have the prerogative of going to the President as an advisor any time he wanted to talk with him. He said the President has invited him to talk with him and discuss things with him, and that sometimes he had gone there feeling an obligation to do so because the President had said that he wanted to be close to him, to tell him about things, and this is the only reason he has done it. He said he had not assumed it, only as the President had requested it.

Elder Dyer said he understood protocol, and there is nothing he would like better than to follow it, and he wanted to do what the brethren wanted him to do, but he felt that there was an attempt made to keep him out of these callings that rightfully belonged to him, and that if he had to fight for his position, he felt he had a right to do it. He said he didn’t ask for the calling, but inasmuch as he has been called to it, it is his obligation to stand up for it, and to do what the prophet of the Lord wants him to do.

Elder Dyer said that he had seen the President recently. Again he had said to him, “I want you to come to me and to be by my side constantly.” He said that he would like to see a close relationship, and would like to be a help to President Brown and President Tanner. He said he would like to be clarified in his own mind so that this sort of thing is not needful. He said if he is to have a voice, he should have it; and if he is not, he could see no reason for being called at all.

President Tanner then said that he hoped the brethren would believe him when he said that there is nothing personal about this. He did feel the need of honesty and unity and he couldn’t understand Brother Dyer going to President McKay alone, and he thought he should have come to him and President Brown and said, “Let us go over and see the President.”

President Tanner said he did not think that anyone in this room should go to the President and try to influence him against a decision that has been made in this Council and/or by the First Presidency.

Elder Lee commented that he felt that all the brethren had been confronted with the question as to how we can explain the 107th Section, Verse 22, in light of the additional members of the First Presidency. He said the resolution was merely to clarify this, and to put it in a way that the people who are studying the scriptures could understand it.

President Brown commented that when he got up to present the names for the sustaining vote of the conference, the last word he had from the President direct was as the list was read that day, namely, these brethren were to be sustained as counselors to the First Presidency, which was pursuant to the resolution of the Twelve, and the confirming action of the First Presidency.

Elder Petersen mentioned that Henry Smith knew of the difficulty about this matter, that he had asked him how the brethren should be listed in the paper, and he had suggested that he get his instructions from the President, and he understood that President McKay had told him to print it as it had been. President Brown said that it was not proper under the circumstances for him personally to take any instructions from Brother Anderson or from Brother Dyer, or anyone else but the President of the Church.

Elder Petersen said he had been wondering if inasmuch as we have the health problem of the President, and situations like this arise, if it would not be wise to hold our Council meetings in the President’s apartment when all would be present.”

Fri., 12 Apr., 1968:

“Cancellation of Sealings – Setting Apart of Elder Alvin R. Dyer

Clare remained after the departure of the group, and presented about ten cases of petitions for cancellation of Temple sealings, and one or two letters. She also handed me a copy of a setting apart and blessing which I had used for one of the other counselors when they came into the First Presidency. I stated that Elder Dyer will be set apart as a Counselor IN the First Presidency, and that the sustaining of the counselors at the April Conference will have to be rectified.”

Tues., 16 Apr., 1968:

Just before leaving, Elder Dyer mentioned to me that he had not as yet been set apart as a Counselor in the First Presidency. I said that this should be done and told him to come back at 3 o’clock for this purpose.

11:00 a. m. 

My son Lawrence brought in to see me Mr. and Mrs. Barborakos. (No notes were made on this visit.)

3:00 p.m.

Elder Alvin R. Dyer set Apart as Counselor In the First Presidency 

According to appointment, Elder Alvin R. Dyer called at the office in the Hotel Utah apartment. He was accompanied by Brother Joseph Anderson, secretary to the First Presidency. Just after their arrival my secretary Clare Middlemiss arrived and gave to me a sheet of paper which contained the wording of the setting apart and blessing I had asked her to prepare from a previous setting apart of the Counselors in the First Presidency. Sister Middlemiss said to me as she handed me the sheet, “This is the corrected statement you went over yesterday. ” With that explanation she left the office.

I took some time going over the wording of the blessing, and suggested further changes.

I then asked Brother Dyer to read the wording of the setting apart and after he had finished reading it, I asked Joseph Anderson to read it aloud to me. I then said it was all right, and that the more I read it, the better I liked it.

I then said to Brother Dyer, “Are you sure that you have not previously received the blessing of being a ‘watchman’ over the Consecrated land of Missouri, because I think you should have that blessing.” Elder Dyer answered by saying, “You assigned me this work, but I have never received the blessing to perform this labor.” I said, “Then, you should receive the blessing to do it.”

I then placed my hands upon Elder Dyer’s head and set him apart as follows:

“Brother Alvin R. Dyer, I lay my hands upon your head and set you apart as a Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“I confer upon you the right to be a watchman over the Consecrated lands of Missouri, and that your influence in missionary work will continue.

“I bless you with health in your body, and that your mind will be quickened to adjust to the calling now placed upon you; and that you may fulfill the duties of this call to your own satisfaction, and that of your associates, and to the glory of God for the building up of His Kingdom here on earth. I do this by virtue of the Holy Priesthood, and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

After I set him apart, and while he was still sitting on the leather ottoman before me, I grasped Elder Dyer’s hand and said that I am happy that he is now in the First Presidency, and that I have had a high regard for him for a long time.

President Dyer expressed his gratitude for my feelings and confidence in him, and said that he would do his best. He told me of the many times in life that I had pointed the way for him, mentioning the phone calls and letters, and also personal visits we had had together. He referred to my telephone call to him when he was European Mission President and was in Norway. The call came at 2 o’clock in the morning at the time of his visit to Warsaw, Poland to lay the groundwork for the microfilming of the Polish records for genealogical purposes, which work is now going on; and that my call was in answer to his prayers for he needed my reassurance at that time.

There was a spiritual atmosphere present and tears filled both our eyes as we clasped hands in friendship and brotherhood.

Sat., 27 Apr., 1968:

“At 12:30 p; m. today Sister McKay and I received a visit from President and Sister Joseph Fielding Smith. Sister Smith presented me with a jar of her home-made rhubarb preserves. We joked about it not being “rhubarb” but good old-fashioned “pieplant” as it was known in the old days. I thanked her for her thoughtfulness, and welcomed her with a kiss. I then took hold of President Smith’s hand and said, “You mean so much to me.” Both of us were moved to tears.

We were so delighted to have a visit from them, and were thankful and grateful for their interest in us.”

Tues., 11 Jun., 1968:

“Did not hold a meeting of the First Presidency today.

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer)

FIRST PRESIDENCY — Signing of Letters by all Members of

2. I discussed with the President the matter of signatures of letters sent out by the First Presidency. I recalled to him the fact that in the meeting when it was decided that only three signatures were to be placed on the letters that this was agreeable to me providing that President Smith and I would receive copies of the letters so that we would know what was happening.

President McKay indicated that both President Smith and I should be signing the letters and requested that it be brought up in one of the early meetings of the First Presidency by President Joseph Fielding Smith. 

Thur., 27 Jun., 1968:

“At 9 o’clock this morning, feeling much better than I have for some little while, I called a meeting of the First Presidency. Presidents Brown, Tanner, Smith and Dyer were present.

Among the items we  discussed were:

Correspondence — Answering of 

President Tanner referred to a letter from Elders Mark E. Petersen, Richard L. Evans and Gordon B. Hinckley addressed to the First Presidency mentioning that mail comes to various departments asking a variety of questions. These brethren raise a question as to what kind of questions secretaries should answer, to whom questions on doctrine, Church policy, history, etc., should be referred, and how we may avoid multiple and variable answers to people who write several of the General Authorities. Further, should an attempt be made to write fresh replies to every question, or seek to give replies that have heretofore been given, or from materials that appear in print. The brethren were agreed that it would be desirable to appoint a committee to study these questions and bring their recommendation to the First Presidency. Accordingly it was decided to ask Elders Mark E. Petersen, Bishop Victor L. Brown, Joseph Anderson and Arthur Haycock to serve on such a committee, with Brother Petersen as chairman.

At this point President Dyer made specific reference to correspondence addressed to me personally, stating that all correspondence so addressed should continue to go to my secretary Clare Middlemiss; also that letters addressed to the First Presidency should continue to go to Joseph Anderson, secretary, as per usual.

I concurred saying, “That is right; that is the way I want it.”

(See letter from Mark E. Petersen to the First Presidency following.)

(See letter dated October 23, 1968 for final disposition.)”

“June 12, 1968



Attention: President David 0. McKay

Dear Brethren:

From time to time, the question of replying to mail is a subject of some concern. Some mail is referred to Temple Square and the Church Information office, and, no doubt, other offices and agencies, in such a way and on such a variety of subJects as not to assure uniform results.

Several questions suggest themselves:

What kind of questions should secretaries answer?

Where should questions on doctrine, policy, history, etc., be referred?

How can we avoid multiple and variable answers to people who write several or all of the General Authorities?

In the absence of any of the Brethren from their offices, what instructions should we give to secretaries, etc.?

Should we attempt to write fresh replies to every question, or seek to answer with replies that are already prepared} or from materials that appear in print?

Perhaps it is too large a question for a rigid policy decision, but we have felt we should bring the matter to your attention as the Church growth increases the size and complexity of the internal organization.


Mark E. Petersen

Richard L. Evans

Gordon B. Hinckley”

“October 23, 1968





Dear Brethren:

We have given thoughtful consideration to the question as to what might properly be done in the matter of the handling of letters that are received by members of the General Authorities from time to time in which questions are asked regarding doctrine, Church policy, history, etc. This matter was referred to a committee appointed by the First Presidency for their consideration and recommendation. We now have their unanimous suggestion, in which we concur, that all such letters that may be received at the offices of the individual brethren of the General Authorities should be referred to the Secretary to the First Presidency for answer.

The question was also raised as to the kind of questions that secretaries to the brethren of the Authorities should answer and it was the recommendation of the committee, which we approve, that the secretaries should not assume the responsibility of answering questions regarding matters of this kind but merely acknowledge the letters that are received in the absence of the General Authority to whom they are addressed indicating that they will have consideration upon his return.

We also recommend that individuals asking secretaries such questions over the telephone should be referred to the Secretary to the First Presidency.

Our reason for suggesting the foregoing procedure is that information of this kind should emanate from one source to avoid what could be answers of a conflicting nature.

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay

Hugh B. Brown

N. Eldon Tanner

The First Presidency”

Wed., 3 Jul., 1968:

“Did not hold a meeting of the First Presidency this morning.

Politics – Letter Re: President Brown’s Attitude Toward Third Party 

Clare then presented a letter from Mark Benson in which he called attention to President Hugh B. Brown’s stand on politics in his speech at the Commencement exercises of the Brigham Young University, wherein he mentioned Governor George Wallace of Alabama and spoke against his running on a Third Party Ticket.

I instructed Clare to hand this letter to President Dyer and ask him to bring the letter and this matter before the First Presidency. (See July 19 for further discussion of this matter.)

Clare stayed just a few moments and then the nurse came in and interrupted, saying, “It’s time for your lunch”, so Clare left stating that she would come back tomorrow with the other letters needing my attention.”

Fri., 5 Jul., 1968:

“Office Closed Today for Fourth of July Holiday

11:00 a. m. 

Politics – Church’s Position on Third Party

President Dyer called my attention to the fact that we are receiving a number of letters and inquiries concerning the Church’s stand relative to a Third Party and the candidacy of George Wallace of Alabama, in particular, who is now running on the American Independent ticket. He referred to a letter addressed to me personally from Clyde B. Freeman, Chairman of the American Independent Party in Utah, and also letters from Mark A. Benson of the Dallas Stake and Mr. I. D. Workman, all of whom had referred to statements made by President Brown in his Commencement address at the Brigham Young University, wherein he implied that the Church did not favor, nor was it the policy of the Church to sustain a Third Party.

Politics — Church’s Position on Third Party 

I emphasized the fact that the Church takes no official stand with regard to political parties; that it has no policy in the support of, nor in opposition to any political party which would choose to place its ideas before the American people.

Later, on August 7, 1968 I went over a draft of a letter prepared at my request by President Dyer on this subject, and instructed that it be sent to Mr. Clyde B. Freeman in answer to two letters he sent to me; and also to others writing on the Church’s stand on political matters.

I stated in this letter that the Church does not take a stand in political matters such as he presented in his letter; that members of the Church, exercising their own free agency, are at liberty to support whom they will for this (Independent Party) or any other political position; also that any statement made by a member of the Church in support of a political party or a particular candidate must therefore be regarded as their own statement, and does not reflect in whatever remarks they may make the policy of the Church.

(See copies of letters following)”

“August 7, 1968

Mr. Clyde B. Freeman, Chairman

American Independent Party

206 Boston Building

Salt Lake City, Utah  84111

Dear Mr. Freeman:

Your letters of June 14 and July 29, 1968, are acknowledged and have been read with interest.

In responding to your question as to whether the Church officially supports or opposes the candidacy of former Governor George Wallace of Alabama, for President of the United States, I feel to advise you that the Church does not take a stand in such political matters.

Members of the Church, exercising their own free agency, are at liberty to support whom they will for this or any other political position.

Any statement made by a member of the Church in support of a political party or a particular candidate must therefore be regarded as their own statement and does not reflect in whatever remarks they may make the policy of the Church.

I trust that this will answer your letter.

Sincerely yours,

David O. McKay


Mon., 12 Aug., 1968:

“President Alvin R. Dyer–To be Assigned Some of Duties Now Held by President Tanner

At this time I instructed my secretary to make a note for me that President Dyer is to be given some of the duties now taken over by President Tanner.”

Thur., 3 Oct., 1968:

“At 9 a. m. held a meeting with Presidents Brown, Tanner and Dyer.

October Conference

President Brown reported that Sister Middlemiss had given to him a copy of the outline of the Conference. He asked me if I had decided which one of my sons would read my talk in the opening session of the Conference inasmuch as there is a blank space in the program for this information. I said I was not ready to announce it. President Brown then asked me if I had any instruction as to how the counselors should proceed with respect to conducting the sessions; that is, who should conduct the various sessions. President Brown said it was felt that perhaps President Joseph Fielding Smith should conduct the session when the General Authorities are sustained. I said I would take care of that later. President Brown then inquired if it is my intention to appoint a new Assistant to the Twelve at this Conference. He mentioned that the counselors had not had an opportunity to discuss any of these matters with me and would like to know “where we are going”. I said, “We shall proceed under the right power.” President Brown then asked me if Sister Middlemiss would inform the counselors in due time, and I said yes I would either inform them directly or send word through Sister Middlemiss.

4 p.m.

After trying to see me all day, without my knowledge, my secretary Clare was finally admitted to the office at the Hotel by the nurses. Clare took up several Conference matters with me.

She read to me again the statement regarding liquor-by-the-drink in my opening address, and I said: “That is all right!” I also went over the program for the various sessions of the Conference, and told Clare that everything was in readiness and that I am greatly relieved.

Clare then left for her office in the Administration Building.”

Wed., 30 Oct., 1968:

“8:45 a. m. Meeting of the First Presidency held in the hotel apartment. Present were: Presidents Hugh B. Brown, N. Eldon Tanner, Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer.

The following were among the matters discussed:

First Presidency Letters

President Dyer referred to a decision made some months ago that the First Presidency letters should be signed by me and the first and second counselors. He said it was his recollection that it was the decision then also that copies of correspondence which the First Presidency meetings develop would be brought to the attention of President Smith and himself so that they could keep in touch with things. It was agreed that in the matter of letters that result from decisions made by the First Presidency in these meetings, copies of these letters will be shown to President Smith and President Dyer for their information and that they might indicate thereon that they had seen them.”

Tues., 25 Mar, 1969:

Note by CM:

10:30 a. m. Clare went over to see the President. He was breathing heavily, was a gray color, and would lapse off closing his eyes. Clare went over the speakers list for Conference and President McKay nodded his head in the affirmative. She read a gracious letter from Elder Marion D. Hanks, and assured the President that his Opening and Closing talks were complete which relieved him and brought a big smile.

All of a sudden the inspiration came to ask President McKay if he wanted to be administered to, and gratefully he said, “Oh yes, yes, that is what I want.” President Alvin R. Dyer came over and gave both President and Sister McKay a blessing. Sister McKay was crying at the condition of her husband.

(See President Dyer’s Minutes for his account of the administration)

Then Clare and Brother Dyer went over the speakers again with the President. To appease President Brown it was decided to have Elder Benson follow the President instead of speaking on the Saturday morning broadcast, but to have President Joseph Fielding Smith on broadcast as previously decided.

At 2:00 Clare called the nurse to see how President McKay’s 12:30 appointment with Dr. MacFarlane had gone. His blood pressure was normal. He had too much fluid and was given pills for that. He needed more oxygen and was given a mask to cover his mouth and nose.”

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer of his meeting with President McKay to give President and Sister McKay a Blessing.)

(Expenditures Meeting – 10 a. m.)

I attended this meeting but at 11:50 a,m. my secretary came to the meeting with a note as follows:

“Clare wants you to come to the phone — sounds upset.”

I left the meeting and called Clare at the apartment of President McKay. She advised me that the President was ill and had asked that I come over at once and administer to him.

As I left the Church Office Building for the short walk to the Hotel, I felt a deep sense of concern with the full realization coming upon me that I had been asked to come and administer to the President of the Church, the Prophet of the Lord. It made me very humble with a little quivering on the inside.

As I reached the apartment, I met Clare and went directly to President McKay’s side and took hold of his hand. He had a light ashen color on his face. I don’t ever remember seeing the President look as ill as he did at this time. I told him who I was and that I had come at his request to administer to him and that if he desired that I do this that I would go forward with it. He clung to my hand rather weakly. Most usually his grasp is strong and firm, but nevertheless he clung to my hand for quite some time. He then said yes, that he wanted me to administer to him.

I anointed his head with oil and then by the authority and power of the Priesthood vested in me, confirmed the annointing and then proceeded to give him a blessing, before which I prayed fervently to the Lord to direct my words that I would say those things that He would want me to have said upon the head of His servant. I pronounced the blessing that President McKay would feel stronger and better and that he would complete his work here upon the earth in accordance with the will of our Heavenly Father and that he would rise up from this illness to continue his responsibilities before the people. There were other things said, but this is essentially what I conferred upon the head of our beloved Prophet.

I felt a sense of great love and respect for him and my whole being prayed that the Lord would grant the fulfilment of the blessing that I had placed upon his head.

After the blessing was over the nurse, Mrs. Noall, came into the room and said that Sister McKay also wanted to be administered to and shortly thereafter she was brought into the room in a wheelchair. As she saw President McKay she expressed how sorrowed she was by his appearance and said, “I don’t like to see him look like that.” She had a very serious cold. Her nose was running, her eyes were all blurred, partially from the cold and partially from her tears. I then took her hand and asked her if she wanted me to give her a blessing and she said yes. I therefore annointed her head with oil and confirmed it and gave her a blessing by the power of the Priesthood, after having suplicated the Lord for direction as to His will in the matter of conferring the blessing upon the companion and wife of our beloved Prophet and President.

I promised her that she would be made well, that shewould be strengthened and would continue to stand by the side of her husband and be in his presence to fulfill their work here upon the earth.

There was a most beautiful feeling in the room. All of us were in tears and felt the nearness of the Spirit as it ministered unto these two wonderful individuals, chosen servants of our Heavenly Father.

I then sat down by the side of the President again and took hold of his hand and spoke of the coming Conference — of the great blessing to the people he would be to be able to see his presence — and he, I believe, sensing the great importance of this event in the life of the members of the Church, leaned his head back against the chair and then uttered these words, “Oh Lord, help us.”

As Sister Middlemiss and I stood there in the presence of President McKay, and after feeling the sweet influence of the Spirit, there was a strong feeling that came over me which manifested the great love and respect that Sister Middlemiss had for President McKay and of her long, long association with him and of her deep concern for him and his wellbeing and that of Sister McKay. I appreciated upon that occasion, as I perhaps have never done before, the great service that Sister Middlemiss has rendered to President McKay.

While there I learned from President McKay that it was his desire that President Joseph Fielding Smith speak on one of the broadcast sessions.

I then left the presence of President McKay and returned to the Office Building. As I came in the front door I noticed President Brown coming out of the Expenditure Committee meeting. We met in the front foyer and he said, “Oh, you came out of the meeting too.” He knew, of course, I assumed, since I came in the front door, that I had been over to see President McKay. I told him then what had transpired. By the look on his face I do not know what he thought inside. I would assume that he wondered why, perhaps, he had not been called over to give the blessing to President McKay. This, of course, did not affect me. I don’t even know for sure that he was thinking this, but by his mannerisms I seemed to sense it. I told him that the President had stated that he wanted President Joseph Fielding Smith to speak on one of the broadcast sessions and that it had been decided to move Brother Benson to the Friday session and Brother Hinckley to the Saturday morning broadcast session. President Brown readily agreed with this.”

Thurs., Sept. 18, 1969:

9:00 a.m.  Meeting of the First Presidency in the President’s Hotel Apartment.  Present were Presidents Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner.

Among the matters discussed were the following:

October Conference

President Brown asked me if there was anything the counselors could do to help me in preparing for the approaching conference, perhaps in suggesting when different ones of the brethren should speak.  President Brown said it was his thought that the counselors should have a hand in deciding who would follow whom and something of the procedures of the Conference, that it would put them in a stronger position when they take charge of the sessions.  He asked if I should like them to discuss this with Sister Middlemiss and perhaps make some recommendations to her.  I answered that I have already made the list and have worked on other phases of the Conference.”

Wed., Oct. 8, 1969:

“Note;  The following minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer I wanted included in my Diary of this day.  They concern the matter of succession to the presidency which President Brown discussed with Brother Dyer.  Also taken up was the Steven Taggart article regarding the Negro problem.”

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer on a meeting he had with President Hugh B. Brown.)

(Regarding President Joseph Fielding Smith)

President Brown then asked how I felt with regard to President Joseph Fielding Smith becoming the President of the Church in the event of President McKay’s death.  My answer to him involved a number of things which I shall hereafter make a part of the account of the discussion.  First, however, here are President Brown’s statements as I recall them.

‘President Smith could not possibly assume this position.  He sleeps now through most of the meeting and is too old.’

‘The matter of the President of the Quorum of the Twelve becoming the President is after all simply a tradition and need not be followed.’

‘I think that Brother Lee should come on in and take the position as President when President McKay passes away.’

My response to these statements, intermittently given, was as follows:

When the mantle of President falls upon a man, a change takes place in him to enable him to fulfill the calling and this would be true with Joseph Fielding Smith.  The order of succession of the President of the Church is not merely a tradition, but a tradition based upon basic laws of God pertaining to this order.  I referred to the summarization of these laws in my writings and that they are inviolate unless a direct revelation is received to make it otherwise and that such revelations would come to the Senior Apostle or the Presiding High Priest which, by the death of President McKay, would be the President of the Quorum of the Twelve and this is Joseph Fielding Smith.

I stated that the only way that this procedure and the placing of President Smith as head of the Church could be altered would be if he, himself, refused to accept the calling.  Then it would fall to the next in line of the Quorum of the Twelve.

As a matter of information at this point, I make a part of the Journal an excerpt from my writings:

An issue of the Millennial Star published in England, after the death of the Prophet, contained the following:

We rejoice much to know that though the church has suffered so severe a loss by the cruel murder of our beloved brethren, yet she is still in possession of all necessary knowledge and power for carrying onward and completing the great work of God.  The tragic event has been, in some measure anticipated, and necessary steps taken.  Joseph called the twelve together in the spring, and addressed them to the effect that it was necessary they should have the same power he had received from heaven; for, should the mobbers kill him without imparting the fulness of the priesthood unto them, that his power would be entirely be lost from the earth.

From the Millennial Star, March 1845, we read further:

This great and good man was led, before his death, to call the Twelve together, from time to time, and to instruct them in all things pertaining to the kingdom, ordinances, and government of God.  He often observed that he was laying the foundation, but it would remain for the Twelve to complete the building.  Said he, ‘I know not why; but for some reason I am constrained to hasten my preparations, and to confer upon the Twelve all the ordinances, keys, covenants, endowments, and sealing ordinances of the priesthood, and to set before them a pattern in all things pertaining to the sanctuary and the endowment therein.

Having done this he rejoiced exceedingly; for said he, ‘The Lord is about to lay the burden on your shoulders and let me rest awhile; and if they kill me,’ continued he, ‘the kingdom of God will roll on, as I have now finished the work which was laid upon me, by committing to you all the things for the building up of the kingdom according to heavenly vision, and the pattern shown me from heaven.’

The many conversations like this comforted the minds of the Twelve, and prepared them for what was soon to follow:

He proceeded to confer on Elder Young, the President of the Twelve, the keys of the sealing power, as conferred in the last days by the spirit and power of Elijah, in order to seal the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, lest the whole earth should be smitten with a curse.  This last key of the Priesthood is the most sacred of all, and pertains exclusively to the First Presidency of the Church, without whose sanction and approval or authority, no sealing blessing shall be administered pertaining to things of the resurrection and the life to come.

After giving them a very short charge to do all things according to the pattern, he quietly surrendered his liberty and his life into the hands of his blood thirsty enemies and all this to save the people for whom he had so long labored from threatened vengeance.

These are but two of the many testimonies that have been given of the bestowal of the keys upon the Twelve which is in complete harmony with Section 112 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  It was necessary for this to be done, as simply and factually as the Prophet had stated, ‘that they would not be lost from the earth.’  His charge from the Lord in this regard was to see that the pattern was set in the succession to Brigham Young, the next senior apostle and President of the Quorum of the Twelve, thereby placing at once upon the Twelve the leadership of the Church until the Quorum of the First Presidency could again be organized according to revelation.  Not only was this law of succession to obtain in the instance of the death of Joseph Smith, the first prophet and president of the Church in this new dispensation, but also for the future times, yea, from one president of the High Priesthood to another, until the mighty work of the restoration is completed.  Thus the pattern of succession had been set by revelation.

The Pattern Set by the Prophet Joseph Smith

As Revealed to Him in Harmony

with the Recorded Revelations Is Adhered to in the

Instance of the First Succession

The death of the Prophet Joseph Smith automatically dissolved the Quorum of the First Presidency.  William Law, an apostate, and Sidney Rigdon, then the existent counselors to the Prophet, held no office of presidency in the absence of Joseph Smith, their president.

The authority to lead the Church devolved upon the next highest quorum of the priesthood, the Council of the Twelve, which had been prepared, beforehand, for just such a condition.  Brigham Young, by virtue of his position as the senior apostle and president of the Council, took the lead.

This procedure was sustained and specifically adhered to by the main body of the Church, on the death of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as is evidenced from the action taken at a special conference of the Church held at Nauvoo, Illinois, on August 8, 1844.  Here the mantle of the Prophet Joseph Smith fell upon Brigham Young.  It is significant to call attention to the fact that there were no apparent dissenting votes by the membership of the Church there assembled, although there were other factions in attendance that sought a devious method of appointing the leadership of the Church.

I stated further that Brother Lee’s time will no doubt come, but that it is the right of President Smith to hold an office.  If the Lord does not want President Smith to be the President, He would make it known to him or would remove him.  I told President Brown that I could not in any way sustain his thinking regarding this fundamental matter.

Wed., Nov. 12, 1969:

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer of Meeting of First Presidency)

President McKay Absent

(President McKay’s Condition of Competency)

President Tanner spoke at great length on the issue of President McKay’s competency to give approval and pass decisions on various matters.  He mentioned that Lawrence McKay, representing the McKay family, had raised the objection to monthly editorial articles appearing in the Improvement Era and the Instructor which, while including many of the things that President McKay had said upon previous occasions, had been updated to give the appearance as though it had been approved or written by the President.  The family objected to this, feeling that if such articles were placed in the Era or Instructor that they should be articles completely in context and mention made of when the remarks were made on such and such an occasion and so forth.

President Tanner reported also that Lawrence McKay had stated that he did not want to read any more of his father’s talks at Conference since he felt that his father was not in a condition to give approval to what had been prepared to be read as representing the remarks of the President.

Associated with these problems there arose also the discussion with regard to the use of the facsimile signature of President McKay.  President Tanner stated that the family also objected to the use of this signature since he was not competent to give approval for the use of the signature.

President Tanner further stated that he had asked Lawrence McKay if this was his own feeling or was it unanimous with the family and that thereafter all the members of the family had been approached and all were in agreement that their father was not competent to serve as the President of the Church.

I expressed the thought that the use of President McKay’s facsimile signature had nothing to do with the family since it was strictly a Church matter.

Considerable discussion ensued about the competency of the President.  I refused to yield on the point of mental incompetence.  President Tanner stated that the reference would be made only to the President’s incompetence.

(Authorized Agents of President McKay)

A question arose about the Corporation of the President Sole and the agency given unto Presidents Brown and Tanner to act in behalf of this Corporation.  i raised the question as to what the intent was in granting this agency unto Presidents Brown and Tanner and asked what the verbal direction was, given by President McKay at the time that he authorized the extending of this power of attorney to both President Brown and President Tanner.  I stated that it was my understanding that it was to be exercised when he was unable to perform a duty and that permission would be given to the Counselors in each case.  (Comment:  This is a matter which will need to have legal clarification.)

The discussion concerning this entire matter continued wherein President Tanner read verse 28 of Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants which refers to the right of the majority of the Quorum to act in representation of the Quorum.  I pointed out that I did not feel that this referred to the Presidency with specific regard to ecclesiastical matters.  I could see the need for having such an authority given to the Counselors for legal purposes, but that it did not refer to ecclesiastical matters since there were items in which  only the President of the Church, so appointed, could act upon and that authority could not be delegated to any.

Comment:  In justification to this, reference is made to Section 28 of the Doctrine and Covenants and also to verses 64-67 of Section 107 of the Doctrine and Covenants.  Both of these sections clearly identify the fact that the President of the High Priesthood, who is the President of the Church, is the presiding high priest and from him only can come answers and decisions with regard to ecclesiastical matters.

In the course of the discussion, President Tanner and I disagreed as to the extent of the President’s incompetence, but the matter was not belabored.

(Suggests that Elder Harold B. Lee Be Invited to Attend the Presidency’s Meetings)

In view of the fact that President McKay was unable to meet and make decisions on various matters, it was suggested by President Tanner that Elder Harold B. Lee be invited to attend the meetings of the First Presidency representing the Quorum of the Twelve.  He hastened to explain that since Joseph Fielding Smith, the rightful representative of the Quorum of the Twelve, who is the President of that Quorum, is serving as a member of the First Presidency, that then that responsibility should fall to the next one in line in the Quorum, who would be Elder Harold B. Lee.

President Smith raised the question as to why it should be Elder Lee rather than any other member.  What he was discussing was that it shouldn’t be a matter for us to decide this.  It was a matter for the Quorum to determine it.  However, all agreed that Brother Lee, as a representative of the Quorum, should be invited to attend.  President Smith was a little reluctant on this decision.

(Signatures on Letters)

I then raised the question of the signatures on correspondence, that if President McKay’s name did not appear on them, then President Smith’s and my signature shold be on all letters since it would make a better appearance and indicate the united feeling of all members of the First Presidency.  President Tanner objected to this.  I said that it did not matter before to me when it came up, since the President’s signature would be on the letter, but that now it did matter and I felt that our signatures should be on the letters.  There was nothing decided.  However, the inference was that this matter would be discussed at a later time, presumably in a meeting of the First Presidency.

I stated that it would be better to bring this whole matter up before the Twelve first, rather than all of the General Authorities together, as President Tanner wanted to.  Presidents Brown and Smith agreed with me and thus it will be taken to the temple on the morrow for the regular weekly meeting of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.”

Thur., Nov. 13, 1969:

“Note by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary

I received a call from President Alvin R. Dyer stating that a letter had been read to the Temple Council Meeting, written and signed by Dr. Alan Macfarlane allegedly at the request of the McKay family, more specifically Dr. Edward McKay after a McKay Family meeting at which time Lawrence McKay had declared that he would not read a conference talk of his father’s again, and that Robert McKay had seconded a motion put to the family.  Furthermore, the letter from the Dr. was read to the entire Council in which the Dr. stated that President McKay is now mentally deficient and could not sign letters or documents of policy.  Furthermore, personal letters were to be taken from President McKay’s secretary of 35 years (Clare Middlemiss) and given to Joseph Anderson to go over and answer–the last thing President McKay would have ever wanted.

Elder Harold B. Lee stated at the Temple Meeting, ‘Where the President is not there is no First Presidency; that President McKay cannot be written off; that the President recognized him a week ago and seemed all right although he is getting weaker.’

Henceforth, no letters were given to secretary Clare Middlemiss and no word was said to her about it–just taken away and no explanation as to why.”

Thur., Nov. 13, 1969:

“(Alvin R. Dyer Journal)  THURSDAY, November 13, 1969

(Meeting of the Counselors in the First Presidency – 8:30 a.m.)

President Joseph Fielding Smith was not present, he being in attendance at the meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve in the Temple.

(Regarding President McKay’s Incompetence)

In this meeting I commented on the fact that there were two matters of concern in considering the present incompetency of President McKay to become involved in the decision matters of the Church.

1. This concerned the delegated authority to act in legal matters as authorized agents for the Corporation of President Sole of the Church.  This would have to be determined upon its legal merits.

2. However, the second phase that pertained to ecclesiastical matters, wherein the President would act on matters that remained solely with him, which could not be delegated, such as the approval of the setting apart of the sealer in the Temple or any matter that the President would normally give approval for–that these matters should be held in suspension and could not be acted upon by the Counselors on the basis of the power of attorney which had been given to the Counselors to act in legal matters.  There was apparently an understanding on this and all seemed to feel that this was the way to proceed in the routine matters of the Church and other matters which the President, because of his absence, could not function in, would not be cared for.

(Minutes of the Temple Council Meeting by President Alvin R. Dyer)

(President Tanner Presents Matter of President McKay’s Competence)

President Tanner, as directed by President Brown, next presented the matter of the competence of President McKay to carry on his responsibilities as the President of the Church and went through all of the details that we had discussed on the previous day.

The Quorum voted unanimously to have Elder Harold B. Lee represent them in attending the meetings of the Counselors in the First Presidency who are to be President Hugh B. Brown, President N. Eldon Tanner, President Joseph Fielding Smith, President Thorpe B. Isaacson, and President Alvin R. Dyer.  The understanding was that Brother Lee would be called into such meetings as the brethren would feel necessary so that the voice of the Quorum in representation of the Quorum of the Twelve could be heard.

In the course of the discussion with regard to the right and authority of the Counselors to act in behalf of the President, there were three things which developed.  These are principally the same as I had raised in the questions of the previous day.  they are the following: (1), the Corporation of the President Sole; (2), the Trustee in Trust; and (3), the ecclesiastical authority.

Elder Harold B. Lee spoke to this matter at some length and read a letter that David Yarn had prepared some time ago when the question of President Heber J. Grant’s competence to carry on responsibilities came up.  this letter will be made a part of the Journal Record.

Brother Lee stressed the fact that in ecclesiastical matters the Counselors in the First Presidency had no right to act since these are held by the President and Prophet of the Church.

I spoke up and suggested that Brother Lee read from Section 107, verses 64-67, which he did, which points out the individual authority of the President of the High Priesthood, or the President of the High Priesthood of the Church.

Comment:  These are truly crucial times, but it is inspirational to note how the affairs of the Church can be carried on.  Even though the Prophet and leader of the Church cannot function at present, nevertheless the affairs and routine matters of the Church can go forward–the ordaining of Stake Presidents, Patriarchs, Bishops, and so forth–since that authority had already been delegated by the Prophet of the Lord, who still lives.  But in the order of things, there is a suspension now of certain specific rights which only the President can act upon either until he becomes more competent to handle such matters, or until such conditions would warrant his being called back home by the Lord and the appointing of a new President of the Church.

I felt a great heaviness of heart during the entire discussion of this matter, knowing of the greatness of this man, President David O. McKay, and of the work which he had accomplished and then to witness conditions that make it necessary for the good of the work to go forward as we have today.  This truly has been a history-making meeting and one to indicate the ways of the Lord as provisions have been made for virtually all emergencies in the administration of his work here upon the earth.  Who knows what the condition of President McKay will be next month or next year.  He has been known to be seriously ill before, but has rallied.  his life and his work is in the hands of the Lord and what is best for him and for the people and for the work of the Lord will be so ordered.  I have complete confidence that all is in proper order in accordance with the will of our Heavenly Father and no man in these times should usurp any authority that he cannot rightfully take unto himself by the laws and the order of the Priesthood.  It is plainly written and any who do would be commiting a very serious act against the order of the Kingdom.

Following the Temple meeting I walked to the Church office with Elder Harold B. Lee and expressed my appreciation that he had made the remarks that he had in the Temple.  I told him that I had spoken of the same thing that morning and the previous morning in the meeting of the First Presidency.

(Temple Council Minutes of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve)


The President of the Church

President Brown mentioned that we find ourselves in rather a delicate position in matters pertaining to the President of the Church, that President McKay’s son Lawrence had come to President Tanner some time ago with a recommendation which President Tanner had been following up.  He said it has now come to the point where we need to take action.  President Brown said that so far as he and Brother Tanner were concerned, they approach the matter with trepidation and humility, that it could easily result in someone being charged with attempting to usurp authority to which he is not entitled.  President Brown asked President Tanner to make a statement on the matter.

President Tanner referred to statements he had made two weeks ago on the subject to the effect that Lawrence McKay had gotten in touch with him on October 31 and referred to two matters, namely, editorials appearing in the Improvement Era and in the Instructor, and also the question of conference talks by the President.  Lawrence had said that his father until this conference has been able to review and go over the talks that were prepared for him and approve them, but he said that he is not able to do it now, and he did not think that they should be preparing talks for him or giving them in conference.  Then he said regarding the editorials he thought they should be discontinued; that, however, we could use materials from his previous talks or editorials or written material, and editorials be prepared on that basis, and let the public know what it is.

President Tanner said that when Lawrence talked to him that that raises another question in his mind about which we have been concerned for some time; that he did not want to say anything because he did not want in any sense to do anything that would offend the family or the President of the Church.  He said the President’s signature is appearing on letters, correspondence and documents as approved, and all this has been done while he could not sign his name; that now he is not able to approve these things.  President Tanner said he asked Lawrence what he thought about that, and he said he thought it came under the same category.  President Tanner then asked Lawrence how the family felt about these things, that this was a sensitive and delicate matter.  He thought that Lawrence should confer with the family and see how they felt.  Lawrence called President Tanner on Monday and said that he had spoken to all the family except one who was out of the country, and that they were all of one mind that these things should not be.

President Tanner said that he then discussed this matter with Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer in a meeting when President Brown was away, and it was decided that it would be well to confer with Brother Evans who is in charge of the Era editorial department and Lawrence McKay together relative to this matter.  He stated that brother Evans was out of the city and the meeting was not held.  President Tanner did report to Brother Evans what Lawrence had said, that Brother Evans had raised a question and said that his concern was whether we would be telling the people that the President cannot speak to them any more.

President Tanner then called President Brown who was in Germany on the telephone and went through this situation with him and asked his feelings, and he said he felt the same as Lawrence did and the way the others had expressed themselves.

President Tanner said that before calling President Brown he spoke to Brother Lee about the matter and told him he thought it was serious enough that it should be brought to the Twelve, and he felt that that was what should be done.  Accordingly he did take it to the Council two weeks ago, and in that meeting after some discussion it was agreed to continue the three or four editorials in the Era that were approved by President McKay prior to October Conference, and that we would refer to Lawrence the question of the editorials in the Instructor and tell him of our discussion.  President Tanner said he did that and Lawrence said that the editorial for the Instructor for December had been prepared by Sister Clare Middlemiss who has been preparing these editorials, and that this one for December had some current matters in it.  He thought it should be run but after that they would take care of the matter.

President Tanner stated that at the previous meeting when this matter was discussed the question of legality came up, and Elders Romney and Hunter were assigned to meet with Wilford Kirton, our legal advisor, to discuss these matters, that they did meet and there was a discussion of some length.  President Tanner was present, also Brother Anderson was there to take notes.  President Tanner said he asked Brother Kirton to make a study of the matter and do what research he could in order to save time, and to bring to these other brethren his findings.  Brother Kirton read a statement which had been approved by Brother Romney and Brother Hunter.

President Tanner stated that in the discussion Brother Romney had raised a question regarding the authorized agents when they were appointed, and that Brother Kirton had answered the question that President Brown and President Tanner were appointed authorized agents some years ago, and that appointment is registered with the Secretary of State.

President Tanner said that because President Brown had not returned he felt it was not wise to take this up with the Council, but said he would olike to have done it Wednesday at the General Authorities meeting.  He stated, however, that when they attended the Wednesday meeting they were not ready to present the matter at that time because they thought that the additional information that had been received should be discussed with the Presidency and the Twelve and a full and complete understanding reached here.

President Tanner said that after President Brown returned they were talking with Brother Kirton about another matter, and that he, President Tanner, said he thought this should be dealt with, that Brother Kirton then went over this and explained the position that he set forth in writing in the memorandum.

President Tanner said that in order to be more positive and assured regarding the feelings of the family he thought it might be deesirable to call Dr. Edward McKay and talk to him about this.  Accordingly President Brown called Dr. McKay by telephone and President Tanner and he talked to him over a conference phone, that President Brown was on one phone and he was on the other, and President Brown told Edward what Lawrence’s position was, and he said that he had supported Lawrence in this, and he felt that the situation was as explained by him.

President Tanner said, ‘Edward, is this the thing you would like us to do?’  And he said, ‘No, but I think it is the thing that has to be done.’

President Tanner said that in order to do more than depend on the family, and put the family in that awkward position it was decided to phone Dr. Alan P. MacFarlane, President McKay’s physician.  This was done and Dr. MacFarlane said that he would give us a letter stating his position.

President Tanner then said he would like Brother Romney and Brother Hunter to say anything they wished to about the matter.  President Tanner said that to sum it up the position is this, that the majority of the First Presidency has to carry on as far as the presidency of the Church is concerned as the administration, and as far as the Corporation of the President is concerned President Brown or himself, President Tanner, may act as authorized agents.

Elder Romney said that he understood it the same way, that as far as the Corporation of the President is concerned, President Brown and President Tanner can serve as agents.  He had read the appointment that was issued by President McKay appointing these two brethren agents of the Corporation.  He said that he was in harmony with Brother Kirton’s and President Tanner’s statement as well as Brother Hunter’s, as he understood it, that that is legally sound.

Elder Hunter said that their discussion on this was from the standpoint of the Corporation, not the religious aspects of it.  He said that the general rule of agency is if the principal becomes mentally incompetent, then the power of attorney for the agent to act terminates, but the rule seems to be different with respect to a corporation sole under the law of Utah.  He said they read the statute on it, and all of the concluded from reading the statute and examining it that the authority given to the agent to act for the Corporation of the President does not terminate upon incompetency; only upon revocation, and therefore he thought they were all in harmony as to legal consequences.

Elder Romney stated that an amendment went into the law in 1947 that the agency persists until it is terminated, and that was at the time when President Clark was first counselor to President Grant and President Smith, during which time President Clark had to act.

Elder Lee mentioned the fact that the President is sustained as Trustee-in-trust.  Elder Hunter stated that as Trustee-in-Trust there are many things that might be in his name as trustee for the Church and that constitutes a trust, but the Corporation of the President is a separate entity, and it is an entity within itself.

Elder Lee asked if as Trustee-in-Trust he holds legal title to the properties of the Church.

Elder Hunter said there may be some things that he would hold as trustee.  Elder Lee then asked how much of that has been dissipated by this other entity which delegates to someone else.

Elder Hunter said that everything in the Corporation is not in the trust.  The President is the Corporation and upon his death his successor has become the Corporation.

Elder Lee then referred to the instrument where President Brown and President Tanner are agents.  Elder Romney said that President McKay issued it and appointed these brethren to represent him; that anything you put into that Corporation is in it, and what you have not put in is not in it.

Elder Lee said that apparently they were talking of three different matters, two of them are legal points; that we have the Trustee-in-Trust and the Corporation of the President, and this new holding corporation in which the President has delegated agents to act in his stead.

He said these are legal matters, but now there is another matter that pertains to the ecclesiastical relationship of counselors, and he thought the President is a very important issue.  He called attention to the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants wherein the Lord says:

Of necessity there are presidents, or presiding officers growing out of, or appointed of or from among those who are ordained to the several offices in these two priesthoods.  Of the Melchizedek Priesthood, three Presiding High Priests, chosen by the body, appointed and ordained to that office, and upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church, form a quorum of the Presidency of the Church.  (Verses 21 and 22)

He then read the 23rd and 24th verses:

The Twelve traveling councilors are called to be the Twelve Apostles, or special witnesses of the name of Christ in all the world–thus differing from other officers in the church in the duties of their calling.  And they form a quorum, equal in authority and power to the three presidents previously mentioned.

Elder Lee said that does not mean equal while the First Presidency are intact but only at the demise of the President of the Church do they exercise this equal authority.  Elder Lee continued quoting:

The Seventy are also called to preach the gospel, and to be especial witnesses unto the Gentiles and in all the world–thus differing from other officers in the duties of their calling.  And they form a quorum, equal in authority to that of the Twelve special witnesses or Apostles just named.  And every decision made by either of these quorums must be by the unanimous voice of the same; that is, every member in each quorum must be agreed to its decisions, in order to make their decsions of the same power or validity one with the other–A majority may form a quorum when circumstances render it impossible to be otherwise–Unless this is the case, their decisions are not entitled to the same blessings which the decisions of a quorum of three presidents were anciently, who were ordained after the order of Melchizedek.  (Verses 25 to 29)

Elder Lee said that when this question came up back in the days when Brother McKay apparently had some concern, he requested that David Yarn research this very question, which he did, and prepared this article which appeared in the Improvement Era in January, 1964.  That article reads as follows:

The Function of Counselors

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there are many offices and callings.  Some are general offices, having jurisdiction over some or all aspects of the entire Church, and others are local offices, having jurisdiction over some or all aspects of a given geographical area of the Church.

In both the general and the local types of offices there are two fundamental kinds of offices, some are priesthood offices and others are auxiliary offices in the great majority of instances, the specific organizations are presided over by a presidency (or its counterpart) consisting of three persons.  (Seventies presidencies and a literal descendant of Aaron as the Presiding bishop, should there be such, are striking exceptions.)

When a presiding quorum is to be organized, be it the presidency of the Church, the presidency of a stake, a bishopric, the presidency of a quorum, or the head of an auxiliary, it is the president (or bishop, or superintendent) is given the prerogative of choosing his counselors (or assistants), with the approval of the authorizing body.

The keys of authority of the particular jurisdiction center in the president.  He is the one who is called and made responsible for a particular work.  Therefore, the counselors are counselors to the president.

Illustrative of this point is a statement of the Prophet Joseph Smith concerning the relation  of the Twelve to the First Presidency.  He said: ‘. . .  the Twelve are not subject to any other than the First Presidency, viz., myself . . . Sidney Rigdon, and Frederick G. Williams, who are now my Counselors; and where I am not, there is no First Presidency over the Twelve.’  (Emphasis added.)  Though in this instance the Prophet was speaking specifically regarding the relation of the Twelve to the First Presidency, he spoke generically regarding the nature of presidencies.  In effect he said, where there is no president there is no presidency, or, where there is no bishop there is no bishopric, etc.  Counselors receive both their authority and responsibility because of their calling as counselors to the president, and both their authority and responsibility cease when the president is replaced.

Inasmuch as the president holds the keys and bears the ultimate responsibility for a given work, after matters have been considered it is his prerogative and obligation to make the decisions.  Similarly the counselors are obligated to sustain and support the president’s decisions.  Therefore, when decisions are made, they are the decisions of the presidency, and there should be complete unity of feeling and action on a given matter irrespective of views expressed prior to the rendering of the decision.  In other words, the counselors should be fully loyal to the president.

Illustrative of the foregoing, on one occasion President Joseph F. Smith said:

A bishop is the presiding officer of his ward, and where the bishop is in the ward, his counselors and those who are members of his ward are subject to his presidency.  He cannot yield it up.  He cannot give it to another; or, if he does, he violates one of the sacred principles of the government of the priesthood.  He may direct his counselors, the first or the second, to do his will, to carry out his wishes, to execute his desires, or his commands; but in so doing the counselor does not act as the bishop, but he acts under the direction of the presiding authority.  He does not act independently of the bishop, but subordinate to the bishop, and is subject entirrely to the bishop’s direction. . . . We can commission and appoint; that is those who preside can call upon their aids for assistance, they can direct them to accomplish labors, but in every instance when they do, it is by and with and under the consent of the presiding authority, and by his advice, but not independently.

. . . In all these things the presiding officer is the head, should be regarded in his place, and his place should be held sacred in the mind of his associates.  And no man possessing a correct understanding of the spirit of the gospel and of the authority and law of the Holy Priesthood will attempt for a moment to run before his file leader or to do anything that is not strictly in harmony with his wish and the authority that belongs to himj.  The moment a man in a subordinate position begins to usurp the authority of his file leader, that moment he is out of his place, and proves by his conduct that he does not comprehend his duty, that he is not acting in the line of his calling, and is a dangerous character.  He will set bad examples, he will mislead, he will lead others into error . . . the moment he acts contrary to and independent of the direction of his presiding officer; and if he continues in that course he will go astray entirely, and those who follow him will follow him astray.

Elder Lee said the situation is not different from what it was in the last months of

President Grant’s life, or different from the experience of President George Albert Smith, that we had exactly the same condition with them that we have with President McKay.  He said that when this situation developed President Clark held to this very fine delicate principle, that he would never sit in the place where the President had sat.

He mentioned the case of Brother Edward Wood, the president of the Alberta Temple who was getting old and losing his mental powers.  He said that the brethren would come back talking about the situation, and that finally President Clark had said to the Twelve, ‘Brethren, the President is here by the Lord’s appointment, not by our appointment.  I do not understand that in his absence his first counselor or his second counselor, or both counselors acting in concert can assume the responsibility that belongs solely to the President of the Church.  Until the Lord releases the President we cannot do anything about things he has never delegated to us, and one of the things he has never delegated is the conferring of the sealing power upon the president of a temple.  Until he does, or the Lord acts to remove the President and has someone installed in his place, we will have to continue to carry on.’  He said, ‘We can take care of the routine matters where policy has been determined but where it requires a new definition of policy, we will have to rest until the Lord makes a move and at that time we can install a new president, and with the authority of the president who has passed away, and the organization can go on.’

President Tanner then reported that at the latest meeting of the Presidency the conclusion was reached that the President is the only one who has the power to delegate the sealing power; therefore, during this time it was felt that nothing can be done about giving or taking away the sealing power.

Elder Lee further stated that in routine matters before the determination of a new policy, until the President acts, he thought thtat none of us, not the first counselor or the second or both counselors, or any of us can determine a new policy or new changes without the President of the Church until the Lord releases him.  He said we have a very sacred responsibility to preserve the place of the President of the Church, that the Lord appointed him, and the Lord has to release him, as he understood.  He said that we must have these things in mind, but as far as the legality of doing business under this corporate set-up, this is a separate matter from the ecclesiastical situation.

President Dyer said that the distinction mentioned by Elder Lee is clearly spoken of in the 107th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants beginning with verse 64, and it tells why the sealing power cannot be given only by him who is the President of the Melchizedek Priesthood.

In connection with the bestowal of the sealing power, President Tanner mentioned that two brethren who had been recommended by the president of the Oakland Temple to have the sealing power were approved sometime ago, and that President McKay had authorized President Smith to confer it upon these brethren; therefore, they will be coming here next week and President Smith will take care of this matter.

Concerning President McKay’s signature on correspondence, Elder Hinckley asked if it was the intention to continue to place his signature on correspondence.  President Tanner said definitely not, that from now on all correspondence will be signed by President Brown and President Tanner, or by one of them; that all legal documents will be signed by one of them as an agent.  He thought that correspondence should not have his name placed upon it nor should his name be placed on documents when he does not know what is being done.

Elder Hinckley then raised the question about missionary calls.  It was mentioned that all these calls go out with President McKay’s signature on them.  President Tanner said that in discussing this matter it was felt that nobody could be hurt by that being done; the same with the payroll, etc.  It was the feeling that those should be permitted; that when it comes to the other question of signing for missionaries, he did not know that had been discussed.

Elder Hinckley said that all missionary calls carry only one signature and that is the signature of the President of the Church.  It is supposed that the President authorized that when he had his full competence, and we have acted under that authorization and instruction, but more and more people are beginning to ask questions.

Elder Lee said that from what Elder Hinckley had said, he did not suppose that there was any question on that matter; that also the President had authorized President Smith to confer the sealing power upon these brethren mentioned, and the President is still alive.  Elder Hunter said there is no legal consequence to this.

Referring to the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood, Elder Lee mentioned the fact that when the brethren of the Twelve were blessed and ordained and set apart as members of the Twelve by this ordination they were given the authority to hold every office in the Church, and that means up as well as down, that potentially these brethren all hold in suspension as apostles the authority to preside over the Church, if they are chosen by the Presidency and the Twelve and sustained by the vote of the membership.

President Tanner then asked the question, ‘Are we agreed on these two signatures?’  Elder Lee said that that has already been authorized and there is no question.  He thought it would be proper to use the President’s name on the checks and on the missionary calls.

President Brown stated that in order to get action on a number of these things the Presidency are meeting regularly as the counselors in the First Presidency in the absence of the President; that President Smith is there as a member of the First Presidency, and that it was thought well to have someone representing the Twelve to be with the counselors in these meetings in order that the Twelve might be represented.  It has been suggested that Elder Lee be asked to do this.  Elder Romney moved that Elder Lee as the senior member of the Twelve who is not in the Presidency sit with the counselors in their meetings.  Motion seconded by several of the brethren and unanimously approved.

President Tanner mentioned that two weeks ago it was decided that the minutes of the discussion of this subject at that time should not be made a part of the record, but he thought that a minute of this discussion should be made and fully recorded.  He stated that from now on the correspondence coming to the President or the Presidency will come to Joseph Anderson’s office instead of President McKay’s office, and that minutes of the meeting will not go to the President’s office either.

Elder Petersen said he agreed with what President Tanner was saying but that secretaries have access to the minutes, and he wondered if anyone should have access to what has been done here today.  The brethren agreed that the members of this Council should have copies but no one else; that, however, the secretary who types the minutes would necessarily have access to them.”

Mon., Nov. 17, 1969:

“Note by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary

From November on no First Presidency Minutes have been given to President McKay or his secretary Clare Middlemiss.

When President Alvin R. Dyer was made an Apostle, President McKay asked that he also keep a set of minutes of the meetings held by the First Presidency.

We therefore, unable to obtain the minutes written by Joseph Anderson, are putting a copy of President Dyer’s minutes for the record.

(See Copy of Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer which follows.)

(Also see Note by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary which follows.)”

“(Minutes of Meeting of the First Presidency Written by President Dyer)

Meeting with President McKay in his Apartment – 9 a.m.

All of the Counselors were present.

The President looked fine and obviously felt better.  He spoke to each of us as we shook hands with him.  President Tanner sought for and obtained vocal approval from the President to have President Smith give the sealing power to the new Oakland Temple President and also to four more sealers for the Salt Lake Temple.

The President was smiling and was quite lucid, far from being ‘mentally and physically’ incompetent, which both Presidents Brown and Tanner said he was and had brought such matter before the Quorum of the Twelve in an obvious attempt to have him declared thusly.

Comment:  I cannot help but feel that the action taken in the Temple last Thursday concerning President McKay’s incompetence was premature.”

“(Minutes by President Alvin R. Dyer of a Visit with Sister Clare Middlemiss)

Clare Middlemiss came to my office deeply concerned about the turn of events that had diverted all of the mail that had previously come to her addressed to President David O. McKay.  This is tantamount, she contended, to her office being closed and she felt that no one had the right to divert the President’s mail.

I agreed with her completely and stated that it would be just as wrong for her to have mail put on her desk addressed to the First Presidency, which was obviously Church mail, as it would be for President McKay’s personal mail to be sent to any other than his agency, which is the office of his private secretary.  There seems to be a very clear distinction in this regard.  I promised Sister Middlemiss that I would look into the matter further.

Comment:  In the happenings of the past few days, nothing had been brought up in the meetings of the First Presidency regarding the handling of the mail.  It must follow, therefore, that instruction must have been given by either President Brown or President Tanner for the diversion of the mail.”


The secretary Clare Middlemiss having received no letters began to wonder what had happened.  Then she received a telephone call from a woman who had sent a telegram to President McKay but had received no answer.  Clare inquired over at the First Presidency’s office only to learn that it had been placed on Joseph Anderson’s desk. Later, she saw, when returning the telegram, a pile of President McKay’s personal mail already opened on Anderson’s desk; also one letter with the stamp of the First Presidency, purely personal, with a gift of a leather cutting of a portrait of President McKay was put on my desk to answer.

I took it to President Dyer and told him I could not stand this kind of treatment anymore; that I would not answer letters to President McKay opened by Joseph Anderson; that if he opened them he would answer them.  President Dyer answered, ‘How can we find out if they are personal or not?’  I said, ‘The same way we have done for 35 years–I know when they are official or personal, and official letters have always been referred to the First Presidency, and you know with your whole soul that President McKay would want me to continue with his work as I have been doing all along.’  There was no sympathy or offer of help from him–the person whom I had gone all the way to help to get where he is thinking he would defend and do what he knew President McKay would want.  Very distressing day.

I went up to visit Elder Ezra Taft Benson.  Sister Benson was also present.  Brother Benson advised that I talk to Lawrence McKay and also to Elder Harold B. Lee.  I went to Brother Lee’s office and talked to his secretary.  She thought I should talk to Brother Lee when he returns from New York next Friday.

I returned to my office and called Lawrence.  I asked him if the family had met and requested that personal mail addressed to President McKay be turned over to Joseph Anderson–and did he know about the letter from Dr. MacFarlane declaring his father ‘mentally incompetent.’  I told him that the editorials by President Grant and President Smith were taken from their writings, and that I cannot understand why such an issue is being made on editorials now.  I further said it would break his father’s heart if he should learn what was done in Council Meeting, and also about the letter President Brown asked Dr. MacFarlane to send regarding President McKay’s ‘mental deficiency.’  When sometime ago President Brown made up the statement was ‘not as alert,’ President McKay had it stricken from the record, saying, ‘I am as alert as I used to be!’

Lawrence said he knew nothing about this latest report to the Council and that he knew nothing about the letters.  He also said that the family had not met regarding these matters and especially about Joseph Anderson taking over his father’s letters.

I said, ‘If he does take over the letters, I might as well close the office, including all the Christmas business that is now coming soon; that Joseph Anderson would never nor could not take care of all the letters and business coming to President McKay’s office.

This evening I received a call from Elder Benson saying that he and Sister Benson had gotten on their knees following my visit to his office, and asked Father in Heaven to bless me, and that all matters pertaining to the President’s office would be conducted as he knew the President would wish it.”

Tues., Nov. 18, 1969:

“(President Alvin R. Dyer’s Discussion with Joseph Anderson Re: Mail)

I talked with Joseph Anderson on the mail situation for President McKay’s personal mail, which I felt should be sent to Clare’s desk the same as it had always been.  I had also learned that the McKay family wanted the President’s mail to be handled by Clare and no one else.

Brother Anderson said that he had received instructions that he was to open the mail and turn over to Clare only the specific personal matters after the mail had been checked.  I said this was wrong and should not be, that if, in the opening of President McKay’s personal mail there was a matter that was Church business, the letter could easily be given to Brother Anderson.

Brother Anderson said that he wished that the brethren would straighten this matter out because he, himself, did not feel to take on the additional burden of opening all of the mail as he had a considerable amount to open now as it had always been.  I insisted that this did not make sense and it appeared to me to be contrary to the wishes of President McKay.

I also talked to President Smith and he concurred that the mail should be handled as it had always been.”

Fri., Nov. 21, 1969:

“Note by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary

9:30 a.m.

As I walked into the President’s office, the barber was just finishing giving President McKay a haircut.  Following the departure of the barber, I asked the President how he felt and he said, ‘Find,’ and I said, ‘Well you look wonderful President McKay and I am so happy to see you looking so well.’

I then told President McKaya that it seemed from reports I had received from Robert McKay and Lottie McKay (Edward’s wife) that the family denies having met to decide that I should not have the mail.  Lottie said, ‘We are all sick over what they have done to you Clare.’

I also told President McKay that his minutes of the Thursday Temple Meeting and the First Presidency’s Minutes have been withheld from his office by his counselors.  President McKay said, ‘Oh it makes me so angry I can hardly sit here!’  He also said, ‘I want to be informed of everything that is going on and I want to know what is in those minutes.’

I said, ‘President McKay you know we discussed this two or three years ago that the counselors would try to get me out of the office if they had a chance.’

President McKay instructed me to keep in touch with President Smith, President Dyer, and Elders Lee and Benson.

Just before leaving I said to President McKay, ‘The Lord would have taken you if he did not want you to be the President of this Church.’  And the President answered, ‘The Lord knows what to do with me when I can no longer be President of the Church.’

Later in the day, at the request of President Alvin R. Dyer, I arranged for an appointment for President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Dyer tomorrow morning (Saturday) at which time they wished to take up a very important matter with the President.”

Sat., Nov. 22, 1969:

“8:15 a.m.

President Joseph Fielding Smith and President Alvin R. Dyer came to the President’s office this morning.

(See President Dyer’s Minutes for details.)

[NOTE:  Dyer’s minutes were not included in the diary, nor in Clare’s own “Notes.”  However, the document executed at this meeting, which authorized Joseph Fielding Smith and Alvin R. Dyer to act in behalf of the President, is contained in Clare’s “Notes.”]

Mon., Dec. 15, 1969:

“Note by Clare Middlemiss, Secretary

I arrived at the President’s office with an armload of Christmas packages which he was delighted to receive.  Among the gifts was a delft blue china dish from Jack O’Keefe, and a Christmas wreath with unique straw handiwork from Sister Betty Olsen of the Danish Mission.

I then called Brother Mark Garff, and he came right over to give President McKay a report on the Building Committee.  Brother Garff presented President McKay with a box of choice walnuts and almonds produced on the Deseret Farms of California in the Sacramento Valley.

After Brother Garff left, I took up several sealing cancellations with the President, which he considered and approved.

The President turned to me and said, ‘You are one of the most wonderful girls I know.  I do not know what I would have done without you.  They can’t keep you away from me.’  I said, ‘Well your counselors (Brown and Tanner) have tried to close your office and kick me out.’  The President then said, ‘There will never be a time as long as I am living that you will not be doing my work, taking care of the mail, and running my office.’

It always lifts my spirit to be around President McKay, and I was grateful for his expressions on this day.”

Mon., Jan. 5, 1970:

“9:00 a.m.

President McKay held a short meeting with the brethren of the First Presidency.

10:00 a.m.

Secretary Clare Middlemiss read about 15 thank you letters to the President expressing thanks to him for his Christmas remembrances.  President McKay was thrilled with the expressions of love and loyalty.

Clare informed the President that Brother Clyde D. Sandgren’s father had passed away, and President McKay said he would like to send a telegram of sympathy.

President McKay was very alert and listened intently.  He was pleased that Clare had brought up office matters with him.

Note by Clare Middlemiss

Following the short meeting with President McKay this morning, the First Presidency continued their meeting in the First Presidency’s Board Room of the Church Administration Building.  During the meeting President Smith slumped over in his chair.  He had an attack later identified by the doctor as an artery stoppage to the brain.  President Tanner and President Dyer stood up, each taking a hold of a hand of President Smith and endeavoring to feel his pulse.  There was no pulse.  President Dyer then attempted to feel the artery in his neck and massaged his neck slightly and he immediately started moving.  Dr. Silace Smith came and attended him.  President Smith then went home with Dr. Smith and President Dyer accompanying him.”