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George F. Richards

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George Franklin Richards (23 February 1861 – 8 August 1950) was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from April 9, 1906, until his death. He also served as Acting Presiding Patriarch of the LDS Church from 1937 to 1942 and President of the Quorum of the Twelve from May 25, 1945, until his death.


Richards was born in Farmington, Utah, the son of Franklin D. Richards and Nanny Longstroth. Richards' father was an Apostle and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Franklin D. Richards also served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve from 1898 to 1899.

After George Richards' death, one of his sons, LeGrand, became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, thus making the Richards family only the third Latter-day Saint family in history with three consecutive generations with members in the Quorum (the others being the three-generation combination of George A. Smith, John Henry Smith, and George Albert Smith, and the three generation combination of Amasa M. Lyman, Francis M. Lyman, and Richard R. Lyman).[1]

Richards was baptized by Oliver L. Robinson, who would later become his father-in-law.[2] In 1882, Richards married Alice A. Robinson.[2] George and Alice had fifteen children.[3] One of the halls in the Heritage Halls dormitories at Brigham Young University is named for Alice.


Richards received a degree in English from the University of Deseret, which later became the University of Utah. He also studied mathematics there.


Richards worked for the Utah Central Railway as a clerk from 1881 to 1882.[2] From 1885 to 1888, Richards lived on a farm in Box Elder County, Utah. In 1888, he moved to Tooele, Utah, where he served on the school board and on the irrigation board as well as directing the Tooele City Water Company.[2] Richards engaged in farming and the lumber business in Tooele.[4]

Early church callings

Richards was ordained an Elder at age fifteen, which was quite young, but no younger than Joseph F. Smith was when he was ordained an elder. He received his Endowment shortly after this. Among various early callings he held were those of home missionary and president of the ward Young Men's Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA).[2] In 1890, Richards became the second counselor in the Tooele Stake Presidency.

In 1893, Richards was ordained a patriarch by Francis M. Lyman.[2] At age 32, Richards was one of the youngest men to have ever held this office in the Church.


From 1899 to 1900, Richards served as a member of the Utah House of Representatives from Tooele County.

Calling as an apostle

In 1905, two members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles resigned due to their unwillingness to uphold the Second Manifesto and Joseph F. Smith's directive that all plural marriages cease, even in areas where such actions were not in violation of the law. About the same time another member of the twleve died, thus creating three vacancies in the quorum.

On April 8, 1906, at General Conference, Elder Richards was called to be an Apostle by Joseph F. Smith. He was ordained and set apart the following day, along with Orson F. Whitney and David O. McKay.

Early assignments in the Twelve

Richards was appointed to the General Boards of the YMMIA and the Religion Classes shortly after his call to the Twelve. He also served as an advisor to the Primary General Board.

During his early days in the Twelve, Richards went on several tours of Missions in the United States as well as visiting many stake conferences.[4]

Mission president

In 1916, Richards was made the president of the Church's European Mission. In this position he was directly over missionary work in Great Britain, as well as having a supervisory role over the mission presidents on the European continent. Among the mission presidents in mainland Europe was Richards' son LeGrand, who was president of the Netherlands Mission.

Richards succeeded Hyrum M. Smith as president of the European mission.

Temple president

From 1921 to 1938, Richards was the president of the Salt Lake Temple.

Acting Presiding Patriarch

In 1937, Richards was asked by President Heber J. Grant to assume the duties that would normally be carried out by the Church's Presiding Patriarch. Richards accepted, and served in this capacity until 1942, when President Grant called Joseph Fielding Smith to be the Church's Presiding Patriarch. Richards was called, sustained, and set apart as only the Acting Presiding Patriarch to the Church, because he was not a direct descendant of the first Latter-day Saint patriarch, Joseph Smith, Sr. During his tenure as Acting Presiding Patriarch, Richards remained a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

President of the Twelve

With the death of LDS Church President Heber J. Grant, Richards became the second-most senior apostle in the Church and thus the President of the Quorum of the Twelve on May 21, 1945, a position which he held until his death. He is the only person in the history of the Church to have been both the Presiding Patriarch of the Church and the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.


Richards died in Salt Lake City of coronary thrombosis.[5] After Richards' death, Delbert L. Stapley was called in the October general conference of that year to fill the vacancy, and David O. McKay became President of the Quorum.


  1. Hyrum, Joseph F., and Joseph Fielding Smith were also three consecutive generations of Apostles, though Hyrum wasn't a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Jenson, Andrew. LDS Biographical Encyclopedia (Salt Lake City: Deseret News Press, 1901) Vol. 1, p. 544
  3. Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Appendix 1, p. 1644.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jenson. Biographical Encyclopedia Vol. 3 (published 1920) p. 772
  5. State of Utah Death Certificate

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