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Ezra Taft Benson

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Ezra Taft Benson was prepared for his professional success, Church service, and impact on others by experiences from early in his life. He was born on August 4, 1899 in Whitney, Idaho. There on his family’s farm, he learned the meaning of hard work, self-reliance, dependability, compassion, and other life lessons that would shape his character. It was perhaps these character traits that compelled Flora Amussen to say, despite the teasing of friends and family that a ploughboy like Benson was beneath her, that she wanted to marry a farmer.

Ezra learned other important lessons from the examples of his faithful parents. When he was a young teenager, his father was called on a mission to the Eastern states. Though his absence was felt deeply by Ezra’s mother and their many children, especially as they assumed extra responsibility to keep the farm running, George Benson’s devotion to the Lord was felt even more deeply—all eleven of his children would go on to serve missions at some point in their lives. Ezra recognized the blessings of Church service for himself early on. A lifelong Boy Scout, he was called to lead 24 Young Men when he was 19 years old. More influential than the choir practices and hiking trips he led were the mentoring relationships he built that he continued to foster throughout the years.

After graduating from the Oneida Stake Academy in 1918, Ezra Taft Benson accepted a call to serve a mission in Great Britain, where he grew spiritually and developed a deep love for the people. When he returned, he proposed to his sweetheart Flora—but the couple would wait to get married until she served a 20-month mission in Hawaii. While she was gone, Ezra finished school. He had begun studying at Utah State Agricultural College, then transferred to Brigham Young University, where he graduated in 1926. He and Flora were married later that year in the Salt Lake Temple. She was a strong, loving support for him through his civic and Church responsibilities. When he was called to the apostleship at age 44, nervous about his responsibility, his young family, and his weakness, she encouraged and comforted him. “She has always shown more faith in me than I have myself,” he said.

Ezra Taft Benson went on to earn a master’s degree from Iowa State College, and to run his own family farm back in his hometown of Whitney. He became a voice among local and regional farmers. He worked for some time as an agricultural economist and specialist with the University of Idaho in Boise, studied at the University of California—Berkeley for a year, and in 1939 became the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He used his academic and practical expertise to help farmers with productivity and marketing. The Benson family, which included six children, lived in California, Idaho, Utah, and Washington, D.C., and Ezra Taft Benson served twice as a stake president. Although he was often taken away from home for work and church demands, which was hard for his family, he made the most of the time he had at home. His children remember him laughing, playing, and doing household chores with them, and taking time to spend with each child individually.

In 1943 Ezra Taft Benson, along with Spencer W. Kimball, was ordained an apostle. One of his first assignments was to travel in Europe, where he organized the Church’s relief efforts after the devastation of World War II. He also served as a mission president there and supervised the work of the Church in Europe and Asia. While an apostle, he served from 1953-1961 as secretary of agriculture for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet, bringing publicity to the church and his talent and knowledge to the country. He had always been devoted to his country, believing that the Constitution was inspired and that freedom was essential for God’s plan. He defended freedom every chance he had.

In 1985 Ezra Taft Benson became the President of the Church. He dedicated 9 temples and saw great growth in the Church. He focused much of his teaching on the importance of “flooding the earth” with the Book of Mormon, and warned against the universal sin of pride. He believed that Christ was the source of the most lasting change in human nature and of true joy. Flora passed away in 1992, and Ezra Taft Benson followed her in 1994, having left behind a legacy of faith. He spoke many times at BYU, his alma mater, on civic as well as spiritual matters, and his courageous faith and dedication are evident in his bold testimony.

Ezra Taft Benson was prepared for his professional success, Church service, and impact on others by experiences from early in his life. He was born on August 4, 1899 in Whitney, Idaho. There on his family’s farm, he learned the meaning of hard work, self-reliance, dependability, compassion, and other life lessons that would shape his character. It was perhaps these character traits that compelled Flora Amussen to say, despite the teasing of friends and family that a ploughboy like Benson was beneath her, that she wanted to marry a farmer.

Ezra learned other important lessons from the examples of his faithful parents. When he was a young teenager, his father was called on a mission to the Eastern states. Though his absence was felt deeply by Ezra’s mother and their many children, especially as they assumed extra responsibility to keep the farm running, George Benson’s devotion to the Lord was felt even more deeply—all eleven of his children would go on to serve missions at some point in their lives. Ezra recognized the blessings of Church service for himself early on. A lifelong Boy Scout, he was called to lead 24 Young Men when he was 19 years old. More influential than the choir practices and hiking trips he led were the mentoring relationships he built that he continued to foster throughout the years.

After graduating from the Oneida Stake Academy in 1918, Ezra Taft Benson accepted a call to serve a mission in Great Britain, where he grew spiritually and developed a deep love for the people. When he returned, he proposed to his sweetheart Flora—but the couple would wait to get married until she served a 20-month mission in Hawaii. While she was gone, Ezra finished school. He had begun studying at Utah State Agricultural College, then transferred to Brigham Young University, where he graduated in 1926. He and Flora were married later that year in the Salt Lake Temple. She was a strong, loving support for him through his civic and Church responsibilities. When he was called to the apostleship at age 44, nervous about his responsibility, his young family, and his weakness, she encouraged and comforted him. “She has always shown more faith in me than I have myself,” he said.

Ezra Taft Benson went on to earn a master’s degree from Iowa State College, and to run his own family farm back in his hometown of Whitney. He became a voice among local and regional farmers. He worked for some time as an agricultural economist and specialist with the University of Idaho in Boise, studied at the University of California—Berkeley for a year, and in 1939 became the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He used his academic and practical expertise to help farmers with productivity and marketing. The Benson family, which included six children, lived in California, Idaho, Utah, and Washington, D.C., and Ezra Taft Benson served twice as a stake president. Although he was often taken away from home for work and church demands, which was hard for his family, he made the most of the time he had at home. His children remember him laughing, playing, and doing household chores with them, and taking time to spend with each child individually.

In 1943 Ezra Taft Benson, along with Spencer W. Kimball, was ordained an apostle. One of his first assignments was to travel in Europe, where he organized the Church’s relief efforts after the devastation of World War II. He also served as a mission president there and supervised the work of the Church in Europe and Asia. While an apostle, he served from 1953-1961 as secretary of agriculture for President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s cabinet, bringing publicity to the church and his talent and knowledge to the country. He had always been devoted to his country, believing that the Constitution was inspired and that freedom was essential for God’s plan. He defended freedom every chance he had.

In 1985 Ezra Taft Benson became the President of the Church. He dedicated 9 temples and saw great growth in the Church. He focused much of his teaching on the importance of “flooding the earth” with the Book of Mormon, and warned against the universal sin of pride. He believed that Christ was the source of the most lasting change in human nature and of true joy. Flora passed away in 1992, and Ezra Taft Benson followed her in 1994, having left behind a legacy of faith. He spoke many times at BYU, his alma mater, on civic as well as spiritual matters, and his courageous faith and dedication are evident in his bold testimony.