Franklin D. Richards
Franklin Dewey Richards was born on November 17, 1900, in Ogden, Utah. He was the youngest of eight children born to Charles C. and Louisa Letitia Peery Richards and grew up with a strong foundation of faith in his home. Richards’s namesake, Franklin D. Richards, was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for fifty years and also played a key part in the conversion of Karl G. Maeser.
At age twenty, after graduating from Weber Academy, the young Franklin D. Richards served as a missionary in the Eastern States Mission, where he presided over the New York, Boston, and Brooklyn districts and helped the Church grow.
In 1923, one year after his return home from missionary service, Richards married Helen Kearnes, with whom he would have four children. That same year Richards also enrolled in the University of Utah, where he later received a bachelor of laws degree. This led to a rewarding law career, including Richards’s appointment as the first Utah director of the United States Federal Housing Administration (FHA). In 1947 he was appointed national commissioner of the FHA and he worked in that position until his resignation in 1952. Richards then switched gears and pursued a career in mortgage banking in Washington, DC; New York City; and Salt Lake City.
Throughout his life, Richards was a faithful servant in the Lord’s kingdom. He had served as a stake mission president, stake Sunday School board member, and chairman of a ward genealogical committee, and was called to preside over the Northwestern States Mission in 1960. While serving as a mission president, he was called to become a general authority seventy. Elder Richards served as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles until 1976, when he became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and, later, the senior president of the Presidency of the Seventy. He was released from that calling in 1983 to serve as the president of the Washington D.C. Temple until 1986. Among his many accomplishments as a general authority seventy, Elder Richards was a part of the team that created the six-discussion missionary teaching program that was in use for many years.
During his tenure as a general authority, Elder Richards delivered seven devotional speeches at Brigham Young University. Considering himself a perpetual student, he always addressed the student body as his “fellow students.” His addresses focus on advising students and faculty to develop their spiritual and temporal talents. He also spoke on topics such as missionary work and preparing for the future, a mix of spiritual wisdom and practical advice to help inspire students and faculty alike to improve.
Franklin D. Richards passed away on November 13, 1987, at his home in Salt Lake City. At his funeral, President Thomas S. Monson, then second counselor in the First Presidency, said, “Franklin D. Richards was . . . a giant, placed among men by his creator.” Many others agreed with this statement, and Elder Richards’s example lives on today through the lives he influenced throughout his ministry.