Mark E. Petersen
Mark E. Petersen served as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 40 years, during which time he published over forty books, pamphlets, and editorials to aid in the Church’s missionary effort—an average of more than one publication each year. His contribution marks an era of growth and change within the Church.
Mark Edward Petersen was born on November 7, 1900, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents were Danish converts to the Church and immigrants to the United States, and he was one of five children, including his twin sister. As a young boy, he worked hard as a newspaper carrier and in his father’s construction business.
After graduating from high school, Mark attended the University of Utah. He originally intended to study engineering but instead found his passion in teaching English and history. He then served as a missionary in Nova Scotia.
As a recently returned missionary, he was called as ward chorister and soon fell in love with the choir accompanist, Emma Marr McDonald. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1923 and happily married for 61 years. They had two daughters, Marian and Peggy.
When he returned from his mission, Mark E. Petersen became a reporter for the Deseret News, where he would work for sixty years. He rose to the position of president and chairman of the board at the Deseret News, and in 1935 and 1941 he was appointed managing editor and editor, respectively. His leadership and influence helped bring the newspaper out of obscurity and into the ranks of quality, well-read news sources. He was also known for the tenderness and care with which he treated his employees, whom he considered important members of his stewardship.
In 1944, Mark E. Petersen was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. During the time that he served in the Quorum, he directed the Church’s public information programs, served on the Military Relations Committee, and acted as an adviser to the Relief Society, the Indian Affairs Committee, and the Music Committee. He also served as the president of the West European Mission for over six years.
In addition to his service in the Church, Elder Mark E. Petersen was involved in the community throughout his life. He was an active leader in the Boy Scouts of America organization and received the Silver Antelope Award. He also served on numerous civic boards, committees, university boards, and social groups. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Brigham Young University.
Elder Petersen delivered 18 devotional addresses at Brigham Young University in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. He passed away January 11, 1984 from complications of cancer and surgery. His wife had preceded him by nine years.
Elder Petersen spoke boldly in the defense of the gospel and the principles he believed in. A government leader of another country once remarked, on hearing Elder Petersen speak, “That man has inner authority—the kind of which I have never seen before. If I were a Christian, I would say God saved him for a special time and a special work.”