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Stephen L Richards

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Title: Stephen L Richards  
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Subject: J. Reuben Clark, George Q. Cannon, Sunday School (LDS Church), A. Roger Merrill, William D. Oswald
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Stephen L Richards

Stephen L Richards (June 18, 1879 – May 19, 1959) was a prominent leader in the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church). He was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church and the First Counselor in the First Presidency.

Early life


Richards was born in Mendon, Utah Territory. He was the oldest of ten children born to Stephen Longstroth Richards and Emma Louise Stayner. He was raised in the Cache Valley. Richards was the grandson of Willard Richards, an early apostle of the church and colleague of Joseph Smith.

Richards married Irene Smith Merrill (a maternal granddaughter of George A. Smith) in 1900. The couple had nine children.

Education and profession

Richards did undergraduate studies at the University of Utah. He received his law degree from the University of Chicago in 1904.[1] Richards had begun his law school career at the University of Michigan before transferring to Chicago.[2]

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Richards practiced law in Salt Lake City and was a professor of law at the University of Utah. Richards had been considering running for governor of Utah in the 1918 election, but he was selected as an apostle in 1917 and he decided against it..[2]

Church leadership

Joseph F. Smith called Richards to be an apostle at the age of 37. As an apostle, Richards became a member of the superintendency of the Deseret Sunday School Union under David O. McKay in 1918. In April 1919, McKay was appointed Church Commissioner of Education and chose Richards as his first counselor.[2] Richards would remain a counselor in the Deseret Sunday School Union Superintendency until 1934 when apostles were released from these positions, which freed up the apostles to focus on other aspects of church governance.

When McKay became LDS Church president, he selected Richards as his first counselor. Richards served in that position from April 9, 1951, until his death. Richards followed his grandfather, Willard Richards, by serving in the Quorum of the Twelve and in the First Presidency.

The Christus statue that is at the visitors center on Temple Square in Salt Lake City was purchased by Richards as a gift to McKay.

Richards was a mentor to Gordon B. Hinckley as the head of the Radio, Publicity and Missionary Literature Committee when Hinckley served as its executive secretary.[1]


Richards' grave marker

Richards died in Salt Lake City at the age of 79, shortly before his 80th birthday.

See also


  1. ^ a b Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward With Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book., 1996) p. 86.
  2. ^ a b c Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed., Brigham Young University: The First 100 Years. (Provo, Utah: BYU Press, 1975) vol. 2, pp. 3, 7.

External links

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
J. Reuben Clark
First Counselor in the First Presidency
April 9, 1951 – May 19, 1959
Succeeded by
J. Reuben Clark
Preceded by
James E. Talmage
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
January 18, 1917 – April 9, 1951
Succeeded by
Richard R. Lyman
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