- (Photo: REUTERS/George Frey)
Eldred G. Smith, the last known person to have held the position of Patriarch to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has died at the age of 106. Not only was he the oldest living Mormon, but it's believed that Smith was the oldest person in Utah as well.
Smith was a descendant of Mormon leader Hyrum Smith, brother to the LDS Church's founder, Joseph Smith. Eldred was the great-great grandson of Hyrum, according to the LDS website, and held the office of Patriarch as did his father, and many others in his family.
"The Church lost a valued friend and respected leader with the passing of Patriarch Eldred G. Smith. He was a man who lived a Christ-centered life as he faithfully served as Patriarch to the Church. We pray for the Lord's blessing to be upon his family at this ender time," the LDS Church said in a statement.
Smith married Jeanne Audrey Ness in 1932 and together they had five children. She died in 1977, and Smith married Hortense Child, who preceded him in death just last May. In addition to his five children, Smith had 24 grandchildren, 45 great-grandchildren and 19 great-great grandchildren.
The Associated Press reported that Smith, during his time of leadership, managed to travel to every continent. Smith served as Patriarch for 35 years and offered blessings to those he visited representing the LDS church.
"I was gone for six months one time," Smith recounted at his 105th birthday, according to the LDS Church News. "I've given more than 18,000 blessings.
"Everyone should receive a patriarchal blessing," LDS President Thomas S. Monson said in response. "It is a real treasure to have, a guide for your life. It is a holy calling to be a patriarch."
"Eldred Smith is my good friend. We have traveled many miles together. I love and respect this man," President Monson said while visiting Smith on his 106th birthday in January.