Ezra Taft Benson
Ezra Taft Benson (August 4, 1899 – May 30, 1994) was the thirteenth President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ezra worked in President Dwight D. Eisenhower administration for eight years as U.S. secretary of agriculture. He was known for being fair, just, and a man of principle. Ezra spoke out frequently advocating conservative positions and a strong opposition to Communism. He served forty-two years as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He was featured on the covers of Time magazine. Ezra emphasized the importance of it in daily scripture study, missionary efforts, and gospel teaching. His love of freedom, home, and family were also evident in his addresses and counsel to Church members.
He was born in the rural community of Whitney, Idaho to father George Taft Benson, Jr., and mother Sarah Dunkley. Ezra was the oldest of their eleven children. He was named after his grandfather Ezra Taft Benson, an apostle. His great-great grandfather was John Benson, Sr., an officer during the American Revolution. Ezra grew up on the family farm. By age five, he drove horses, milked cows and thinned sugar beets. He would enter school at age eight. His father was called as a missionary to the Northern States Mission and a young Ezra would have to help raise the family and take care of the farm. In 1914, he entered the Church's Oneida Academy in Preston, Idaho, graduating in 1918. He enlisted in the military service just before the close of World War I. He began attending the Utah State Agricultural College. In 1921, he accepted a mission in England where he served as Newcastle Conference clerk, Sunderland Branch president, and president of the Newcastle Conference. When he returned, he enrolled at Brigham Young University and was named the most popular man on campus. Ezra married Flora Smith Amussen in the Salt Lake Temple on September 10, 1926. She bore him two boys and four girls -Reed, Mark, Barbara, Beverly, Bonnie, and Beth. Ezra received a research scholarship to Iowa State College, where he obtained his master's degree in agricultural economics.
In 1930, he was promoted to agricultural economist and marketing specialist for the University of Idaho. For five years, he served as the executive secretary of the Idaho Cooperative Council. In 1936, he attending the University of California in Berkeley on a fellowship for Agricultural Economics. Ezra encouraged farmers to work cooperatively in producing and marketing their goods. He became executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives that covered 1.6 million farmers. Also, Ezra served on a four-man national agriculture advisory committee to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. On the council of Church president David O. McKay, he accepted the Cabinet position of secretary of agriculture in the Eisenhower administration in 1952. In 1986, he personally delivered a contribution of ten million dollars to President Ronald Reagan to be used to procure food for the world's hungry.
November 1938, Ezra was called to serve as stake president in Boise, Idaho. In 1940, the Church called him as the first president of the Washington, D.C., stake. In 1943, he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and was ordained an apostle by President Heber J. Grant on October 7, 1943. After the devastation in Europe cuased by World War II, he was called to be the European mission president. He spent eight busy months coordinating relief and recovery efforts among Mormons in Europe. During his first five months in Europe, he visited over one hundred cities in thirteen countries. In December 1973, Ezra Taft Benson became president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ezra Taft Benson became President of the Church on November 10, 1985, at the age of eighty-six. He greatly emphasized reading and studying the Book of Mormon which "brought more souls to Christ, both within and without the Church, than ever before."  During his presidency, new temples were announced and several were dedicated, and missionary work expanded into Eastern Europe. He stressed mankind's three great loyalties—loyalty to God, loyalty to family, and loyalty to country. He died in Salt Lake City on May 30, 1994, at the age of 94.
Ezra gave thousands of speeches over his fifty years of Church service. In addition, he wrote many books.
- Farmers at the Crossroads (1956)
- Freedom to Farm (1960)
- Crossfire: The Eight Years with Eisenhower (1962).
- The Red Carpet (1962)
- Title of Liberty (1964)
- An Enemy Hath Done This (1969)
Ezra had many national and international citations and awards.
He served on the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America. From them he received the Silver Beaver, Silver Antelope, Silver Buffalo and the Bronze Wolf.
In 1975, Brigham Young University established the Ezra Taft Benson Agriculture and Food Institute to help relieve world food problems and raise the quality of life through improved nutrition and enlightened agriculture practices.
At age 90, the President of the United States conferred upon him the Presidential Citizens Medal, naming him "one of the most distinguished Americans of his time."
- “I have a vision of the whole Church getting nearer to God by abiding by the precepts of the Book of Mormon.”
- "I am for freedom and against slavery. I am for social progress and against socialism. I am for a dynamic economy and against waste. I am for the private competitive market and against unnecessary governmental intervention. I am for national security and against appeasement and capitulation to an obvious enemy."