Sunday, April 7, 2013

General Authority turns 100

(by Carole Mikita 1-12-07)

At age 100, Eldred Smith is the oldest and longest-serving general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  

He is called Patriarch Smith, referring to a church position he has had for more than 30 years. He says during this last century he has seen and experienced more than he could ever have imagined.  

Eldred Smith sits at the head of a very large family. A year and a half ago, he and his wife, Hortense, gathered with the descendants of LDS church founder, Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, who is Eldred's great-great grandfather.  

Eldred and Hortense still travel the world, speaking to Latter-day Saints. They take the Smith family artifacts, the blood-stained clothing Hyrum wore the day he was murdered and the box Joseph Smith used to store the gold plates for a time.  

He just passed his 100th birthday and told me he is most amazed by today's technology. He remembers how communication was in the old days.

Eldred Smith, LDS Church Patriarch: "I remember when telephones were a big box about so big, on the wall and you turn the crank and stand back and yell at it."

Cell phones fascinate him.  

Eldred Smith, LDS Church Patriarch: "That little gadget is a broadcaster, a receiver, a telephone, it's a computer, you name it. It's all in that little thing you hold in your hand and no wires connecting. Now, if that isn't miraculous, what is?"  

Eldred Smith still moves with ease. There is no secret, he says, to his longevity. He thinks this emphasis on working out is foolish.  

Eldred Smith, LDS Church Patriarch: "I tell 'em exercise is a waste of energy. I use my energy to accomplish something, that gives me all the energy I need. So, I've always been active with my hands."  

He has been a part of history in his faith and in his country. During World War II he worked in Oak Ridge, Tennessee as an engineer for a company that enriched uranium for the atomic bomb.  

Eldred Smith, LDS Church Patriarch: "The atomic energy project…I got a certificate signed by the secretary of war, telling me I helped bring the war to a close. I always say, ‘I and a few billion others.'"  

Eldred and Hortense Smith don't stay at home much. They speak every weekend. Their next trip is to Idaho in a couple of weeks.


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