Compiled by Dennis B. Horne
Editorial note: the below excerpts from President Kimball’s journal were selected because I find them to be extra uplifting and edifying, or otherwise special in some way. I did not include a date with them because when I encountered and chose them I was interested in precious spiritual experience and insight, not scholarship. Some of these items can be found by using the index and links previously posted as “Precious highlights in President Spencer W. Kimball’s Journal.” Below is what I judge to be some of the cream of the cream in his diary. These tidbits make my soul sing and reinforce within me how grateful I am to be a member of the Restored Church of Jesus Christ. This apostle and prophet became celestial material indeed. I include a little introduction of a few words to each excerpt to give some context:
Elder Kimball on Elder Harold B. Lee:
“Elder Lee and I caught the Los Angeles Limited at six o’clock for Los Angeles. We had a delightful visit on our way down and I appreciated very much discussing the Gospel with him and getting his reaction to problems which have come to me recently from many people. Elder Lee is very wise, sagacious for his experience and age, and the Lord has made of him a great character.”
Pres. Kimball doctrinally corrects a friend:
“Lawrence Maloy came for me. . . . He had a problem and we went far away from the haunts of men and fasted from Sat. morning till Monday night and did considerable praying and studying. He had many erroneous ideas and concepts and I hope that we have him straightened out now. He had been very critical of the Savior and the Bible feeling that the Lord was a tyrant. I hope we had showed him that God is Love and that Jesus was perfect and that when we cannot so accept him there is something wrong with us. It seemed that he did not understand the scriptures and many passages might on the surface give license to his thoughts. I hope we have helped him.”
Gives good answers to questioner:
“My first appointment was with Elder [name removed]. . . . He had filled a splendid mission, I am sure. He asked me many questions about procedure, doctrine and discipline. After I had answered him and he had gone, I sought an interview with Elder Joseph Fielding Smith to check up my answers and found that in every case I had been correct, so it helped me to know that I was learning the work. (Dec. 22, 1943)
Meeting in Council:
“In our meeting there were points of doctrine came up for clarification and I felt almost overwhelmed to think that I, so humble, was among those to determine and work out policies and programs for the whole church.”
“I received . . . also the report of Darrell Warnick of the 2nd Ward in Pocatello Stake, returning from the Central States Mission. He had had quite a remarkable vision or dream and I cautioned him to keep it sacred and not tell it promiscuously. In other words, not to cast his pearls before swine.”
Elder Kimball calls a bishop:
“The High Council approved brother Horace J. Ritchey and I interviewed him for the position. Because of financial difficulties he was reluctant to accept the call. . . .
“We met the High Council early, interviewed Brother Ritchey and tho he had been reluctant he indicated later that he was willing to accept the call tho he was in very bad financial circumstances. I felt impressed that the Lord would strengthen him financially if he had the faith to accept this call, and so expressed myself to him after he had accepted it.” [Years later]: “Looking toward the reorganization of the San Jose Stake we continued with our interviews. . . . After much prayer and contemplation we decided to call as President, Horace J. Richie. This man I ordained a bishop in the San Francisco Stake some years ago. We found him very pleasant with a splendid personality and a good insight and much vigor and reasonable youth.”
Calls a stake president:
“When Bro. Gunderson came up from downstairs he was visibly affected emotionally and his voice was unsteady. He received the call most humbly, expressing his willingness but his feeling of weakness. When he had regained his composure he said he was not surprised. That when he returned Wednesday night from our interview with him, and as he ascended the stairway from his basement a voice clear and distinct said to him: ‘You will be the President of the new Stake.’”
Calls another stake president:
“Having been sent to reorganize the . . . stake, we began our interviews. . . . When High Councilor [name removed] came in, I was deeply impressed that he was to be the president of the stake. I did not close my mind but we went forward and interviewed all the other brethren. . . . After considerable deliberation and much prayer, we chose Brother [name removed] to be the President of the stake. . . . He accepted the call graciously but without the surprise element which we often meet. We interviewed him carefully and found as we expected that he was worthy and that all was well. We mentioned he would now need to give thought to Counselors and he said immediately, ‘I suppose it is a little unusual for a man to have his counselors selected before his call. I’d like to have [names removed].’ We were surprised but pleased. . . . Hours later as we went home, I said, ‘Brother [name removed], we were surprised at your quick decision. Would you like to tell me about it?
“’Six years ago,’ he began, ‘When I was in the temple one day . . . I received the assurance that I would be the successor to President [name removed] when he was finally released. Since that day, I have been secretly and quietly doing my utmost to be prepared for it.’ Then I asked, ‘What would you have thought and felt had we called another man to this position as stake president?’ He promptly replied, ‘I would have wondered how I had failed. I would have held to my inspirational experience but would have realized that it was I who had not measured up.’
“Accordingly, we felt very happy that this confirmed the strong feeling which I had with regard to his call.”
And another made known:
“After looking through the temple, I retired alone to one of the sealing rooms and importuned the Lord to advise me whom He had selected for the President of the South Idaho Falls Stake. As I came out of the temple, I was sure in my mind and felt composure and ease.”
“We returned to and completed our interviews with the bishops and the stake presidency and high council members. I had prepared the two counselors for release. I was sure as I began to deliberate that Brother [Sterling W.] Sill was eager to make the First Counselor the President of the Stake. He discussed the matter at great length and argued logically, however, I had some very definite feelings in the matter and having done considerable praying about it, I felt to follow what I felt was inspiration.
“As each of the brethren had come in for interview, I had felt rather barren and unresponsive, but when Bishop Call came in, I had a different reaction and felt that here was an excellent possibility for a President. There were several other good men who came in during the afternoon but I continued to feel responsive toward Brother Call and finally, we got him back from Fairfield and called him to the Presidency of the Stake. He was very humble about it but accepted graciously.”
“We then continued on until about 2:30 or 3:00 with our interviews of the leaders of the Greenbrae, San Rafael and Novato Wards of the San Francisco Stake. These three are to be annexed to the Santa Rosa Stake in its division. About 3:00 we decided on Brother Weston Roe as the president, and we went to his office at the cemetery and called him to the work. We were very pleased with him. We had been somewhat disturbed that we had felt so unsettled in the whole matter, but when President Roe came in to be interviewed both of us felt like light had penetrated the darkness.
“We began very early, about 7:30, interviewing our possible leaders. We spent some time with our new President, Richie R. Boyack. We had learned that he had planned to retire from his employment in the U.S. Army, in charge of the draft in this area, a colonel, a very prominent and important man. We found that he would be retired in July of 1960 and that he had plans to move back into the further west, possibly Utah, to spend the balance of his days. We invited him to be the President of the Stake and he accepted readily with the understanding that he would set aside his own ambitions and plans for the future and would serve the Lord. His devotion and consecration to the work, and his dedication caused me to exclaim within myself the words of the Savior to the Nephites: ‘So great faith have I never seen among the Jews.’” (3 Nephi 19:35).
And another (extra special):
“I had some interviews and then at 8:00, we held the regular meeting with the Presidency and the High Council and the Bishoprics. . . . We released the High Priests Presidency and the three high councilors who were going to be in the new stake presidency. We sustained as the Presidency of the stake, Russell Marion Nelson, a doctor who is an eminent heart specialist; his First Counselor, Albert Reeder Bowen, the son of Brother Albert E. Bowen of the Council of the Twelve; and Joseph Bitner Wirthlin, the son of the former Presiding Bishop Joseph L. Wirthlin; and they were sustained also as the Presidency of the High Priests Quorum.”
“Boyd told me this story. My close friend Boyd K. Packer. Peru:”
“In a western South American nation in a Sacrament meeting, the sacrament was in preparation. He was a little ragamuffin. His two shirts would hardly make one, so ragged they were and torn and dirty. Unlikely that those shirts had ever been off that little body since they were donned. The little feet which brought him in the open door up the aisle and to the sacrament table were calloused, bearing dark and dirty testimony of deprivation, want, unsatisfied hungers—spiritual as well as physical. Almost unobserved, he came to the sacrament table and with a seeming spiritual hunger, he leaned against the table and lovingly rubbed his unwashed face against the cool, smooth, white linen.
“A woman in the front seats outraged by the seeming intrusion caught his eye and with her motion and frown, sent the little ragamuffin scampering down the aisle and out into his world, the street.
“The little ragamuffin came stealthily, cautiously down the aisle again, wondering, ready to run and escape if necessary.
“Elder Packer caught his eye and beckoned him and opening big, welcoming arms, they were quickly filled as the little ragamuffin nestled comfortably, his head against a great warm heart—a heart sympathetic to waifs, and especially to Lamanite little ones.
“Month later, Elder Packer sat in my office and in tender terms, rehearsed this incident as he sat forward on his chair, his eyes glistening, and he said ‘in my mind, this was not a single little Lamanite in my arms. It was a nation, a multitude of nations of deprived, hungering souls, wanting something they knew not what—a humble people yearning to revive a seeming memory of ancestors standing wide-eyed, open mouthed, expectant and excited, looking up and seeing a holy, glorified being descend from celestial areas and hearing a voice say: “Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth and all things that in them are. . . . And in me, hath the Father glorified his name. . . . I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.’”
Elder Kimball on a talk by Pres. Smith:
“We attended the sunset services of the Bonneville Stake MIA and Elder Joseph Fielding Smith spoke strongly on the Last Days and the living of the commandments. It was a real masterpiece. I wanted to get up and remind those thousand or more people that they had this day heard a prophet of God who spoke inspired words to them.”
A member gains a witness:
“In the [stake] Conference session given over to testimonies in part, Brother Walter Canals, 1st councilor in the Union Branch Presidency sat in the audience. I saw his eyes were wet and glassy from where I sat. He was evidently enjoying a spiritual experience. When he gave his testimony he said he had always believed, but only this morning did he know positively. He testified that he knew I was a divinely called Apostle of the Master; the divinity of the work; that Joesph Smith was a real prophet.”
Elder Kimball on preparation of a General Conference talk:
“Today is my day [speaking] at the conference. I was very greatly concerned about my talk and Tuesday morning, I decided that my talk on faith without works or by grace are ye saved, wasn’t exactly what I wanted to give. It was all prepared and finished and ready so I then got up real early Tuesday morning and wrote up a talk on revelation continuous. . . . I was the first speaker in the afternoon and was not crowded for time. I think I used about 19 minutes. My talk seemed to be well received. I am grateful to the Lord for it seemed to me that I had unusual help in this matter.”
Elder Kimball blesses George F. Richards [Pres. of Twelve]:
“Brother Cowley and I went to the apartment of Pres. George F. Richards and administered to him at his request. He was dressed, lying on the lounge but feeling miserable. Had not been able to sleep all night nor today but had been up and around. In the blessing I told him of our great love for him and asked the Lord, consistent with His will, to relieve him of his pain and heal him for as long as was His desire. About 11 pm Pres. Richards died, with only a few minutes of severe distress.”
“In Elder Lee’s address he told of the manifestation of Pres. Richards when in dream or vision he saw the Lord Jesus Christ. Pres. Richards had told us of some of his very sacred manifestations when we had been in our Quarterly meetings of the Council of the Twelve. Truly he was a great and good man and about as nearly perfect as a man gets on the earth.”
Elder Kimball sees mantle come on Pres. McKay:
“I had an unusual experience, my first of its kind. As President David O. McKay began his introduction statements concerning the status of the Church and the need for reorganization of the Presidency, a strange feeling came over me. He appeared in his majesty and power. I saw him as the President of the Church. Of course I had known he would be, but this moment without my having given thought to this, a very pronounced feeling came to me of the MANTLE. For me the mantle fell upon him that moment. There was no doubt in my mind. It was a soul satisfying feeling. It was hardly a light—it was more like a sudden flood of warmth and into my mind came the thought: ‘THE PROPHET’S MANTLE’. I was grateful for it for two reasons: if there could have come any doubt that doubt was thus dispelled—and it gave me the feeling that perhaps the Lord might be pleased to a small extent with my work, attitudes and myself to be so kind to me. This has given me a deep sense of gratitude and exultation. Oh! How I love the Lord, and His Church, and His work. Oh! HOW GRATEFUL I AM FOR HIS GOODNESS TO ME. If I can only endure unto the end in total faithfulness!!!”
More on Pres. McKay:
“Today, is President McKay’s 90th birthday. He has been celebrating it for about a week.. Many people and organizations have been feting him and paying tribute to him. What a great man he is. What an inspired man he is.”
Pres. J. Reuben Clark confides in Elder Kimball:
“I spent an hour with Pres. Clark who became very confidential with me. He told me of his call to the First Presidency by Pres. Grant who had not seen him more than a half dozen times and had heard him speak only once. Pres. Clark was Ambassador to Mexico. When the letter came from Box B, Salt Lake City, he knew what it would be (he said). He was awed but could not tell anyone. Bro. Melvin J. Ballard was later visiting the Mexican Mission in Mexico City and became acquainted with Bro. Clark and when he made his report in the Council meeting in the temple he remarked that he had met a young man in Mexico City who because of his integrity, testimony, power and ability, could someday be used in the higher councils. This brought a smile from the Apostles for in his absence this very man had been called to be a Counselor to Pres. Grant.
“He confided to me some of the difficult situations which had presented themselves when Pres. Grant died and especially when Pres. Smith died and when President McKay chose Stephen L. Richards of the Council of the Twelve for first Counselor and himself (JRCJr) as second and many situations that had arisen since. He spoke to me of some of the problems facing us in the leadership positions of the Church. He became a bit emotional when he recalled and lived again the awesome memories of those days in Mexico when he was called from Government work to Church work. This was a priceless hour with him.”
Pers. Smith to Elder Kimball:
“Today President Joseph Fielding Smith came down the hall and put his arm around me and said ‘I think a lot of you—I love you Brother Kimball.’ These were precious words—priceless. To have the approval and appreciation of a man of his stature and goodness!!! Brother Lee invited me to his home for dinner and as we rode along, he said he was hungry to visit with me and as he got older he felt to lean on his brethren more and more. I was so grateful for his appreciative expressions. I told him he was fast approaching the place of first seniority in the Twelve. He would surely be the President and that I would sustain him with all my heart. There are great compensations to me for these occasional expressions of the thanks and appreciation.”
“In all the time I have performed [marriage] ceremonies I never felt a sweeter influence than I did today as I performed these ceremonies. I felt that angels were near while I was sealing Mark’s wife to him.”
Pres. Smith’s teachings to Twelve:
“We went into the quarterly meeting [of the Twelve]. . . . The testimonies were delightful and the explanations and dissertation upon gospel topics by President Smith were most excellent.”
Elder Kimball on Elder Albert E. Bowen of Twelve:
“What a great man he was! How just! I should like Bro. Bowen to plead my case if I were being tried, he is so fair and just. When he finally spoke, words of wisdom and good judgment flowed out.”
“Our quarterly meeting was about the most impressive yet. President Smith spoke for a half an hour or more on the Gospel, particularly upon our being special witnesses and the meaning thereof. Brother Lee followed with somewhat the same trend, and each of the Brethren spoke feelingly and with great spirit, and I came away from the meeting determined more than ever to perfect my life and to be more worthy of the great blessings that were mine.”
Elder Matthew Cowley’s death:
“There was a knock on the [hotel room] door and Sister Cowley, who with her husband Elder Matthew Cowley, had been occupying the room adjoining, knocked at our door and said: ‘I think Matthew is dead’ Camilla and I both rushed in, in our night clothes and found him dead, lying peacefully on his bed. Sister Cowley was hysterical. I tried to revive him—rubbed his arms and then called to the operator to get a house doctor quickly. There was none, …”
Bro. Kimball on Hugh Nibley:
“At Tremonton we were so much interested in the discussion with Brother Nibley regarding the recent finds of important documents in the caves in Palestine that I took the wrong road and went clear to Malad before I realized that we were diverted. I turned around and went back…”
Pres. McKay to Twelve:
“The Christian sects are, shall I say, disintegrating. That is a little strong, but they sense their inadequacy to represent our Lord and Savior. In fact, they are not recognizing Him as the Savior of the world,…”
Elder Kimball talks to an apostatizing returned missionary:
“At my desk at the office I had a long interview with [redacted], a returned missionary of some years who is attending [college] and whose faith seemingly has been shattered and who is much disturbed over the Negro question, over revelation and over all the other matters which affect those who begin in their apostasy. I talked to him earnestly and did my utmost to help him to get back to correct thinking. He worships the scientists and would accept nothing he could not prove. I felt depressed all day, feeling that I had done him little good and disturbed greatly for his future.” (Sept. 19, 1954)
About a book meant as a church manual:
“I spent much of the afternoon at the home of Brother Adam S. Bennion who has been ill, and we discussed the matter of the Obert Tanner manuscript for the Sunday School. . . .
“[A few days later] At 8:30 President David O. McKay called me and asked me to come down and we had a long interview, some 2 hours, President McKay and myself with George R. Hill, superintendent of the Sunday School sitting with us. We went carefully over the proposed manual written by Obert C. Tanner “Christ’s Ideals for Living,” which as chairman of the Publications Committee, I have read through and through. I found many, many places where there seemed to me to be errors in doctrine, encouragement to higher criticism, the race problem pertaining to the Negro, and that the book from beginning to end reeked of sectarianism. The President told me that he thought I was extreme in my criticisms, and with some few corrections he felt that it should go forward to publication.”
Pres. McKay blesses Elder Kimball:
“President McKay gave Camilla and myself blessings. He blessed her that she would not need to worry about our loved ones. They would be protected while we were in the work of the Lord, … In my blessing he blessed me that I might set in order the missions of Europe—the districts and branches. Three times he blessed me to have discernment, protection in trains, ships, and in the air, to go and come safely. I felt much more at ease and at peace when the blessing was given. President McKay sat on the corner of the table and reminisced remembering my father, his visit in our home, . . . It was good to get that close to President McKay.”
Elder Kimball’s conference talk:
“I think I have never been conscious of such universal approval. President McKay had added, when announcing my address, that I had been called six months ago to tour the European missions. Now the meeting was over. Many of my Brethren expressed their approval as had Brother Lee, my seatmate during the closing of the meeting. President Clark came up and grasped my hand: ‘I am usually careful with my words, but I want you to know that was excellent. . . ‘ Then President Richards said as he took my hand, ‘I have been waiting to hear your report and have expected much and have not been disappointed. . .’ And as he spoke, I felt two great arms from the rear. They enveloped me and closed in front, and there was a tight embrace and it seemed to me his head was pressed against mine. I looked up to find the Prophet of the Lord embracing me and saying, ‘that was a masterpiece.’ What ecstasy! In my silly sensitiveness I had felt that my intense work of the past months was not known nor appreciated—that it was more or less passed over or ignored—that it had sunk almost into oblivion under the glare of the more spectacular choir tour and the temple dedication. I whispered to him, ‘thank you President McKay. I shall never forget that.’ And I later wrote to him: ‘If I could live to merit the smiles of my Lord so that sometime in the far future He might shake my hand or embrace me in His arms, then and then only then would I ever be lifted up to greater ecstasy than I was on Saturday afternoon when I felt your strong arms around me and heard your word of approval.’”
Reflections on organizing several new stakes alone:
“It has been like a whirlwind of almost tornadic proportions as we have moved from place to place [Australia and New Zealand]. The stakes are now all organized and we are deep into the touring of missions. It has been an unheard of experience. I think that never before in our experience has one of the Twelve been entrusted with such responsibility and I have been very close to my Lord. I think never before has one member been given five stakes to organize, one after the other. Generally two of us go to organize one stake. I have shaken with awesome responsibility through these days and have prayed much and earnestly, and have felt the presence of my Lord and His guidance, and have relied so completely on Him I feel that the work has been done about as it should be.”
Unprepared for a commencement address:
“We were already about 10 or 15 minutes late for the graduation exercises of the Institute students there. The Institute building was filled. . . . Our month has been so crowded that I have had no moment to study—merely to meet schedules, talk to missionaries, hold the meetings, and sleep a few hours a night. Now I am faced with the speaking at a commencement exercise without immediate preparation. I prayed mightily to the Lord for help since I have been doing all I could for Him and have been unable to do this. Brother Burton gave me a cue and I proceeded on it. I do not now know what I said. It seemed to be beyond myself. I tried to recover it and have been unable to do so. I know the Lord was kind to me and made my address there satisfactory to these young people.”
Pres. Smith to Elder Kimball:
“As I left he embraced me in his arms and said ‘I want you to know that I love you.’ I was happy to have the affection of so great a man.”
Pres. McKay to the Twelve:
“The Savior is at the head of it [the work] and I think he has been with us as we have deliberated and presented to him the problems that we are facing and the need of his continual guidance.”
On Pres. Moyle:
“He spoke about 20 mins to the people with great power, and especially on the missionary program. I have never heard Brother Moyle speak like this before. I am sure the mantle of his calling is falling on his shoulders.”
Our quarterly meeting was held this morning. . . . Brother Benson was with us, which is unusual. The spirit was unusually warm and good. I think I have never felt the holy influence more than in these four hours in the temple.”
Pres. McKay to the Twelve:
“President McKay said he felt impressed to say a word to the Brethren in appreciation of their labors, speaking for the First Presidency. He addressed the Brethren as follows:
“I think that the Quorum of the Twelve is setting an example to all the Church in efficiency and devotion and unity, spreading the gospel as the Council of the Twelve should. Personally, I wish to express appreciation and gratitude for your efforts, your interest, your capabilities, controlling the Church and putting it in order, and setting in proper order the branches, stakes, wards and missions of the Church; with all my heart I say, ‘God bless you.’ Never before, so far as I know, have we had a Quorum of Twelve Apostles and General Authorities of the Church who were more devoted in doing their work, and who were performing it more efficiently than the General Authorities of the Church at the present time. I want you to know that that is the feeling of the First Presidency towards this group especially, and your associates.”
Elder Kimball’s feelings about Pres. McKay:
“The Prophet is so wonderful, his eyes light up and when he smiles, it fills your heart with gladness. He has such a great grasp of all of the many problems in the Church and is so kindly and so inspired. It was good to be with him.”
Prayer in temple meeting:
“I was called on for the prayer which now is a combination prayer of our opening prayer and the prayer at the altar. . . . I was certain moments before I was called on that I would be called on for this prayer. I seemed to feel it as I have many times, especially in this meeting.”
Elder Kimball on his service on a committee and on Pres. McKay:
“I have just been released by the First Presidency as the Chairman of the Committee on Publications and the Reading Committee of which I have served for several years. They indicated this release was because of being over tied with numerous other responsibilities, and especially in light of the fact that I have just recently been appointed as chairman of the Executive Committee of the Missionary work. . . . It has been a most strenuous and difficult assignment and though I have appreciated the privilege of serving in it, I am grateful now to be in the missionary work and leave this to Brother Lee who has been appointed to take [my] place. I see this as quite an inspired change since the missionary work is my loved field and since Brother Lee is the Chairman of the Great Correlation Committee and, therefore, through his sub-committees he can have all of this work done by the specialists in those special fields of adult and youth and children work.
“President McKay has begun to come back to the first part of the Temple meeting and we are deeply grateful that he is well enough to do this. He has lost some vigor since the last conference and it is noticeable that this slight stroke which he had in October has given him further limitations but he is still genial and happy and wonderful and alert mentally and he makes a great contribution to our meeting and gives it great stature and dignity.”
More on Pres. McKay:
“The President was in good form in spite of his near-ninety years. His legs are shuffling a little and sometimes his words come with a little difficulty but in general, he does remarkably well and he is extremely alert mentally. He is a marvelous individual and has the traits and qualities of the Master in a large degree.”
“It was so good to be with the Brethren in the temple and to have all the Presidency present. Pres. McKay still steers the ship with firm hands. He is 85. He is still the leader, kind, understanding, sweet, much loved. He is getting old. It is evident. Not quite so quick, not so steady but increasingly loveable. . . . The 9 am meeting was our semi-annual meeting. All dressed for the prayer. We were fasting and had the Sacrament and testimonies were had from the Patriarch, one of the Bishopric, one of the Seventies, one of the Assistants, one of the Twelve and all of the Presidency. It was a glorious occasion and should assist us spiritually in preparation for the Conference.”
Thin veil in temple:
“When I had completed the ordinance work, I walked over to the table at the side of the room to make a few notes so that I would not forget them. As I finished my notes, there came an unusual feeling like someone was near me. There was no feeling of shock nor curiosity nor fear. I did not look around but there came over me a calm, sweet feeling of a presence. It was sweet and warming and I had a feeling that the [deceased] man, [redacted] to whom I had just restored incomparable blessings was not far away. I felt warm. Sometimes I have felt a presence and have wanted to turn around quickly to identify the incomer, but not this time. I felt that here was approval and gratitude. It seemed to me that all the morning and in fact all the day that a sweet spirit was with me more than usual.”
Elder Lee’s impression:
“Yesterday, in our meeting, Brother Lee whispered to me again as he had done last Sunday on the stand at the Conference that he had the rather strong feeling that some unusual change was coming immediately, rather soon to President McKay. He did not seem to have an impression whether it was President McKay or whether it was his wife but he felt it rather strongly.”
Pres. McKay to Elder Kimball:
“As President McKay passed me going out of the Tabernacle, at noon, I shook hands with him and said ‘You were wonderful, Pres. McKay’ to which he said ‘YOU were wonderful and always are.’ This of course pleased my vanity, thrilled me beyond expression since Pres. McKay does not often so speak and is never effusive.”
Elder Lee on Elder Kimball:
“I was highly elated when Brother Lee spoke in high terms of the work that I had been doing. He indicated that as late as Thursday, the President of the Church had complimented me on the work that we had done for the Indians. And, Brother Lee said that perhaps I would go down [in church history] as the great Indian defender. He was very complimentary—I was embarrassed but appreciated it since I did not know that he had felt that way.”
About Boyd K. Packer:
“Also, approval was given for the call of Boyd K. Packer, one of our Committee, to be the President of the New England Mission. The President asked some questions; asked each one of us pointedly if we knew Brother Packer as a man and our reports were all favorable. He then approved.”
Pres. McKay again:
“This morning, I had a rare privilege. I called on President McKay . . . and he was ready and very gracious. His smile is captivating. He makes one feel that his greatest pleasure is to meet one, and that each one is very special. . . .
“And when I shook hands goodbye, he drew me to him and embraced me and said, ‘You go with my blessing.’ This was a glorious experience—to be in his presence; to have his undivided attention; to have him consider with me our program for the Indian.”
“As these nine Lamanites’ souls stood before me in the dedication prayer, I seemed to see them standing there representing the Lamanite nations, all Lamanites. . . . I seemed to feel a multitude of nations reaching for something heretofore unobtainable, listening for a familiar voice. I seemed to hear the chanting voice of millions, trying to bring back that which was lost; an urgent, plaintive pleading for something lost centuries ago.”
Some priesthood blessings:
“We went to administer to a sister who was flat on her back for numerous years and had to use oxygen all the time to keep herself alive. When we went in and visited and I asked her if she wanted a blessing, and she said, ‘I want to be healed.’ And then I explained to her that I had no power to heal but that the priesthood which we held could heal her if her faith was sufficient and it was the will of the Lord. She thought she had sufficient faith but I believe she was anxious for us to exercise the faith and do the job. We gave her a blessing. . . .
“The Quarterly meeting was put aside and today all of the General Authorities met in the temple for the usual testimony meeting and fast meeting, usually held before the General conference. All of the General Authorities were there. . . . President McKay called on several of the brethren and surprised me by calling on me. I spoke of the administration incident referred to last Sunday [above]. I told the story of Gwen Johnson and then of my own experience in New York when I was operated on and my vocal cords largely removed, and President McKay was visibly touched by my experiences. I felt that the Lord had inspired me since I spoke of things which I had not had any thought of doing and it seemed to be a proper thing to do.
“For my posterity, I will rehearse the experience of Gwen Kimball Johnson:
She had filled a mission, had married Norman Johnson, had then contracted the supposedly incurable disease which shriveled her body and made of her nearly a skeleton. In 1943, when we came her father, Crosier, who is my first cousin, invited all of our family, five of us, to dinner at his home in Draper, where his large family assembled. We were all fasting in anticipation of an administration to Gwen for her healing. Sometime after noon, when we had been fasting since the day before, the dinner was ready and so we all got on our knees and fervently prayed and then we administered to her and I was voice. . . .
“Apparently, Gwen, who had been told by her doctor she could never conceive and have children, had expected an instantaneous healing. She came into my office a few days later and said substantially this, ‘Cousin Spencer, nothing happened and I have not been healed, and I am very much disappointed, and I am just going to give the Lord another year to heal me.’
“This shocked me beyond expression and I said, ‘Gwen, who are you to demand anything of the Lord? Who are you to tell the Lord that He must heal you and when it must be done? Gwen, this is a state of apostasy and you must repent, or you can never expect anything from the Lord and you will lose your faith. I insist you must repent and change your attitudes.’ Her belligerency began to subside.
“Some time passed; perhaps it was months, and she came in again and still she was shriveled and shrunken—but her spirit was changed. She was modest and submissive and seemed full of faith and I blessed her again.
“I think it was other months, probably three or four, when she came in again and was joyful and happy and announced to me that she was pregnant, was going to have a baby and already her face was filling out and her body was building up and the scarecrow picture was changing.
“She became well and strong and really quite good looking and has lived a normal life and has had three or four children.” (September 29, 1965)
“We administered to an Olsen baby whose Father I had blessed in the hospital some years ago in isolation when I nearly had to force my way through the cordon of nurses and doctors. I had told them I was the boy’s minister; that he had asked for me to come; that I knew regulations permitted such visits; and that I was going to see the boy in spite of their protests if I had to go to their superiors. They masked and covered me and I gave him a blessing. He is now a great stalwart man, teacher in the school and with five little boys.
Pres. McKay to Elder Kimball regarding throat cancer:
“Today . . . I had a visit with Pres. McKay who said he had prayed about my problem and believed that the advice he was going to give was right. He felt I should take advantage of all the skill that was obtainable, saying that the Lord expects us to do all we can in our problems. He seemed to feel that a laryngectomy would not be necessary, at least he so hoped, but even if it came to that he impressed me with the thought that I could still make a life and service with writing or other means. . . .
“In the visit with Pres. McKay Wednesday he indicated he had wondered why I had gone ahead with a serious operation without consulting the brethren but my letter cleared it [up]. Thursday at the conclusion of our visit he said, ‘We are closer today than we have ever been before.’”
Pres. Smith letter to Elder Kimball regarding throat (vocal cord cancer) surgery:
“More than anything else it is my humble prayer that the operation has been successful and that you will be permanently healed.
“Jessie and I have been praying for you daily and we hope for a complete recovery. We know that it is within the power of the Lord to accomplish this result and I hope that the faith of your brethren and the members of the Church will be strong enough to appeal to the Lord to bring about this result. We know that he has the power to do this and if he is willing it can be done. The past few days I have taken time out. . . . While up there I read through the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, and some other parts of the scriptures. I marvel at the great power of our Lord, and what he did for people in distress. There is no doubt in my mind in relation to all that he performed, and I know that the same power is here, but our faith does not always rise to such heights. We, of course, do not know the mind of the Lord in all things, but I am sure that he has the power to answer our prayers, and so we are praying.”
Pres. Smith to the Twelve regarding Elder Kimball:
“President Jospeh Fielding Smith reported that yesterday, Wednesday Aug. 21 the Twelve met in their quarterly meeting in the Temple. The Brethren came fasting in the interest of the restoration of Brother Kimball’s health [throat/voice]. A very fine time was had by those present.” . . . “That same day a telegram was sent to Elder Kimball, assuring him of our faith and prayers for God’s overruling power in his behalf.”
Pres. McKay to Elder Kimball gathered with First Presidency and Twelve:
“Pres. McKay expressed the gratitude of the brethren to have Brother Kimball with them this morning, and to hear him, and to share his thanksgiving that the Lord has heard our prayers, for, said Pres. McKay ‘There is no doubt in our minds that He has blessed you, beyond even the doctors’ fondest expectations. The Lord be praised.’
“For the time being, President McKay said he thought Brother Kimball should follow the doctor’s advice especially until he is entirely healed. President McKay said: ‘It is glorious to hear your voice—just glorious! Here in this upper room [of the temple] we express not only vocally as we did this morning, but in our hearts, thanksgiving for the blessings of the Lord.’
“President David O. McKay came to our meeting this morning for two and one half hours; he seemed a little weaker physically than usual but very alert mentally. Some decisions he made this morning certainly were inspiration and revelation. We all felt it. I have great confidence in his spiritual vision.”
Former deceased brethren:
“President McKay became somewhat emotional as he expressed his affection for the brethren, and his appreciation for their unanimity and faithfulness and brotherly love. . . .and he shed a few tears as we sang and as he spoke to us of his affection for us, his brethren. He indicated two or three times that he felt that the other brethren with whom we had served through the years were very near and watching us in our work.”
And more from the prophet:
“We have never been nearer to our Lord than we are this morning. I think the brotherhood of this group has never been dearer than it is this morning. I love you. I am sure the Lord is with us and will always be with us. This groups of men are more precious than any other group of men that has ever occupied the Twelve.”
The President was there and expressed his love for the brethren and said, among other things, ‘You don’t know how noble you are and how grateful I am to be with you.’”
Sweet spiritual meeting:
“The Quarterly meeting was from 8:00 until 12:00. It was an unusually sweet spirited meeting—all the brethren being present but Brother Benson who is ill, and the testimonies and the experiences and the discussions were intensely interesting and very spiritual. . . . [Jan. 13 remembering Jan. 12]: We spent from 8:00 until 12:00 in our Quarterly meeting bearing testimony and visiting and discussing matters as we chose. It was a glorious time. These are wonderful brethren with whom I work.”
“President ____ ___ was there and met me and reminded me of the time when I had my first stake conference as a General Authority. President George Albert Smith had taken me with him and then in the early evening, he had become ill and gone home and left me with the responsibility. I was almost terrified, not knowing exactly what to do and how to do it.”
Blessed by Twelve:
“Then President Lee, having mentioned that I was having some [health] troubles, Elder Benson prayed valiantly for me. Now I was seated in a chair and all the Brethren circled around me. President Tanner anointed me with oil and President Lee gave to me a sealing, and it was a marvelous blessing. He was given me many blessings and many others have in time of need. I have assisted all the Brethren in many administrations. I think never have I heard a more beautiful comprehensive pleading and prayer and administration and dedication than this. There was dedication in his payer, and though it had some fearsome aspects, it was soothing and gave me peace.”
Prayer and blessing for Elder Kimball:
“The opening prayer was offered by Brother Marion G. Romney and was a prayer such as only he can give and it was in my special favor. President Tanner explained that this was a special meeting for all of the General Authorities and the prayer circle and all were in my behalf. He explained a little concerning my problems and my concerns. Edler Harold B. Lee was mouth [voice] at the alter. He gave a wonderful prayer as he is able to do very feelingly. I felt a wonderful spirit; at the conclusion of the prayer circle in which everybody participated, I sat on a chair in the middle of the floor and President Tanner called on Elder Gordon B. Hinckley to anoint me with oil and his prayer was considerably more than an anointing; as he placed his hands on my head, there was a tremble through my whole body and it continued and there was a holy refining sweet influence through the whole meeting, and then President Tanner sealed the anointing and gave a marvelous blessing to me. Only the Twelve placed their hands on my head and all the other brethren followed the prayer as they [were] seated in the circle around, and at the conclusion of the prayer, Elder Lee took me in his arms and embraced me. Several others of the brethren came and put their arms around me and expressed their thanks. There was a great outpouring of the spirit and for some time during the dressing period and otherwise, the brethren expressed what a great blessing had come to all of them by reason of their unified purpose and their spiritual experience and indicated that it would be wonderful more frequently for all the brethren to unite on a single purpose for the spirituality that it developed.”
Pres. Lee prophecy regarding N. Elden Tanner :
“Elder Lee then whispered to me: ‘I have had the feeling this morning that he will one day be one of us.’ [a member of the Twelve] Brother Lee indicated that Brother Tanner needed a little further humbling in the matter of faith, but that he would someday be a great man.”
The President choosing counselors and a new apostle:
All of the Twelve were present and it seemed good to have all Twelve of us. It has been many months. . . . We were all excitedly waiting for the announcement of the President. Last week, he had us all send in confidentially two names. He indicated that he might choose one of the Twelve for his Counselor and that our recommendations might be to fill the Council of the Twelve and maybe the Assistant. . . . Then the President announced to us his choice. I had whispered to Brother Lee, who is my immediate senior and with whom I have worked now for twenty years side by side, that I hoped that he might be called into the [First] Presidency. But, my human calculations were apparently not quite correct and I realize that man proposes and God disposes. President McKay then announced that he had chosen Brother Hugh B. Brown to be his First Counselor and Brother Nathan Eldon Tanner to be his Second Counselor. This was not wholly a surprise. I suppose my eagerness to see that Brother Lee received the training which he will need as he becomes the President of the Church, which is almost certain, and I felt that experience would be good for him but apparently if he becomes the President he will receive his training from the Lord. I feel good about it and feel certain the Lord knows what He is doing and that the President who had spent some time in the Holy of Holies yesterday on his knees in communion with the Lord, received the right inspiration.
“The tabernacle was filled quite to capacity. There was much eagerness and some speculation on the part of the people as to who might be called. . . . President McKay gave the first talk which was excellent and then President Brown presented the General Authorities and Auxiliary Authorities for sustaining vote. He was sustained as First Counselor, Brother Nathan Eldon Tanner as Second Counselor and Thomas Monson as the twelfth member of the Council of the Twelve. I have been with Brother Monson, visited with him in the mission field in Toronto and have had a high regard and affection for him the many years. He was one of the two whom I had recommended to the President as a member of the Council of the Twelve. I was very pleased that I seemed to be in line with the President’s thinking and the Lord’s thinking.”
Prayer for Pres. Smith; angels present at Conference:
“Today was our Temple day and it was my turn to pray at the altar. I expressed thanks to the Lord for the great Conference; for the spirit of the people; and, for the satisfactions that seemed to have come and the security and the assurance. I thanked Him for the mantle that had fallen on the Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith. I thanked the Lord for the calmness in the Conference and that it seemed ‘as though a legion of angels with drawn swords had been hovering over us in the conference and giving protection to us.’”
Blesses Pres. Lee:
“It was my unbelievable opportunity to be mouth as the 13 Apostles laid their hands upon the head of Elder Harold B. Lee to authorize him to use all the keys of the Kingdom and to give leadership to the Church as its President, Seer, and Revelator and Prophet. I was very much frightened. I hope that what I said was the right thing to be said.”
Health and vigor self-assessment:
“This is my birthday. I am today 69 years of age. I feel like I might be 49 or 50. I am well and vigorous and strong and putting in long hours and I am grateful to my Heavenly Father that I am so well preserved. I am beginning to find old men and old women everywhere I go who have no more years than I. After my heart attacks of the past, and after my cancer of 1957 and the many problems to know that I am vigorous and strong and have a good voice, at least a strong voice, though it may not be so pleasant to hear, I am grateful more than I can express to my Lord for his goodness to me and my preservation.”
Pres. McKay’s health decline:
“At 10:00 three of the Presidency came in—President McKay on the arm of his Councilor with his cane and looking very weak. He greeted us all and then sat down. . . . He excused himself and left the meeting. He left us with a [feeling] of sorrow and apprehension. He is getting so weak, and he is passing most of his work to his Counselors and they are really doing an excellent job handling the numerous details and my admiration increases for President Brown and President Tanner.”
Temple testimony meeting:
“This was the first Thursday of the month and the Brethren came fasting. . . . The sacrament was administered and the regular program blessing and prayer at the altar. President Lee called on me first to give my testimony. He called on various ones to follow and the spirit grew warmer until he finally concluded the meeting with his feelings and all the brethren seemed to feel that this was about the greatest meeting that had ever been held here.”
Meets Dallin H. Oaks:
“This morning . . . we held a meeting with the Board of Education, Board of Trustees of BYU, and met the new President Dallin Oaks who will succeed Brother Ernest L. Wilkinson of the Brigham Young University. He is a very personable young man and has every promise of being a great president for the University.”
A new secretary:
“Brother James Paramore came in to consider further the possibility of his being employed [as my secretary] and he accepted the call, or rather, the employment. We talked about the demands upon him and the services that he would render. He seemed very happy to accept this work and indicated that he had had a dream or presentiment that he would be working with me. He will be an excellent help.”
Regarding Mathias F. Cowley:
“In one of our meetings recently Brother Bruce R. McConkie indicated that Brother Mathias F. Cowley, former apostle [and father of Elder Matthew Cowley], was the bailiff in his father’s court (Oscar W. McConkie) when he would have been the President of the Council of the Twelve Apostles had he remained totally in line.”
Pres. of the Twelve:
“Then in July 1972 when President Smith passed away, Brother Lee became the President of the Church, and I became the President of the Council of the Twelve. This has been a glorious period. The brethren have been kind to me. The members of the Twelve are quite differential and cooperative and loyal and so today I begin my 31st year.”
Experience at Carthage Jail:
“We went over to Carthage where Brother and Sister Allen are caretakers and guides and found it in excellent shape and the presentation was most impressive. As we sat in the ‘death room’ and saw the manikins and heard the story from Brother Allen and also from a recording, my heart was touched and I did not want to leave. I was emotionally stirred and I felt a presence of a spirit not always with me and a great reassurance came to me of the divinity of this great program [gospel] restored through the Prophet Jsoeph Smith. It was a very pleasant experience.”
Pres. Lee advice to Pres. Kimball:
“I was close to Brother Lee as we moved up in the seniority of the Council. One day I said to Bro. Lee: I wish I could speak as Bro. Bowen speaks with such power. And at another time I expressed the wish that I could speak with such eloquence as Brother Stephen L Richards. Pres. Lee looked at me with a little disappointment, I thought, and said, ‘Spencer, be yourself—use the talents the Lord has given to you.’ I have never forgotten that.”
Sees deceased father:
“During the night of June 13, and it was most likely early morning of June 14, while half asleep trying to work out my problems, especially of the sermons I am to give in June Conference, I looked up and my father, Andrew Kimball, came toward me. He was tall and well built, and I recognized him and rushed to him and embraced him. That was all, but it left a warm, good feeling with me.”
“We went to see Gordon and Clara again, my oldest brother, and he is still in bed and very miserable indeed. I gave him a blessing and encouraged him and told him of my experience in a vision or a dream when Father came to me ostensibly to encourage me in my work.”
On Pres. Lee’s passing:
“When I went home . . . I felt like the world had fallen in on my shoulders. I knew what was coming, that I was now no. 1 Apostle on the earth. I knew the program of succession; I knew now in a small measure what the responsibilities would be.” (Dec. 30, 1973)
Pres. Kimball on Dr. Russell M. Nelson:
“Dr. Russell M. Nelson who performed surgery on me two or three times, especially the open heart surgery, called and asked if he could come and be of help to me, worrying for fear it would be too great a shock for me. I told him I thought I was all right but he insisted on coming anyway and found me feeling secure. He has been a real friend as well as my surgeon. I am making a part of this journal his handwritten letter to me of December 30, 1973, which he brought to my home.”
On becoming President:
I felt extremely humble in sitting in the middle chair where all the Presidents of the Church had sat and more particularly the ones that I knew. . . . I felt most humble indeed. . . .
When we got back to the office, . . . I moved down to the room where the Presidents have had their office. Again I felt I was treading on sacred ground and was in a holy place.
On Dr. (now President) Nelson:
“Russell Nelson, my beloved doctor who gave me the open heart surgery, came in to see me and to check my pulse and my blood pressure and to check with me.”
Help writing Conference talks:
“Jeff Holland and Bruce McConkie and [Neal] Maxwell asked for [gave some] help in preparing conference talks. It is a great help to get their thoughts and suggestions on some of the subjects I plan to talk about.”
“I leave with my children and others my testimony. I know. How more completely could I know anything! I know that it is true and divine. And as I face the end of my days I say it again and again without fear and in total honesty. I know that it is true, That God lives; that Christ lives; that Christ is our Redeemer and Savior; that revelation is a reality in our own day; that revelations have come not only to the great prophet Joseph Smith, but to all his successors and associates. I know that I myself have received revelations from my Lord and I have been guided many times; more in waking hours than in sleeping ones and that my associates have also been so blessed. I know too that this is the saving gospel and only through it and the Atonement of our Lord can any person return to our Heavenly Father in exaltation. This I know. And so it is.”
[To the Twelve:] ”And now may I write what I cannot speak, that through the silent hours I have had a chance to weigh, and ponder, and evaluate, and through all these experiences my vision has been expanded, my love deepened, my determinations to grow more like our Savior increased and my knowledge fortified that mortality is but one important incident in life, that the Plan of Salvation and exaltation is a positive reality, that our Lord speaks constantly from the heavens, that this is His work, that we are His unprofitable servants and that the rewards are sure. That is the way it is. That I know.