Mormon patriarch Eldred Smith dies, 106

April 7, 2013 at 10:57 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, April 7 (UPI) -- Mormon patriarch Eldred G. Smith, who served under nine Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presidents, has died in Utah, the church said. He was 106.

The Salt Lake Tribune said Smith, who passed away at his home in Salt Lake City Thursday, was the oldest and longest-serving Mormon general authority.

Smith was a great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, the elder brother of the church's founder, Joseph Smith.

"Though I didn't know him personally, Eldred Smith embodied the Mormon patriarchal ideal -- that we are connected in our families going back through time -- and brought it into the 20th century," historian Richard Bushman, an ordained LDS patriarch, said. "No one spoke as long and as effectively about Joseph Smith as Patriarch Smith. His passing will be a loss."

Smith was active in the church's administration until shortly before his death, the Tribune said.

"The church lost a valued friend and respected leader with the passing of Patriarch Eldred G. Smith," the LDS Church said in a statement. "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 tender time."

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