Ezra Taft Benson became the thirteenth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on November 10, 1985.President Benson was born August 4, 1899, in Whitney, Idaho. He was the oldest of eleven children. When he was a youth, his father was called on a Mormon mission. The family worked hard to keep up the farm while he was gone, but his father’s example touched the children, and all eleven served at least one full-time mission.
In 1918, Ezra Taft Benson enlisted in the army just as World War I was ending. He then pursued a career in farming and took courses from Utah State University in agriculture. In 1921 he was called on a mission to England. Following his mission, Ezra Taft Benson attended Brigham Young University where he was named the most popular man on campus and graduated with honors.
On September 10, 1926, President Benson married Flora Smith Amussen, a woman with many talents. She had won the women’s singles tennis championship in college and had served a mission to Hawaii. Together, they had six children.
In 1929 President Benson was appointed to be the Franklin County agricultural agent and helped farmers solve their problems. In 1930 he was appointed to serve as the executive secretary of the Idaho Cooperative Council and remained in this office for five years. He left in 1936 for additional graduate study at the University of California. When he returned in 1938, the Mormon Church called him to be a stake president. In 1939, Ezra Taft Benson was asked to be the executive secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives at its headquarters in Washington D.C.
On July 26, 1943, Ezra Taft Benson was called as an apostle. He was called in 1945 to oversee the European mission and help the people who were suffering from the effects of World War II. In ten months he delivered 92 boxcar loads of food, clothing, bedding, and medical supplies. He also helped reopen the missions in Europe.
In 1952 President Benson accepted a cabinet position under President Dwight D. Eisenhower as the Secretary of Agriculture. He served in that position for eight years. His presence in politics helped the Mormon Church become accepted throughout the world. In 1973, Ezra Taft Benson became the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in 1985 he became the president of the Mormon Church. He was 86 years old. As prophet, President Benson emphasized the importance of reading the Book of Mormon, missionary work, and strengthening families. He served as president until his death in 1994.