President George Albert Smith was ordained as the eighth President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church, or Mormon Church) on May 14, 1945. He was known for his love and genuine concern for others.George Albert Smith was born on April 4, 1870, in Salt Lake City, Utah. When he was only five years old, he had the opportunity to meet LDS President Brigham Young. Arthur R. Bassett recorded his experience this way,
President Smith had learned early in life that great men always make time for those in need. When only five years of age, his mother had dressed him up in his little black velvet suit and sent him to see Brigham Young. He carried a letter asking some assistance from President Young in getting some railroad tickets to go to Ogden. Sister Smith’s husband was in the mission field in Great Britain, and she was too poor to acquire the tickets herself.
Little George walked the two blocks to President Young’s office and pushed open the huge timber gate in the wall that then surrounded the headquarters of the Church. As the massive gate swung back on its heavy iron hinges, the little boy found himself face to face with a rather large Scot, named John Smith, who demanded of the boy, “What do you want?” Frightened to death George answered, “I want to see President Young,” to which the Scot bellowed back, “President Young has no time for the likes of ye.” According to President Smith’s own account he was by now nearly ready to faint, but just then the door of the office opened and President Young walked out and asked:
“‘What’s wanted, John?’ John replied, ‘Here is a little fellow wants to see President Young,’ and then he roared with laughter. He thought it was a good joke. But with all the dignity in the world, President Young said to him, ‘John, show him in.’ “There was nothing else the guard could do then but to let me in and he took me up to the porch where President Young was standing . . .
“President Young took me by the hand and led me into his office, sat down at his desk and lifted me up on his knee and put his arm around me. In the kindest way one could imagine, he said, ‘What do you want of President Young?’ Just think of it! He was President of a great Church and Governor of a Territory, and with all the duties he had to perform, yet I as a little boy was received with as much dignity, and kindness as if I had come as a governor from an adjoining state.”
Imagine the image the future prophet of the Lord, George Albert Smith, had of President Young as he, a little boy, walked away from his office. In his adult life he never forgot that lesson and was always conscious of people who easily could have been passed by as insignificant to others (Arthur R. Bassett, “George Albert Smith: On Reaching Out to Others,” New Era, Jan. 1972, 50).
As a young man, George Albert Smith served two Mormon missions. The first was to work with youth in southern Utah. He was called on his second Mormon mission just a week after he married Lucy Emily Woodruff in May of 1892. She joined him in the Southern States Mission. After their mission the Smiths settled in Salt Lake City and raised three children.
In life outside of the LDS Church, George Albert Smith became president of the Sons of the American Revolution, was awarded the highest award in Scouting, served on the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, and was the president of the International Irrigation and Farm Congress.
In 1903 George Albert Smith, at the age of 33, was ordained to be an apostle for the LDS Church. His father was already serving as an apostle. As an apostle, George Albert Smith was the European Mission president from 1919-1921. He also served on the YMMIA general board as president. On May 21, 1945, he was sustained as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As President of the LDS Church, George Albert Smith conducted numerous welfare operations for those who were suffering from the effects of World War II. He also oversaw an increase in missionary work and the construction of buildings for the increasing number of members of the LDS Church.