Harold B. Lee was the eleventh President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or LDS Church. He was known for overseeing the growth of the Church internationally, increasing the Church’s welfare services, and helping correlate the curriculum of the LDS Church.Harold Bingham Lee was born on March 28, 1899, in Clifton, Idaho. He was baptized into the Church at eight years old in a pond near his home. As a child he developed a love for music and learned to play the piano. At seventeen years old Harold B. Lee earned his teaching license and received a job as a teacher. The next year he was appointed as a principal.
In 1920, Harold B. Lee was called to serve a Mormon mission to Denver, Colorado. While there, he met a young woman named Fern Lucinda Tanner, whom he married after his mission in 1923. They had two daughters, Helen and Maurine. Harold B. Lee was offered another job as a principal. When he was 31 years old he was called to be a stake president. He was the youngest stake president in the LDS Church. Just after his call as stake president, the Great Depression hit. Harold B. Lee was desperate to find a way to help the many people who were in need. He came up with an idea for a storehouse. Families in need were put to work on projects to build up the community in return for items from the storehouse.
The President of the LDS Church at the time was Heber J. Grant. He learned of Harold B. Lee’s success in the area of welfare, and called him to get a welfare program in the Church running. His efforts are the basis of the Church’s welfare program today, which has been the source of help for millions in need.
On April 6, 1941, Harold B. Lee was ordained as an Apostle in the LDS Church. He labored diligently in his service for the Church and traveled all over the world bearing testimony of the gospel. He was then appointed to coordinate the curriculum of the LDS Church. He then became first counselor to President Joseph Fielding Smith.
On July 7, 1972, Harold B. Lee was ordained as the prophet of the Church. He was known for his zeal in bringing the light of the gospel to all he could. Marjorie Pay Hinckley, wife of current LDS Church President Gordon B. Hinckley, remembers an occasion when she and her husband were with President and Sister Lee in England:
It had been a full day: two sessions of a conference and a fireside at night. When we got back to the hotel about 9:30, we were bone-weary and hungry. We went into the hotel dining room to get a little something to eat. The day was over—we could relax. At least, that is what I thought. The next thing I knew, the waitress had her pencil poised to write down our order. President Lee looked up at her and said, ‘What church do you belong to?’ The day was not over for him. He had embarked on a proselyting exercise. Before the meal was over he had learned all about this young woman. She had lost her husband and was lonely and afraid. She had promised to see the missionaries and learn more. It was a beautiful thing to see the president of the Church practice what he had been preaching all that day (Virginia H. Pearce, Glimpses into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinckley, 21-22).
President Lee served as the LDS prophet for 17 months and 19 days, until his death on December 26, 1973.