Howard W. Hunter was the fourteenth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is remembered for stressing the importance of Mormon temple work and attending the temple regularly.Howard W. Hunter was born on November 14, 1907, in Boise, Idaho. His father was not a member of the Mormon Church, and when Howard wanted to be baptized at eight his father forbade it. He finally persuaded his father to let him be baptized when he was twelve years old. At fifteen he earned his Eagle Scout; he was only the second scout in Boise to earn this award. Howard W. Hunter also excelled in music and learned to play the piano, violin, marimba, drums, saxophone, clarinet, and trumpet. After high school, a band he had formed was able to play on a cruise ship during a two-month tour of the Orient. When he returned, he learned that his father had finally joined the Church.
Howard suffered many ills during his life and it is a monument to his faith that he could achieve so much. At the age of four, Howard contracted polio, then a ravaging killer of the young. Although Howard escaped the paralysis that afficted so many polio victims, he suffered back pain the rest of his life. He was also color blind. In later years, he suffered from prostate cancer which spread to the bones (gapages.com).
On June 10, 1931, Howard W. Hunter married Clara Jeffs, a young lady he had been dating for some time. They had three children, one dying in childhood. Soon after his marriage, Howard found a job working for the Los Angeles Flood Control District. It was in this job that he became interested in legal matters and decided to study law. He graduated with his law degree in 1939 and was admitted to the bar the same year.
In 1940, Howard W. Hunter started his own private attorney practice and a year later became bishop of his ward, where he served for eight years. Two years later he was called to be stake president and served in that calling for nine years. During that time he helped in the building of the Los Angeles Temple, and helped start the early-morning seminary program in the area.
For Howard’s 46th birthday his parents surprised him by showing up at the Los Angeles Temple ready to be sealed to each other and him. In 1959, Howard W. Hunter went to Salt Lake City to attend General Conference. While there he was called to have an interview with President David O. McKay. When he got there, President McKay immediately began, “The Lord has spoken. You are called to be one of his special witnesses, and tomorrow you will be sustained as a member of the Council of the Twelve” (Eleanor Knowles, Howard W. Hunter, p.144). Howard was stunned, but accepted the call and was ordained an apostle on October 15, 1959.
From 1964 to 1972, Howard W. Hunter served as the President of the Genealogical Society of Utah and oversaw the digitalization of records for the first time. In 1970 he was called to be the Mormon Church Historian.
The early seventies saw declining health of both Elder Hunter and his beloved Clara. She suffered two cerebral hemmorhages whic necesitated full time nursing care. Elder Hunter visited her every day, even as he was preparing for back surgery himself. Clara died in October 1983.
In 1989, Howard W. Hunter was called to be the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for the Mormon Church, and on May 30, 1994, was sustained as the Prophet and President of the Mormon Church. Of his calling President Hunter said, “I have shed many tears and have sought my Father in Heaven in earnest prayer with a desire to be equal to the high and holy calling which is now mine” (LDS Church News, “I Pledge My Life and … Full Measure of My Soul,” June 11, 1994).
President Hunter encouraged all members to become temple worthy, most likely in preparation for the construction of numerous temples that his successor Gordon B. Hinckley would build. Howard W. Hunter served for only nine months until his death on March 3, 1995.