Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
George Franklin Richards George Franklin Richards


1861 - 1950


  • Born 1861 Farmington, Utah
  • Baptized 1873
  • Ordained Elder and received Endowments 1876
  • Married Alice A. Robinson 1882, Endowment House; eleven children
  • Ordained High Priest 1890
  • Ordained Patriarch 1893
  • Ordained Apostle 1906
  • President of European Mission 1916-1919
  • Acting Patriarch to the Church 1937-1942
  • President of the Twelve 1945-1950
  • Died 1950 Salt Lake City, Utah

    Adapted from the LDS Biographical Encyclopedia.
    George Franklin Richards, Apostle, Acting Patriarch to the Church,  and President of the Twelve, was born Feb. 23, 1861, in Farmington. Davis county, Utah, son of Franklin D. Richards and Nanny Longstroth. He was baptized Oct. 12. 1873, by Oliver L. Robinson and confirmed the same day by Abraham Rose. He graduated from the University of Deseret in English language and literature in June, 1881; took up a course in mathematics the following year in the same institution, and after carrying the same for six months, he gave up school for a position with the Utah Central (now the O. S. L. railway) as clerk in the lumber, carpenter and car building department, which occupation he held until October, 1882. As an inducement to stay longer he was offered promotion and increased wages, but duty called him elsewhere.

    While but a boy of fifteen years he was called to labor as a Ward teacher and at that age received his endowments in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City, June 5, 1876, and was ordained an Elder at the same time by Franklin D. Richards. He was frequently called upon to act as arbitrator and reconciliator in the settlement of difficulties existing between his neighbors. March 9, 1882, he married Miss Alice A. Robinson, daughter of Oliver L. Robinson and Lucy Miller, of Farmington, in the Endowment House, Salt Lake City. [The couple's union was blessed by the birth of eleven children.] After her death, Elder Richards married Betsy Hollings.While residing at Farmington he acted as clerk of the Elders' quorum, Ward teacher, Stake home missionary, president of Y. M. M. I. A., etc., and he was ordained a Seventy Feb. 3, 1884, by Seymour B. Young.

    In 1885 he purchased a farm in Plymouth (now Fielding), Box Elder county, where he resided until Jan. 31, 1888, when he moved to Tooele, Tooele county, and where he filled many important positions. He acted as secretary and later as chairman of the school district board of trustees, chairman of the board of trustees for the Tooele Irrigation Company; director and treasurer (for 11 Years) of the Tooele City Water Company, and was Tooele county's representative in the State legislature of 1899-1900.

    Ecclesiastically he held the position of Sunday school teacher, Ward teacher, home missionary, etc. He was ordained a High Priest Jan. 29, 1890, by Francis M. Lyman and set apart as second counselor to Pres. Hugh S. Gowans in the presidency of the Tooele Stake; was ordained a Patriarch under the hands of Elder Francis M. Lyman, July 23, 1893. He administered patriarchal blessings to nearly three hundred people as Stake Patriarch, performed many ordinations, blessings of children and administrations to the sick.

    By invitation from President Joseph F. Smith, Elder Geo. F. Richards, with wife and youngest child, accompanied the President and his party (about thirty people all told) on a pilgrimage to Sharon, Vermont, the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the Prophet, and was present on the 100th anniversary of the Prophet's birth (Dec. 23, 1905), when the beautiful granite monument, erected to the memory and honor of the Prophet, was unveiled and dedicated. Returning from this memorable trip the party visited Boston, Palmyra, Manchester, Cleveland, Kirtland, Chicago and Omaha. They also visited several points of historical interest to the Latter-day Saints, such as the home of the Prophet Joseph's parents in Manchester, the Sacred Grove, the Hill Cumorah, the Kirtland Temple, etc. The party left Salt Lake City Dec. 18, 1905, and returned Jan. 1, 1906.

    While residing in Tooele, Utah, Brother Richards engaged with his sons in the implement and lumber business, as well as farming. Being called to be a member of the quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Brother Richards was sustained in that position at the general conference of the Church held in Salt Lake City, April 8, 1906, and the next day (April 9th) he was ordained an Apostle by Pres. Joseph F. Smith, to fill the vacancy in the quorum of the Twelve occasioned by the death of Elder Marriner W. Merrill. Soon after his ordination to the apostleship, Bro, Richards was chosen as a member of the General Board of the Y. M. M. I. A. and a member of the General Board of the Religion Classes. For several years he also acted as an advisory member of the General Board of Primary Associations. The duties of his calling necessitated his traveling extensively in the Stakes of Zion, from Canada on the north to Old Mexico on the south, and also in the missionary fields in the United States.

    Thus, in company with Pres. Joseph E. Robinson, he attended the conferences of the California Mission in the fall of 1906, in the spring of 1907, in the fall of 1909 and in the spring of 1915. During the latter part of 1906 and the fore part of 1907 he accompanied Pres. Nephi Pratt through the Northwestern States Mission, attending all of the conferences, and again in June, 1910, he attended the conferences held in the States of Oregon and Washington. In the spring of 1912, in company with President Samuel O. Bennion, he visited all the conferences of the Central States Mission.

    Having received a call from the First Presidency to preside over the European Mission, he was blessed and set apart for that position Aug. 5, 1916, by President Joseph F. Smith, and the following day, accompanied by his son George, the latter's wife and two smaller children, he left home for England. At that time England, including Canada, had been at war with Germany for two years and sea travel was consequently very dangerous, especially for British and Canadian steamships, but the Church, being under contract to patronize the Canadian Steamship Company's lines, Bro. Richards and those who were with him, sailed from Montreal for Liverpool on the C. S. Co.'s steamer "Corsican," and though the ship was sought after by the German submarines, no harm came to it on the voyage, as it reached Liverpool in safety Aug. 25, 1916.

    Upon the departure of Pres. Hyrum M. Smith for his home in Utah Sept. 1, 1916, Bro. Richards succeeded him as president of the European Mission. In February, 1919, his son George and family returned home. In March, 1919, President Richards, accompanied by his wife, visited the Netherlands, where they attended meetings in eight of the principal cities of that country. A persistent, but unsuccessful effort was made to obtain permission to visit Switzerland, the Swiss officials refusing to permit it.

    In June, 1919, Elder Geo. Albert Smith, who had been appointed to succeed Elder Richards as president of the European Mission, arrived in Liverpool with his family and took charge of the mission July 1st. President Richards, having been released to return home, left Liverpool a few days later, crossed the Atlantic in the ship "Melita" and arrived in Salt Lake City July 25, 1919, having been absent nearly three years.

    In 1937, Elder Richards, who previously had been called as a Stake Patriarch and had been ordained a Patriarch was called to serve as Acting Patriarch to the Church. He served in this position until October 3, 1942 when he was released, never having given up his position with the Twelve.

    On May 25, 1945, he became the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when President Heber J. Grant died and George Albert Smith (previously President of the Twelve) became the new President of the Church. He remained in this position until his own death on August 8, 1950, at Salt Lake City, Utah, at the age of 89. Elder Richards' widow, Betsy Hollings Richards, followed him in death in 1980.


Bibliography
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, p.544
    Andrew Jenson, LDS Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, p.772
    Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation, 341
    2005 Church Almanac, p.65

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