George F. Richards

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(This is an excerpt from the book A Family of Faith compiled and edited by Kent F. Richards.)

The life of George F. Richards, who was born in 1861, stretches from the pioneer era—he was born five years after the handcart migration began and eight years before the railroad arrived—to the age of airplanes and television. His mother was Nanny Longstroth Richards. She had been a plural wife of Willard Richards. After his death in 1854, she married his nephew Franklin D. Richards as one of his plural wives. Nanny was thus the wife of two Apostles (Willard and Franklin), the mother of one Apostle (George), and the grandmother of two Apostles (LeGrand Richards and Stephen L Richards).

George followed his father into the Quorum of the Twelve seven years after Franklin’s death. Years later, after reading a biography of his father, he humbly wrote:

“Wed. July 16 I finished reading the biography of my Father. . . . The life of my father as there portrayed is most interesting and inspirational. When I think of the accomplishments of my father, it makes me feel very small and inadequate for the responsibility which has come to me from the Church. I do feel that the Lord has helped me in every direction of my life actively. I have been measurably successful in raising my family. Notwithstanding I have but one wife, I have 15 children, 5 boys and 10 girls. As counselor in the Tooele Stake Presidency, as a Patriarch, as an Apostle, as President of the European Mission, and as President of the Salt Lake Temple I have been uniformly blessed of the Lord. Thankful for these blessings, I feel that I have done but very little for the cause as compared with what my father has done for it. How am I to correct my record, but by plodding along in faithfulness and devotion to my calling.”

George was a humble man who had given his heart to the Lord. Shortly after the birth of his first son, he received an inquiry about his availability to serve a mission. He copied into his journal the letter he wrote in answer. The spirit of his response has become a guiding principle in my life.

“I am twenty-three years of age, was born and raised in Farmington, Davis Co. I have a wife and one child, have never been on a foreign mission. Financially, I am in poor circumstances at present, being in debt more than four-hundred dollars, and paying interest on a part of the same.

“I have no ready means and all the property I have is a set of harness, wagon (both been in use more than five years), six head of horses, a cow and two calves and not quite two acres of land worth from seventy-five and one-hundred dollars.

“While I feel that I am poor, I do not wish to let that stand between me and my duties as a latter-day Saint. That which I have is upon the altar and subject to the direction of those in authority, as is also my time and life if necessary.”

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