Willard Richards

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

Willard Richards is one of the unsung heroes of the Restoration.

Once converted, he dropped everything and devotedhimself entirely to the Lord and to the newly restored gospel of Jesus Christ for the rest of his life. He immediately went into the service of the Lord as a missionary. Over time, Willard was called to be an Apostle, personal secretary to the Prophet Joseph Smith, scribe, historian, and counselor to Brigham Young in the presidency of the Church. After arriving in Utah, he served as editor of the Deseret News, postmaster, and territorial secretary. His personal journal and correspondence give us a wonderful view of the establishment of the Church, the workings of the leaders of the Church in the early days, and his own personal life and experiences.

Willard’s life was not easy. As a missionary and full-time servant of the Prophet and the Church, he always depended upon others for his temporal well-being. He had poor health, yet he worked long and hard to fulfill his responsibilities with devotion and care.

I had heard stories about Willard—languishing in jail, crossing the plains, and participating in early activities in the Salt Lake Valley. But as I read his journals, I was pleasantly surprised to come to know him as a man of great intellectual ability, yet also as a humble, willing servant of the Lord. I believe he was raised up to perform a critical function as the Prophet’s secretary and companion and as historian for the Church…

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