The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder L. Lionel Kendrick of the First Quorum of
the Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1988 on the occasion
of Elder Kendrick's first call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
When the U.S. Air Force sent L. Lionel Kendrick to Nagoya,
Japan, he had been a Church member for just one month. The second Sunday,
the group leader approached Brother Kendrick with a priesthood manual and
said, “I feel impressed by the Spirit that you’re to be our priesthood
Brother Kendrick replied, “I’ve just been baptized.
I don’t even know what to teach.” Though he felt overwhelmed, he accepted
“It was a marvelous experience,” he says. “I had
to dig in early into the scriptures.” That early training in the scriptures
prepared him for greater and greater responsibilities in the Church, culminating
in his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 2.
Elder Kendrick says that his conversion was both
gradual and sudden. In high school, he was active in his Protestant congregation
when he met Myrtis Lee Noble, who had been reared in the Church. He was
still active in his church when they married in 1952, his senior year at
Louisiana State University.
Before marriage, they had made an agreement concerning
religion. Sister Kendrick had explained that, since sacrament meeting attendance
was the Lord’s commandment, she wanted both of them to attend. She also
wanted them to pay a full
and honest tithing. She said that without those things their relationship
would suffer. Elder Kendrick responds, “I felt comfortable about those
points, so we paid a full tithing,” and he attended LDS services with his
Over the next two years, Lionel received a degree
in health and physical education, then taught high school before entering
the air force. The military soon sent him to officers personnel school
in Bellville, Illinois. The branch in Bellville was the turning
point for him. An LDS Sunday School class stimulated his desire to
learn the truth, and “by the second Sunday, I absolutely hungered to know,”
he says. “After a few months, the Spirit bore an undeniable witness. I
knew the Church was true and entered the waters of baptism.”
Brother Kendrick completed his military duty after
sixteen months in Nagoya. The Kendricks were sealed in the Hawaii Temple
in 1956 on the way home to Louisiana. Brother Kendrick then began teaching
at Pride High School, where he also coached the basketball and football
teams. Taking night and summer classes at LSU, he obtained a master’s degree
in 1958. A year later, Sister Kendrick received a B.A. in elementary education.
After six more years of teaching, Brother Kendrick
returned to LSU for an Ed.D. in health and physical education, which he
earned in 1967. In 1966, the family had moved to North Carolina when East
Carolina University offered him a position on the
faculty. In 1970, he became director of the ECU regional training center,
which offers programs and seminars in such areas of health as stress and
the effects of drugs and alcohol.
His work, though, has been second to family and church,
which the Kendricks feel are inseparable. They talk glowingly about their
family: their three sons—Larry, Jr., Hal, Dana—and their wives; their daughter,
Merri Ellen, and her husband; and their six grandchildren. “We’re a loving
and hugging family,” Elder Kendrick says. Sister Kendrick adds, “During
summer breaks, we took long vacations with our children. We also carefully
taught them the importance of gospel goals.”
Elder Kendrick loves Church service. He has served
in two bishoprics and as branch president of the Greenville Branch on the
ECU campus. After nine years as Kinston North Carolina Stake president,
he served three years as a regional representative assigned to North Carolina,
Georgia, and Alabama. In July 1985, he was called as mission president
of the Florida Tampa Mission.
“I have enjoyed every call,” he says. “The ones involving
direct contact with people have been most rewarding. This call to serve
with brethren I have always looked up to has taken me to the depths of
humility, and I have spent the last few days in soul searching. I feel
more keenly than ever the divinity and urgency of the Lord’s work.”
Elder Kendrick filled only one year of his five-year
call to the First Quorum of the Seventy before being called to the Second
Quorum on April 1, 1989. Again his service was shortened by another call,
this time an indefinite call back in the First Quorum, the call being sustained
April 6, 1991.
Elder Kendrick served as President of the Dallas Texas Temple from 1993 - 1995, as one of the last General Authorities to serve simultaneously as a Temple President.
Then on October 6, 2001, a grateful Church, assembled in the 171st Semi-annual General Conference, gave him a vote of appreciation as he was released from the First Quorum and named an Emeritus General Authority.