The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder Douglas H. Smith of the First Quorum of
the Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1987 on the occasion
of Elder Smith's call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
When President Spencer W. Kimball
called Barbara B. Smith to serve as general president of the Relief Society
in October 1974, he turned to her husband and asked: “Will you be able
to support your wife in this assignment?”
Douglas H. Smith replied, “Yes. She has supported
me for over thirty years in the positions I’ve held, and I’ll certainly
be happy to support her.” And he did.
With his recent call to the First Quorum of the Seventy,
Elder Smith, sixty-five, now has need of his family’s support. And there
is no doubt that he has it.
Ready support for family members seems to come naturally
to the Smiths. All seven children now have families of their own, but they
still live near each other and Elder Smith calls them almost every day.
They have frequent family dinners. The monthly
Smith Family News, including articles from each family, is “a wonderful
way to keep in touch and to keep a history of what’s happening in the family,”
Sister Smith says. Every summer they get together for a two- to three-day
activity. And for the past five years, they’ve held an annual family conference
for everyone twelve and older.
Support is extended to others as well. Elder Smith
had lunch with his mother once a week as long as she lived. And for years
the Smiths have had someone living with them: her father, her aunt (who
lived with them for twenty years until she was in her
nineties), a boy from Taiwan, a girl from South Africa, and several
others needing a place to live for an extended period of time.
Douglas H. Smith was born 11 May 1921 in Salt Lake
City to Virgil H. and Winifred Pearl Hill Smith. “Our lives were built
around the Church,” he says, “And I’ve always had a strong testimony.”
The closest he came to choosing another path came one Sunday when, as a
deacon, he felt baseball’s beckoning call and decided to skip Sunday School.
Sitting in the bleachers at the ball park, he heard a voice next to him:
“Great game, isn’t it?”
When he turned to reply, he was stunned to find his
dad sitting there; the father had missed his son at church and had come
to find him.
Elder Smith is well known in his family for his motto:
“Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house,
we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15). After marriage in the temple in
1941, he became an Aaronic Priesthood adviser, then elders quorum president,
bishop’s counselor, and bishop. Later he served as high councilor, stake
president’s counselor, stake president, and regional representative. Most
recently he has served as a temple sealer and, with his wife, has team-taught
the Gospel Doctrine class.
The day after graduating from the University of Utah
in 1942, he got a job at Utah Home Fire Insurance Company. Sixteen years
later, he was president of the company. And after another fourteen years,
in 1972, he also became president of Beneficial Life Insurance Company,
a position his father had held. He has also served as executive vice-president
and general manager of Deseret Management Corporation and as chairman or
member of the board of several other banking and insurance
organizations. Active in community circles as well, he served for over
nine years as chairman of the Salt Lake LDS Hospital Board and has also
served with such organizations as Freedom Foundation of Valley Forge, American
Cancer Society, and Boy Scouts of America.
“When President [Ezra Taft]
Benson called me,” says Elder Smith, “I told him that a long time ago
we made commitments to the Lord and we intend to keep them. Now we’re simply
being asked if we meant it. The answer is yes.”
Elder Smith seved but two years of his five-year call
in the First Council of the Seventy. On April 1, 1989, he was called into
the newly organized Second Quorum of the Seventy where he faithfully completed
the remainder of his calling. Elder Douglas Hill Smith was honorably released
October 3, 1992.
Elder Douglas Hill Smith, who served in the Quorums of the
Seventy from 1987 to 1992, passed away at home January 29, 2009. He served in
many capacities within the Church and was involved in many businesses in Utah