The Empty Room
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“The Empty Room,” Ensign, Feb. 1974, 24

In Memoriam: President Harold B. Lee

The Empty Room

This is the office of the President of the Church. Two days after Christmas, the camera found it dark, the chair empty. When the lights come on again, when the chair is filled, the Church will move forward under its new President as it has always done. But now the office seems unexpectedly forlorn, the work prepared and ready for the man who will never use it again.

This ornate light fixture brings a breath of pioneer past into the modern office.

At the right, beneath the luxuriantly carved mantel molding, stands a bronzed bust of the Prophet Joseph Smith.

President Lee kept near him the photographs of two men whom he respected: Elder Richard L. Evans and Elder Henry D. Moyle. Both of them preceded him in death.

This rolltop desk to President Lee’s left has special significance: it belonged to President Joseph F. Smith and was used by each succeeding President including his son, Joseph Fielding Smith, President Lee’s immediate predecessor. Photographs of President Smith and President McKay flank the clock. President Lee set an example of loyalty and wholehearted service to his presiding officers, and especially to the prophets. Adding their own fortifying strength are the outside pictures of his honored associates, Elder Hugh B. Brown and Elder J. Reuben Clark, Jr.

The main adornments in President Lee’s office were faces—the faces and representations of people who had directed his life. On his right hung a gallery of significant personages: Christ, the Lord; the Presidents of the Church whom he followed, both chronologically and spiritually; young Joseph Smith receiving the angel Moroni. On the desk underneath them are three photographs: one of President George Albert Smith, who was President for six years of President Lee’s apostleship; two photographs of President Heber J. Grant who ordained him an apostle in 1941, one with his counselors, J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and David O. McKay.

A combination of neatness and comfort are reflected in the desk furnishings and office furniture. The American flag was one of the few decorations he kept on his desk.

Before he left on Christmas Eve, President Lee flipped his calendar open to his next working day—December 26.

The open dictionary waits, within reach of President Lee’s swivel chair.