“Elder Douglas H. Smith of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1987, 94
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 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.”