“President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994)” Ensign, June 2010, 72
Ezra Taft Benson was the great-grandson of an Apostle whose name he bore. Raised on a farm in Whitney, Idaho, he could, by the age of five, already drive a team of horses.
He later became an expert on farming and on the issues that affected farmers and served as U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 1953 to 1961. At that time Secretary Benson was already Elder Benson, having been called as an Apostle in 1943. Elder Benson served in the U.S. government with the permission of Church President David O. McKay (1873–1970). The Bensons, with their emphasis on family and down-to-earth values, were the subject of many print articles and even TV programs, and the Church benefited from the favorable publicity. Because he never wavered in his convictions, even those who opposed Secretary Benson’s farm policies admired him for his integrity.
One of the most remarkable periods of Elder Benson’s life came immediately after World War II when the relatively new Apostle was sent by the Church to Europe in 1946 to reestablish contact with Church members and to arrange for relief supplies. Much of Europe was in ruins, travel and communications were under military control, and civilian travel was restricted. But through faith and frequent divine intervention, Elder Benson visited 13 nations, bringing both temporal and spiritual relief to thousands.
Ezra Taft Benson became President of the Church on November 10, 1985, following the death of President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985). One of the hallmarks of his administration was a renewed emphasis on studying the Book of Mormon.