“Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004)” Friend, Sept. 2004, 7
On July 21, 2004, Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away at age 78. He was born on July 6, 1926, to Clarence H. Maxwell, a convert to the Church, and Emma Ash Maxwell, a woman of pioneer heritage. In this faithful home, Neal learned to study and live the gospel.
Though known for using poetic, symbolic words, he didn’t always write well. A teacher saw his potential—and gave him a poor grade! She told him, “You’re capable of doing A work.” He listened, worked hard, and became an excellent writer.
As a young man, he sometimes felt awkward. He didn’t make the school basketball team, had acne, and was teased for raising award-winning pigs.
After high school, he fought in World War II. One night he heard shells exploding near his foxhole. The enemy had discovered his position! Pleading for protection, he promised the Lord a life of service. He kept that promise by serving a mission to Canada and accepting many challenging callings throughout his life.
He and his wife, Colleen, have four children and many grandchildren. They all remember fun times spent with him—raking leaves into piles and jumping into them, cuddling and listening to stories he invented, playing board games, and always trying hard to beat him at tennis!
In his last conference address, Elder Maxwell testified of God’s love. He said, “You have never seen an immortal star; they finally expire. But seated by you tonight are immortal individuals—imperfect but who are, nevertheless, ‘trying to be like Jesus’!” Elder Maxwell leaves a legacy of wisdom and faith, teaching us all to be more like the Savior.