Elder Victor L. Brown dies

Elder Victor L. Brown, 81, Presiding Bishop from 1972-1985 and an emeritus General Authority, died March 26, 1996, at his home in Salt Lake City after a lengthy illness.

Elder Brown served as a General Authority for 28 years, first called as second counselor in 1961 to Presiding Bishop John H. Vandenberg. He succeeded Bishop Vandenberg on April 6, 1972, and served as Presiding Bishop until April 6, 1985. He was a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy until Oct. 1, 1989, when he was granted emeritus status.He was also president of the Salt Lake Temple from 1985-87, where he and his late wife, Lois Ashton Kjar Brown, were married Nov. 13, 1936. He later described presiding in the temple as "the capstone of all the experiences I have had in Church service."

During his tenure as Presiding Bishop, the Church experienced a dramatic period of internationalization. Elder Brown oversaw the expansion of translation, printing and distribution, and construction efforts. Early in his 13-year administration, the concept of decentralizing the administration of temporal affairs through local offices was developed. This eventually led to the establishment of area offices around the world and expanded building projects in many countries, particularly those in South America. During this time, the Presiding Bishopric was given responsibility for all the Church's temporal affairs.

Until 1977, the Presiding Bishopric also had responsibility for the Aaronic Priesthood and Scouting programs of the Church. Among his many and varied responsibilities, Elder Brown once headed a committee introducing slow-pitch play to the Church's softball program.

He was appointed to the Deseret News board of directors in 1965, again in 1970, and later to the executive committee, serving continuously until his death. Some recent committee meetings were held in his home.

Elder Brown also was active in public service, serving on the Utah Symphony Board, the State Water and Power Board, the national executive board of the Boy Scouts of America, and the boards of Beneficial Life and Murdock Travel. He was president of the Utah Hotel Co. (parent company of Hotel Utah), and, at the time of his death, was a member of the executive committee of the Thrasher Research Fund.

He made significant contributions while serving on various boards. Two examples of these are the boards of Western Airlines and Intermountain Hospital Care.

On the first, he was instrumental in developing an airline hub, or a central site with connections to many locations. This helped keep the struggling company airborne, and made it attractive to buyer Delta Airlines.

He was honored in February as a "Utah Pioneer of Flight" for contributions to Utah's aviation industry and the Salt Lake International Airport. His contributions in expanding the airport helped make the aviation industry what it is today, said Louis E. Miller, director of the city's airport authority.

When the Church divested itself of its hospitals, Elder Brown helped establish a community board for Intermountain Health Care that would continue the standard of excellence established by the Church's ownership.

Honored with the presentation of a portrait of himself by Intermountain Health Care in 1992, Elder Brown was praised for his role in the divestiture. President Thomas S. Monson, then second counselor in the First Presidency, commented:

"When he took the helm of the hospital [divestiture] he wanted excellence personified. Victor Brown knows no mediocrity, just excellence."

Commitment to excellence, a quiet dignity and deep spirituality personified Elder Brown. Highly respected by those who associated with him, he maintained a sense of calm and personal warmth while dealing with difficult situations.

A fitting observation made by him in October 1989 conference described the importance he placed in maintaining respectful personal relationships:

"In my experience with these Brethren and with other men and women in many parts of the world, I have found that the measure of a man is not necessarily his title or his position, but rather how he treats others - his peers, his supervisor, the cab driver, or the airline clerk after he has missed an important connecting flight. This is particularly true in how a man treats those closest to him - his wife and children."

He also described his long life of Church service:

`I was privileged to serve very closely

in the Presiding BishopricT under four presidents of the Church - Presidents David O. McKay, Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee and Spencer W. Kimball." He also served under President Ezra Taft Benson as a member of the Seventy. " Each of these five presidents under whom I have served as a General Authority has his own personality and style; yet I testify that each is a prophet of God."

He was born July 31, 1914, in Cardston, Alberta, to Gerald Stephen and Maggie Calder Lee Brown. Young Victor soon began helping in his father's hardware store. Here, during the Depression years, he learned integrity watching his father meet obligations.

In his mid-teen years, he and his family moved to Salt Lake City. "This was an awfully big city for a country boy," he once recalled. But a high school bookkeeping teacher took him under wing and entrusted the shy young man with paying the bills for South High. This gave him self-confidence. It also introduced him into the business world, where he continued through University of Utah and LDS Business College, laying the foundation for his career.

After his marriage, he entered the young aviation industry, started only a decade earlier. He hired on as a passenger and reservations agent for United Airlines in 1940 in Salt Lake City. Twenty-one years later he was the company's assistant director of reservations in Chicago, Ill., with a promising future. During that time he had also served as bishop and counselor in a stake presidency. A telephone call from President David O. Mckay's office dramatically changed his career plans.

"I had never thought nor aspired to become a General Authority, but there was only one answer possible when President David O. McKay, a prophet of God, called me to this work," he said. His years as a General Authority "provided opportunities for service I could never have dreamed of." (October 1989 conference.)

Elder Brown is survived by his children, with spouses shown in parentheses: Victor L. Jr. (Mareen); Gerald E. (Janice); Joanne K. Soderborg (Steven); Patricia L. Glade (Larry); and Stephen M. (Peggy). He has 26 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.

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