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President James E. Faust dies at 87

Causes 'incident to age' end exemplary life

President James E. Faust, second counselor in the First Presidency, died at his home early Aug. 10 surrounded by his family.

President Faust, 87, had served in the First Presidency since 1995 and as a General Authority of the Church for 35 years. A Church statement said that President Faust had died of "causes incident to age."

His funeral will be held at noon, Tuesday, Aug. 14, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle.

Among his last activities outside his home were attending the Pioneer Day Commemoration concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on July 20 and a birthday reception held in his honor in the Church Administration Building on July 31; he spent part of that day in his office.

President Faust was appointed second counselor in the First Presidency March 12, 1995.

He once commented to the Church News that he hoped to be remembered "as a workhorse in the kingdom, rather than a showhorse."

The venerable apostle's wish is fulfilled — to a point. Indeed, his life was lived with blue collar sensibilities. President Faust's farming upbringing was evident in his tireless ecclesiastical and professional service. Work was his trusted friend and constant companion.

But President Faust will also be remembered for his polish — an educated, thoughtful man capable of wearing many hats elegantly well. Lawyer. Business executive. Public servant. Soldier. Missionary. Church leader. Husband, father, grandfather.

"He is a man of balance....I don't find anything lacking that I could wish for in Brother Faust," said President Gordon B. Hinckley, who served with President Faust in the First Presidency from 1995 to 2007 (James B. Bell, In the Strength of the Lord — the Life and Teachings of James E. Faust, Deseret Book Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1999, p. 230).

James Esdras Faust was born July 31, 1920, in Delta, Utah, to George A. and Amy Finlinson Faust. The Fausts were of pioneer stock, and young James was the grateful beneficiary of a legacy of faith and gospel service. Counted among his progenitors was the Church's first bishop, Edward Partridge; and a counselor to the Prophet Joseph Smith, the latter-day apostle Amasa M. Lyman.

In 1939, a 19-year-old James E. Faust accepted a mission call to Brazil. Those were the early days of missionary work in South America. The work could be slow. Missionaries such as young Elder Faust did not witness the sort of growth that would eventually be recorded in Latin America. During one particularly slow year of President Faust's three-year mission, there were only three convert baptisms among the 70 missionaries serving in Brazil. Still, he and his fellow missionaries worked hard. Those who accepted their message, he said, would prove to be among the elect during the early years of the Church in Brazil.

"At the time our labors were unfruitful and difficult," said President Faust of his mission during the October 2000 general conference. "We could not envision the great outpouring of the Spirit of the Lord which has come in (Brazil) and its neighboring countries in South America, Central America and Mexico in the intervening years."

He would trade his missionary coat for a soldier's uniform in 1942 when he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. Amid the troubling noise of war, President Faust would find comfort, again, in the Lord's Spirit. At one point he was the only Church member serving on a ship being transferred to the South Pacific. On Sundays, President Faust would search out places on the ship where he could sing from a pocket-size hymnal, read scriptures and pray. "Most often, I would go way up in the front of the ship, out in the open, where the waves would drown out my singing, and I would have my own service as best I could," he told the Church News in 1985.

While on a brief military leave in 1943, he married a fellow Granite High School alum, Ruth Wright, in the Salt Lake Temple. They would become parents of three sons and two daughters. The Fausts would eventually welcome 25 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren into their family.

In 2005, Sister Faust was asked by the Church News what her life with President Faust had been like.

"It couldn't have been better," she answered. "I found a good one, and he's a keeper. The smartest thing I ever did in my life was to marry him."

The son of an attorney and judge, President Faust gravitated naturally to a law career. After claiming a juris doctorate from the University of Utah Law School in 1948, he practiced law in Salt Lake City until his call as an Assistant to the Twelve on Oct. 6, 1972.

Public service was a notable element of President Faust's life during his professional career. He served as a Democratic member of the Utah Legislature from 1949-1951. He also served as an adviser to the American Bar Journal and was president of the Utah Bar Association in 1962-1963. He was also appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights and Racial Unrest.

President Faust's lifelong commitment to Church service blessed countless lives. Prior to becoming a General Authority, he served as a bishop's counselor, bishop, high councilor, stake president's counselor, stake president and as a regional representative. He shifted effortlessly into full-time Church service when President Harold B. Lee issued the call as an Assistant to the Twelve.

"President Lee told me I could leave my name on the door to my law office," President Faust said. "But I told him I had been called, was putting my hand to the plow, and I didn't want to ever look back."

Unencumbered, he began his tenure as a gospel "work horse" — traveling around the world and serving the members of an ever-growing, global Church. President Faust was sustained as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy on Oct. 1, 1976. Two years later he took his place among the Quorum of the Twelve, filling the seat left vacant following the Aug. 19, 1978, death of Elder Delbert L. Stapley.

"No one has ever come to this calling with a greater sense of inadequacy than I do at this time," the new apostle said at the October 1978 general conference. "I understand that a chief requirement for the holy apostleship is to be a personal witness of Jesus as the Christ and the Divine Redeemer. Perhaps on that basis alone I can qualify. The truth has been made known to me by the unspeakable peace and power of the Spirit of God."

In President Faust's biography, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of his friend's valuable apostolic contributions.

"As a member of the Twelve, Brother Faust was a man of strong opinions and had the courage to state them. I never found a time when he wasn't on the right track, and that's why I asked him to serve as my second counselor — because I appreciated that among his many other virtues. He has an excellent mind and is a very thoughtful man. He thinks before he speaks. He doesn't just shoot from the hip. He thinks things through, or he asks questions to get the facts so the facts don't get him. He's absolutely reliable in every respect. You don't have to worry about Brother Faust."

President Faust began his tenure in the First Presidency, called as second counselor on March 12, 1995. Working alongside President Hinckley and fellow counselor President Thomas S. Monson, he would participate in a remarkable period of Church history highlighted by prolific temple building and continued growth.

When he celebrated his 85th birthday in 2005, a humble President Faust told the Church News that his only mild regret in life was that he did not "do better (and) serve more."

"I've had a wonderful, fulfilling life," he said at the time. "I've been blessed far beyond my just desserts. If I had to live my life over again, I would want to live it substantially the way that I have. There isn't a lot that I would change."

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