REXBURG, Idaho — The 12th president of the Church, "who taught the entire Church to lengthen its stride and quicken its pace," was honored Sept. 7 at Ricks College as a new building on campus that bears his name was dedicated.
The Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services Building was dedicated by President Gordon B. Hinckley in services held in the large open-area foyer of the new 70,000-square foot building.
"I know of no man more deserving of this honor than Spencer W. Kimball," President Hinckley said in remarks prior to offering the dedicatory prayer. "He was a man I loved, a man I respected, a man I honored."
President Kimball served as president of the Church for 12 years, from 1973 to 1985, after serving in the Quorum of the Twelve since 1943.
President Hinckley also spoke at a devotional on campus. Accompanying him to Ricks College was Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve, who also spoke at both services.
About 800 invited guests, including dignitaries, faculty, staff and a number of randomly selected students, attended the dedication of the Kimball building. The proceedings were transmitted by closed-circuit television to four other buildings. A total of 6,250 viewed the proceedings in the other locations on campus.
During the services, a portrait of President Kimball by artist Gregg Thorkelson of St. Anthony, Idaho, was unveiled by two of President Kimball's sons, Edward and Andrew. Following the services the portrait was hung, centered between four notable statements of President Kimball, on the second floor of the building at the top of the south stairway. The area eventually will include glass showcases with memorabilia about the President Kimball's life and ministry.
The Collegiate Singers performed a special musical number, "Softly Beams the Sacred Dawning," during the services.
In his address, President Hinckley said that President Kimball "was possessed of a sense of duty that was most remarkable. Idleness was foreign to his nature. He had a compulsive urging that forced him to keep busy.
"He traveled the world as apostle and president. He drove himself until he was exhausted," President Hinckley declared.
"Occasionally while on a plane he would put his head back and sleep from weariness. Otherwise, he was reading the scriptures, red pencil in hand, or he would write. His penmanship was elegant. His writing had a poetic quality. When he spoke in conference there was never enough time to say what he wished to say, and so he spoke rapidly."
President Hinckley said President Kimball's vision of the latter-day work was large. "As president of the Church, he saw the whole grand worldwide picture. He expanded our vision of missionary service to include young men and women not only from North America, but also from the mission fields of the world. He thought that they, too, should go out and accomplish a great work, and in the process strengthen themselves.
"Today," explained President Hinckley, "we have strong local leaders — bishops, stake presidents, Area Seventies — in Mexico, Central and South America, and many other parts of the world who as young men served missions as a result of President Kimball's incessant teaching and urging."
President Hinckley spoke of President Kimball's marriage to Camilla Eyring, which he said was "the great blessing of his young life," and of his health problems. "President Kimball's own struggle with health is an epic story in and of itself."
President Hinckley then told of being called in 1981 as a counselor to President Kimball in the First Presidency because of the failing health of President N. Eldon Tanner and President Marion G. Romney, as well as the deteriorating health of President Kimball.
"I can only say, and I say it most humbly," continued President Hinckley, "that the inspiration of the Almighty was with President Kimball when he called another counselor. During those very difficult days, which stretched into years, I sat somewhat alone. I never made an important decision without taking Brother [Arthur] Haycock over to the President's apartment, where I carefully outlined the problem, stating what I thought should be done, and receiving consent to move forward.
"Those were difficult and strenuous days. They were days of worry and anxiety. But there were two wonderfully reassuring forces at work. The first was prayer. I came to know the importance of anxiously searching for the will of the Lord. The other was the accessibility I had to President Kimball, even though he was not well.
"How I loved that man," President Hinckley went on. "He was my friend, my leader. He was a man of gentle and kind ways, always considerate.
"It is so fitting, it is so appropriate that we honor this great and good man with this new and beautiful building which has been erected on this campus," President Hinckley declared. "May those who use it, those who walk its halls and occupy its offices, always remember him for whom it was named — Spencer Woolley Kimball — man of integrity, man of love, a leader who taught the entire Church to lengthen its stride and quicken its pace, a friend of man and a friend of God."
Following his address, President Hinckley — believed to be the first sitting Church president to dedicate a building at Ricks College — offered the dedicatory prayer.
In his remarks, Elder Eyring, a former president of Ricks College, said he had been involved as Church commissioner of education in the planning and construction of the Kimball building, and watched the construction from the beginning.
"In this building students will be helped by people who care about them." He said the name Spencer W. Kimball "will be a reminder of the true spirit of loving service."
He spoke of the adjacent Taylor Building, where religion classes are taught. "In the Taylor Building," he explained, "students study the gospel of Jesus Christ. If we use this building [the Kimball building] as is intended, in it students will see the gospel lived and they will live it themselves."
The campus' newest building was completed early this summer and has been opened since June. It houses student services such as admissions, registration, housing, financial aid, counseling, advising, and employment and placement. It also houses other administrative services including accounting, personnel services, public relations, development, computer information services, campus police, cashiers and executive offices.
In July 1997, ground was broken for the building. It was designed by FFKR, a Salt Lake City architectural firm that also designed the Taylor Building on campus, as well as the BYU Jerusalem Center. While the exterior of the Kimball building is of traditional brick that blends in with the rest of the campus, the interior is highlighted by a skylight that permits natural light to permeate the structure.