BOUNTIFUL, Utah — Elder Alexander Baillie Morrison, emeritus General Authority Seventy and internationally known scientist, died at home in Bountiful, Utah, on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, at the age of 87.
His work within the Church — as well as in his professional life fighting disease and hunger throughout the world — was a manifestation of his faith in Christ.
Elder Morrison was sustained as a General Authority on April 4, 1987, and served in that capacity until Oct. 7, 2000. His assignments included serving in the United Kingdom/Ireland/Africa Area presidency, as president of the North America Southeast Area, and in the Utah North Area presidency.
During the more than 13 years he served as a General Authority he also served on many committees, including the Developing Nations Committee, the Boundary and Leadership Change committee, the LDS Charities Board of Directors, the Strengthening Church Members Committee and as assistant executive director of the Church’s curriculum department.
Born to Alexander S. Morrison and Christina Wilson Morrison in Edmonton, Alberta, on Dec. 22, 1930, Elder Morrison grew up working on the family farm in Canada.
“I mumbled and grumbled about all the work, like everybody does, but, in retrospect, I see that the ability to work is worth more than anything,” he said in a Church News article in May 1987.
That hard work ethic and a love for learning benefitted him throughout his life.
Elder Morrison became the first person in his family to attend college, and while attending the University of Alberta in 1949, he had an LDS roommate who introduced him to the gospel.
“My roommate taught me two principles that just electrified me,” he said in the Church News article. “The first one was that the glory of God is intelligence, that the major purpose for our mortal existence is to learn and that we will have the chance to learn forever. I was going to school because I loved to learn. My mind was beginning to open to all the wonders of knowledge. The thought that I could learn forever absolutely fascinated me.
“The second principle my roommate taught me was that marriage is intended to be an eternal relationship. I was dating Shirley Brooks. The thought that I could be with her forever — well, I would have jumped through hoops for that opportunity!”
The couple were baptized in December 1950 and married a week later. They were later sealed in the Alberta Temple and have eight children, 24 grandchildren and 24 great-grandchildren.
Elder Morrison earned a bachelor’s degree in agriculture and a master’s degree in biochemistry from the University of Alberta, a Ph.D at Cornell University, and nearly a decade later he earned another master’s degree in pharmacology from the University of Michigan.
Elder Morrison spent his career devoted to the curing and elimination of disease and malnutrition. Among his notable contributions are his work directing several international committees in the World Health Organization, his leadership of groups of Nobel prizewinning scientists, as well as his work as chairman of the department of the University of Guelf in Canada.
For 14 years of his professional career he served in the Federal Public Service of Canada as assistant deputy minister in charge of health protection. At the time, it was the highest non-political government position in Canada ever held by a Latter-day Saint. He also spent a year in Geneva, Switzerland, from 1981 to 1982 as a consultant to the director general of the World Health Organization.
“I carry victims’ faces in my mind as I brush my teeth and rinse my mouth with water whose purity I take for granted,” he said in an Ensign article. “I feel jungle heat on my skin as I move through air-conditioned corridors. I remember what starvation looks like as I sit down to abundance three times a day.
“Carrying this burden keeps me, on the most fundamental of all levels, human.”
A funeral will be held on Saturday, February 24, 2018, at 11:00 a.m. at the Bountiful Utah Orchard Stake Center, 3599 S Orchard Drive, Bountiful, Utah.