Emeritus General Authority Gordon T. Watts dies at 85

Elder Gordon T. Watts, an emeritus General Authority Seventy for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died on June 12 in South Weber, Utah. He was 85 years old.

A former business executive, Elder Watts was called as a General Authority in April 1998 and served for five years in the Second Quorum of the Seventy. He served as a counselor in the North America Southeast and North America East area presidencies and was released on Oct. 2, 2004.

Elder Watts was born Gordon Taylor Watts on Feb. 23, 1935, in South Weber to Elwood Taylor Watts and Edna Davis Watts. Three generations of his family were born in the rock house where he was delivered by his father because the family doctor could not arrive in time.

He grew up on the family farm and helped work the land before attending Weber College. He later received a bachelor’s in education and business administration from Utah State University.

He served a mission to Hawaii from 1958 to 1960 and later married Connie Welling from Fielding, Utah, on Sept. 19, 1963, in the Logan Utah Temple. They had four children.

For 31 years, Elder Watts worked at the Ford Motor Co. Before being promoted to Western Regional sales manager for the glass division, he worked in sales and marketing in Colorado, Southern California, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and Texas. He also was a sales consultant for BT Systems, a Texas computer firm.

When President Ezra Taft Benson, then president of the Quorum of the Twelve, broke ground for the first meetinghouse in nearby Kirtland since the Prophet Joseph Smith left, Elder Watts was the stake president nearby in Cleveland, Ohio. He served as a stake president and a high councilor in several places throughout his life.

Elder Watts was president of the Philippines Quezon City Mission from 1995 to 1998 when he was called as a General Authority. He and his wife also served as president and matron of the Ogden Utah Temple from 2005 to 2008.

In the October 1998 general conference, he told the Sunday afternoon congregation that joy is born of gratitude.

Elder Watts was preceded in death by his wife Connie in April of this year. He is survived by their two daughters, Cameron and Heidi; two sons, Brandon and Troy; 20 grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are currently under way.