Elder L. Lionel Kendrick, an emeritus General Authority Seventy, died Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, in Salt Lake City. He was 90 years old.
As a convert to the Church in his 20s, Elder Kendrick’s responsibilities in the Church began just a month after his baptism. Soon after joining the Church in Illinois, the Air Force sent him and his wife, Sister Myrtis Noble Kendrick, to Nagoya, Japan. On his second Sunday there, the group leader handed him a priesthood manual and asked him to be a teacher.
Although overwhelmed and intimidated, Elder Kendrick accepted and “had a fantastic experience,” he told the Church News in an article in 1988.
Since the day he was baptized, “I’ve never feared sharing my testimony under any circumstance. I have no fear whatsoever,” he declared.
From then on, he served faithfully in many callings of greater and greater responsibility. He served in a bishopric twice, as a branch president, stake president and regional representative before accepting a call as a general authority in 1988.
“I have enjoyed every call,” he said in an Ensign article in May 1988. “The ones involving direct contact with people have been most rewarding.”
A teacher by profession, Elder Kendrick earned a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and Ph.D. in health and physical education from Louisiana State University. He taught at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina, for more than 20 years.
In 1985, he and his wife served as mission leaders of the Florida Tampa Mission until he was called as a General Authority Seventy. He served as second counselor in the Young Men general presidency from 1992 to 1993 and as president of the Dallas Texas Temple from 1993 to 1995. He became an emeritus general authority in 2001.
A son of the South, Larry Lionel Kendrick was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to Bonnie Delen and Edna Campbell Forbes Kendrick — compassionate, loving people who taught him devotion to God through their service in their local Protestant congregation.
In high school, he dated Myrtis Lee Noble, who was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “From the first time that we dated, I knew that she was quite different and quite special,” Elder Kendrick reminisced to the Church News. “I didn’t fully understand why.”
The two married after her first year at Louisiana State University in 1952. By then, religion was a frequent topic of discussion. “My husband knew that I would never change my religion, and he agreed to go with me to Church and to pay tithing,” Sister Kendrick said.
For two years he attended services with his wife with little desire to learn more until he attended a Sunday School class taught by Hal Coburn, a counselor in the branch presidency. “He taught with simplicity but with power,” explained Elder Kendrick. “That first Sunday, the Spirit absolutely came to me in a way that caused me to hunger and thirst for more. I knew I had to know.”
He was baptized by Coburn on Dec. 11, 1954, and ordained a priest the following day.
He and his wife raised four children — three sons and a daughter.
As a general authority, Elder Kendrick spoke three times in general conference, bearing testimony about the need to be Christlike in one’s communications, the importance of searching the scriptures and the great blessing of attending the temple.
“There is a difference in just attending the temple and having a rich spiritual experience,” he taught in April 2001. “The real blessings of the temple come as we enhance our temple experience.”
He invited members to enhance their temple experience with a spirit of reverence, treating it as a place of purity and holiness, and with a spirit of worship by leaving the world behind and seeking to obtain added light and knowledge. “If we do these things, the Lord will bless us and we will become prepared to live in His holy presence,” he said.
Elder Kendrick is survived by his wife and their children, Larry Jr., Hal and Merri Ellen and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He is preceded in death by his son, Dana Noble Kendrick. Funeral services are pending.