N. Eldon Tanner and Church Administration

John P. Livingstone

John P. Livingstone, “N. Eldon Tanner and Church Administration,” in A Firm Foundation: Church Organization and Administration, ed. David J. Whittaker and Arnold K. Garr (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University; Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2011), 485–501.

John P. Livingstone is an associate professor of Church history and doctrine at Brigham Young University.

I first met President N. Eldon Tanner at a youth conference when he was a member of the First Presidency and I was a young teenager. He and his wife entered the dining area, and someone around us said, “That is President Tanner!” President and Sister Tanner looked very distinguished to me back then, and I took a mental snapshot of them that day. I saw him again in close quarters when, as a sixteen-year-old, I was asked to conduct a fireside in Edmonton where he spoke. Many of my nonmember friends attended that fireside, and I remember hoping he would be a good speaker and keep them interested. I needn’t have worried—he gave a wonderful speech. Later, he dedicated our local chapel.

President N. Eldon Tanner brought a significant skill set to the offices of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he became a counselor, first to David O. McKay and then to three subsequent Presidents. His knowledge of corporate finance, organization, and behavior resulted in tremendous changes at Church headquarters. The principles and practices he encouraged resulted in a cultural shift in the nature of Church leadership at its highest levels.

What was it that put President Tanner in a position to effect such change? What events in his life brought about the skills that were put to such good use when he was called into general Church leadership? What personality traits allowed him to be effective in bringing about such revolutionary modifications?

Early Years

President Tanner was born in Salt Lake City on May 9, 1898. (His mother went back to her parent’s home for her firstborn’s arrival.) He grew up in Aetna, a small farming community a few miles southeast of Cardston, Alberta, Canada. His father was Nathan W. Tanner, and his mother was Sara Edna Brown (a sister to Hugh B. Brown).

As the eldest of eight children, he became a highly responsible young man, an attribute that stayed with him through his life. His reliability and dependability were due to an upbringing by hardworking farm parents who loved their children deeply and required their help with every aspect of agricultural life in southern Alberta. Eldon did well in school and decided to become a teacher. This resulted in his attending a normal school (teachers’ college) in Calgary, which was 150 miles north of his home. He had taken some of his high schooling at the Church’s Knight Academy in Raymond, another Latter-day Saint community about thirty miles east of Aetna, so going to Calgary was not his first time away from home. But this time, he was not able to take small jobs to maintain his room and board.

His father encouraged him to take out a loan to attend the normal school in Calgary. This may well have been a pivotal point in Eldon’s interest in and facility with finances. He recorded:

After I finished my schooling in Raymond, I wanted to go to Normal School in Calgary. Father said, “Well, we need you on the farm,” He said, “If you can arrange the money, we can’t finance it, but if you can arrange to borrow the money, we’ll sacrifice your help on the farm.” So I went to the bank—I was frightened to death—I’d never talked to a banker before, and here I was talking to the manager of the Bank! I told him what I wanted and he said, “Are you Carl Tanner’s boy?” I said, “No, I’m N. W. Tanner’s boy.” He said, “Well, when could you pay this loan back?” I said, “I’ll start as soon as I start teaching school.” So, he let me have the money that I needed. That was a very, very significant thing in my life. When he knew that I was N. W. Tanner’s son, I made up my mind right then that I would try to live so that I would have that kind of name when my children came along. [1]

It is clear that the responsibility he felt to maintain his father’s good name and to pay back the school loan began a lifetime of honesty and integrity as well as an appreciation of business ethics, which became a powerful tool in his life. This school loan was the harbinger of a life of financial responsibility and acumen that would ultimately bless millions of people in his later government, business, and Church affairs.

Political Involvement and Social Credit

When Eldon finished normal school, he began teaching in Hill Spring, where he fell in love with a pretty fellow teacher, Sara (Sally) Merrill. He continued to court Sally until they were married in 1919. After their marriage, he returned to Cardston to complete what Canadians call grade twelve. They returned to Hill Spring, where he taught school and became involved in other businesses to the point that he quit teaching for a time to concentrate on running a general store, an eighty-acre farm, a gas station, a butcher shop, and a farm machinery business. These early businesses provided lessons and experience that would come into play later in his government, business, and Church responsibilities. He sold these businesses in 1927, and he and his family moved back to Cardston, where Eldon became the principal of the high school. By this time, he and his wife had had four daughters. He also sold men’s suits, insurance, and milk on the side. He was called into the bishopric of the Cardston First Ward, ultimately becoming bishop of the ward in 1933. He also successfully ran for town council.

In 1935 a significant political meeting was held in the basement of the Cardston Tabernacle that would change Tanner’s life forever. Eldon was asked to chair the meeting and became acquainted with a visitor from Calgary, William Aberhart. He was an Ontario-born schoolteacher who was principal at Crescent Heights School in Calgary. He was a highly organized, commanding figure at six feet tall and about 260 pounds. Religion was the mainstay of his life, and he was a radio preacher with a two-hour program every Sunday which, at its peak in the mid- to late-1920s, was heard by about 350,000 listeners. Academic higher criticism was becoming popular in Alberta, and Aberhart, as a fundamentalist scriptorian, won a large following toward practical Christianity in his “Back to the Bible” radio program. Bible study groups popped up around Alberta based on Aberhart’s efforts, creating a grassroots organization that would become politically expedient later. The economic downturn of the late 1920s and early 1930s seemed to create greater spiritual concern among citizens of the province, and the popularity of his program only strengthened. Airtime expanded to five hours each Sunday afternoon, and Aberhart and his radio program became virtually an Alberta institution.

While grading departmental examinations in Edmonton in the summer of 1932, Aberhart was introduced to a Christian-based political movement called Social Credit. A friend shared a book with him that outlined the theories of Clifford Hugh Douglas, a Scottish engineer and cost accountant who theorized that a major flaw of capitalism was that economic production could never generate enough income for the economy to buy itself back.

Douglas described Social Credit as “a policy of a philosophy,” calling it “practical Christianity.” Douglas believed that “there would be a chronic deficiency of purchasing power,” allowing the banking system to capitalize by issuing loans and thereby controlling the economic system and credit. [2] As a solution to the Great Depression, he advocated government control of credit and prices by issuing social credit to citizens based on the actual wealth of the economy in a nation or state. This social credit would be granted to citizens via a national dividend to enable them to buy goods and services. William Aberhart began to talk about social credit on his Sunday radio show and piqued the interest of his listeners. When his Bible study groups began to study social credit, a grassroots movement emerged and formed an actual political party known simply as Social Credit. Ultimately, Aberhart proposed that Albertans be given a twenty-five-dollar-per-month dividend based on this theory. That offer remained in the minds of Albertans and later fueled the initial success of the Social Credit party in the 1935 provincial election.

This applied or practical Christianity no doubt made Social Credit attractive to William Aberhart as well as N. Eldon Tanner. The 1935 meeting in the basement of the Cardston Tabernacle placed these two school principals in touch with each other, and the principles of Social Credit interested Bishop Tanner so much that he established a study group with a few men in town, which met one night a week for several weeks.

In the early 1930s, the dividend proposal gained traction with the populace, who could see that although they were impoverished there were plenty of goods and supplies around them due to the efficiencies of the industrial age, which seemed to produce goods ad infinitum. The idea of a Christian economic system that allowed the population to benefit from the wealth of all without adopting socialism began to take off, and it seemed the new Social Credit Party was about to be elected by a landslide. Aberhart had already asked Eldon Tanner to stand as a party candidate in Cardston, and Eldon accepted.

Sure enough, on August 23, 1935, Alberta elected the first Social Credit government in the world. William Aberhart eventually became the premier of the province (he did not actually run in the election, but the elected candidate stepped aside to allow him to take over the riding in a by-election) as well as the education minister. He asked N. Eldon Tanner to serve as speaker of the legislature, and a year later asked him to take the post of minister of lands and mines. Newspapers around the country and in Great Britain announced the birth of Social Credit as a bona fide government, and the Alberta Social Credit Party realized they must put their money where their mouth was.

Speaker Tanner quickly borrowed a robe and chair and spent late nights over the next few weeks learning parliamentary protocol. None of those elected in the first Social Credit government had even been in the legislative building, let alone served in any kind of provincial office. But they had soundly defeated the United Farmers of Alberta Party, and they sprang into activity to get ready for the upcoming legislative session. N. Eldon Tanner distinguished himself as an able speaker, taking firm control of the house and regulating all the affairs of the same. This moderating, monitoring role as speaker would become very useful in later years in both business and Church leadership.

New Responsibilities

Only a year later, William Aberhardt had a disagreement with C. C. Ross, the minister of lands and mines, and asked for Ross’s resignation. Both Aberhart and Ross felt that N. Eldon Tanner would be a good replacement minister. So, with only one year’s experience as house speaker, Eldon was asked if he would be willing to serve as Alberta minister of lands and mines. Always self-effacing, Eldon told the premier he was happy to continue as speaker, but Aberhart insisted and the speaker became the minister.

The Alberta Department of Lands and Mines controlled fish and game interests on behalf of the government as well as forestry and public lands. When he took the reins of the ministry, Tanner once again dedicated himself to learning the various facets of his new assignment. By meeting with the former minister, civil servants working in the department, and experts in the field outside of government, Tanner was able to gather the resources necessary to run the department with efficiency and confidence. One of his former government accountants commented, “President Tanner knew every detail of his budget for Lands and Mines. He wanted to be able to defend every dollar. His budget requests never came back with any adjustments I can remember. He was a real detail man.” [3]

In his new ministerial role, Tanner interacted with industry leaders, the public, and the press. On one occasion when a reporter did not keep confidence and published an upcoming action, he was called into the minister’s office and told he would not be privy to any more information. This commitment to principles and integrity would be a feature of Tanner’s future leadership, both in industry and in Church affairs.

Conservation and thrift was another feature of Tanner’s time in the minister’s office. In the early years of his service, Eldon Tanner and his department leaders formulated an ingenious leasing, drilling, and royalty plan that would prove to be remarkably effective in controlling oil and gas development in Alberta. His policies would add 2.35 billion dollars to the Alberta general revenue coffers between 1950 and 1968. Even now the policies’ benefits remain evident. N. Eldon Tanner’s oil policies and legislation, which resulted from much consultation with American and British oil interests, made Alberta rich and placed it in a financial position above every other province and territory in Canada, which remains the case even today.

In 1952, Tanner retired from the Alberta Social Credit government, but not before the then-current premier, Ernest C. Manning, privately offered to step down and offer Eldon the premiership. He then became the president of an oil company financed by Charles Merrill (of Merrill Lynch fame) in which his son-in-law Clifford Walker was a principal manager. Tanner had met Charles Merrill while consulting with American oil industry leaders. Tanner’s position resulted in a move for his family from Edmonton, the capital city of Alberta and seat of the provincial government, to Calgary, 180 miles to the south, where he had attended normal school in earlier days. It also placed him in a location to be called as the first president of the Calgary Stake, which was formed on November 14, 1953, by Elders Harold B. Lee and Mark E. Petersen. By this time, Eldon was serving on boards for numerous companies and associations, and his leadership talents and ability were obvious to all.

Tanner worked as president of the oil company until early 1954, when it merged with another company to form Trans-Canada Pipe Lines Company Limited. Both the premier of Alberta and the Canadian minister of trade and commerce urged Tanner to accept the position of president of Trans-Canada, whose commission was to build a natural gas pipeline from Alberta to Quebec. Business associates wanted him to move to Toronto, closer to business and financial interests, but Tanner insisted on staying in Calgary, pointing to the importance of his Church calling as stake president as his reason for staying in Alberta.

Canadian nationalism at the time strongly opposed American financing or control of the pipeline project, resulting in a terrific political ruckus in the Canadian Parliament over the economics of the project. The speaker of the national parliament, René Beaudoin, had allowed a debate on the passing of pipeline financing, which the opposition hoped would delay the passing of finance legislation and block the pipeline from being constructed that year, and then reversed himself, retracting his decision and creating the major furor that ultimately facilitated the pipeline financing. The action ruined Beaudoin’s career and later brought down the Liberal government and brought in a Conservative government led by John F. Diefenbaker. [4]

Tanner watched from the gallery of Canadian Parliament during the debate and became incensed at the seeming indifference of the sitting prime minister, Louis St. Laurent, and at one time left the gallery to confront him. His biographer would later report Eldon as saying, “I have never talked straighter to a man in my life.” [5] Again, whenever he sensed integrity being compromised, Eldon could not be restrained from taking action, no matter who the offending party might be.

The passing of the legislation allowed Trans-Canada Pipeline to proceed with construction. By October 27, 1958, after many additional financing maneuvers, Alberta gas arrived in Toronto. While many personalities came together to bring about the project, the firm, calm, persistent leadership of N. Eldon Tanner brought it all together. The Calgary Albertan remembered:

When a gas pipeline across Canada was being proposed and negotiated, the project was bogged down for a time by confusion and rivalry, and by difficult government conditions. It was agreed at the time that the one man in all Canada who could bring the various interests together and build the line conforming to government policy was Mr. Tanner. . . . The line has been built and is now in operation. It is a national institution, a major force in the economy of the country. And again, the chief architect has been Mr. Tanner. . . . We move a vote of thanks for the work he has done for Canada. [6]

The sensitive but firm hand of N. Eldon Tanner guided a difficult project to fruition in a relatively short length of time and blessed the entire country of Canada.

Church Service

No less impressive than his rise within the business community of Canada was N. Eldon Tanner’s rise within the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the completion of the Trans-Canada pipeline, the Tanners planned on enjoying a well-earned retirement on Calgary’s west side, overlooking the foothills of the rugged Rocky Mountains. They had property, horses, and grandchildren to enjoy. But after living for only eight months in the new dream home, everything changed. While attending general conference in October 1960, the Tanners dined with Eldon’s uncle Hugh B. Brown of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. At the end of the evening, Elder Brown said that President David O. McKay wished to see Eldon in his office at 9:00 the next morning.

Within a few minutes of his arrival at the Church Administration Building the next morning, Tanner was called by President McKay as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. This essentially meant that he would spend the rest of his life in full-time Church service. Later in the day, he would stand at the pulpit of the Tabernacle and humbly accept the call and “dedicate my life and my best to the work of the Lord.” [7]

This would begin a swift rise to service in the First Presidency. Six months after his call as a General Authority, Eldon was called as president of the Western European Mission in London, where he supervised seven other mission presidents, toured their missions, and conducted Church business between them and Church headquarters. The Tanners arrived in London as a spirited building program was under way. Land had been purchased for Latter-day Saint meetinghouses, and members were excited to move away from rented halls. Elder Tanner encouraged local members to be better missionaries and to help with the construction projects. This became a good preparatory experience for the years ahead.

After serving for eighteen months in London, Elder Tanner was called in for another interview with President McKay in October 1962. On that occasion, President McKay called him to fill the vacancy in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles created by the death of Elder George Q. Morris the previous April. He became the seventy-sixth Apostle to be ordained in this dispensation. The Tanners returned to England to prepare to turn the Western European Mission over to Elder Mark E. Petersen.

Elder Tanner was also asked to investigate the situation in Nigeria, where entire congregations of Africans had formed themselves into branches. At this time, the priesthood had not been extended to all worthy males, and Church leaders in Salt Lake City wanted an on-the-ground assessment of these branches and their earnest requests for baptism. Elder Tanner had previously met with Nigerian officials who were inquiring about Alberta’s oil and gas policies. The Tanners spent two weeks in Nigeria, meeting with the leaders and members of these unofficial branches. Upon returning to Utah, Elder Tanner recommended caution in moving the work forward in black Africa. President McKay recorded, “After listening to Elder Tanner’s report, I was deeply impressed that it was most fortunate that I had appointed Elder Tanner to go to Nigeria to look into the opening of the work there. I do not know of another man who could have met the conditions so favorably and intelligently as Brother Tanner did.” [8]

One must wonder if this Nigerian report did not have a lasting effect on the mind and heart of President McKay, for less than a year later, with the sudden death of President McKay’s counselor Henry D. Moyle, he spoke to his other counselor, Hugh B. Brown: “‘I’m being urged on this side and that side to appoint this man or that man. I’m going across to the temple to find out whom the Lord wants.’ When he came back, he went in to see [Hugh B. Brown] and said, ‘The Lord wants N. Eldon Tanner. Can you work with him?’ [Pres. Brown] said, ‘Well, President McKay, you may have forgotten, but this is my nephew. I’ve known him all my life. He is like a son to me. Of course I can work with him.’ ‘Oh, he’s your nephew? Well, he’s the man the Lord wants.’” [9]

And so on October 3, 1963, having received a phone call from his uncle Hugh the evening before, N. Eldon Tanner met at 7:30 a.m. with President McKay, who asked if he would serve as second counselor in the First Presidency. Having served in the Quorum of the Twelve for only a year, President Tanner was now in the position of leading those who had much more general Church leadership experience than he. But time would reveal the inspiration behind his call to the leading council in the kingdom.

As a member of the First Presidency, N. Eldon Tanner was thrust into financial affairs as he served on various committees such as the Church Budget Committee, the Committee on Expenditures, and several others. His ability to ask good questions and honestly acknowledge his need to understand operations endeared him to those with whom he met. No doubt his years of experience in government and business prepared him to ask searching questions and to evaluate operations of Church departments and businesses with some insight and acumen.

Upon meeting with the Budget Committee and Financial Department leaders, President Tanner became aware that expenditures were dangerously high and that Church budgeting was in need of some realignment. The dramatic growth of the Church both in America and in Europe called for new policies and procedures. President Tanner’s experience in education, business, and government had prepared him to help formulate new policies for the Church. His attention to detail, combined with a strong sense of financial accountability, allowed him to sensitively encourage change both organizationally and financially. He was unafraid to take strong action if necessary. Perhaps his strongest action early on was to declare a moratorium on brick-and-mortar construction (including delaying the construction of the Church Office Building) until the Building Committee budget could be stabilized and controlled. He also wanted to strengthen the Church’s financial reserve so it could withstand the strain of surging growth and provide a safety net when necessary. He called for an evaluation of current investments and a review of current financial practices.

As he began to see improved stability, an incident occurred which was reminiscent of his confrontation with the prime minister of Canada. President McKay met with Elder Thorpe B. Isaacson, who later became a counselor in the First Presidency. Elder Isaacson was aware of Church building problems in California and came to the President of the Church with a suggestion that the current head of the Church Building Department be released and new leadership be called. Without consulting his counselors, President McKay gave authorization to Elder Isaacson to move ahead and organize a committee to review the building issues in the Church. President Tanner wished to meet with President McKay privately on the issue, but scheduling difficulties prevented this, and the issue came before a meeting of the First Presidency on January 5, 1965. President Tanner freely spoke his mind:

I came in here twice last year and recommended to you that we set up a committee to work with the Building Committee. Nothing was done about it. [Elder] Isaacson comes in and recommends we set up a committee and you set it up immediately and the wrong kind of a committee in my opinion. . . .

I wanted to talk to you alone but it has come up this way and I want to express it here. . . . It is not the kind of committee that will do the job, it is only set up to get rid of [Wendell] Mendenhall and reorganize the Building Committee. [10]

The fact that he would address a difficult situation so directly clearly shows President Tanner’s courage; he was unafraid to approach difficulties with whomever he felt needed addressing. He felt for a time that perhaps he might be released over the situation, but in spite of some hurt feelings, President McKay kept his counselor in place, knowing that there was one in his presidency who would bring issues directly to the table and not simply tell him what he wanted to hear. It may well be that this incident firmly rooted a protocol that matters coming before the First Presidency required unanimity before being acted upon. It also underscored the need for correlation among Church councils that would reduce special agreements or actions for individuals appealing directly to the President of the Church. In the end, Brother Mendenhall was still released, a new Building Committee chair was called, and Thorpe B. Isaacson later served in the First Presidency. Yet President Tanner’s strong position on issues such as this illustrated the need for the President of the burgeoning Church to relinquish some personal control over Church programs and departments to his counselors, the Twelve, and the Seventy, as occurred under subsequent presidents.

It was not long before the Church budget was better balanced, spending was better controlled and monitored, and finances were subject to close cost accounting procedures. President Tanner took the scattered budgeting of the Church and brought it into correlation. His strong influence in implementing a more exacting corporate finance model to Church headquarters during his tenure cannot be overstated.

Another financial blessing for the Church, which President Tanner helped initiate working under the direction of President Harold B. Lee, was the formation of a fund-raising effort at BYU which eventually became LDS Philanthropies and the LDS Saints Foundation. Designed to encourage donations and development funds from wealthy Church members, these foundations have raised millions of dollars for BYU and other Church entities, freeing up tithing funds to be used for direct ecclesiastical purposes. As one who accumulated wealth through his business career, President Tanner could appreciate the desire many members have to be able to share their financial blessings in building the kingdom.

President Tanner also took a personal interest in Church farms and ranches that were part of the Church’s welfare efforts. His interest in cost accounting led him to examine the cost-per-animal estimates for feed and other resources. He loved to visit the Church’s properties and personally examine their operations and settings. Just like back in his government days in Alberta, President Tanner would ask insightful questions of operators to learn more about their duties, planning, and ideas for improvement.

Learning and recommending as he went along, his personable and approachable style encouraged a steady flow of new ideas for improvement and thrift in Church-owned facilities. He applied his talents for garnering ideas, financial analysis, and discernment to every aspect of the Church programs for which he bore responsibility. Again, his affable style and sensitivity to the feelings of others encouraged the sharing of ideas for improvement and the application of those ideas to Church programs with timeliness and orderliness.

His delegation skills with those he worked with also followed a particular pattern. He believed in the need to not only assign individuals a responsibility but also to give them the time and space to do the job, and make sure they know how and when to report back. After meetings, President Tanner would create memos and ensure they were delivered to those who had received assignments. [11]

President Tanner was not so pragmatic that he would follow protocol just for tradition’s sake. His biographer notes, “In observing transactions at Church headquarters, he sometimes asked Elder Joseph Anderson, who had been secretary to the First Presidency nearly half a century, ‘Now, why do we do it this way?’ Elder Anderson would reply, ‘Well, we have just always done it this way.’ And President Tanner would respond, ‘Well, that’s no reason.’” [12]

His years in education, government, and business taught President Tanner that people and their feelings were important, but that methods and systems could and should be improved when necessary. He was not afraid to say no when occasion required, but he ruled on principle, keeping in mind the feelings of those affected by his decisions.

I will not forget a situation that involved President Tanner and affected me very personally. I was serving as a counselor to a mission president who was enjoying significant success among Native Americans. The president of a university in the mission approached me and asked if Church leaders would consider providing housing in which missionary couples would serve as dorm parents for Native American students. I said I would take it up with my superiors. Church leaders deliberated over the request, but the mission president was eager to move forward.

The other counselor in the mission presidency had just sold a business for a sizable amount, and the sale was still being reviewed by business and government regulators. In a mission presidency meeting, he offered to provide funds to purchase property for the Native American student living facility. And though the Church had not approved the project, he invited me to look around for a home or facility that could house Native American students. I was able to locate what I thought was an appropriate building and met with a real estate agent and completed the purchase. A missionary couple then moved in to the home, began assembling furniture, and applied to the Church for reimbursement for the purchase.

As the application worked its way through Church offices, the mission president finished his assignment and returned home, and later the new mission president received word that the reimbursement application had been denied.

A few days later, the other counselor in the mission presidency called me, saying that he had been contacted by a national newspaper and asked about the loan he gave me to purchase the home. Because the sale of his corporation was a matter of public record, the loan for the Native American student facility looked like an insider trading violation, and he needed resolution on the matter quickly. Pressure mounted.

The real estate agent, who became my good friend through this process, was highly alarmed at the developments and asked me what I thought might happen. I said that I did not know, but I remember having a calm assurance that everything would work out just fine. He did not seem assured at all. In fact, he felt the Church had abandoned me.

When the former mission president was apprised of the situation, he made a visit to Church headquarters, where he met personally with President Tanner. In a very kind interview, President Tanner said that funds had been set aside for just such a contingency and that the Church would indeed purchase the property and then resell it as soon as possible. This, of course, was a great comfort to all involved. The real estate agent saw it as nothing less than a miracle and came away with much better feelings about the Church and its leaders, especially when he was able to resell the home for several thousand dollars more than the original purchase price. I sensed that I had literally felt the merciful hand of the Lord through President N. Eldon Tanner. Great relief was afforded through the kindness extended through this member of the First Presidency; perhaps this personal account helps highlight the height and the depth of the Church leader some called “Mr. Integrity.” [13]


As the years go by and we review twentieth-century Church history with additional perspective, it seems clear that N. Eldon Tanner was especially prepared in his character and life experiences to play a very significant role in bringing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into better organizational and financial practices. He established a foundation of fiscal development and responsibility that continues today. Significant Church projects may not have been possible without the influence and direction of President Tanner. Many Church departments and programs were deeply affected by his stellar service, and his memory continues to loom large over the Church even today.


[1] An Interview with President N. Eldon Tanner, Church History Library AV 1401 (Salt Lake City: Intellectual Reserve Inc., 1979), DVD (2009).

[2] John J. Barr, The Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of Social Credit in Alberta (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974), 26.

[3] Telephone interview with Harold E. Bennett, January 4, 2010. Bennett was an assistant accountant in lands and mines, later registrar of lands and forests in Lethbridge, Alberta. He also served as a counselor when President Tanner was the president of the Edmonton Branch.

[4] See Mark Maloney, “A Tragic Fall from Grace,” Toronto Star, February 24, 2007; http://globalpublicaffairs.ca/article022407.html.

[5] G. Homer Durham, N. Eldon Tanner, His Life and Service (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1982), 158.

[6] Durham, N. Eldon Tanner, 163.

[7] N. Eldon Tanner, in Conference Report, October 1960, 46.

[8] Gregory A. Prince and William Robert Wright, David O. McKay and the Rise of Modern Mormonism (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2005), 85.

[9] Prince and Wright, Rise of Modern Mormonism, 25.

[10] Prince and Wright, Rise of Modern Mormonism, 218–19.

[11] Dee F. Andersen, interviewed by author, February 9, 2010.

[12] Durham, N. Eldon Tanner, 257.

[13] Thomas S. Monson, “How Firm a Foundation,” Ensign, November 2006, 62, 67–68.