Adam Samuel Bennion

Lawrence R. Flake, Prophets and Apostles of the Last Dispensation (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2001), 493–95.

Adam Samuel Bennion portrait

Born: 2 December 1886, Taylorsville, Utah

Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: 9 April 1953 (age 66)

Died: 11 February 1958 (age 71), Salt Lake City, Utah

Whenever Adam S. Bennion took out-of-town visitors on a tour of the temple grounds in Salt Lake City, he would always pause at the crude one-room cabin preserved behind the Pioneer Museum. “I show them the little log cabin and ask them to behold it,” he said, “and then turn from the cabin to the temple. I want them to understand the poverty of the pioneers who lived in log cabins, but still dreamed dreams of a temple” [1] This contrast typifies Brother Bennion’s life, as he was left fatherless at the age of eighteen months and was reared by his mother in the remote Rush Valley of Utah, near Taylorsville, where two of the Bennion children died because medical services were unavailable.

Young Adam dreamed dreams and enacted them—he graduated from the University of Utah in 1908, obtained a master of arts degree from Columbia University in New York City, and returned to Utah to become a high school teacher, a principal, and a college professor. In spite of the great heights to which he rose, he never seemed to lose touch with the humbler things of life typified by his own beginnings.

Using for the good of the Church his skills in the field of education, Brother Bennion became the superintendent of the Church School System in 1919 and remained in that position until 1928. Meanwhile, he also served as a board member of the Deseret Sunday School Union, a post he held for thirty-eight years. In 1911 he married Minerva Young and reared a distinguished family of three sons and two daughters.

Sidestepping his profession as an educator, Brother Bennion entered the business world and became vice president of the large and thriving Utah Power and Light Company. He successfully published several works both in his field and for the Church—these included two books on teaching, numerous Sunday School manuals, articles, and so forth. Elder Bennion was a talented speaker, popular throughout the Church. When he was sustained at general conference in 1953 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, however, he noted in his address this irony: “For years I have been going up and down the land preaching—but in the hour of this greatest call I have no preachment.” [2]

As an apostle, Elder Bennion served on numerous Church committees, acted as advisor to the Deseret Sunday School, and befriended all who came in contact with him. He won the love and respect of many. The same deep appreciation he had for both the pioneer cabin and the temple carried over into his love for people. A few months after Elder Bennion’s death at the age of seventy-one, Elder Harold B. Lee aptly observed, “Somehow he seemed to have in the wide sweep of his understanding soul, that quality which made him seemingly akin to all the high and the low, the rich and the poor, the young and the old.” [3]


[1] Henry D. Moyle, “Adam S. Bennion Appointed to the Council of the Twelve,” Relief Society Magazine, June 1953, 370; see also 370–73.

[2] Albert L. Zobell, “Church Members Saddened by the Death of Elder Adam S. Bennion,” Improvement Era, April 1958, 240.

[3] Harold B. Lee, “In Memoriam: Adam S. Bennion,” Relief Society Magazine, April 1958, 216.