Jason Olson, Deseret Morning News
Elder David B. Haight, at 97 the oldest member of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve and the oldest apostle in the history of the church, died at 4:15 a.m. Saturday, July 31, 2004, at his home, surrounded by family members.
His death of causes incident to age is the second loss of a top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past 10 days. Elder Neal A. Maxwell died July 21.
Funeral services for Elder Haight are scheduled for noon Thursday in the Tabernacle on Temple Square. There will be no public viewing, and burial services will be private.
Elder Haight attended Elder Maxwell's funeral on Tuesday, taking his place on the dais with help from fellow apostles. He sat next to the empty seat left by Elder Maxwell, and now leaves his own chair vacant in a group of fellow apostles and
friends. The two of them had conducted a mock fencing match with their canes during their last meeting together with the Quorum of the Twelve.
The First Presidency of the LDS Church issued a statement saying, "We deeply regret the passing of our beloved friend and associate, Elder David Bruce Haight. His service has been long and dedicated.
"He has stirred the hearts of people across the Earth with his declaration of faith and his testimony of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has borne that witness on many continents and has been influential in the church he loved."
Though his death was not unexpected, church leaders mourned his departure, saying, "our hearts reach out to his beloved companion, Ruby, and their children."
During the last years of his life, Elder Haight had to forgo the scripted sermons given by LDS leaders during the faith's semi-annual general conferences because of failing eyesight. His extemporaneous remarks revealed the depth of his love for the faith and its leaders, as well as a constant and deep witness of Jesus Christ. Church members were awed by his stamina, warmed by his ready smile and certain of his dedication to God.
Many Latter-day Saints remember Elder Haight best for one particularly poignant sermon given in October 1989 during general conference. He told of becoming seriously ill several months earlier and, as his wife telephoned for help, pleading that God would spare his life "a while longer to give me a little more time to do his work, if that was His will."
As he heard the ambulance in the distance, he lost consciousness and remained unconscious for several days. At that time, he said he entered into a "holy presence and atmosphere," where he was "shown a panoramic view of (Christ's) earthly ministry: his baptism, his teaching, his healing the sick and lame, the mock trial, his crucifixion, his resurrection and ascension."
In a voice filled with emotion, he described minute details of the Last Supper, describing "the washing of the dusty feet of each apostle, his breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine, then his dreadful disclosure that one would betray him."
Latter-day Saints regard members of the Quorum of the Twelve as Christ's living apostles who lead a modern version of Christ's original church restored to Earth through revelation by church founder Joseph Smith in 1830. Apostles are charged to serve as "special witnesses" of Jesus Christ throughout the world."During those days of unconsciousness I was given, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, a more perfect knowledge of (Christ's) mission," Elder Haight said. He continued to share that knowledge with church members around the world for the rest of his life.
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