President Ezra Taft Benson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints observed his 89th birthday Thursday.
The president of the 6.5 million-member church spent the day in his office in the Church Administration Building, where he was honored by general authorities and fellow workers.Thursday evening President Benson and his wife, Flora, will gather with family members.
President Benson was ordained and set apart as the 13th president of the church Nov. 10, 1985, and previously served as president of the Council of the Twelve. He was called to that body in 1943 and was set apart as president of the council Dec. 30, 1973.
From 1953 to 1961, he served as U.S. secretary of agriculture during the Eisenhower administration, and has many years service in the Boy Scouts, which has honored him with the Silver Buffalo award.
Last summer President Benson participated in the sesquicentennial of the church in Great Britain and the Cardston Centennial celebration in Alberta, Canada.
His travels this past year have been primarily to regional conferences of the church in Texas, Colorado, Utah and California.
On May 11 President Benson was honored as Utah State University's most distinguished alumnus in its 100-year history. He was presented the Centennial Alumnus Award of the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges, which is given to the top alumnus of each of its member schools. USU is a member of the association. President Benson also received USU's Special Centennial Recognition Award, given to 30 outstanding graduates of USU.
On July 25 he and his wife, to whom he has been married nearly 64 years, waved to spectators as they rode in a limousine at the head of the Days of '47 Parade in Salt Lake City.