President Henry B. Eyring only spent four months as second counselor in the LDS Church's First Presidency before being called as first counselor.
At Monday morning's press conference announcing the new First Presidency, President Eyring said he had wonderful experiences during his short time as second counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley, and he was "humbled and honored to have been invited to serve as a counselor" to President Thomas S. Monson.
"For many years I've had the chance to come to know President Monson ... his goodness and capacity and love for people. I pledge my whole heart to serve with him, knowing as I do his faith in the Lord, Jesus Christ." He said he looks forward to "this opportunity to see his influence and power to go forward and bless the church and the whole world."
President Eyring joined the First Presidency in October 2007, succeeding President James E. Faust, who died in August. Now, he replaces President Monson as first counselor.
President Eyring was born May 31, 1933, to Henry and Mildred Bennion Eyring in Princeton, N.J., where he lived as a young boy. His father was a renowned research scientist at Princeton and the University of Utah, whose knowledge of intricate chemistry was widely applied to a variety of scientific fields. The family moved to Salt Lake City from New Jersey in the 1940s so their children could grow up in an LDS environment, and the senior Henry Eyring helped build the U. into a renowned research institution.
President Eyring attended the University of Utah after high school.
"I went from there to the United States Air Force and somehow decided that physics would not be my life's work. I thought I needed something else for education, so I tried a place I had heard of called the Harvard Graduate School of Business. I was so naive I didn't know it might be hard to be admitted. I know now that it was a miracle that I was accepted ... I didn't know what a balance sheet was. I didn't know what a pro-forma cash flow looked like. I was a physics student about to be lost in the Harvard Business School."
After graduation with a doctorate from the prestigious institution, he took a faculty position at Stanford University, where he married his wife, Kathleen Johnson.
She was a University of California Berkeley student who was attending summer school at Harvard. They were married on July 27, 1962, in the Logan Temple. They have six children and 25 grandchildren.
President Eyring was a second and first lieutenant and was stationed in Albuquerque, where he was the head of field command, Armed Forces, Special Weapons Project. He didn't serve the usual two-year mission. However, two weeks after his arrival in New Mexico, he was called as a district missionary in the Western States Mission, serving in that calling almost two years to the day.
While at Stanford, he held teaching and administrative assignments in production management, operations and systems analysis, organizational behavior and management of the total enterprise. He also served as a visiting fellow for a year at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was founder, director or officer of at least two companies in Sunnyvale, Calif.
A consultant to a wide range of private and public enterprises, he was called by the First Presidency to serve as president of Ricks College (now BYU-Idaho) in 1971, where he served for six years before becoming deputy commissioner of church education. He was later named commissioner, where he served until being sustained as first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric in 1985, then a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1992, and then as an apostle on April 1, 1995, at age 61.
Just before his call to the First Presidency, President Eyring represented the church on highly public issues that involved some controversy. Recently, in Cedar City, he was the church spokesman in issuing an apology to descendants of those murdered 150 years ago in the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Some 120 non-Mormon immigrants traveling toward California were killed on the order of local church leaders who commanded an LDS militia.
Among his past local positions were high councilor, YMMIA president, bishop's counselor and bishop.