Courtesy of BYU
Elder David E. Sorensen, who served as a general authority of the LDS Church for 13 years, died Thursday at 81. He served in the Presidency of the Seventy and with the temple department during its "most committed era of temple building."

SALT LAKE CITY — Elder David E. Sorensen, who served as the executive director of the LDS Church's temple department during a period of remarkable temple building, died Tuesday in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

Elder Sorensen was 81.

He was part of a dramatic building boom in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when at one point church leaders dedicated 61 temples in four years.

Elder Sorensen himself called it the "most committed era of temple building" in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

He served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy from 1990-95, the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1995-2005, and the Presidency of the Seventy from 1998-2005.

He was granted emeritus status in 2005 and served as president of the San Diego California Temple from 2005-08.

Elder Sorensen also served as president of the Canada Halifax Mission from 1985-88 and in several area presidencies.

While a member of the Seventy, he was called to be the executive director of the temple department by late church President Gordon B. Hinckley, who had played a role in his life many years earlier. In the early 1950s, President Hinckley negotiated an agreement with the U.S. government to permit one young man from each LDS congregation to defer military service and serve an LDS mission.

Elder Sorensen served in the Central States Mission. He then spent two years in the military.

He married Verla Anderson, and they had seven children, 35 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

Elder Sorensen was a businessman who also served on the Deseret Management Company's audit committee for many years. DMC owns and operates the Deseret News.

Funeral services will be held Saturday in California. A graveside service will be held in connection with the interment at the Salt Lake City Cemetery on Tuesday.

In a 2006 devotional at BYU-Idaho, Elder Sorensen told the story, calling it a miracle, of how the church regained the original plans for the exterior of the Nauvoo Illinois Temple, which was destroyed after the Mormons were driven out of Illinois in 1846.

The plans were used to build a new temple on the same site, with a replica exterior, in 2002. It is the church's 113th operating temple, out of what today is a total of 143.

"It almost brings you to tears to think of the tremendous sadness and suffering our people experienced," Elder Sorensen told the Church News in 2002. "Now to come back and to see this temple (again) overlooking the Mississippi River. . . is one of the great spiritual experiences of this life."

He gave a number of general conference talks. During one in April 2005, he told the story of how President Hinckley's efforts made it possible for him to go on a mission.