SALT LAKE CITY — The LDS Church's "Mr. Welfare" has died.
Elder Glen L. Rudd, 98, was the oldest living man who had served as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when he passed away Friday, Dec. 30, from complications after breaking his hip.
Elder Rudd managed Welfare Square in Salt Lake City for 25 years and was a friend to church presidents throughout his adult life.
He also had special ties to the LDS Church in New Zealand. He first served there in 1938 as a missionary under future LDS apostle Matthew Cowley. He returned 27 more times, as an advisor on the Labor Missionary Project that built the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and the Church College of New Zealand, as president of the New Zealand Wellington Mission, as president of the Hamilton New Zealand Temple and as area president.
"The mourning of his death will be larger in the Pacific, specifically in New Zealand, then it will be in the States," said his oldest child, Lee Rudd, of Coalville, Utah.
Elder Rudd literally wrote the book — "Pure Religion" — on the history of the welfare programs of the church. He was the last living person connected with the creation of Welfare Square, where his involvement began in 1941. He spent most of his remaining 75 years working in the welfare department.
Elder Rudd and LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson had been "bosom friends" for 75 years, Lee Rudd said. Elder Rudd was made bishop of the Salt Lake 4th Ward at age 25 when President Monson, then 22, was bishop of the 6th-7th Ward. Elder Rudd and his wife, Marva, drove President Monson on his first date with his future wife, Frances Johnson.
Elder Rudd raised bulldogs when his children were young, including a North American champion named Zorro. He later sold the dog.
"President Monson delighted in giving dad a rough time about how any man could sell his champion dog," Lee Rudd said.
Elder Rudd's position in church welfare led him to visit virtually all of the church's stakes in North America, traveling with general authorities of the church. Those travels included trips with seven future church presidents — Presidents Joseph Fielding Smith, Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball, Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter, Gordon B. Hinckley and Monson.
He worked full-time in the welfare department until he was 95, when Marva died. Since then, he had continued to maintain an office in the department, working part-time until he first broke his hip in June.
"He devoted his whole life to helping other people, providing for their physical and spiritual needs," Lee Rudd said.
Elder and Sister Rudd had eight children. Elder Rudd died with seven of them surrounding his bed. The eighth participated via FaceTime video from New Zealand.
Elder Rudd had 41 grandchildren, 96 great-granchildren and two great-great grandchildren living at the time of his death.
His daughter Susan Rudd Taylor said Elder Rudd was there for her and her husband when they lost triplets in 1981. From the time she was young, she knew she could turn to him for help.
"I had absolute faith and belief in my father's prayers," she said. "I knew it was his prayers that always turned everything around. I had so much faith in his faith."
Elder Rudd was called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1987, sustained to the Second Quorum two years later and released during the October 1992 general conference.
He was a counselor in the North America West and North America Southwest areas and for a year was president of the Pacific Area.
Sometimes nicknamed "Mr. Welfare," he celebrated his "perfect" 92nd birthday on May 18, 2010, with a commemorative shovel in his hand, turning soil to mark the beginning of construction of a new Utah Bishop’s Central Storehouse on Salt Lake City’s west side. It was, in his own words, "the best birthday ever."
As manager of Welfare Square for 25 years, Elder Rudd became closely associated with President Lee and with counselors in the First Presidency — Presidents Henry D. Moyle, Marion G. Romney and J. Reuben Clark Jr.
He helped introduce the welfare services program to the stakes in the 1940s. At the time of his call as temple president, he was director of zone operations.
The family launched the Glen L. Rudd Foundation in his honor in 2011. The foundation is a legacy of charity for their father, Lee Rudd said, and provides educational opportunities for Polynesian children.
Elder Rudd was born May 18, 1918, in Salt Lake City, a son of Charles P. Rudd and Gladys Thomas Rudd. As a teenager, he helped in his father’s poultry processing business, and the poultry business became his springboard into the welfare program.
Elder Rudd graduated from South High School and attended the University of Utah for two years before going on his mission to New Zealand. On June 5, 1941, he married Marva Sperry in the Salt Lake Temple.
Elder Rudd also was a high councilor in the Temple View and Wilford stakes, a counselor in the Wilford Stake presidency and a member of the General Welfare and General Missionary committees. He was president of the Florida Mission from 1966 to 1969 and later became president of the New Zealand Wellington Mission when that mission president died and president of the Texas Corpus Christi mission when the previous president needed to be released.
He was president of the New Zealand Temple from 1984 until his call as a general authority.
He also served as a sealer in the Salt Lake Temple for many years.
Funeral services will be held Wednesday, Jan. 4, at noon at the Salt Lake Wilford Stake Center, 1765 E. 3080 South, Salt Lake City, Utah.