Q: Marion G. Romney was a member of the First Presidency when the Official Declaration – 2 was presented to the membership of the Church for approval. How many years did this faithful man serve as a General Authority?
A: Marion G. Romney was born 19 September 1897 in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, the oldest of ten children. His father left on a mission to the Chicago area eight days after Marion was born. During his absence, Marion became seriously ill. He was given a priesthood blessing and was promised that “his life would be spared for the purpose of accomplishing [a great] mission.’
Colonia Juarez, Mexico
Marion spent his youth in the Mexican colonies, but when he was fourteen years of age, a rebellion in Mexico forced him to flee with his family to the United States. They lived in Texas, and then California before moving to Idaho in 1913.
Marion’s father, George S. Romney, became the president of Ricks Acadamy, so in 1917 Marion moved with his family to Rexburg, Idaho. Romney graduated valedictorian of Ricks high school in 1918. He enrolled in Ricks, where he excelled in debate, drama, and athletics. It was here that he met his future wife, Ida Jensen, a teacher. Their friendship was interrupted when Marion accepted a mission call to Australia. He had to borrow the money to go, but paid it back when he returned. He was gone for three years.
After his mission, Marion pursued his education at Brigham Young University for a year, where Ida was completing her graduate work in teaching. They were married on 12 September 1924 in the Salt Lake Temple. They had four children, but two died in infancy. Marion studied and worked at the same time to support his family. He would go to school during the day, work at the post office from 3:00 to 11:00 P.M., sleep, then get up at 5:00 A.M. to study until he left for school. He followed that schedule for three years, also making time each day to study the Book of Mormon.
Marion continued his studies at the University of Utah, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in political science and history. In the fall of 1926 he enrolled in law school and passed the rigorous bar exam in 1929. He opened his legal practice in Salt Lake City. He resolved to arrive at the office thirty minutes earlier than his associates to read, pray, and ponder the scriptures he loved.
In 1934 Marion was elected to the Utah House of Representatives. He resigned when he was called as bishop of the Thirty-third Ward in the Liberty Stake. On 15 May 1938 he was sustained as president of the Bonneville Stake. Less than two years later, he was called to be one of the five Assistants to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. His responsibility was to be the assistant managing director of the Church welfare department, where he served for ten years.
In October 1951, Marion was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He was ordained as Second Counselor to President Spencer W. Kimball on 30 December 1973. In 1978, as a member of the First Presidency, Marion G. Romney’s name was on the Official Declaration issued by the Church, “extending priesthood and temple blessings to all worthy male members of the Church.’ It was approved at the October 1978 General Conferenc., On 2 December 1982 he was called to be First Counselor. With the death of President Spencer W. Kimball in 1985, he was sustained as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
Romney died on 20 May 1988 from natural causes at his home in Salt Lake City at age ninety. He served 47 years as a church general authority and was renowned as a Church Welfare pioneer and Book of Mormon scholar. Romney was buried at Wasatch Lawn Memorial Park in Salt Lake City.
As he was promised in the blessing he received when an infant, President Romney did have a great mission to fulfill. And his love, his example, and his lifetime of service to the Church, including 47 years as a General Authority, show that the promise was indeed fulfilled.
Source: Who’s Who in the Doctrine & Covenants by **Susan Easton Black; “In Memoriam: President Marion G. Romney—A Promise Fulfilled,’ Ensign, July 1988.