Longtime church leader Russell M. Nelson, 93, expected to be next LDS president

Wednesday , January 03, 2018 - 8:55 PM6 comments

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

With Tuesday’s death of Thomas S. Monson, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is temporarily without a president, but President Russell M. Nelson is expected to be the successor.

Nelson is the president of the church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Historically, that group’s leader is chosen to head the church when a previous church president dies.

RELATED: Thomas S. Monson, president of Mormon church, dies at 90

The church’s apostles will have a formal meeting to pick a new president after Monson’s Jan. 12 funeral, the church said.

Nelson has been an apostle since April 7, 1984, making him the faith’s longest-serving leader.

Monson’s two counselors, Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, have returned to positions they had before they were selected to work with Monson, giving the quorum 13 members.

The quorum will lead the church until its members decide to name a church president. The new president then will name two counselors, the news release said.

The new president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be the longest-serving member, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, unless Oaks becomes a counselor to the church president, the news release said. In that case, the role will go to the next in line.

Before his calling as a general authority in the church, Nelson was noted as an “internationally renowned surgeon and medical researcher,” according to Nelson’s church-issued biography.

He received his Bachelor of Arts and master’s degrees from University of Utah, and did his residency in surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and at the University of Minnesota, where he received his doctorate degree in 1954.

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Nelson’s professional work included positions of research professor of surgery and director of thoracic surgery residency at the University of Utah. He was chairman of the Division of Thoracic Surgery at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City.

He is the author of numerous chapters in medical textbooks and other publications, and he lectured at and visited many organizations throughout the United States and other nations prior to his call as a church leader, according to his biography.

His leadership roles included president of the Society for Vascular Surgery, a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery, chairman of the Council on Cardiovascular Surgery for the American Heart Association and president of the Utah State Medical Association, according to his biography.

Before his full-time church service, he served as stake president of the Bonneville Stake from 1964 until 1971, when he was called as general president of the Sunday School, according to his biography.

Nelson and his late wife, Dantzel White Nelson, have 10 children, 57 grandchildren and more than 100 great-grandchildren. Following Dantzel’s death in February of 2005, Nelson married Wendy L. Watson in April 2006. 

You can reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at Facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis

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