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MILESTONE: SISTER BENSON TO COMMEMORATE 90TH BIRTHDAY; HOME AND FAMILY ALWAYS HAVE BEEN HER FIRST CONSIDERATIONS

Flora Amussen Benson, the wife of President Ezra Taft Benson, will commemorate her 90th birthday July 1, marking a life full of valuable wisdom and lessons.

As she approaches her birthday, she and her husband still enjoy regularly visiting family, attending family dinners and going for rides together.During most of her life, Sister Benson has been at the side of her husband, giving him support since their marriage on Sept. 10, 1926, in the Salt Lake Temple.

Through the years she has become well-known for her keen sense of humor, witty phrases and profound statements, particularly on family and home.

Sister Benson is the 18th child of Carl Christian Amussen and the sixth child of his third wife, Barbara McIsaac Smith Amussen. She is the only living child and often refers to herself as "the last of the Mohicans."

When she first meets people, she frequently tells them, "My father was older than my grandfather." In fact, her father was born in 1825 and was 76 years old when Sister Benson was born. He was older than her maternal grandfather, Adam Browning Smith, who was born in 1832.

Sister Benson was always close to her mother and had a great love and deep respect for her. "My mother was left a widow when I was just 1 year old, and so the two of us were close pals. It seemed like I was her shadow," she said.

"My mother was so spiritual and she was always so thoughtful of others in need. Material things meant nothing to her.

"The gospel teaching I remember best came from my angel mother. My mother was my greatest teacher and influence for good. She was never too busy to help a child and her home was a heaven for youth. Whenever children or adults came to her home to play, to borrow, to visit, they usually left with a beautiful thought, lesson or quotation from the gospel. She gave abundantly of comfort, love and counsel."

Sister Benson is known for her favorite sayings as she traveled throughout the Church. Often, she would conclude her remarks by saying, "Like my old Scotch grandfather used to say, `The Lord bless you and the devil miss you!' "

She often recited one of her favorite poems, "Home," written by Edgar A. Guest: "It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home, a heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam. . . ."

Her statements on home and family include the following:

- On being a wife and mother

"I chose to marry a man, above all, rich spiritually and not rich materially. If I had my choice, I often said that I preferred that my husband be a farmer and that what positions of honor and material things would come to us we would achieve them together starting at the bottom."

As a mother of six, she believed that parents should raise their children in the truths and the principles of the gospel, teaching them that God's work comes first.

"My Church, my husband, and my family have been my first and most important considerations."

- On motherhood

"If you want to find greatness, do not go to the throne but go to the cradle. There is a mighty power in a mother's hand, a mother's kiss, a mother's smile, a mother's song and a mother's love. There is a mighty power in a mother's trust.

"God pays a good mother as no one else can pay her. A good mother will keep being paid throughout eternity. God's pay is priceless. It pays in lasting joy that is fireproof and devilproof."

- On children

"My husband and I wanted 12 children, but the Lord only sent us six. I have often said that if we had had twins every time, we would have made it!

"Nothing is more important than our homes, our children, and their proper training, which I feel makes it necessary to be with them as much as possible to counsel them and guide their steps."

- On home

"I believe that homemaking is one of the highest callings of a woman. I have endeavored always to dedicate my life to building a happy, successful home and family life on a solid spiritual foundation."

In a tribute to Sister Benson, President Benson has said, "Flora's entire life is centered in the gospel, the Church, her husband and her children and service to her fellowman. I have never known a more unselfish person or one with greater spirituality and testimony."