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With the death of Elder Joseph Anderson, an emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has lost one of its longest direct links with the past. At 102 years, he was the oldest man to have served as a church general authority.

Not only had Elder Anderson served since 1970 as a general authority, he also had been secretary to the First Presidency from 1923 to 1972. His career involved a longer and closer association with different presidents of the church and other church officials than almost anyone else.It was an experience he cherished from the beginning and described often as the highlight of his life. He brought dedication and expertise to a lifetime of work as clerk and reporter for the church general conferences as well as the First Presidency.

Elder Anderson also served for many years as director, member of the executive committee and secretary-treasurer of Deseret Book Co.

He was born in Salt Lake City Nov. 20, 1889, and graduated from Weber Academy, now Weber State University, at the age of 15. Because of his skills with shorthand and typing, he was encouraged to become a court reporter. But after a church mission to Germany, marriage - one that was to last 70 years - and a stint in business, he became personal secretary to Church President Heber J. Grant in 1922, a post he held for 23 years in addition to his work as secretary to the First Presidency.

As part of that assignment, he attended meetings of the First Presidency and Council of the Twelve, taking minutes of the proceedings. For several decades, he also took shorthand minutes of general conferences. His was an unmatched daily closeness to the church over a historic period of growth in its membership and spread throughout the world.

He became a general authority himself in 1970 when he was named as one of the assistants to the Council of the Twelve. When that office was eliminated, he became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy in 1976 and was among those given emeritus status in 1978.

Elder Anderson stayed active, swimming regularly at Deseret Gym until he was in his late 90s. A kindly, quiet-humored man who always appeared younger than his years, he lived a life that encompassed remarkable and dramatic change in the LDS Church and saw all its inner workings firsthand.

The Deseret News is proud to join Elder Joseph Anderson's many admirers in expressing appreciation not just for his length of service but for the intensity of his devotion and dedication.