Elder David B. Haight, at 97 the oldest member of the LDS Churchs Quorum of the Twelve, died Saturday, July 31, 2004, at 4:15 a.m. at his home, surrounded by family members.
His death of causes incident to age is the second loss of a top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the past 10 days. Elder Neal A. Maxwell died July 21, and Elder Haight made his last public appearance at the funeral on Tuesday, taking his place on the dais with help from fellow apostles.
He sat next to the empty seat left by Elder Maxwell, and now leaves his own chair vacant in a group of fellow apostles and friends. The two of them had conducted a mock fencing match with their canes during their last meeting together with the Quorum of the Twelve.
The First Presidency of the LDS Church issued a statement saying, "We deeply regret the passing of our beloved friend and associate, Elder David Bruce Haight. His service has been long and dedicated.
"He has stirred the hearts of people across the Earth with his declaration of faith and his testimony of the living reality of the Lord Jesus Christ. He has borne that witness on many continents and has been influential in the Church he loved."
Though his death was not unexpected, church leaders mourned his departure, saying our hearts reach out to his beloved companion, Ruby, and their children."
During the last years of his life, Elder Haight had to forgo the scripted sermons given by LDS leaders during the faiths semi-annual general conferences because of failing eyesight. His extemporaneous remarks revealed the depth of his love for the faith and its leaders, as well as a constant and deep witness of Jesus Christ. Church members were awed by his stamina, warmed by his ready smile and certain of his dedication to God.
Many Latter-day Saints remember Elder Haight best for one particularly poignant sermon given in October 1989 during general conference. He told of becoming seriously ill several months earlier and, as his wife called for help, pleading that God would spare his life "a while longer to give me a little more time to do his work, if that was His will."
As he heard the ambulance in the distance, he lost consciousness and remained unconscious for several days. At that time, he said he entered into a "holy presence and atmosphere," where he "shown a panoramic view of (Christs) earthly ministry: His baptism, His teaching, His healing the sick and lame, the mock trial, His crucifixion, His resurrection and ascension."
In a voice filled with emotion, he described minute details of the Last Supper, describing the washing of the dusty feet of each Apostle, His breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine, then His dreadful disclosure that one would betray Him.
Latter-day Saints regard members of the Quorum of the Twelve as Christs living apostles who lead a modern version of Christs original church restored to Earth through revelation by church founder Joseph Smith in 1830. Apostles are charged to serve as special witnesses of Jesus Christ throughout the world.
"During those days of unconsciousness I was given, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, a more perfect knowledge of (Christs) mission," Elder Haight said. He continued to share that knowledge with church members around the world for the rest of his life.
Elder Haight was ordained an apostle on Jan. 8, 1976. He had served as an Assistant to the Twelve since April 6, 1970.
He was born Sept. 2, 1906 in Oakley, Idaho, to Hector C. and Clara Tuttle Haight. His father died when he was nine years old, and he was reared primarily by his mother and his older brothers and sisters. After attending Oakley High School and Albion State Normal School in Idaho, he completed his schooling at Utah State University and served as a commander in the Navy during World War II, where he earned a special citation from the Pacific fleet commander.
He married Ruby Olson on Sept. 4, 1930, in the Salt Lake Temple, and they had three children. He served as mayor of Palo Alto, Calif., from 1959 to 1963, and resigned that position to serve the church as president of the Scottish Mission.
Civic and business activities included executive positions with the ZCMI, district and regional manager in California and Chicago for Montgomery Ward and Co. After returning from Scotland, he served as assistant to the president of Brigham Young University.
He had been a director of Bonneville International Corporation, First Security Bank, Huntsman Chemical Corporation and Deseret Management Corporation. Other Church service included callings as a regional representative, member of the Priesthood Missionary Committee, president of the Palo Alto California Stake, stake high councilor and bishop's counselor.
USU honored him with its "Distinguished Alumnus Award" in 1978, and in 1991, the David B. Haight Alumni Center was dedicated at the school in his honor. He received an honorary doctorate degree from BYU in 1998.
He is survived by his wife, Ruby, their three children, 18 grandchildren and more than 70 great-grandchildren.