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Elder Bruce D. Porter dies at age 64

SALT LAKE CITY — Elder Bruce D. Porter, General Authority Seventy, died of a pulmonary infection Wednesday, an LDS Church spokesman said Thursday. He was 64.

Elder Porter was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 1, 1995, and was serving at church headquarters at the time of his death.

"We are deeply saddened to announce that Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy died at his home last evening, surrounded by his family. Elder Porter, age 64, succumbed to a pulmonary infection that developed in recent weeks. Until earlier this month he served as the President of the Europe East Area," said Eric Hawkins, a spokesman for the LDS Church.

"Our gratitude, thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Susan, and their family. We are profoundly grateful for the valiant service he offered to the very end of his life. He will be greatly missed."

Elder Porter was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on September 18, 1952.

As a young man, Elder Porter developed his faith and testimony of the gospel while going on home teaching visits with his father, according to a 1995 Ensign article.

"We sometimes had to travel quite a distance, so we had a lot of time to talk," Elder Porter said in the article. "Our conversations about the gospel had a big impact on me."

His testimony deepened as a full-time missionary in Düsseldorf, Germany, where both of his mission presidents served in the same European country during World War II. One was a prisoner of war in Russia. Elder Porter was so fascinated by their experiences that he decided to study Russian affairs when he returned home.

While attending Brigham Young University as a presidential scholar, he met Susan Elizabeth Holland in a religion class. They were married in the Washington D.C. Temple on Feb. 2, 1977, and became the parents of four children.

"From the day we were married," Sister Porter said in the Ensign article, "I was his first priority in life, after the Lord, and because of that we enjoy a close companionship and friendship."

Elder Porter spent a summer living in Russia as an exchange student and continued his studies at Harvard University, where he received a doctoral degree in political science emphasizing Russian affairs. He went to serve as executive director of the U.S. Board for International Broadcasting; an analyst for the Northrop Corporation; a staff member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee; and as a professor of political science at BYU.

Elder Porter has authored several books on topics related to Russian affairs and the LDS faith.

Before his call as a general authority, Elder Porter served in several leadership positions in the LDS Church. He served as a branch president in Germany, a bishop in Virginia, and later as a counselor in a stake presidency at BYU.

As a general authority, Elder Porter served in the Salt Lake City Area Presidency, on the Middle East/Africa North Desk, as executive director of the Correlation Department, and as president of the Europe East Area.

In October 1995 general conference, Elder Porter related an opportunity he had to visit Jerusalem shortly before Christmas.

"The streets were cold and dreary; there was political tension in the air," Elder Porter said. "Yet peace filled my heart to know that this was the city he loved so much, the very place of his eternal sacrifice; to know that here had lived he who was the Savior of all mankind."

In a 2012 BYU Devotional, Elder Porter testified of answered prayers by describing a personal experience in which he was blessed to find an affordable, vacant hotel room during the busy tourist season in Paris.

"I have reflected on that experience many times. I was no one really — one of tens of thousands of students traveling through Europe that summer. The Lord could have said, 'You got yourself into this, you can get yourself out.' I suppose I might have slept in the train station or just wandered the streets all night. But, instead, as a loving Father, He led me to a place of refuge when I sought it in humble prayer," Elder Porter said. "I testify that he will bless and be merciful to you, too, as you seek Him in prayer."

At April 2013 general conference, Elder Porter encouraged church members to be optimistic in all circumstances by recalling the cheerful example of a college roommate who was found singing a happy song on a dark, cold and dismal winter morning in his talk, "Beautiful Mornings."

"In the intervening years, that bright voice in a dark storm has become for me a symbol of what faith and hope are all about," Elder Porter said. "Even in a darkening world, we as Latter-day Saints may sing with joy, knowing that the powers of heaven are with God’s Church and people."

Elder Porter is survived by his wife and their four children.

Funeral services will be at 11 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 5, at the Bountiful Utah Central Stake Center on 640 S. 750 East, Bountiful. Viewings will be on Wednesday, Jan. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City, and on Thursday, Jan. 5, from 9 a.m. to 10:20 a.m. before the service. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his memory to LDS Charities or to the church's General Missionary Fund.

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