On Sept. 2, 1938, Elder J. Golden Kimball passed away in a car accident when he was returning to Salt Lake City from a vacation in California. He had been a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 46 years. According to the Utah History Encyclopedia, “Kimball gave hundreds of sermons and visited practically every Mormon community in the Intermountain West.”

Who was J. Golden Kimball?

Born in Salt Lake City on June 26, J. Golden Kimball was the son of Christeen Golden and Heber C. Kimball. J. Golden Kimball was a mule driver, but he also cut timber for the construction of the Logan Temple. After hearing Karl G. Maesar give a speech, Kimball enrolled in Brigham Young Academy, went on a mission for the church, served as a mission president and then was called as a General Authority.

About Kimball, Wallace Stegner recorded, “Anecdotes and stories float through every Mormon hamlet, and there is even a kind of fraternity of storytellers specializing in J. Golden stories. But like all originals, he defies transcription. He was himself, no less, no more, and nobody knew it better than he.”

As LDS Living put it, “Elder J. Golden Kimball, often referred to as ‘the Swearing Apostle,’ was notorious for his sense of humor and pragmatic attitude about the gospel and life.”

Once, when Kimball was conducting business at General Conference, he started leading the sustaining of church leaders. He looked out into the audience and discovered that the audience was beginning to fall asleep while he was leading these sustainings. So, then, he continued in the same tone as before, “It has been proposed that Mount Nebo be moved from its present site in Juab County and be placed on the Utah-Idaho border. All in favor make it manifest by raising the right hand; opposed, by the same sign.”

The audience suddenly woke up and they were able to complete sustaining all the leaders.

Kimball injected humor in his talks whenever he could. But in October 1926, he also taught an important lesson: “We never know how much good we do when we speak in the name of the Lord. I claim that every man fills his niche when he is called of God and set apart and ordained to an office. He may not fill it in the way someone else fills it, but if he is a man of courage he will fill it in his own way, under the influence of the Holy Spirit.”