Joseph Fielding Smith (January 30, 1899 – August 29, 1964) was presiding patriarch and a general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1942 until 1946.
Smith was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of LDS Church apostle Hyrum M. Smith and Ida Elizabeth Bowman. He went to school at the University of Utah, where he majored in Theater. In 1929, he married Ruth Pingree. Together they had 7 children, Ruth, Ida, R.P. "Joe", Denis, Lynne, Hyrum and Pauline.
At the age of 43, Smith was ordained a high priest and Patriarch to the Church on 8 October 1942 by Church President Heber J. Grant. He served but four years before it was reported by the church that he had requested to be released from his position. His request was granted by Church President George Albert Smith on 6 October 1946, with the church announcing that Smith was released for reasons of "ill health." After Smith's death it was discovered that the patriarch had been involved in a homosexual affair with a 21-year-old U.S. Navy sailor, who was also a Latter-day Saint.
After being released, Smith took his family to Honolulu, Hawaii, where he continued to raise his family. For a time, Smith was not allowed to hold any position in the church, but reportedly was "treated with compassion." In 1957, Smith was again allowed to serve in the church after he had forsaken his homosexual behavior. Shortly thereafter, Smith's wife Ruth wrote a letter to Church President David O. McKay expressing her gratitude for the church's help, stating, "I know, better than anyone else, the trial our family has been to you and to the authorities." In 1957 and after, Smith served as a member of his stake's high council.
Smith died and was buried in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Smith should not be confused with his grandfather, Joseph F. Smith, nor his uncle, Joseph Fielding Smith, both of whom served as apostles and later as presidents of the church.
His grandson Jefferson Smith currently serves as a representative in the Oregon State House.
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