About William Wallace Smith
W. Wallace Smith
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For other persons named Wallace Smith, see Wallace Smith (disambiguation).
William Wallace Smith (1900—1989), born November 18, 1900 in Lamoni, Iowa. He was Prophet-President of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ), from 1958 to 1978. Smith was the son of President Joseph Smith III and grandson of President Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement. W. Wallace Smith was the third of his father's sons to succeed to the presidency of the church, assuming the presidency after the deaths of his brothers Frederick M. Smith and Israel A. Smith.
In 1958, instead of calling Lynn Smith to replace his father in the office of Presiding Patriarch, he named Roy Cheville to the office in a break with a tradition of lineal succession. Following a 1960 worldwide missionary tour, W. Wallace Smith's tenure as church president saw substantial overseas growth in the church, especially in Africa, Latin America, and the Far East. The internationalization of the church also began an era of significant doctrinal and practical changes.
Smith designated his son, Wallace B. Smith as his successor in 1976, and in 1978 he became the first president of the church to retire to "emeritus" status — all previous presidents had served until their deaths. To ensure a smooth transition, W.W. Smith read a letter of resignation shortly before his son was ordained.
born Nov. 18, 1900, Lamoni, Iowa, U.S.
died Aug. 4, 1989, Independence, Mo.
W. Wallace Smith, a former president of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of cancer of the spine Aug. 4 at the Independence Regional Health Center. He was 88 years old and lived in Independence, Mo.
Mr. Smith succeeded his half-brother, Israel A. Smith, as president of the church in October 1958. When Wallace Smith took the leadership, the church had offices in 15 countries. The number increased to 35 countries by the end of his tenure. He became president emeritus in 1978 and was succeeded by his son, Dr. Wallace B. Smith.
The church, which currently has 241,000 members, has its headquarters in Independence. Mr. Smith and his brother were grandsons of Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the Latter-day Saints faith.
In addition to his son, Mr. Smith, a widower, is survived by a daughter, Rosalee Elser, of Independence; five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
W. Wallace Smith, Former RLDS Church Leader, Dies
August 06, 1989|From Times Wire Services
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — W. Wallace Smith, former president and prophet of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, died Friday. He was 88.
Smith was the grandson of Joseph Smith Jr., founder of the RLDS, and the father of Wallace B. Smith, the current president of the church, which has about 1,000 congregations and 240,000 members.
The Reorganized Church, which settled in Independence, was formed when the Mormons split into several factions, the largest of which followed Brigham Young to Salt Lake City, Utah, after religious persecution in 1844.
The Mormon Church's First Presidency in Salt Lake City sent condolences to Smith's family "and the entire Reorganized Church. We know their faith will sustain them during this time of sorrow."
Born Nov. 18, 1900 in Lamoni, Iowa, Smith became a minister in 1947 when he was ordained as a member of the Council of Twelve Apostles.
In 1950, he became a member of the Quorum of the First Presidency, the leading administrative organ of the church, and traveled widely through the United States, Canada, Japan, Korea and Europe.
He was ordained the fifth president of the RLDS church in October, 1958, and became president-emeritus in 1978, replaced as president by his son.
In his 20-year tenure as president, Smith expanded the church into other cultures and countries. It was established in 15 countries when he took over, and congregations opened in 20 more countries.
In addition to his son, Smith is survived by a daughter, Rosalee Smith Elser. His wife, Rosamond Bunnell Smith, died in August, 1986.
The church said his body will lie in state at the RLDS Auditorium in Independence for public viewing on Tuesday. Funeral services will be conducted on Wednesday.