Elder Robert D. Hales, one of the top ranking leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Sunday afternoon after being hospitalized last week with pulmonary disease and other conditions. His death comes as the Church was meeting for its semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City.
A press release from the LDS Church said Elder Hales died in a hospital at 12:15 p.m., surrounded by his wife and family. He was 85-years-old and had been a member of the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for more than 23 years.
During his last public address, in April of this year, Elder Hales spoke about becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. He said, the constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ are all necessary to stand strong in the last days.
“Discipleship is not constrained by age, gender, ethnic origin, or calling,” said Elder Hales. “Through our individual discipleship, we, as Latter-day Saints, build up a collective strength to bless our brothers and sisters throughout the world. Now is the time to recommit ourselves to being His disciples with all diligence.”
Hales was born in New York City on August 24, 1932. He was a graduate of the University of Utah and held a master of business administration degree from Harvard. He also served in the U.S. Air Force as a jet fighter pilot. He and his wife Mary Crandall had two sons.
Elder Hales was called as a general authority of the Church in April 1975, serving as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and later as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. He was Presiding Bishop of the Church from April 1985 until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 2, 1994.
On Thursday, the Church announced Elder Hales and President Thomas S. Monson would both not attend the weekend conference because of deteriorating health.
The Church will announce details regarding funeral arrangements as they become available. It is undetermined when Elder Hales’ vacancy will be filled.