Elder Neal A. Maxwell, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died last night after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 78 years of age.
Elder Maxwell died at home surrounded by his family at 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night. It was the 23rd anniversary of his call to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, one of the highest-ranking bodies of the Church.
Elder Maxwell served as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy from 1976 to 1981, and as an Assistant to the Twelve from 1974 to 1976 before being called as an apostle. A lifelong educator, Elder Maxwell was executive vice president at the University of Utah at the time of his appointment as the Commissioner of Education for the Church Educational System, where he served from 1970 to 1976.
Prior to his call to full-time Church service, Elder Maxwell held a variety of administrative and teaching positions with the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He earlier served as a legislative assistant to United States Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah.
He wrote some 30 books on religious topics, one of the most recent of which received a prize for Latter-day Saint literature. Earlier he authored many articles on politics and government for national, professional and local publications.
A political science graduate of the University of Utah, Elder Maxwell also earned a master’s degree in that field from the same school. He later was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Utah; an Honorary Doctor of Letters degree from Westminster College, Salt Lake City; an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree from Utah State University, Logan, Utah; an Honorary Degree from Ricks College, Rexburg, Idaho; and an Honorary Degree from Salt Lake Community College.
In the fall of 1998, the University of Utah announced the establishment of the Neal A. Maxwell Presidential Endowed Chair in Political Theory, Public Policy and Public Service.
Prior to his call to direct the Church’s worldwide education system, he had served the Church in a variety of positions, including bishop of Salt Lake City’s University Sixth Ward; a member of the General Board of the Y.M.M.I.A., the Church’s youth organization; a member of the Adult Correlation Committee; and as one of the first regional representatives of the Twelve. As a young man, he served two years as a missionary in eastern Canada.
Elder Maxwell served as a director of several business firms, including Questar Corporation, Questar Pipeline, and Deseret News Publishing Company, and was active in public service such as when he served as chairman of the Utah Constitutional Revision Commission.
In 1967 Elder Maxwell received the Liberty Bell award for public service from the Utah State Bar, and in 1973 he was named Public Administrator of the Year by the Institute of Government Service at Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.
Elder Maxwell and his wife, the former Colleen Hinckley, are the parents of four children.