Today marks President Russell M. Nelson’s 97th birthday, tying him with former President Gordon B. Hinckley as the longest living prophet in the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Nelson was born in 1924, a year that marked the inaugural Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the first Winter Olympics, Stalin’s rise to power and Robert Frost’s first Pulitzer Prize. Buster Keaton’s silent comedy “Sherlock Jr.” dominated the box office and George Gershwin’s freshly debuted “Rhapsody in Blue” was playing on phonographs.
Over the course of his 97 years, President Nelson has seen both the world and the Church change in unprecedented ways. At his birth in 1924, the Church had six operating temples. Today, there are 168 operating temples.
Through his fervent urgency and seemingly boundless energy, President Nelson has created a reputation for himself as being the prophet that wastes little time. In a 2018 interview with LDS Living, President Nelson encouraged members of the Church to eat their vitamins and get some rest to prepare for what God has in store in the coming years.
In addition to his 34 years of service as an apostle and now three years as a prophet, President Nelson is also a renowned heart surgeon. His unique ability to connect faith and science has allowed for many people, BYU students included, to strengthen their own personal faith.
“I think a really big thing I love (about President Nelson) is that he is so spiritual. He really connects with people not only through spirituality, but he also cares a lot about science which is a really huge thing because science is developing so much currently in this era of the world,” said Katherine Gauthier, a freshman from Nevada. “He cares so much about it and it’s such a great thing knowing that he can connect with people that way.”
President Nelson is also the father of 10 children and the grandfather to 57 grandchildren. His vigor and faith have inspired countless people throughout his many years of service.
“I really admire President Nelson’s love. You can see it in his eyes and his face, the love he has for the members of the Church, for the gospel and for Jesus Christ. I feel that whenever I see him or hear him speak,” BYU student Jacob Crossman said.