Top-ranking Mormon leader, 86, dies from natural causes

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Richard G. Scott_119125

FILE- In this July 10, 2015, file photo, Richard G. Scott attends the memorial service for Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer at the Tabernacle, on Temple Square, in Salt Lake City. Mormon leader Scott, a member of the religion’s top governing body, has died Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, from natural causes. He was 86. (AP […]

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Mormon leader Richard G. Scott, a member of the religion’s top governing body, has died from natural causes. He was 86.

Scott died Tuesday at his home in Salt Lake City surrounded by his family, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said in a statement.

Born in Pocatello, Idaho, Scott had a successful career as a nuclear engineer before being chosen in 1988 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Modeled after Jesus Christ’s apostles, the group serves under the church president and his two counselors in overseeing operations of the church and its business interests.

He is the third top Mormon leader to die this year. Quorum president Boyd K. Packer died in July from natural causes, and quorum member L. Tom Perry died in May from cancer. Replacements for the trio are expected to be named in the coming months, perhaps at the religion’s twice-a-year conference on Oct. 3-4.

Scott’s health began deteriorating earlier this year. He was hospitalized with gastrointestinal bleeding in April. He recovered from that, but church officials announced in May that Scott was experiencing fading memory that kept him from taking part in quorum meetings.

Scott kept a fairly low public profile, known mostly for his speeches at Mormon conferences where he managed a delicate balance of “preaching repentance without stridency,” said Matthew Bowman, an associate professor of history at Henderson State University.

Mormon scholar Armand Mauss called Scott a “mild-mannered leader promoting self-improvement and compassion as important attributes for Latter-day Saints to acquire.”

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert called Scott a kind and generous leader. “His unwavering faith and pursuit of lifelong learning was an example to each one of us,” Herbert said in a statement.

Fellow quorum member D. Todd Christofferson said in a church news release that Scott delivered hope-filled messages that inspired others. He was credited with helping drive global church membership.

“I don’t go anywhere, especially in Latin America, where he served for so long and in so many places – I don’t go anywhere there that I don’t see his footprints, where I don’t meet somebody who hasn’t been influenced by him in some way,” Christofferson said in the news release.

Six other members among the religion’s top 15 leaders are also 80 or older, including church president Thomas S. Monson. He is 88 and is feeling the effects of his age, according to church officials. Russell M. Nelson, 91, is next in line to become church president based on being the longest-tenured member of the quorum.

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