Heber J. Grant became the President of the LDS Church as World War I was ending, and he served as such until World War II was ending. His was the second-longest reign as prophet in this dispensation, behind only Brigham Young. Grant himself was a businessman and there seemed to be a greater emphasis on calling men who'd been successful in education and economics. Makes it easier for them to take the lifelong call of Apostle when they have a decent retirement account. But Grant was also sensitive to keeping the church in the black, ensuring church funds were well-managed and smartly distributed. He was also less inclined to go for relatives of other Apostles. Some were relatives, but it was a much lower percentage than his predecessor. Three of the men Grant called went on to be prophets.
Called to be Apostles by Heber J. Grant:
Melvin J. Ballard, John A. Widtsoe,
Joseph F. Merrill, Charles A. Callis,
J. Reuben Clark, Alonzo Hinckley,
Albert E. Bowen, Sylvester Q. Cannon,
Harold B. Lee, Spencer W. Kimball,
Ezra Taft Benson, Mark E. Petersen
(February 9, 1873 - July 30, 1939)
Apostle - January 19, 1919
Ballard's patriarchal blessing said he would become an Apostle. He served a mission in the Eastern States and was companions at one point with B.H. Roberts.
After Joseph F. Smith died, Heber J. Grant reorganized the First Presidency and had every intention of calling his friend Richard W. Young (a grandson of Brigham) to the Quorum of the Twelve, but when gathered with the other Apostles, it came to him that, no, it should be Melvin J. Ballard to receive the calling. Pres. Grant used that as a lesson to make sure each Apostle he would call was done after much contemplation, and he knew each one would be revealed to him by the Spirit. (Incidentally, Young died less than a year later from appendicitis.)
Ballard die of leukemia at age 66.
JOHN A. WIDTSOE
(January 31, 1872 - November 29, 1952)
Apostle - March 17, 1921
Widtsoe was born in Norway. His widowed mother converted to the church and migrated with her two sons to Utah in 1883. Widtsoe was baptized the following year.
Widtsoe was a Harvard graduate. He married Leah Dunford (a granddaughter of Brigham Young) and he used his expertise in agriculture to teach men how to farm while she used her expertise in home economics to helps the wives get the most from their farms.
While he was a seventy serving in Germany, he got his PhD from the University of Gottingen. He became an agricultural professor at BYU and later was the president of the University of Utah, leaving that position after he was called to be an Apostle.
Like Talmage, Widtsoe was an author as well as academic. He wrote biographies of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young as well as his own autobiography.
CHARLES W. NIBLEY
(February 5, 1849 - December 11, 1931)
Second Counselor - May 28, 1925
Nibley was born in Scotland, but he and his family moved to the US when he was six years old. He started a lumber company with David Eccles and was able to parlay his success from that into many other businesses, until he became a multimillionaire.
He was a polygamist and had 24 children by 3 wives.
He was the Presiding Bishop of the church when Grant called him to be a counselor in the First Presidency. He was never ordained an Apostle. His son Preston Nibley authored many LDS books, and his grandson Hugh (by his son Alexander) became a noted BYU professor and apologist.
JOSEPH F. MERRILL
(August 24, 1868 - February 3, 1952)
Apostle - October 8, 1931
The son of Apostle Marriner W. Merrill, Joseph received his PhD from Johns Hopkins Universtity. He ran the engineering department of the University of Utah. Merrill was instrumental in creating the seminary program.
Merrill left the U of U to run the LDS Institute program, and he was also in charge of helping convert many of the church-owned colleges into state school, including Weber, Dixie and Snow. They tried to transition Ricks College but the idaho legislature rejected it.
Merrill became an Apostle during the Great Depression, and he oversaw cuts in spending in church education and other areas. He served as president of the European mission in 1933. One of his missionaries was future prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.
Merrill, along with Widtsoe, provided a wing in the Q12 that continued the tradition set by Talmage to value academia, education, and harmonizing the relationship between science and religion. He died at age 83.
CHARLES A. CALLIS
(May 4, 1865 - January 21, 1947)
Apostle - October 12, 1933
Callis is the only Apostle to have been born in Ireland. His family migrated to Utah when he was 10. As a teenager, he moved to Coalville in Summit County and worked as a coal miner. He wound up serving three missions within a few years of each other, first to Wyoming, then to Great Britain, and then to Iowa.
He served in the Utah legislature, first as a representative and then as a state senator.
After he was married, Callis and his wife Grace were called to be missionaries in Florida. While there, he passed the bar in Florida and would defend LDS missionaries in legal cases. He became president of the Southern States mission and his family lived in South Carolina until he was called to be an Apostle.
He died of a heart attack at age 81, three months after the death of his wife.
(September 1, 1871 - October 6, 1961)
Secon Counselor (HJG) - April 6, 1933
First Counselor (HJG, GS) - October 6, 1934
Apostle - October 11, 1934
Second Counselor (DOM) - April 9, 1951
First Counselor (DOM) - June 12, 1959
Clark was the oldest of ten children, and his greatest fortune that shaped the rest of his life was attending LDS University when James E. Talmage was principal. Talmage hired Clark to be assistant curator of the Deseret Museum, and later he'd work as Talmage's lab assistant. Talmage considered Clark to be his brightest student.
Clark graduated from the University of Utah while Talmage was its president. He eventually went to Columbia University to pursue law. He got a job as an assistant soliticitor in the State Department during Theodore Roosevelt's administration. he also worked as an associate professor at George Washington University. He was promoted to solicitor in Taft's State Department in 1910. After running his own DC law office for a few years, he was made UnderSecretary of State by Calvin Coolidge. Two years later, he was appointed be the US Ambassador to Mexico.
After the death of Charles Nibley in 1931, Pres. Grant went over a year with only one counselor (Ivins). He called J. Reuben Clark to be his second counselor in 1933. It was considered highly unusual since Clark had never been a bishop, stake president or general authority. In 1934, after Ivins died, Clark was made 1st counselor, and he was also ordained as an Apostle. This put him in line for seniority, but he served the remainer of his church days in the First Presidency, under HJ Grant, GA Smith, and finally David O. McKay.
While in the First Presidency, he was commissioned by Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt to help recover defaulted bonds for the US during the Great Depression. Clark was instrumental in reforming the Church Welfare System, and in balancing the budgets of the church.
Clark served 28 years in the First Presidency in one capacity or another, the longest of any man who was never prophet. He died at age 90.
ALONZO A. HINCKLEY
(April 23, 1870 - December 22, 1936)
Apostle - October 11, 1934
Alonzo was born in Cove Fort, Utah, soon after his family had moved there, commissioned by Brigham Young to settle the area. He served a mission in the Netherlands and came home to serve as stake president in Millard County for 27 years.
He was called to be an Apostle the same day as J. Reuben Clark, though Clark had already been serving in the First Presidency. Hinckley would've had seniority but he died of stomach cancer two years later at age 66. He was uncle to future prophet Gordon B. Hinckley.
ALBERT E. BOWEN
(October 31, 1875 - July 15, 1953)
Apostle - April 8, 1937
Bowen was born in Idaho and served his mission in Switzerland and Germany from 1902-1904. He studied law at BYU and then Chicago University.
His first wife Aletha he married in 1902, and after she gave birth two sons, she died in 1906. He married Emma Gates (granddaughter of Brigham Young) in 1916.
He worked as the Cache County attorney and later set up practice in Salt Lake City. He was called to be an Apostle after the death of Alonzo Hinckley. He died of arteriosclerosis at age 77.
SYLVESTER Q. CANNON
(June 10, 1877 - May 29, 1943)
Apostle - April 6, 1938
Cannon was the son of Apostle George Q. Cannon. He studied at the U of U and MIT. He served a mission in Belgium in 1899, and the next year became the mission president.
Cannon was made an Apostle in 1938, but there were already twelve in the Q12. He officially joined the Quorum a year later after the death of Melvin J. Ballard. he only served a few years, as he died from encephalomalacia at age 65.
(March 28, 1899 - December 26, 1973)
Apostle - April 10, 1941
First Counselor - January 23, 1970
President of Q12 - January 23, 1970
Prophet/President - July 7, 1972
Lee was born and raised in Clinton, Idaho, and he studied education. He became a principal shortly after his high school graduation. He served a mission to the Western US from 1920-1922. He married Fern Tanner, a sister missionary, after the conclusion of their missions.
Lee was a stake president during the Great Depression, when half of hsi take was unemployed. His welfare program for his stake became the model for the worldwide church.
Up to this point, Pres. Grant had called a few men in a row to the Q12 who were already in their 60's, but then he went younger when he called Lee to be an Apostle at the age of 42. Lee was 20 years younger than anyone else in the Q12 at that time.
While Pres. McKay was unable to perform his duties in his last years, some of the Apostles, led by Hugh B. Brown, pushed for a change in the priesthood racial ban in 1969. Lee was one of the main hold-outs, insisting that they required revelation on the matter, and so the ban would remain in place another nine years.
Lee was First Counselor and President of the Q12 under Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith. He was the youngest man to take office as prophet in 40 years, but his administration was one of the church's briefest, as he died from a pulmonary hemorrhage at 74.
SPENCER W. KIMBALL
(March 28, 1895 - November 5, 1985)
Apostle - October 7, 1943
President of Q12 - July 7, 1972
Prophet/president - December 30, 1973
Spencer was Heber C. Kimball's grandson, though he was born decades after Heber had died. He was also a nephew by marriage to Orson F. Whitney. Another uncle, John Woolley, founded the FLDS movement after the LDS church's ban on polygamy.
Kimball grew up in Arizona and made his living as a teacher, a banker, and an insurance salesman. He married Camilla Eyring, which made him uncle to future Apostle Henry B. Eyring.
At the deaths of Rudger Clawson and Sylvestor Q. Cannon, Kimball and Ezra Taft Benson were called. Kimball was four years older and had seniority, and they with Lee would mean that Pres. Grant called three future prophets in a row.
America was in the middle of World War II when Kimball was called. All three of his sons served in the US Navy during the war.
Kimball suffered from throat cancer in the 1950's and had several surgeries, damaging his vocal chords. He was known afterwards for his raspy voice. he had health problems throughout his life and was privately confident he would never be prophet, as Lee was four years younger than him and much healthier. After Lee's untimely death, Kimball became prophet at age 78. Less than five years later, Kimball would lift the priesthood racial ban.
Kimball's health all but incapacitated him the final three years of his presidency, and he ultimately died at age 90.
EZRA TAFT BENSON
(August 4, 1899 - May 30, 1994)
Apostle - October 7, 1943
President of Q12 - December 30, 1973
Prophet/president - November 10, 1985
Born in Idaho, Benson was the great-grandson of previous Apostle Ezra T. Benson. After getting his Masters from Iowa State University he focussed on his family farm and became an agricultural agent. This led to a job at DC as Executive Secretary on the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. He also served as a stake president while living in DC.
After becoming an Apostle, he was appointed by Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower to be the Secretary of Agriculture and served in that capacity for Eisenhower's full two terms.
Benson became prophet at age 86. His was another First Presidency where he had to rely on his counselors during his later years due to poor health.
MARK E. PETERSEN
(November 7, 1900 - January 11, 1984)
Apostle - April 20, 1944
Petersen spent most of his life as a newspaperman, as a carrier, then reporter, then editor, then manager, and finally Chairman of the Board at the Deseret News. After Richard Lyman was excommunicated, Peterson was called to fill the vacancy in the Q12.
Petersen served for 40 years as an Apostle and was third in seniority when the priesthood ban was lifted. He wound up dying on cancer at age 83.