He became President of the Church on May 21, 1945. He organized the Church's massive welfare assistance to Europe following World War II. He also championed Scouting among Latter-day Saints. Through numerous other civic and Church responsibilities, President Smith lived that portion of his personal creed that declared, "I would be a friend to the friendless and find joy in ministering to the needs of the poor" (Improvement Era Mar. 1932, 295). After six years as President, George Albert Smith died in Salt Lake City on his eighty-first birthday, April 4, 1951.President George Albert Smith dedicated the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple on the 23rd to 25th of September, 1945. In the dedicatory prayer, he gave thanks for the saving work performed in the temple for the living and the dead:
We thank thee, O God, for sending Elijah, the ancient prophet, to whom was ‘… committed the keys of the power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers, that the whole earth may not be smitten with a curse.’ [D&C 27:9.] We thank thee that he was sent to thy servant, Joseph Smith, to confer the keys and authority of the work for the dead, and to reveal that the plan of salvation embraces the whole of the human family, that the gospel is universal in scope, and that thou art no respecter of persons, having provided for the preaching of the gospel of salvation to both the living and the dead. We are most grateful unto thee that salvation is provided for all who desire to be saved in thy kingdom.
May it be pleasing to thy people to search out the genealogy of their forebearsthat they may become saviors on Mt. Zion by officiating in thy temples for their kindred dead. We pray also that the spirit of Elijah may rest mightily upon all peoples everywhere that they may be moved upon to gather and make available the genealogy of their ancestors; and that thy faithful children may utilize thy holy temples in which to perform on behalf of the dead all ordinances pertaining to their eternal exaltation.” See Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 8President Smith was quoted in the Deseret News, Feb. 13, 1932, Church section, 7 as follows:
In order that we might be prepared for [the celestial] kingdom, the Lord, in his mercy, in this latter day restored the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and placed in it divine authority, and then gave understanding to His children that certain ordinances may be received and performed. For this purpose temples were built and into those temples those who desire a place in the Celestial Kingdom have the opportunity to go and receive their blessings, to enrich their lives and prepare them for that kingdom.In an article entitled, “The Tenth Temple,” in the Improvement Era for October 1945 at page 561, he wrote,
Each [temple] has been built to one great eternal purpose: to serve as a House of the Lord, to provide a place sacred and suitable for the performing of holy ordinances that bind on earth as in heaven—ordinances for the dead and for the living that assure those who receive them and who are faithful to their covenants,the possession and association of their families, worlds without end, and exaltation with them in the celestial kingdom of our Father.Again, in the Improvement Era in an article entitled, "Priceless Prospects," of June, 1950 at page 469, he wrote,
If I were to think, as so many think, that now that my beloved wife and my beloved parents are gone, that they have passed out of my life forever and that I shall never see them again, it would deprive me of one of the greatest joys that I have in life: the contemplation of meeting them again, and receiving their welcome and their affection, and of thanking them from the depths of a grateful heart for all they have done for me.
But there are many, many millions of our Father’s children who do not know that by partaking of certain ordinances prescribed by our Heavenly Father, husbands and wives may be united for time and eternity and enjoy the companionship of their children forever. How thankful we should be for that knowledge.Perhaps, as President Smith says, we need to teach our youth to appreciate Temples and thereby gain a desire to extend those blessings to their ancestors. Here is another quote from President George Albert Smith from “The Tenth Temple,” in the Improvement Era for October 1945 at page 602,
There are only a few places in the world where we can be married for eternity, and that is in the temples of God. … There are also many of our brothers and sisters, all children of our Heavenly Father, who are denied this privilege because of … unavoidable reasons. But if they live worthily and if they would have availed themselves of the privilege if they had been able to do so, they will lose nothing by these temporarily unfavorable circumstances. But think then how much greater is the responsibility of those who live where men and women can be united for eternity, and where they can go and do the work for their dead! The people of the world do not have this blessing. I wonder if we appreciate it. …
Let us instruct our young people in these matters from their earliest youth, so that when they approach the time of marriage, there will be no question in their minds as to where or how or by whom that sacred ordinance should be performed—and the only place in which it may be performed for time and for eternity is in a temple. Summarized in Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 8: Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors.