News Release

President Dirk Smibert Dies, Age 57

Australian Latter-day Saint leader, Dirk Smibert, passed away in Brisbane, Australia on Tuesday evening, 12 March 2013, age 57. He died of cancer.

At the time of his passing he was serving as the president of the Brisbane Australia Temple.

President Smibert lived a life of service to his family, community and church, including six years as an Area Seventy in the Pacific Area. 

He also served as mission president in both New Zealand and Western Australia, as a stake president and bishop, and in many other Church leadership positions.

President Smibert was born on 11 November 1955 in Victoria, Australia, to Donald James and Lola Lingard Smibert. As a young man he served as a missionary in Sydney, Australia under Presidents Earl C. Tingey and Loren C. Dunn. After his mission he married Kerry Ann Benson and together they raised five children.

Elder Terence M. Vinson, a member of the Seventy [a senior Latter-day Saint leader] from Sydney, met Dirk Smibert almost 40 years ago.

“President Dirk Smibert was one of the great Australians,” Elder Vinson said. “My association with him goes back to his mission when he served in Sydney just months after I had joined the Church. I knew him as a wonderful, diligent and faithful missionary and his whole life was lived in that same manner. As he married Kerry, one of my wife's best friends, we continued our association over the years. He was a gifted speaker and teacher and dedicated his life to service. His years in leadership as a stake president in Melbourne, mission president in Auckland, and more recently in Perth, and his service as a fellow Seventy saw him endear himself to thousands.” 

“In my first assignment as a Seventy in 2007, I had the pleasure of being his companion and being taught by him. Other, similar opportunities for our serving together in our quorum followed. His contributions in the various Area Councils were always valuable and well-considered and his counsel was ever sound. Always he was selfless and concerned only to build the kingdom and to lift those he met.” 

“I had the privilege of following him, on his release as an Area Seventy, in his assignment to Papua New Guinea where his legacy is still strongly felt and where many love him and admire him for his character, courage and service. In fact, I have already received multiple wishes of love, support, and requests for me to remember individuals to his family, from leaders and members of the Church in Papua New Guinea.”

“President Smibert desired only to serve. He expressed to me, on learning of his limited life expectancy shortly after assuming his duties as temple president, that his driving desire was to either complete his service as temple president, or to leave this earth while still serving in that sacred role. He loved to spend time counseling and comforting others who also suffered during his final months and he was a source of optimism and cheer to the nurses and medical staff who attended him in his illness.”

“His service will be valuable elsewhere, as it was here. He is my friend.”

Vaiba Rome, who served as the first stake president for the Church in Papua New Guinea, said the following of Dirk Smibert:

“President Smibert has done a lot for the people of Papua New Guinea. He has traveled to very remote places in the air by twin otter, jet planes, and in the big Fly River, by dinghy in an open sea to the rivers of Paradise of Papua New Guinea. He is a great leader, a man who loves God more than anything else. A man who loves people, especially the people of Papua New Guinea.”

“I began to know him well when we were travelling together.  He would say to me: ‘How many push-ups did you do this morning, and how many kilometres did you run?’ I would say ‘30 push-ups, and I just walked a little bit for exercise in the back yard,’ and we would laugh as he told me about his morning exercise.”

Brother Rome continues: “One time we were flying to Balimo, Daru in a twin otter plane. The door of the plane opened, and he tried to close it but the pilot said that it would be okay. It was partly open when we landed.  I was so scared. Another time we were travelling to Sogere from Daru Island. We slept on the island an hour from Daru and traveled seven hours on the open sea to Sogere for district conference.”

“Because he was such a person I would say ‘Elder can we change your colour to brown by painting you?’ He is a kind, loving gentleman. Easy to work with, and down to earth.”

“I learnt a lot from President Smibert. I looked up to him as a true leader on behalf my family, Church security guards and the people of Papua New Guinea. We send our heartfelt condolence to his dear wife and the children, and all his family. Our prayers are with you. May the Lord bless you all.”      

Funeral services for President Dirk Smibert will be held at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at 10am on Tuesday, 19 March, at Compton Road, Karawatha, Queensland.   



Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.