James Franklin Stoddard III—beloved father of 10 children and the founder of the Joseph Smith Foundation—passed away with faith and peace after a courageous battle with stage 4 lung cancer on the morning of September 6, 2021 in Provo, Utah.
Last Testimony (Restoration Days, July 24, 2021)
Legacy of James Stoddard
(As shared by his children)
James’ life was defined by unparalleled love for his children, an unshakeable witness of Jesus Christ and the Prophet Joseph Smith as well as an unwavering devotion to the Gospel. Unknown to his parents, beginning at only age 11, he would spend hours each day (5+ on weekends) studying the scriptures and teachings of the prophets. In 2005, James chose to sacrifice what could have been a profitable career to begin producing documentaries—and later books and other online material—to defend the character of Joseph Smith and promote a greater understanding of true doctrine and history.
James produced or executive-produced eight documentary films and co-authored three groundbreaking historical books, including Faith Crisis Vol. 1: We Were NOT Betrayed! and Faith Crisis Vol. 2: Behind Closed Doors. He received thousands of emails and letters from individuals whose lives were changed by his sacrifice.
- Seer Stone v. Urim & Thummim: Book of Mormon Translation on Trial
- Faith Crisis 1: We Were NOT Betrayed!
- Faith Crisis 2: Behind Closed Doors—Leonard Arrington & the Progressive Rewriting of Mormon History
- Nephites in Europe (Episodes 1 & 2, Quest for the Nephite Remnant) (2019)
- Hidden Bloodlines: The Grail & the Lost Tribes in the Lands of the North (2017)
- Unlocking the Mystery of the Two Prophets: Revelation 11 (2017)
- The Prophet Joseph: More than we know (2015)
- Statesmen & Symbols: Prelude to the Restoration (2014)
- For Our Day: Divinely Sanctioned Governments (2013)
- For Our Day: Covenant on the Land (2013)
- Creation and Evolution: A Witness of Prophets (2007)
James had unique gifts for reaching “the one”—to carefully listen and truly empathize with those around him. During various expos and events, he could scarcely break away to eat or use the restroom because of the lines of individuals who wanted to speak with him because they knew he truly cared.
On July 24, 2021, knowing his time was short, James gave a last testimony during the Restoration Days event in Utah County, sharing his plea for Latter-day Saints to remain true to the Restoration, along with sharing his own witness and testimony of Jesus Christ and Joseph Smith.
Over the last year, James became known among the various doctors and nurses as the father who was battling lung cancer and surviving impossible odds because he wanted to “stay alive as long as he could for his kids.” His last words were the repeated tender exclamations of “Goodbye! I love you guys!”
Ultimately, James’ greatest priority and passion was spending time with and investing in the lives of his children. James took his sons and daughters everywhere with him—meeting with influential traditionalist thought leaders, serving ward callings, going on walks, or brainstorming entrepreneurial business opportunities.
We all have family jokes centering on his large accumulation of toys—he was always on the lookout for some creative new innovation to broaden his children’s imagination and enrich their playtime. Visitors to the Stoddard home were often surprised to find an outdoor playset INSIDE our home with multiple dollhouses and other toys. James Stoddard loved his kids!
James was an attentive homeschool father who transformed the education approach in the Stoddard home to one focused on practical service-oriented projects and a Christ-centered curriculum, rooted in the scriptures. His trailblazing example has inspired many other families to adopt Joseph Smith’s principles of education in their own homes!
In addition to his work as a software engineer and educator, James was passionate about restoring higher standards, whether through refined recreation, clean entertainment, uplifting music, etc. He loved playing basketball as a teen (including being chosen to play on the all-state basketball team in Idaho). He would later coach high school basketball for both public and private schools. James enjoyed dancing, writing poetry, reading literature as well as analyzing and scoring music.
James Stoddard taught his children that “Life is about joy!” and that true joy comes only through living a pure and holy life. In 2018, he organized the Raising the Bar initiative to provide a place for like-minded families to network, socialize and encourage one another in living pure.
“Always build, never tear down,” he told his kids. “If you are ever demeaning or tearing down anyone or anything, you are doing the wrong thing. Convert through love and persuasion.” His unique vision for “Raising the Bar” was to establish a refuge where no member was allowed to mock another member’s standards. Instead, he believed that by respectfully sharing individual stories and testimonies, an inspiring example could be left for individuals who were struggling. This vision will be continued on by the Raising the Bar team and Stoddard children!
James worked in private, public, religious, corporate, and home education as well as engineering, videography, property development, and natural health. He started and operated several family businesses and above all, enjoyed working with his kids. James spent his free moments working on Highland Cathedral Estate, a planned family retreat and learning facility with perennial gardens and walking trails specializing in experimental farming techniques and four-season food production.
James worked as a release-time Seminary teacher and as an instructor at the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC). He was a direct descendant of Asael and Mary Duty Smith, the Prophet Joseph Smith’s grandparents, and other notable Latter-day Saint Church history figures. He is survived by nine sons and daughters: Hannah, James, Leah, Asael, Isaiah, Ephraim, Mary, Ezra, and Eliza. He is preceded in death by one son, Joseph.
We (James’ children) remember well that whenever parting, our Dad would bid goodbye by calling out, “Keep the faith!” Our Dad used the Gospel of Jesus Christ to transform our home and begged us to share that hope with others! Living the principles, consecrating our time and talents, raising our standards, and following in the footsteps of our Master, Jesus Christ has filled our home with joy (even in the midst of suffering and pain) and it is our desire to continue the legacy our father began—to share that hope with the world!
We would love to hear YOUR stories or memories of how James or his work blessed your life and strengthened your testimony of the Gospel. Send us your story!
Memories of Family & Friends
Memories sent to us by family and friends over the next few months will be compiled here. Thank you for your love and support!
“Every interaction I ever had demonstrated his absolute devotion to the Lord . . . He is the embodiment of goodness, kindness and compassion” (Rod Meldrum)
What an incredible life! I’ve had the privilege of knowing James and his extremely talented family for many years now. Every interaction I ever had with him demonstrated his absolute devotion to the Lord, gospel, his family and his passion, which I believe was sharing truth with everyone around him. He was alway quick to serve and found great joy in helping others, especially the downtrodden. I have admired him for years, primarily because of his quiet demeanor while I know he’s got many irons in the fire, his calm yet passionate way of talking to others and his commitment to being the man other people can look up to because of his unflinching obedience and his will to stay true at all times. While he was staunch in his views he would listen to other ideas and then improve upon them. I enjoyed my friendship with James immensely. He will be missed but I have absolutely no fear or trepidation for his future because he is the embodiment of goodness, kindness and compassion. I am sure his reunion with our Lord and Savior began with a long and loving embrace and then was uttered those precious words only the truly charitable may hear…”Well done, my good and Faithful Servant” come in to my rest…. Rod Meldrum
“He refused to play on the all-star team because the games were on Sunday and he choose to keep the Sabbath day holy.” (Chris Bodily)
In Little league baseball Salmon Idaho, we were on the same team. The Eagles . . . ugliest uniforms. He was pitcher and I was the catcher. He threw the fastest and nobody could hit his strikes. So I often went home with a sore left hand. Ouch! He was the best. He refused to play on the all-star team because the games were on Sunday and he choose to keep the Sabbath day holy. I remember once we had family home evening with his family and we watched “Chariots of Fire”. Eric Liddell was the fastest man in the world. However, he wouldn’t run in the Paris Olympics because he wouldn’t run on Sunday and felt it to be a holy day, the Lord’s day and he wanted to keep it holy. Due to his faith he was able to run a different race on a different day and won gold. He would not sacrifice his integrity or faith in God for any cost. At the end of the movie Jimmy stood up and pointed to the TV looking at his brothers he said boldly, “This is why we don’t play ball on Sunday!” He refused the baseball all-star team more than once with no regrets or doubt. I always respected him for his testimony.
“I will be forever grateful to James. He answered so many questions I had.”(Lon Child)
My first memory of James was at one of Rod Meldrum’s conference. James an Hannah were talking about the Seer Stone in a hat narrative that I was really struggling with. I had two brothers who left the church partially because the church seemed to have changed their stance on how the Book of Mormon was translated. I was having a hard time with the new narrative and I couldn’t come up with an answer as to what the heck was going on with this Seer Stone in a hat thing. I had always been taught and later taught that the prophet Joseph translated the Book of Mormon using the Urim and Thummim.
James and Hannah’s presentation was an answer to my prayers. I bought all their books and didn’t just read them I dissected them, and then with the help of James and Hannah shared their books to prominent members of the church including a couple of GA’s.
James and Hannah became friends, I was blessed to receive a wonderful blessing from James at his house one Sunday afternoon.
I will truly miss James and his great knowledge of the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ. He answered so many question’s I had as a result of my two brothers apostasy and all that they threw at me. I will be forever grateful to James. I am grateful to know that Hannah and the rest of the kids are there to keep going James legacy.
I love and appreciate James so much. I know he will continue to be a force for good in the spirit world.
“He genuinely cared about each individual” (Michelle Jensen)
I don’t have the words to adequately express how James Stoddard’s life has influenced mine for the good, but here is my feeble attempt.
He was, and is, a very special man of God. By the time I came to know James, he was well acquainted with grief and pain. He always gave time to those who were in need, to the point of physical exhaustion. He genuinely cared about each individual and wanted to answer their hard questions. I witnessed personally his devotion as a father and this inspired me to do better and be better. I am a better human, mother, wife and friend for knowing James. His example of sacrifice, devotion to God, defense of our beloved Joseph Smith and true gospel principles is unparalleled.
Even on his literal deathbed, struggling for breath, James was making the effort to help me understand a principle that I was struggling with.
His life was without guile or concern for himself. He was not perfect, but represented the Savior in the most perfect manner that a mortal could. I will miss his smile and laugh, even in the most excruciating pain.
Thank you dear brother, until we meet again.
“He made work not only productive but enjoyable” (Jack Monnett)
It was my privilege to know and work with James for several years as he promoted the same ideals that I found so valuable. He was knowledgeable and meticulous in his approach to life and his work. In fact, all that he did in his work also included his family and his love of others.
I recall spending a couple of days and nights at his home while reading a book to be released through the Joseph Smith Foundation. The whole family was involved. It wasn’t simply me reading a book but all of us playing, laughing and enjoying each others’ company. He made work not only productive but enjoyable while never forgetting those things of most importance. He was an individual that all of us could and should emulate. It was my pleasure to know him and his family.
He made a “true and lasting difference for good in this crazy world – a bright light in the darkness.” (Scott Brandley)
James was truly an inspiration. While I never knew him personally, every time I saw him speak or read his books or content, his love for Joseph Smith and the gospel was almost palpable. He has created an incredible legacy already, and I have no doubt that he will continue to positively impact the lives of countless people for many generations to come.
While his life might not have been nearly long enough for those who loved him, it was long enough for him to make a true and lasting difference for good in this crazy world – a bright light in the darkness. That is the ultimate reward that each of us hopes to achieve; that when we get to the end, that we can know that we truly made a difference. James definitely did.
“He gave up play time personal time and time with his friends and devoted it to study and learning [the gospel].” (Justin Simmons DDS)
Jimmy as I affectionately called him when we were kids was my childhood “best friend.” We played together for hours on end. I remember vividly when Jimmy decided to start studying the gospel devoting hours every day to it. He gave up play time personal time and time with his friends and devoted it to study and learning. To him his study time was his personal and private time he devoted to becoming the best man and missionary he could become. I remember several play sessions ending early so he could fulfill his goal of learning and becoming. I have lots of other personal stories of Jimmy I would like to share with his children at some point
“There is just something about how sincere and humble he presented himself that made everyone sit up and listen.” (Greg Anderton)
I’ve never met James personally, but have attended numerous of he and Hannah’s presentations (with plenty of behind the scenes help from the rest of the family!). There is just something about how sincere and humble he presented himself that made everyone sit up and listen. This giant of a patriarch learned how to lead his family and others in a Zion-like life – one many want but don’t quite know how to achieve. James’s fearless defense of the prophet Joseph, along with tackling the ‘hard questions’, makes him a true champion of Christ and His church. A formal introduction will now have to wait, but I consider James a friend who will continue to influence my life through the legacy he established. My sincere condolences to the Stoddard family.
His work “prompted me to continue seeking understanding and knowledge” (Anonymous)
My condolences to the family at the passing on of James Franklin Stoddard III. I attended programs that James and Hannah presented over a few years, purchased videos and books that their organization, the Joseph Smith Foundation published. I found his work, presentations, and productions well worth the time, and thought provoking in a way which prompted me to continue seeking understanding and knowledge related to the work of Joseph Smith, the restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ, as well as Jesus Christ and His Gospel. Thank you James Franklin Stoddard III for your work, and may you be blessed and successful in continuing to bring to pass the LORD’s work in the unseen realm.
“we have lost a true defender” (Anonymous)
Many years ago, I sat in a conference where James and his daughter Hannah were teaching about Joseph Smith. The things he was saying was making my spirit leap for joy. I loved hearing these things, I can hardly remember the things he said, but I went up to him after and asked if what he said was real, and he said yes. It’s kind of a faded memory for me, but I have never forgotten that feeling as he spoke. As a result I have loved Joseph Smith more and more as I study and read. I read their books and felt they were a true defenders of Joseph Smith. I love that especially in our world today, even in the church, there are people who are trying to bring Joseph down. It is so great to have someone stand to defend Joseph so strongly. The opposing voices are loud and arrogant, those defending him are few, and we have lost a true defender. I just wanted to thank him for my increasing testimony in Joseph Smith and I will defend Joseph as he asked.