Top Mormon leader Robert D. Hales dies at 85

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SALT LAKE CITY — Top-ranking Mormon leader Robert D. Hales, who left a successful career as a businessman to help guide the church, has died from causes related to his age. He was 85.

Hales died peacefully 12:15 p.m. Sunday in a Salt Lake City hospital surrounded by his wife and family, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said.

The New York City native was a fighter pilot in the Air Force and business executive before he was chosen in 1994 as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, a high-level governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Hales missed this weekend’s church conference after he was hospitalized several days ago for treatment of pulmonary disease and other conditions. At the conference’s final session Sunday, leader Henry B. Eyring announced his death to 20,000 people in attendance and millions watching live broadcasts around the world.