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Elder Ronald E. Poelman dies at 83

By Joseph Walker and Tom Hatch

Deseret News

Published: Monday, Nov. 21 2011 4:34 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Elder Ronald E. Poelman, an emeritus general authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and former member of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy, died Saturday at his home in Salt Lake City of causes incident to aging. He was 83.

Elder Poelman was called to the Seventy in April 1978. He was first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency from October 1979 to July 1981 and second counselor from August 1992 onward. He was in the Presidency of the Seventy from October 1986 through October 1989.

He also was a counselor in the North America Southeast, North America Southwest, North America Central and Utah South area presidencies. He received emeritus status at the October 1998 general conference.

Other church assignments included managing director in the Family History Department, chairman and chief executive officer of the Development Board, chairman of the Deseret Trust Co. board of directors and director of the Deseret Gym.

At the time of his call to the Seventy, he was vice president, corporate secretary and a director of Consolidated Freightways in San Francisco. He spent 26 years with Consolidated.

When Elder Poelman was called to the Seventy, he was the gospel doctrine teacher in the Los Altos 3rd Ward in the Los Altos California Stake.

"It seemed unlikely to me that a Sunday School teacher would be called as a general authority," Elder Poelman said in a Church News interview after his sustaining to the Seventy. "But when President (Spencer W.) Kimball asked me, I had no hesitation whatsoever."

"I love to teach, and I particularly love to teach from the scriptures. The gospel doctrine class has been ideal for my church service," he told the Ensign, a church magazine.

Elder Poelman spoke in general conference six times. In his last conference address, given at the April 1998 general conference, he said living the law of tithing is a sacred privilege.

He was born on May 10, 1928, in Salt Lake City, the eldest of six children of Hendrik Poelman and Ella May Perkins Poelman, and graduated from East High in 1945. He received a bachelor of science in history from the University of Utah in 1953, his juris doctorate from the U. in 1955 and in 1965 graduated from the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration's Advanced Management Program.

He was a member of the Utah Bar Association.

He served a mission to the Netherlands from 1947 to 1949 and was a district president in Rotterdam. He joined Consolidated in September 1955, serving as a salesman, then an assistant to the vice president and director of commerce before becoming a vice president.

On March 30, 1950, he married Clair Howell Stoddard in the Salt Lake Temple. They were the parents of three daughters and a son. Clair died May 5, 1979. He married Dr. Anne G. Osborn on June 29, 1982.

The Poelmans began their married life in Long Beach, Calif., where Elder Poelman attended Long Beach State College and was an early morning seminary teacher and Sister Poelman taught school.

In other church service, he was a bishopric counselor in the Palo Alto Ward, a high councilor in the Palo Alto Stake, bishop of the Stanford Ward and a counselor in the Palo Alto Stake presidency.

In civic life, he was a rehabilitation counselor for the American Cancer Society, active in the Boy Scouts of America and a director of Junior Achievement of Bay Area Inc. He also has been director of the United Way of the Great Salt Lake Area and on the board of governors of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce.

Funeral services will be held Tuesday, Nov. 22, at noon at the Salt Lake Emigration Stake center, 589 E. 18th Avenue, Salt Lake City. A public viewing will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 21, at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. South Templle, and Tuesday morning at the stake center from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.

In lieu of flowers, Elder Poelman and his wife, Anne, have asked that donations be made to the LDS Church's Perpetual Education Fund.

EMAIL: jwalker@desnews.com

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