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Elder Harold G. Hillam dies at 77

Published: Wednesday, March 28 2012 3:43 p.m. MDT

Elder Harold G. Hillam, 77, an emeritus general authority for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Tuesday evening at his home in Bountiful.

Elder Hillam was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy at the April 1990 general conference of the church, and to the First Quorum a year later. He served in the Presidency of the Seventy for five years, from August 1995 through August 2000. He was named an emeritus general authority on Oct. 1, 2005, and was called to be president of the Boise Idaho Temple of the church. He was released as temple president in 2008.

Among his assignments were counselor, then president of the Brazil area and counselor and president in the Europe West Area. He also was Sunday School general president for five years.

He was born on Sept. 1, 1934, in Sugar City, Idaho, to Gordon Hillam and Evelyn Skidmore Hillam. He was the third of five children and the oldest son. He spent part of his boyhood in St. Anthony, Idaho, and served a mission to Brazil.

Elder Hillam was only 11 when his father fell gravely ill and had to be hospitalized in Salt Lake City. His mother went to Salt Lake City to be with her sick husband, leaving him and his two older sisters to run the family home.

"We just kind of made ends meet," he recalled in a Church News interview after he was sustained to the Seventy. "There was no income. The two girls had a job and I had a paper route and that was really it."

During that time, he said he poured out his worries to his Heavenly Father and promised a lifetime of commitment and dedication if God would help them through it.

As a result, missionary work was a high priority. Just before he left on his mission to Brazil, he met his wife-to-be, Carol Lois Rasmussen, while he was a fishing guide at Yellowstone National Park. They were married on June 5, 1958, in the Salt Lake Temple after he returned from his mission and the day before she graduated from Brigham Young University. They are parents of seven children.

After Elder Hillam completed his studies at BYU, he moved his family to Chicago, where he was a dental student at Northwestern University. Even with heavy church responsibilities — he was a counselor in the Chicago Heights Ward bishopric while a student — he graduated with honors with a doctorate in dental surgery.

After two years practicing as a dentist in Idaho Falls, he and his family went back to Northwestern, where he received a degree in orthodontics. Then he set up an orthodontics practice in Idaho Falls. He also was a counselor in the Idaho Falls 28th Ward bishopric.

Elder Hillam was serving as president of the Idaho Falls Idaho South Stake when he was called as president of the Portugal Lisbon Mission. He was also a regional representative in Portugal and again in Idaho, as well as a regional welfare agent and a counselor in the Idaho Falls South Stake presidency.

Professionally, Elder Hillam was president of the Idaho Falls Dental Society, Idaho State Orthodontic Society and the Rocky Mountain Society of Orthodontists. He was president of the Teton Peaks Council for the Boy Scouts of America. He also received the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Honorary Dental Award.

Elder Hillam spoke five times in general conference. In his last talk, in the Saturday morning session of the April 2000 conference, he spoke of the need for the young people of the church to learn the lessons needed to become leaders.

"I pray that you young people will develop a reverence for sacred things, a respect for your elders and a willingness to keep the commandments," he said. "I pray that you will learn to know of the Savior and have an ever-growing understanding of His Atonement."

Funeral plans are pending.

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