Hales family photo

Editor's note: Elder Robert D. Hales died Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. We are republishing this list in his memory.

Elder Robert D. Hales was called to be a general authority in 1975, at age 42. He served as an assistant to the Twelve and then as a member of the Quorum of the Seventy. He later served as a mission president of the England London Mission. In 1985, he was called as the presiding bishop and was sustained as an apostle on April 2, 1994. On Aug. 24, Elder Hales will celebrate his 84th birthday. He was born on Aug. 24, 1932, in New York City.

Elder Hales married his wife Mary on June 10, 1953, and they have two sons. Prior to his call as a general authority, Elder Hales served in the United States Air Force, graduated from Harvard with a master of business administration degree and worked for several prominent companies.

The information in this quiz has been compiled from biographical articles written about Elder Hales, as well as talks he has given.

Question #1
Hales family photo

What did Elder Hales’ father make for him that he still has today?

a. A painting of the Sacred Grove
b. A painting of his family
c. A wood carving of Christ
d. A handmade piano

Answer
Hales family photo

a. A painting of the Sacred Grove.

“When I was a deacon, my father took me to the Sacred Grove,” says Elder Hales in his LDS.org biography. “There we prayed together and dedicated our lives. Then he talked to me of sacred things. When we got back home, my father, who worked as an artist in New York City, painted a picture of the Sacred Grove for me. I’ve always hung that picture in my office, and when I look at it, I remember my father and our talk that summer afternoon.”

Question #2
Deseret News Archives

What question did Elder Hales and his wife Mary take to the Lord in prayer while he was studying at Harvard university?

a. Financial needs
b. Finding time for a new calling
c. Where to live

Answer
Deseret News Archive

b. Finding time for a new calling

When Elder Hales was a graduate student at Harvard University, he was called to be the president of his elders quorum. While he was willing to serve, he also remembered his professor’s advice to resist participating in outside activities due to the intensity of the courses. Elder Hales came home to his wife, Mary, and they prayed for guidance. As they did, Mary said, “I’d rather have an active priesthood holder than a man who holds a master’s degree from Harvard. We’ll do them both,” he said in his LDS.org biography.

The next day, Mary walled off a section of the unfinished basement in their apartment to create a small office for Elder Hales to concentrate on his studies so that he could also fulfill his calling. A few years later, Elder Hales was the president of a company when he was asked to serve as bishop. Ten years later he was working as corporate vice president of a large corporation and was called to be an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“I put myself in the Lord’s hands when I made that decision,” Elder Hales said of his choice to serve as elders quorum president in a Liahona article. “That decision was much harder to make than when, years later, I accepted the call to serve as an assistant to the Twelve and left my business career behind. Some people may have trouble understanding that, but I believe you really show the Lord who you are and what you are willing to become when you make those hard decisions as a young person."

Question #3
Deseret News Archive

3. What sport was Elder Hales a starter for in high school?

a. Basketball
b. Baseball
c. Tennis
d. Soccer

Answer
Hales family photo

b. Baseball

As a high school freshman, Elder Hales was the starting pitcher for the school’s baseball team, according to a Liahona article. Once during a difficult stretch, his team lost three games in a row, each by a score of 1–0. The headline in the school paper read, “Hard-Luck Hales Loses Again.” He took his uniform and went to tell his coach he was going to quit. When he got to the coach’s office, his coach said, “Do you know why you’re losing? Your pitching arm is tired at the end of the game because before the game when you’re supposed to be warming up, you’re out there impressing everybody with your fastball and curveball. You probably pitch (the equivalent of) two or three innings doing that. (Stop) showing off and you won’t wear out your arm.”

Elder Hales followed his coach's counsel, and the next game he pitched a shutout. Elder Hales went on to play baseball in college at the University of Utah. He was on the baseball team until an injury made it hard for him to continue playing.

Question #4
Hales family photo

Upon meeting his wife, Mary Crandall, how often did the couple see each other during that first month?

a. Twice a week
b. Every weekend
c. Every day

Answer
Deseret News Archive

c. Every day.

Elder Hales had returned home from college for the summer. While attending his home ward in Queens, New York, Elder Hales met Mary Crandall. Mary’s family had recently moved to New York.

“After I met her, I never went out with anyone else,” Elder Hales said in his LDS.org biography. “We were together every evening after work for the first two months sharing family activities. She’d help me wash my car, and I’d help her baby-sit her brothers; it was as though we were never going to be apart.”

At the end of the summer, they both went back to college in Utah — Robert to the University of Utah and Mary to Brigham Young University. The following summer, on June 10, 1953, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.

Question #5
Deseret News Archive

How many different locations has Elder Hales served as a bishop in?

a. 2
b. 3
c. 4

Answer
Kristin Murphy/Deseret News

b. 3.

In Weston, Massachusetts; Chicago; and Frankfurt, Germany. He has also served as the branch president in Albany, Georgia; as the first counselor in a branch presidency in Seville, Spain; on the high council in Boston and London; as a counselor in the Boston Stake presidency; and as a regional representative for the Minnesota and Louisiana regions.

Question #6
Stuart Johnson/Deseret News

What position was Elder Hales serving in when he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve?

a. Mission president
b. Area Seventy
c. Presiding bishop
d. Assistant to the Twelve

Answer
Deseret News Archive

c. Presiding Bishop

As an assistant to the Twelve and then as a Seventy, Elder Hales helped plan 27 area conferences for the First Presidency. “Watching prophets, seers and revelators bearing witness of the truthfulness of the gospel to the Saints in city after city was absolutely wonderful,” he said.

After three years as a general authority, Elder Hales was called as president of the England London Mission. Following that service, he was assigned as an area supervisor in Europe and worked closely with Elder Thomas S. Monson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (now president of the church), in supporting and strengthening Latter-day Saints in Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary and Poland.

From 1983 to 1984, Elder Hales served as area president of the North America Southwest Area. In 1985, he was called to serve as presiding bishop and served in that calling until he was sustained as an apostle on April 2, 1994.

Question #7
Hales family photo

What lesson did Elder Hales’ mother teach him by her example?

a. Missionary service
b. Importance of prayer and scripture study
c. Going to the temple regularly

Answer
LDS Church

a. Missionary service

“My own father and mother served a mission in England," Elder Hales said in a general conference address. "As I visited them one day in their small flat, I watched my mother, with a shawl wrapped snugly around her shoulders, putting shillings in the gas meter to keep warm. I asked, ‘Why did you come on a mission, Mother?’ Mother said simply, ‘Because I have 11 grandsons. I want them to know that Grandma and Grandpa served.’”

Question #8
Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News

As a newly called bishop, what lesson did Elder Hales learn from Elder Harold B. Lee?

a. The importance of personal revelation
b. The importance of a ward family
c. The importance of temple preparation

Answer
Deseret News Archive

a. The importance of personal revelation.

“Early in my church service, Elder Harold B. Lee taught this lesson when he came to organize a new stake in the district where we were living," Elder Hales said in a general conference address. "Elder Lee asked me, as a newly sustained bishop, if I would join him at a press conference. There, an intense young reporter challenged Elder Lee. He said to him, ‘You call yourself a prophet. When was the last time you had revelation, and what was it about?’ Elder Lee paused, looked directly at him, and responded in a sweet way, ‘It was yesterday afternoon about three o’clock. We were praying about who should be called as the president of the new stake, and it was made known to us who that individual should be.’ The reporter’s heart changed. I will never forget the Spirit that came into that room as Elder Lee bore his powerful witness of revelation that can be received by those faithfully seeking to do the Lord’s will.”

Question #9
AP

What lesson did Elder Hales learn as a young boy when he was asked to paint his father’s floor?

a. Service
b. Teamwork
c. Agency

Answer
Deseret News Archive

c. Agency

“In my youth I learned an important lesson about how our actions may limit our freedom," Elder Hales said in a general conference address. "One day my father assigned me to varnish a wooden floor. I made the choice to begin at the door and work my way into the room. When I was almost finished, I realized I had left myself no way to get out. There was no window or door on the other side. I had literally painted myself into a corner. I had no place to go. I was stuck.

"Whenever we disobey, we spiritually paint ourselves into a corner and are captive to our choices. Though we are spiritually stuck, there is always a way back. Like repentance, turning around and walking across a newly varnished floor means more work — a lot of resanding and refinishing! Returning to the Lord isn’t easy, but it is worth it.”

Question #10
Hales family photo

What lesson did Elder Hales learn from the poor choices of a friend while training to be a jet fighter pilot?

a. Preparation and obedience
b. Courage
c. Honesty

Answer
Hales family photo

a. Preparation and obedience

“While training to be a jet fighter pilot, I prepared to make such vital decisions in a flight simulator," Elder Hales said in a general conference address. "For example, I practiced deciding when to bail out of an airplane if the fire warning light came on and I began to spin out of control. I remember one dear friend who didn’t make these preparations. He would find a way out of simulator training and then go to play golf or swim. He never learned his emergency procedures! A few months later, fire erupted in his plane, and it spun toward the ground in flames. Noting the fire warning light, his younger companion, having developed a preconditioned response, knew when to bail out of the plane and parachuted to safety. But my friend who had not prepared to make that decision stayed with the plane and died in the crash.”

Question #11
LDS Church

What did Elder Hales want to buy his wife for their anniversary, but she instead taught him a lesson on provident living?

a. A fancy coat
b. A new dress
c. A gold necklace

Answer
Stuart Johnson/Deseret News

a. A fancy coat

“Our wedding anniversary was approaching, and I wanted to buy Mary a fancy coat to show my love and appreciation for our many happy years together," Elder Hales said in a general conference address. "When I asked what she thought of the coat I had in mind, she replied with words that again penetrated my heart and mind. ‘Where would I wear it?’ she asked. (At the time she was a ward Relief Society president helping to minister to needy families.)

“Then she taught me an unforgettable lesson. She looked me in the eyes and sweetly asked, ‘Are you buying this for me or for you?’ In other words, she was asking, ‘Is the purpose of this gift to show your love for me or to show me that you are a good provider or to prove something to the world?’ I pondered her question and realized I was thinking less about her and our family and more about me.

“After that we had a serious, life-changing discussion about provident living, and both of us agreed that our money would be better spent in paying down our home mortgage and adding to our children’s education fund.”