On Sunday, just after the morning session of General Conference ended, Elder Robert Dean Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others mourn the loss of a great businessman, leader, and loved one. In tribute to Elder Hales, we at Living Scriptures want to tell a bit of his life story and remember some of the lessons he taught during his time as an apostle.
Robert was born to John and Vera Hales in 1932 and raised in Queens. He loved to play baseball and was a great pitcher. He also learned in his youth to play the piano. Most importantly, he gained a testimony of the Gospel at a young age.
He came to the University of Utah to go to college and also met Mary Crandall, the woman he would later marry. Not long after their marriage, Robert joined the U.S. Air Force, in which he served as a fighter pilot and achieved the rank of Captain. After his return, he attended Harvard Business School. During his time there, he served in a supervisory position in the Church and helped Mary raise their two sons.
Robert’s business career was impressive by any standard; he was an executive at four major companies, and it was while he was the President of Chesebrough-Pond’s that he was called to be the Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. This meant giving up his thriving career in his early forties and moving his family to Utah and serve the Church full time. He would later be called as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the Presiding Bishop, and in 1994, an apostle.
Elder Hales was known for his loyalty, his good judgment, and the way he treated his wife. He and Mary shared a special relationship that many family and Church members admired. Some of the topics Elder Hales spoke of most frequently in General Conference included the family, enduring to the end, and becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ.
In the session of General Conference just after Elder Hales’ death, Elder Anderson quoted a part of the talk Elder Hales had planned to give. The words are a fitting benediction on Elder Hales’ exemplary life as a servant of Jesus Christ:
“When we choose to have faith, we are prepared to stand in the presence of God. After the Savior’s crucifixion, He appeared only to those who had been faithful in the testimony of Him while they lived in mortality. Those who rejected the testimonies of the prophets could not behold the Savior’s presence nor look upon his face. Our faith prepares us to be in the presence of God.”
Elder Hales’ funeral will be held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square on Friday, October 6, at 11:00 a.m. MTD. The funeral will be open to anyone of at least 8 years of age, and the services will be broadcast on lds.org, MormonNewsroom.org, BYUtv, Mormon Channel, and other internet and TV stations. We hope everyone will remember Elder Hales’ legacy and testimony.