Elder Douglas L. Callister
As he was growing up, Douglas L. Callister often accompanied his father and grandfather as they fulfilled Church assignments such as visiting members, presiding at meetings, or speaking at firesides. “They wanted their posterity to see them in the context of honoring the priesthood,” says Elder Callister, “and as we drove to and from their assignments, they would always share their experience and testimony with me.”
That caring tutelage has played an important role in preparing Elder Callister to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “A life-altering experience for me,” says Elder Callister, “was that training that came from those generations of family members who were willing to teach me.” Elder Callister continues to teach his own posterity just as his own father and grandfather taught him.
Born in Glendale, California, to Reed E. Callister and Norinne Richards Callister on 17 February 1939, Elder Callister says he can’t remember a time when he didn’t have a testimony. Because of that testimony, Elder Callister has always placed the gospel and his family first, even as he pursued degrees at Brigham Young University, the University of Southern California, and Harvard and operated his own law firm. “The gospel has never been an appendage to my life—it has been my life,” he says. “Professional pursuits were the appendage.”
Elder Callister has served as bishop, stake president, mission president, seminary teacher, Young Men president, temple sealer, regional representative, and Area Authority Seventy.
He met his future wife, Jeannette McKibben, at a young adult dance shortly after serving a mission in Switzerland. “I thought very highly of her, not only because she was beautiful, but also because she was sensitive to the needs of others,” he says. The Callisters were married in 1962 in the Los Angeles Temple and now have 6 children and 11 grandchildren. Their home is in La Cañada, California.
Elder Callister feels humbled yet grateful for the opportunity to serve as a witness of the Savior. “This is a special responsibility to bear witness of the name of Jesus Christ to the nations of the world. I wish to always do that very humbly and with dignity.”
Elder Darwin B. Christenson
Elder Darwin B. Christenson, a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, says that experiences with his children have strengthened his testimony of the gospel, the eternal family, and the power of the priesthood. Not long after he and his wife went through the heartbreak of losing a baby shortly after birth, their next child, Stephen, was born prematurely. Because the baby’s lungs were underdeveloped, doctors gave him a 50 percent chance of surviving.
Elder Christenson and the family’s home teacher gave the tiny infant a blessing as he lay in a hospital incubator, surrounded by tubes and medical equipment. Afterward, says Elder Christenson, “I told my wife not to worry; he was going to be OK.” The next morning, true to the impression Elder Christenson had received, Stephen showed marked improvement. Today, Stephen is the father of three boys.
A native of Idaho, born in Firth on 11 August 1935, Elder Christenson grew up in Blackfoot. On 19 January 1962, two years after returning from the Brazilian Mission, he married Sandra Joelene Lyon in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. They are the parents of four children, three of them living, and have 10 grandchildren.
Elder Christenson earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Idaho State University. After graduation he worked for the Idaho State Tax Commission and the tax division of the Church Finance Department. In 1981 he returned with Sister Christenson to Brazil, this time as president of the Brazil São Paulo North Mission. “We had marvelous experiences there,” he recalls. “We often witnessed the protection the Lord gave our missionaries, and we saw many of them learn to become very reliant on the Spirit.” Elder Christenson has also served as bishop, high councilor, counselor in two stake presidencies, and temple recorder at the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple.
“The Church is the center of our lives,” says Elder Christenson. “We love the Lord, we love the gospel, and we love the members of the Church. It’s an overwhelming blessing to be able to provide service and be with the members as part of this calling.”
Elder Keith Crockett
“I’m just a plain old farm boy who grew up milking cows and driving tractors,” Elder Crockett says of himself, but his lifetime of teaching the gospel and serving in the priesthood reveals a man deeply dedicated to the kingdom of God.
Elder Crockett was born on 15 January 1934 and grew up in Pima, Arizona, a rural community founded by LDS pioneers. His parents, Wilford W. Crockett III and Jacy Boggs Crockett, were strong in the gospel and taught him righteous principles. One time when he wanted to go to a dance instead of fulfilling a Church responsibility, his father said, “A man who can’t be depended on isn’t worth anything.” From then on Elder Crockett determined to do whatever he was assigned in the Church, whether serving as Primary teacher or stake president or mission president.
Following his mission to Uruguay and graduation from the University of Arizona, he began teaching high school music. When he saw that the football coach needed help, he offered to help teach the players some football fundamentals if the coach would send all the boys to chorus. The deal worked, and the football team and chorus enjoyed much success. “I loved working with those kids,” Elder Crockett says.
After a career of 34 years with the Church Educational System in Mesa, Tempe, Flagstaff, and Thatcher, Arizona, he retired four years ago and resides in Pima, just a quarter-mile from his birthplace.
Elder Crockett married Kathleen McBride, the daughter of Herald and Fay Nelson McBride, in the Mesa Arizona Temple on 5 September 1957. They have 6 children and 22 grandchildren.
“I have always had a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ,” Elder Crockett says. “As I have listened to the Brethren, I have said to myself, ‘I know that is true. I want to share it with others so they can feel the way I feel.’” As a new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he is looking forward to the many opportunities he will have to do that.
Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie
In March 1958, while serving as one of the first missionaries in the West Spanish-American Mission, Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie had an experience that profoundly affected his life. Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1895–1985) had been assigned to formally organize the mission, and the young Elder Gillespie, a newly called second counselor in the mission presidency, was given the opportunity to be his “chauffeur, roommate, and companion” for approximately two weeks.
“Elder Kimball had special spiritual capacities that touched my heart and influenced my opinion of what life should be and how I should live it,” Elder Gillespie recalls. “My concept of what man should be, what families should be, and how people should conduct themselves was greatly amplified in that brief time.”
Born on 22 May 1935 in Riverside, California, he spent his youth in Utah. He met his wife, Virginia Ann Larsen, in Manti, Utah, and on 18 July 1958 they were married in the Manti Temple.
The years following their marriage were full ones, with Brother Gillespie earning advanced college degrees and serving in various Church leadership callings while working so that Sister Gillespie could stay at home with their young children.
“Those days were poor days, but Heavenly Father supported us,” says Elder Gillespie. “We had faith that if we went ahead and had children, the way would be provided for us to have what we needed—and it was.”
Elder Gillespie earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Utah State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Following several years as a professor at the University of Oklahoma, he worked for the United States Department of Transportation in Oklahoma City, serving for 17 years as director of the Transportation Safety Institute. A former bishop, stake president, regional representative, and patriarch, he was serving as president of the México Tampico Mission at the time of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wife have 5 children and 14 grandchildren.
“From the very earliest years of our marriage, we have dedicated ourselves to the Lord’s service,” says Elder Gillespie. “We both love the Lord very much and feel deeply indebted for the many rich blessings we have received.”
Elder Donald L. Hallstrom
Honolulu, Hawaii, has been the home of Donald L. Hallstrom since his birth there on 27 July 1949 to James E. and Betty Jo Lambert Hallstrom. In fact, he grew up next to the Honolulu Stake Tabernacle, where he later became stake president.
“My brother, sisters, and I grew up in a home where our parents were totally committed to the gospel,” says Elder Hallstrom. “We were encouraged to be successful in all aspects of our lives, but everything was secondary to the gospel.”
From 1969 to 1971 he served in the England Central Mission. “My mission set the pattern for the rest of my life,” he says. “It was a time when everything I had learned at home and been taught previously came together and was turned completely outward in service to other people. It was a joyful experience.”
Returning from his mission, he attended Brigham Young University, where he met Diane Clifton of southern Alberta, Canada. They married on 22 July 1972 in the Alberta Temple and are the parents of four children.
In 1973 Elder Hallstrom graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics and returned to Hawaii. For the last 20 years, he has worked in real estate consulting as president of his own company, which does valuation and market studies.
Of his family he says: “We have always kept sacred such things as family prayer, family home evening, and family scripture study. We love being together as a family. Every summer we’ve had significant blessings by taking family vacations to Church history sites and other places throughout the United States.”
Before being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Hallstrom served as an Area Authority Seventy since 1997. He previously served as a bishop, stake president, and regional representative.
“My opportunities to serve have always brought enormous joy, so they have never been a burden to me,” he says. “My testimony solidified within me at a very young age, but using the gospel to help my family and other people is what keeps my testimony growing.”
Elder Robert C. Oaks
“After 35 years of life in the military and traveling around the world, I have a deep appreciation for the promises of the Book of Mormon on freedom,” says Elder Robert C. Oaks, recently called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. A retired four-star general who commanded the U.S. air forces in Europe (1990–94), he has come to cherish human liberty. “Being in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” he remembers, “I was impressed by how critical freedom is, how absolutely necessary it is for people to be able to hear and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Born on 14 February 1936 to Charles and Ann Oaks in Los Angeles, California, Robert grew up an active Church member in Provo, Utah. He entered the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado when it was new, and in 1959 he was in the first class to graduate from that institution. From there he gained further military training and experience, also earning a master’s degree in business administration from Ohio State University.
As part of his military service, Brother Oaks flew several combat missions in Vietnam. During one of those missions his plane was shot down, but he was soon rescued by an army helicopter pilot.
In 1994 he was employed by U.S. Airways, eventually becoming senior vice president of operations there. He retired in 1998.
Elder Oaks and his wife, the former Gloria Mae Unger, whom he married in the Salt Lake Temple in June 1959, are the parents of 6 children and the grandparents of 13.
His past Church callings have included Gospel Doctrine teacher, Young Men president, counselor in two bishoprics, and counselor in a mission presidency. At the time of his calling as a General Authority he was serving as president of the Pittsburgh Pennsylvania North Stake.
Elder Oaks’s past experiences have served not only to prepare him for his present calling but also to strengthen his testimony concerning Heavenly Father’s watch care. “In very specific ways,” he recalls, “the Lord’s protective hand has been evident in my life and in the lives of those around me.”
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
“Family, Church, and career—these three threads of my life have always been intertwined,” says Elder Ronald A. Rasband, father of five, recently returned mission president, and former president and chief operations officer of Huntsman Chemical Corporation. “I’ve always tried to do my best with each one.”
Currently a resident of Sandy, Utah, Elder Rasband was born on 6 February 1951 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Rulon and Verda Rasband. He grew up in the Cottonwood area of Salt Lake City. Between 1970 and 1972 he served in the Eastern States Mission, spending much of his time in New York City. Afterward, he attended the University of Utah, where he met his wife, Melanie Twitchell.
They were married on 4 September 1973 in the Salt Lake Temple. Soon he was attending college full time and working full time while he and his wife raised their young family. He also served as an elders quorum president in the Salt Lake University First Stake, where he met Jon Huntsman, who was on the high council. The following year, Brother Rasband began working for the company that eventually became Huntsman Chemical Corporation. During the next 20 years, he had responsibilities for businesses throughout the world, including Russia, Ukraine, and Armenia.
“The Lord has put in my path great men who have been mentors to me,” he says. “They have had a huge influence on my life.”
In 1996 Elder Rasband returned to New York City as president of the New York New York North Mission. “My greatest growth as a Church leader came during those years,” he says. “The Lord really schooled me in doctrine and humility. There I learned of people of all races and cultures.”
Prior to being called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Rasband served as a bishop and a member of the Church’s Member-Missionary Advisory Committee.
“My testimony has come as the result of a lifetime of many special experiences,” Elder Rasband says. “I look forward to serving the Lord in whatever capacity I can.”