“I realize that life for me and mine can never be the same. For twenty-two years and until last Thursday I have been a lawyer. … Now I shall try to become one of the fishers and help these brethren cast forth and draw in the nets of eternal life.”
With these words, spoken in the October general conference, Elder James E. Faust closed a chapter in his life and began a new one—that of full-time service to the Master.
“A person can’t come to a position like this without looking at the home he came from,” Elder Faust declared. Like Nephi of old, he too was born of goodly parents. He was born in Delta, Utah, on July 31, 1920, to George A. and Amy Finlinson Faust.
“No man ever had a better father than did I,” he declared in his general conference address, “and I hope that I will always honor his good name. My widowed mother is among you in the television audience, and I am sure that she weeps. Many times in my childhood I have happened upon her upon her knees praying for her five sons, and I wish to tell her that this son continues to need her faith and prayers.”
The Faust family lived in the south part of Salt Lake Valley, where Elder Faust’s father, a lawyer and district court judge, served for many years in a bishopric. The Faust sons learned early the value of honest work, both in their parents’ home and in the farm homes of their grandparents in central Utah, where they spent their summers. “We had loving, kind, thoughtful grandparents on both sides,” Elder Faust recalls.
As a youth Elder Faust was interested in athletics. He won a medal in track and lettered in football at Granite High School and lettered in track at the University of Utah. Following high school graduation, he attended the University of Utah.
From 1939 to 1942 Elder Faust served in the Brazil Mission, where he was president of the Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte districts. When he returned home early in 1942, World War II had begun and he became an officer in the U.S. Air Force, serving overseas in intelligence work.
During the war years he also returned home on leave to marry his sweetheart, Ruth Wright (whom he had known since high school), in the Salt Lake Temple on April 21, 1943.
Upon his release from military service, Elder Faust returned to the University of Utah for his law degree. Then he established a law practice in Salt Lake City.
When the call came to serve as an Assistant to the Twelve, there was no hesitation on the part of James Faust—he began making immediate plans for closing up his practice and devoting full time to the Lord. Throughout his life he has held many positions of responsibility in the Church. “I have never met a man more dedicated to the Church and to his Church assignments, regardless of what they are,” recalls a longtime friend and former missionary companion.
He has served as a high councilor, counselor in a bishopric, bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and for twelve years as president of the Cottonwood Stake. In December 1968 he was named a Regional Representative of the Twelve and a member of the Church Leadership Committee.
In his new calling, Elder Faust will serve as managing director of the newly formed Melchizedek Priesthood-MIA, assisted by Elder Marion D. Hanks and Elder L. Tom Perry as associate directors. (See related story, page 135.)
Elder Faust has also been active in professional, civic, and community affairs, including the Supreme Court Judicial Nominating Committee for Utah, president of the Utah Bar Association, adviser of the American Bar Journal, and active leader in Utah politics. He was appointed by President John F. Kennedy to the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights and Racial Unrest.
Much of his work has been in positions behind the scenes, where, as one associate says, he is noted for his “fairmindedness, his ability to grasp the thorniest parts of problems and get to the heart of an issue, his unwavering integrity, and his ability to organize, mobilize, and communicate clearly. James Faust has no authority or status needs—he works in a quiet sort of way and always seems to know the things that matter.”
“Family-centered” is a phrase one hears often in talking with his associates about James E. Faust. “With all my heart I want my children to know that I cannot succeed in this calling unless I also succeed as their father,” he said in his initial general conference address, “and that they will always be paramount in my life.”
Elder and Sister Faust have five children: Lisa and Robert, who are both attending high school; James H. and Marcus, both married and residing in Salt Lake City; and Janna (Mrs. Douglas R. Coombs), now residing in San Diego, California. They also have one granddaughter.
“We have been very blessed with a rich and rewarding family life together,” Elder Faust declares.
“My husband is always ‘tuned in’ to the needs of the children,” Sister Faust adds. “In family home evening he often brings in special ideas and lessons that focus on their needs and interests.”
James E. Faust is a man who loves people and finds great satisfaction in associating with them. In his new calling, he now accepts unqualifiedly the call of the Master: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matt. 4:20.)