President Rex D. Pinegar, the newest member of the First Council of the Seventy, was raised in a family richly endowed with love and concern for the individual member. These choice traits have not been diminished by the transition from childhood to adulthood, as President Pinegar demonstrates love and respect in his attitude toward his own wife and children.
President Pinegar was born September 18, 1931, in Orem, Utah, a twin son and one of twelve children born to John F. and Grace Murl Ellis Pinegar. He was reared in the agricultural community of Spanish Fork, Utah, where he and his brothers and sisters earned their pocket money working in the local orchards and on farms.
As a youth of twelve, he followed his older brothers into a job with the local creamery, and worked for a construction company throughout his junior high and senior high school years.
His work and experiences conditioned him for championship football and wrestling activities in high school and aided him in his energetic pursuit of his schooling and his Church activities. He was active in his priesthood quorums and in the Scouting program. After graduation from high school in 1949, he entered the U.S. Navy for four years.
“For about a year I was instructing officers in cargo handling, and for the remainder of the time I served in the Pacific. I enjoyed my experience as an instructor, but when I completed my term with the navy and entered Brigham Young University, I was thinking of becoming a commercial artist.”
However, after his first year in college he decided to become a teacher, thus fulfilling an unvoiced hope of his mother. During this first year he also decided to marry Bonnie Lee Crabb.
“We grew up together in the same ward. She was much younger than I—at least that’s what I thought at the time. On my return from the navy I found that the little neighborhood girl had grown up and had completed her freshman year at BYU.”
The Pinegars were married in the Salt Lake Temple on January 24, 1955, and they now have five children: Kevin, 17; Lisa, 15; Suzanne, 12; Shelley, 10; and Kristen, 5.
After graduating from BYU, President Pinegar took his family to California, where he did graduate work at San Francisco State College for his master’s degree and at the University of Southern California for his doctorate in education.
While pursuing his graduate studies in California, President Pinegar served as a stake missionary, stake YMMIA president, and was active in his seventies quorums in Hayward Stake and then in Glendale Stake. He also taught seminary and institute of religion classes.
Upon receiving his doctorate in 1967, he returned to BYU as a member of the special education faculty and later became chairman of educational psychology in the College of Education.
He was serving as a member of the Sunday School general board when he received a call in 1971 to preside over the North Carolina-Virginia Mission. (His twin brother Max was called at the same time to preside over the Netherlands Mission.)
“When the call came for me to be a mission president, it made me very happy. I had never served as a full-time missionary and had thought the opportunity to do so might never come. Now to serve as a mission president is a wonderful, rewarding experience for me and my entire family. Our association with our faithful missionaries and members has been a choice blessing for us.”
It was while he was away from the mission home holding a zone conference in early October that he received a telephone call from the First Presidency’s office. When he returned the call, the telephone was answered by President Harold B. Lee himself.
“That was quite startling. I had expected to speak with his secretary. President Lee was very understanding of my feelings at that moment, and he immediately asked if I were seated. I had no thought at all that I would be called to this position or any other.”
His calling as a member of the First Council of the Seventy will be a continuation of his missionary work and an outgrowth of his love and concern for the individual.