Elder John H. Groberg, newly called to the First Quorum of the Seventy, has many of the classic characteristics of a lifelong member of the Church in the Rocky Mountains: his ancestors were early members in Nauvoo and early pioneers; he was raised in the Church; a turning point in his life was a three-year mission to Tonga; he married the girl who waited for him to return; and they now have ten children.
For the planting of his faith, Elder Groberg credits his parents and upbringing. He was born June 17, 1934, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, and his parents, Delbert V. and Jennie Holbrook Groberg, have been president and matron of the Idaho Falls Temple since October.
At age twenty Elder Groberg was called to Tonga as a missionary. He saw many miracles among the faithful Tongan people, including several in which his life was saved. At one time he was stranded on a hurricane-devastated island for nine weeks, during which time some died from starvation and exposure.
When he returned from the mission he married Jean Sabin, whom he describes as a wife of “great faith and tremendous support.” Elder Groberg was made a bishop soon after his mission and served five years in the Idaho Falls Twenty-Sixth Ward. He was then called back to Tonga to serve as mission president.
The Grobergs’ first son was born in Tonga with a kidney defect. The problem was so severe that Sister Groberg took the baby back to Utah for treatment. She returned to Tonga after he had recovered and they didn’t see their son again for over a year. He was cared for by his grandparents.
Elder Groberg was called as a Regional Representative to the South Pacific in 1969 and returned from his first assignment there just a few hours before another of his children was born. He pays tribute to his wife who encouraged him to go on the assignment and assured him that the baby would not be born until he returned.
The children include Nancy Jean, Elizabeth, Marilyn, Jane, Gayle, John Enoch, Susan, Thomas Sabin, Jennie Marie, and Viki Ann. They range from a high school senior to a baby in arms. Elder Groberg said they are generally excited about his calling and not all sure what it will mean.
As a member of the Lamanite Committee, Elder Groberg had been planning to attend conference, but a call from President Kimball brought him to Salt Lake a few days early. He said he promised the Lord at an early age to serve him all his life. His past service is ready preparation for the responsibility he has now received.