“I have a great desire to be useful—to the Lord and to people both in and out of the Church,” says Elder Dean L. Larsen of his new calling to the First Quorum of Seventy. Indeed, this desire to be of service typifies a ruling concern of his life: Elder Larsen cares about people. Upon meeting him, you are impressed by his humility and his sincerity, and by his eyes that are at once discerning and kind. You trust him.
Elder Larsen was born May 24, 1927, in Hyrum, Utah, to Gertrude Prouse and Edgar N. Larsen. He was the fifth child in a family of seven and grew up on a “semi-farm,” working with gardening and livestock. After graduation from high School he served in the U.S. Navy towards the end of World War II, then attended the University of Utah and Utah State University, graduating from the latter with a degree in English and Spanish in 1950. Midway through his college training he married Geneal Johnson of Ashton, Idaho, and today they are the parents of five children—“all boys except four,” Elder Larsen quips.
After two years of sales work and other endeavors, and eight years of high school teaching and early-morning seminary, Elder Larsen went to teach seminary at Utah’s Brigham City Intermountain Indian School.
“All my life I have been interested in Indians—as a boy I used to read everything I could get my hands on about them,” he says. Then, one year later (1961) he became assistant coordinator of Indian Seminaries at Brigham Young University, and the next year was appointed secretary of the Church Indian Committee.
He taught one year at the University of Utah Institute of Religion before being called as president of the Texas South Mission. A former missionary who served under him recalls: “I was impressed by his command of the scriptures and his ability to explain them so lucidly—so that they could be easily understood by anyone. He had the rare ability to get close to people, to let them know that he really cared about them.”
After three years of service in this capacity, Elder Larsen taught at the Ogden Institute of Religion. In March 1972 he became coordinator of curriculum planning for the Church; he also served as director of instructional materials before becoming the editor of Church Magazines earlier this year.
Elder Larsen comes to his present position prepared by a long list of Church service: he has served as a stake missionary, bishop, high councilor, member of the Church Priesthood Missionary Committee, secretary of the adult correlation committee, member of the Sunday School General Board, and Regional Representative of the Twelve. “I’ve enjoyed all my assignments, but my favorite have always been where I can work directly with people, as in the mission field or in a bishopric.”
How has his family responded to the frequent moves and many calls? “They’ve learned to take a new call in stride, but they’re very pleased and always very supportive. We’re very close as a family, and we enjoy and appreciate these calls because they are shared by the whole family. It’s been a great experience for us.
“It’s an awesome responsibility and tremendous privilege to associate with the General Authorities in the great work of building the kingdom of God. The unity and brotherhood among the Brethren is wonderful, and very humbling.
“My goal is to help people discover the gospel and help them enjoy living its principles. I hope it does as much for them as it has for me.”