Elder Wm. Grant Bangerter is a quiet man, soft spoken and deliberate. But it’s no accident that one of his most frequently used words is urgency.
“In the past four years, since I was called to be an assistant to the Twelve, I have had experiences that have made me understand the course that the gospel is taking,” he said. “I feel the great urgency of President Kimball and have participated, to some extent, in his vision of what the Lord wants done. I feel the urgency of getting the gospel news to the world.”
That urgency is particularly keen when it comes to Brazil, a country he feels “married to” because of his work there, first as a missionary from 1939–41, then as mission president from 1958–63, and most recently as Area Supervisor, his assignment as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to which he was sustained 1 October 1976. “There must be millions of members in that country,” he said. “The Lord expects it and it can be done.”
He was called to the presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy on “that busy Thursday afternoon” before general conference, when the other new General Authorities were called. “Early in the interview, President Kimball advised me that I had been selected to serve in the presidency since there would be a vacancy. I guess I’d describe my feelings as melting, humbling, overwhelmed.
“President Kimball was so warm and kind. He was very appreciative about our work in Brazil. He embraced me and recalled the many contacts we’d had in the past and made me feel very warm.”
Remembering his family’s reaction brought tears to his eyes momentarily. “My family expects greater things of me than I do. They all said they were not surprised. And my mother said that it had been made known to her a week ago that I would be receiving a new assignment.”
His family includes his ten brothers and sisters as well, all of whom are equally devoted to the Church. “My mother raised us all in the spirit of Hannah: to be whatever we could, but foremost to serve the Lord. When I was called to be a stake president at a young age, several of the General Authorities who knew my father, including Elder Lee and Elder Kimball complimented him on his ‘fine son.’ My father consistently replied, ‘I have five fine sons.’ And he does.”
Elder Bangerter’s ten children range in age from thirty-three to thirteen. Describing his wife Geraldine, Elder Bangerter said she has “for twenty-five years been worth at least three counselors” in all his assignments.
Elder Bangerter was born 8 June 1918 in Granger, Utah, to William Henry and Isabella Bawden Bangerter. Graduating from the University of Utah, he became a building contractor with a brother.
Elder Bangerter’s response to his call was typical of his lifelong attitude toward service: “I feel honored and humbled by this new responsibility, and very concerned about how I’ll perform.” Those who know him do not share that concern.