It had never occurred to Elder H. Verlan Andersen that he might be considered for a position in one of the Church’s governing quorums, so he ponders a bit about the abilities he brings to his new calling as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
He can, Elder Andersen reflects, offer a well-developed capacity for work. This capacity is coupled with a “very strong testimony of the gospel, and faith in and love for Jesus Christ.”
“I’ve often thought my mother taught me faith, and my father taught me works,” he says.
Hans Verlan Andersen was born 6 November 1914 in Logan, Utah, to Hans and Mynoa Richardson Andersen. His first two years of schooling were provided by his “angelic” mother at home on their farm near the Idaho border, he says. “The text that she used was the Book of Mormon, and that’s where I learned to love that volume.”
Elder Andersen’s father, who set an example of hard work on the farm and devoted service in the Church, moved his family to Virden, New Mexico, while Verlan was a boy. After graduation from high school, Verlan served a mission to the North Central States. He attended Gila Junior College in Arizona, then BYU, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in accounting.
He was working as an accountant in Phoenix, Arizona, living with his then-widowed mother, when he met Shirley Hoyt, also a returned missionary. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1943.
Brother Andersen went on to graduate from Stanford University Law School, then worked for a time as an accountant before being hired to teach business law at BYU. After one year, he enrolled at Harvard University Law School in 1947 to study for a master’s degree; he finished in six months. Then he practiced law in Phoenix for four years, but was invited back to BYU in 1953 to teach accounting. Accepting meant a drastic cut in income, but he loved teaching and felt the move would be good for his young family.
Except for a four-year stint (1961–65) in an Arizona business that afforded the opportunity to work more closely with his teenaged sons, he taught at BYU until his retirement in 1980.
“Every move we made during those years, we made for the benefit of our children,” Elder Andersen explains. Sometimes there was an economic loss, but in the more comprehensive family accounting, there was always some spiritual or educational gain.
During those years, he also served in a variety of Church positions, including bishop, high councilor, and counselor in a stake presidency. Since his retirement, he and his wife have served missions to Argentina and Peru. He was serving as patriarch in the Orem Utah Lakeview Stake when called as a General Authority.
He has also served in the Utah State Legislature.
The Andersens are the parents of eleven children—five sons, and six daughters. All are now married. “His greatest joy is in our children,” Sister Andersen says.
As family patriarch, he exudes love for his children and grandchildren, and takes opportunity to instruct them in their spiritual responsibilities.
His children recognize the blessings his spiritual strength has brought into their lives. In a 1965 tribute to their parents—a Christmas present—they wrote of him: “Your example has taught us how to obtain true happiness through love, honesty, and, as the scriptures say, working with an eye single to the glory of God and without guile.”