Some years ago, Robert and Marjorie Sackley set a goal to do full-time missionary work together after he retired.
The opportunity came sooner than expected. In 1979, he was called as a mission president, and they have been involved in full-time Church service of one kind or another ever since.
With his call to the First Quorum of the Seventy—he was sustained April 2—Elder Robert E. Sackley will undoubtedly find new dimensions to the missionary work he loves.
Elder Sackley has found a way to be involved in missionary work almost constantly since his conversion more than forty years ago. He is motivated by a “thorough conviction that every human soul” will have an opportunity to accept or reject the gospel. It is “my responsibility,” he believes, to bring that opportunity to as many as he can. One friend estimates that Elder Sackley has fellowshipped more than 125 people into the Church.
A native of Australia, he was a soldier recuperating from wounds of war when he met Marjorie Ethel Orth of Brisbane in 1946. Her parents, some of the stalwart Latter-day Saints who had been the strength of the Church in Australia before and during World War II, were instrumental in converting him. Her mother provided Church literature, and her father taught him. The two men shared a love of history and Robert Sackley studied LDS history intently.
But it was the Book of Mormon that led the way to spiritual assurance of the truth. It touched his heart deeply as he read it in the hospital. “I committed to memory Mosiah 3:19 [‘For the natural man is an enemy to God … unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit …’] on that first reading. It struck me that no ordinary man wrote that, and that the message obviously came from a divine source.”
Sure of the divinity of the book, he had no difficulty believing that its translator, Joseph Smith, had been instructed by God and had been a prophet and seer.
The Sackleys were married 29 March 1947, not long after his baptism. Shortly after that, he was called to be a district missionary. Though he has had many other callings, he has always felt impelled to continue sharing the gospel.
In 1954, the Sackleys traveled to Canada to be sealed in the temple. They intended to stay for one year. But they became deeply involved in Church work and never left Alberta. They reared five children, all now married. They have fifteen grandchildren.
Elder Sackley served as a stake missionary, elders quorum president, bishop, high councilor, stake clerk, and counselor in a stake presidency. Sister Sackley’s many administrative and teaching callings have included Primary president and Relief Society president.
Elder Sackley earned a bachelor’s degree from Utah State University and a certificate of municipal administration from the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He also has done graduate work toward a doctoral degree in history.
When the Sackleys lived in Australia, Elder Sackley worked as a tax administrator in the civil government. In Alberta, he was a school business administrator in Cardston and a senior administrator for the city of Edmonton. From 1973 to 1979, he served as vice president, then president, of a growing community college in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
When he was called as first president of the Philippines Quezon City Mission (later the Philippines Baguio Mission) in 1979, the Sackleys listed their daughter’s Bow Island, Alberta address as home, thinking the change would be temporary. But in 1982, he was called as administrative assistant to the president of the Salt Lake Temple, with Sister Sackley as an assistant temple matron. In 1983, they were called as directors of the Washington Temple Visitors’ Center, and in 1985 as missionaries in the Sydney Australia Temple. In 1986 he was called to serve as president of the Nigeria Lagos Mission; he will be released from that position shortly.
It will probably be some time before the Sackleys are settled in Alberta again. But they don’t mind. They are still living their dream of full-time service to the Lord.