It wouldn’t be uncommon to find Elder Robert Kent Dellenbach helping homeless people sort cans as part of a recycling project in Denver. It wouldn’t be uncommon, either, to find him helping scientists and engineers with a high-tech project in the Soviet Union. What would be uncommon would be to find Elder Dellenbach without a smile while he’s working on any project that involves interaction with others.
“I love people,” he says sincerely. “They’re what make me tick.”
Elder Dellenbach, fifty-two, was born on 10 May 1937 in Salt Lake City to Frank and Leona Conshafter Dellenbach and was reared in Clinton, Utah. “I grew up on a farm, and we worked with many different people from many walks of life,” he says. “There were the businessmen, the other farmers, and the migrant workers who came up to help with the fall harvest. We worked together, and we worked hard. I learned to accept and honor their individuality and the differences among us.”
Those attitudes are reflected in Elder Dellenbach’s feelings toward the gospel. “It gives comfort to everyone,” he says. “Every person is entitled to the grace of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and to blessings from the Father.”
Elder Dellenbach and his wife, the former Mary-Jayne Broadbent, have always tried to put the gospel first in their lives. They were married on 17 August 1962 in the Manti Temple and have three sons—Rob, age twenty-seven; David, twenty-five; and Dan, seventeen.
“Family prayer is the bedrock of our family relationship,” says Sister Dellenbach. “We have it both morning and evening. It’s the most stabilizing force in our family life.”
Working together on the garden, the house, and other chores has helped the family stay unified, as has playing together—they enjoy fishing, skiing, and traveling. “And the emphasis that Mary-Jayne (a former schoolteacher) has placed on music and books in our home has also been a great influence,” he says.
After serving a 2 1/2 year mission in West Germany, Elder Dellenbach returned to earn a degree in international relations from the University of Utah and then a master’s degree in business from BYU. He and his family have been on the move ever since.
The Dellenbachs have lived in Fairbanks and Anchorage, Alaska, where Elder Dellenbach served as a business manager and as a vice president and president of local universities. They have also lived in southern California, where Elder Dellenbach worked with the Salk Institute; in Washington, D. C., where Elder Dellenbach was involved with a company that assisted agencies and scientific institutes in the Soviet Union; and in Germany, where Elder and Sister Dellenbach presided first over the Germany Dusseldorf Mission, then over the Germany Munich Mission.
Although Elder Dellenbach has held many Church callings, including bishop, stake president, Sunday School president, and regional representative, he has a special love for the time he spent as a mission president. “In the mission field you deal with such an exciting element,” he says. “You’re working with the young people of the Church, dedicated couples, and new converts. What more could you want?”
He pauses for a moment, then adds: “Actually, we want more missionaries. We need 100 percent of our young men to serve. We need more couples. Opportunities are opening up all over the world, and we need to be ready to share the light of the gospel with others.”
For the past six years, the Dellenbachs have lived in Salt Lake City, where Elder Dellenbach has dealt with a variety of environmental issues.
“In working with people from all echelons of life, I’ve learned that there’s a lot of good in everyone,” says Elder Dellenbach. “We need to keep encouraging that.”