It was as the oldest son of nine children growing up on a farm that V. Dallas Merrell learned the importance of hard work. “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” is his favorite hymn, and he has spent a lifetime trying to help move the work along and help others.
This song seems particularly representative of the life of Elder Merrell, newly called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. Born in Basalt, Idaho, on 25 January 1936, Elder Merrell learned early that “we all had to contribute effectively in order for us to survive.”
Elder Merrell’s commitment to the gospel and to service was magnified in his professional life. Until 1986, he ran a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm that helped organizations identify high potential talent and develop potential leaders and managers.
Elder Merrell sees this as an extension of the gospel. “As people come to Christ, they develop their full potential. Each of us grows as we find out the talents and gifts that we have and then learns to submit to the Father’s will about how to use those during our sojourn on earth.”
In 1980, he campaigned in Maryland for the United States Senate. Although his bid was unsuccessful, Brother Merrell’s reputation for service became widely known.
From 1956 to 1958, Elder Merrell served a mission in the Great Lakes Mission. In 1959, he married Karen Dixon, whom he had met at BYU before his mission. They are the parents of nine children, eight of whom are living.
Although he entered BYU intending to be a farmer, Dallas graduated in economics and sociology. He continued his studies at BYU, earning a master’s degree in social psychology. He also received a master’s degree and a doctorate from the University of Southern California.
Elder Merrell served as mission president of the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission (which later became the Utah Salt Lake City Mission). He has also served as regional representative, stake president’s counselor, bishop, and stake missionary.