Don Ladd’s son Christopher had a paper route, a large route that wasn’t close to home. So Christopher’s dad or mom had to get up early, often before sunrise, to help their son deliver the newspapers. One dark, cold morning, Don found the following words scrawled on the dusty car: “Dad + Chris = Fun.” Don smiled. It was obvious his son had inherited his optimism.
By his own admission, Elder W. Don Ladd tends to make lemonade out of life’s lemons. “I can always find something positive,” he notes.
His wife, Ruth Pearson Ladd, and his four children agree. “In all our years of marriage [the couple were married 20 December 1962 in the Logan Temple], I can’t remember a time when he’s been negative,” she observes. “He knows that things will work out.”
The gospel has only reinforced that natural tendency. Born 14 July 1933 in San Mateo, Florida, Don grew up with some exposure to the Church. His mother was a member, but his father was not. However, a dedicated bishop took the teenage Don under his wing and made a lasting difference in the boy’s life.
“It was this man’s influence that got me going,” Elder Ladd notes. And once he got going, he never quit. Baptized at nineteen (“My father wanted me to wait until I was an adult”), Elder Ladd was serving in a bishopric by the time he was twenty-one. Drafted into the army after the Korean War, he was called as a branch president while stationed in Germany. Since then, he has served as a stake president, regional representative, and as a Church adviser on governmental and public affairs.
After his army service, Elder Ladd headed to Washington, D.C., where he worked as an administrative assistant to a U.S. congressman. He then spent fifteen years with the U.S. Department of Agriculture before being named vice president of government affairs for Marriott International, Inc., in 1982.
“The Church has always been my focus,” Elder Ladd says. “Everything I have ever achieved or accomplished has been because of the gospel and its influence.”