“We’re not born with testimonies,” says Elder Richard E. Cook. “They have to be developed, and they develop in service.”
His own testimony has had ample opportunity to develop in years of service. He has been a stake and ward Young Men president, bishop, stake high councilor, stake president’s counselor, missionary, and mission president. In 1994 he and his wife, Mary, were called as missionaries to Mongolia, and when a mission was organized in that country, he was called as its first president.
He says that this experience as a mission president in a country where the gospel is just emerging will probably be an asset in his new calling, as it is necessary to establish cordial relationships with governments and help people come to know the Church.
His wife says that his capacity for hard work will be another strength as he serves; he has high expectations of himself, and he knows how to motivate others to work hard too.
Elder Cook worked many years for the Ford Motor Company, retiring as its general assistant controller. During those years, he had the opportunity to work with a number of young Church members the company recruited, and he watched some of them grow into leadership roles in the wards and stakes of the Detroit area.
Born on 7 September 1930 in Pleasant Grove, Utah, he holds a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University and a master’s of business administration from Northwestern University.
He married Clea Searle in the Salt Lake Temple on 13 September 1950. Their three daughters and one son have given them 13 grandchildren. Clea died in 1984. He then married Mary Nielsen in the Salt Lake Temple on 16 July 1988.
Elder Cook is an avid golfer. When the Cooks received their mission call to Mongolia, however, he left his clubs behind, except for one that he planned to swing for recreation and exercise. He never touched it; he became too involved in missionary work.
“I love the Church with all my heart,” Elder Cook says. “I have seen, over the years, what a marvelous effect it has on people’s lives.” While the calling to the Second Quorum of the Seventy came as “an absolute, complete, and utter shock,” he looks forward to the work. “I am so glad to be able to give something back.”