Three Christmas trees stand out in the memory of Elder Gary B. Sabin.
The first was a beautiful Christmas tree of his youth. When Gary scaled the tree trying to reach a candy cane, the entire tree crashed to the ground.
The second was an evergreen branch he found as a missionary while serving in Belgium and the Netherlands from 1973 to 1975. Elder Sabin and his companion took the branch home to their apartment and propped it up around the Christmas cards they had received from home.
The third was a tree made of Christmas lights strung on the IV stand next to his daughter’s hospital bed. One of three Sabin children to suffer from cystic fibrosis, his daughter had received a double-lung transplant one year after the death of her brother from the same disease.
“We have learned a lot more from our children than they have learned from us,” says Elder Sabin.
As a General Authority he will remember the Christmas trees and the lessons he learned from them. Each tree highlights portions of his journey—from a young boy wanting a candy cane to a missionary teaching the plan of salvation to a father who relied on the plan and the Savior’s love to sustain his family through mortal trials.
Gary Byron Sabin was born in Provo, Utah, USA, on April 7, 1954, to Marvin E. and Sylvia W. Sabin. He married Valerie Purdy in August 1976. They are the parents of five children; a sixth child was stillborn.
After graduating from Brigham Young University in Provo, Elder Sabin earned a master’s degree in management from Stanford University.
Elder Sabin has served in numerous Church callings, including as bishop, stake president, and Area Seventy. He has worked as a founder, chairman, and CEO of several companies, including Excel Realty Trust, Price Legacy, Excel Realty Holdings, and Excel Trust.
In 1993, Elder and Sister Sabin formed Sabin Children’s Foundation, an organization dedicated to addressing the medical needs of children.