“I was born and grew up in the community of Tooele, Utah, where my father ran a newspaper. As a youth, I worked at the newspaper office and also helped take care of the family cows. My brother, Joel, and I had the responsibility of not only taking care of our cows but, during the summer, also gathering our neighbor’s cows and taking them to the fields on the edge of town to graze on the grass. This is how I made my first money. Later, my brother and I worked on a twenty-acre farm that the family owned on the edge of town. We were teenagers, and my father wanted to keep us busy.
“One day a neighbor came to Father carrying a list of things we were doing wrong on the farm. After the neighbor finished reading the list aloud, Father sat back in his chair, looked at him, and said, ‘Well, Jim, you don’t understand. I’m raising boys, not cows.’”
Elder Dunn was six months old when a bulldog named Nibs became part of his family, and all of his life he has enjoyed dogs and horses.
When Elder Dunn was eight, he got his first horse and called him Smokey. “I had to ride him home from Stockton, a distance of about seven miles,” he remembers, “and that was a great experience. It was the first time I had ridden a horse that far, and of course I rode bareback.”
When he was a boy, Elder Dunn liked to travel to ward and branch conferences with his father, who was the stake president. “The stake covered a hundred square miles,” Elder Dunn recalls. “We were treated very well—the members would prepare all kinds of food for us, and I, as a boy, really loved that! They were a very hospitable and warm people.
“Mother was a former schoolteacher, and she was very well-read. Besides taking care of her family and home, she participated in civic activities whenever possible. She taught us that although the family and home are the most important, it’s necessary and wise to support worthwhile community activities too.
“Dad and Mother relied heavily on the Lord in all of their decision-making. Family prayers have always been as much a part of our lives as eating or drinking or anything else. We grew up knowing that the Lord is always there and that we can ask Him to guide us.
“There was a great amount of faith in our household. Dad had great spiritual ability. If any of us had a problem we were wrestling with, we could go to him and he’d ponder and pray about it. A day or so later he would come back with a solution to the problem. The solution always proved to be an inspired one.”
Sports played an important part in Elder Dunn’s early life, especially football and basketball. Recalling the days of his youth, he said, “We’d often gather a few friends in the evenings after the chores were done and play a game of touch football out in the road in front of our house. Now, there was a rule in our house that was very important to our family—no playing football on Sundays. So as much as I loved to play football, we never played on Sunday. That rule helped me understand the importance of keeping the Sabbath day holy. We still live by it in our home, and it’s been a great blessing to us.
“From that early training about not doing certain things on Sundays, I gained—even in my young life—a feeling of the real spirit of the Sabbath. I gradually came to understand that Sunday is different from the other days of the week and that it makes you feel good when you do those things that are proper for the Sabbath day. Honoring the Sabbath brings a spirit into your life that makes a lot of difference. It is a real help for the rest of the week. Learning to appreciate and keep the Sabbath day holy puts you in a position to receive the blessings of the Lord in your life.”
To the children of the Church, Elder Dunn gives this message: “I think that our greatest blessings come from living the gospel. People sometimes think it’s not easy to live the gospel. But if you start when you are young and live the commandments, like keeping the Sabbath day holy, it will lead to a life of happiness and many blessings.”