“I was born and grew up in the community of Tooele, Utah, where my father managed 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 eight-hectare farm on the edge of town which the family owned. 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 and not cows.’”
Elder Dunn was six months old when a bulldog named Nibs became part of his family, and he has enjoyed dogs and horses all of his life.
When Elder Dunn was eight, he got his first horse and called him Smokey. “I had to ride him home a distance of about eleven kilometers,” 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 without a saddle.”
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 260 square kilometers,” 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.
“Father 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. Father 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 there is something about it that makes you feel good when you do those things that are good 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.”