President Henry B. Eyring
When President Henry Bennion Eyring reflects upon the unexpected path his life has taken, he smiles at the knowledge that God can work miracles in the lives of His children despite their fears and feelings of inadequacy.
He draws strength from that knowledge as he contemplates what he calls the “momentous responsibility” that has come with his calling to the First Presidency. President Eyring fills the vacancy created with the death of President James E. Faust on August 10, 2007.
While looking forward to increased association with President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Thomas S. Monson, he nevertheless misses President Faust.
“I try not to think about filling President Faust’s shoes because that’s impossible,” he says. “He was a uniquely prepared and accomplished Second Counselor in the First Presidency. He had unique gifts.”
At a press conference following the announcement of his call on October 6, President Eyring recalled being invited into President Faust’s office shortly after being called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on April 1, 1995. Instead of offering expected encouragement, President Faust pointed heavenward, smiled, and said, “Don’t talk to me. Talk to Him.” President Eyring explained, “Rather than trying to solve all my problems, he sent me to God. He had that gift of being very sensitive and kind—the dearest friend and the best mentor you could have.”
Expressing gratitude to the Lord for His trust and to President Hinckley for his confidence, President Eyring says, “It’s a great … opportunity to serve with people whom I love and whom I sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators and as true Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
In acknowledging the Lord’s sustaining hand, he adds, “President Hinckley is always saying, ‘Things will work out.’ I have that faith as well even as I face this momentous responsibility.”
Born on May 31, 1933, in Princeton, New Jersey, Henry B. Eyring was the second of three sons born to Henry and Mildred Bennion Eyring. His father, a world-renowned chemist, encouraged his sons to pursue careers in science. President Eyring completed undergraduate work in physics, but after serving two years in the U.S. Air Force, he enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Business, where he earned advanced degrees in business administration.
While at Harvard during the summer of 1961, he met Kathleen Johnson, who was in Boston attending summer school. They dated that summer, corresponded after she returned to her home in California, and were married in the Logan Utah Temple in July 1962. That same year President Eyring became an assistant professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, where he taught from 1962 to 1971.
President Eyring describes his wife as “a person who has always made me want to be the very best that I can be.” That trait manifested itself in the middle of a night in 1971 when she woke her husband and asked, “Are you sure you are doing the right thing with your life?” She then asked him whether he shouldn’t be working with Neal A. Maxwell, then Commissioner of the Church Educational System.
President Eyring enjoyed teaching at Stanford, being near his in-laws, and serving as bishop of the Stanford First Ward, but he began praying about his wife’s question. The Eyrings did not know Commissioner Maxwell, but within days he called and invited President Eyring to Salt Lake City, where he asked him to be president of Ricks College, now BYU–Idaho. President Eyring accepted the offer and soon moved his family—which today includes 4 sons, 2 daughters, and 25 grandchildren—to Rexburg, Idaho.
He became deputy commissioner of the Church Educational System six years later and CES Commissioner three years after that, serving until his call in April 1985 as First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. In September 1992 he was renamed CES Commissioner, simultaneously serving in that position and as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, to which he was called a month later.
President Eyring, known for his heartfelt sermons and tender spirit, says his 12 years of service in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught him an important lesson about succoring Heavenly Father’s children.
“Because of my experience in the Twelve, I have more confidence that if we can just align ourselves with what Heavenly Father and the Savior want, we can do far better than we’ve done,” he says. “God will touch people’s lives through us more effectively than we could ever expect, and He will make more of our lives than we could ever imagine.”
Despite our fears and inadequacies, he adds, Heavenly Father will guide us. “If you move ahead in faith and if you’re humble, you will hear His voice,” he says.
Elder Quentin L. Cook
Though he says the call to serve as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was unexpected, Elder Quentin La Mar Cook has been learning to live as a witness of the Savior Jesus Christ from a young age.
“All my life I have been blessed by those who love the Savior,” Elder Cook says.
Born on September 8, 1940, in Logan, Utah, to J. Vernon and Bernice Cook, Elder Cook is grateful for a loving, involved father and a mother who “loved the Savior. They did everything they could to raise us the right way.”
He appreciates his brother and sister and recalls that it was at age 15 during a serious conversation with his older brother, Joe, that he realized that a testimony of the Savior had significant consequences. Joe had to decide whether or not to put off medical school to serve a mission. “After that conversation, the confirmation that I received of the truthfulness of the Church and divinity of Jesus Christ was a defining event for me.”
His brother ended up serving, as did Elder Cook, who served in the British Mission. His mission presidents, including Elder Marion D. Hanks, then a member of the First Council of the Seventy, had a profound effect on him.
“It’s very important to have a testimony of the Savior and associate with people who love the Savior,” Elder Cook says. He found another such person, named Mary Gaddie, whom he married in the Logan Utah Temple on November 30, 1962.
After he graduated from Utah State University with a degree in political science, the couple moved to California where Elder Cook earned a juris doctorate degree at Stanford University. As they raised their three children, Elder Cook worked in business law, became managing partner of a San Francisco Bay Area law firm, then president and chief executive officer of California Healthcare System, and finally vice chairman of Sutter Health Systems.
During that time he served as a bishop, stake president and counselor, regional representative, and Area Authority. While in the stake presidency, he had responsibility for not only English-speaking wards, but congregations that spoke Spanish, Tongan, Samoan, Tagalog, and Mandarin and Cantonese.
“We loved the diversity of the members and their commitment to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have been such a positive influence in my life,” he says.
However, in his professional life, Elder Cook worked mostly with people who were not members of the Church. He learned that “there are a great many people outside the Church who love the Savior. Many of them had a positive influence on me as well. So when I talk about associating with good people, I’m not talking about isolating yourself from the world.”
After his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy on April 6, 1996, and his subsequent call to the First Quorum on April 4, 1998, Elder Cook served in the Philippines/Micronesia Area Presidency and as President of the Pacific and North America Northwest Areas of the Church.
His service as a General Authority has reinforced his belief that “you can find good people who love the Savior wherever you are.” Elder Cook believes that the way to find them is to live the gospel humbly but unabashedly.
“I think the biggest mistake that most Latter-day Saints make is hiding who they are,” he says. “Many members don’t tell friends and associates who they are and what they believe and are dragged into very difficult situations. Those who identify themselves as Latter-day Saints and make clear what they believe have far fewer problems.”
He also found that they are better member missionaries when he served as Executive Director of the Missionary Department before being called to the Presidency of the Seventy in August 2007.
In his first conference talk after being sustained an Apostle on October 6, 2007, Elder Cook addressed the problem of members in “camouflage” and encouraged them to live “by faith and not by fear.”
“There are many who are ‘kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ (D&C 123:12),” he says. “And when someone is forthright in a tolerant, kind way, it’s amazing how many people will respond.”
Elder Cook hopes that people will respond this way to him in his new calling, knowing that in spite of the inadequacy he feels, he must live by faith and not by fear as he lets people know who he is and what he believes as a special witness of Christ.
“I love the Savior,” he states. “I rejoice in the opportunity to bear witness of Jesus Christ in all the world.”
Elder Walter F. González
Elder Walter Fermín González has a firm testimony that service brings blessings. “We are always in debt with the Lord, because the reward is always larger than any service we do,” he says.
Elder González’s preparation to serve began early in life, before he was a member of the Church. After he turned nine years old, his mother suggested he learn English. Though his parents weren’t members, he believes his mother was an “instrument in the hands of the Lord” in preparing him for the callings he would eventually receive.
“Nobody knew that I was going to be a member of the Church nine years later. Nobody knew that one day I was going to be called to be a General Authority and need to speak English,” he says.
Born to Fermín Gabino González Valdez and Victoria Dolores Núñez Roda on November 18, 1952, in Montevideo, Uruguay, Elder González was baptized when he was 18. He married Zulma Anahir Núñez in Montevideo on February 28, 1975. They were sealed in the Washington D.C. Temple in 1979 and are the parents of four children. They look forward to the upcoming birth of their first grandchild.
Elder González studied at Universidad de la República in Uruguay and Universidad de la Fraternidad in Argentina and obtained a bachelor’s degree from Indiana University at Bloomington.
Elder González was sustained to the Presidency of the Seventy on October 6, 2007. He previously served as President of the Brazil North and South America West Areas and as a counselor in the South America North and Brazil North Area Presidencies. He also served as an Area Seventy in the South America North Area, a mission president in Ecuador, a stake president in Uruguay, and an area public affairs director in the South America North Area.
He worked with the Church Educational System, including as area director for the South America North Area.