Be There! Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017)

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Robert D. Hales

“Each of us was there in the Council in Heaven to choose the great plan of happiness we now enjoy. … When you have made a commitment to yourself, your family, your bishop, your employer, be there. When it is time to be in church, at Mutual, or fulfilling [an] assignment, be there. When it is time to graduate from school or training programs, be there. When it is time to serve a mission, be there. When the young woman [or man] you love most kneels at the altar of God’s holy temple, be there (and not as a witness). When your family is gathered in the celestial kingdom, be there. When the Savior waits to greet you as you return with honor from your life on this earth and your Heavenly Father wants to encircle you about in the arms of His love, be there.

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Apr. 2007 general conference.

Robert D. Hales as a fighter pilot

Photograph courtesy of the Hales family

As a pilot, Robert D. Hales adopted the motto “Return with honor.”

Reflecting on his service as a jet fighter pilot in the U.S. Air Force, Elder Robert D. Hales said, “Never deliberately fly into a thunderstorm. … Instead, fly around it, take another route, or wait for the storm to clear before landing.”

Just like taking the right course in a jet fighter, Elder Hales taught, “The choices you make—mission, education, marriage, career, and service in the Church—will shape your eternal destiny.”

“You are the pilots,” he said, “You are responsible to think about the consequences of every choice you make. … Your righteous choices will keep you from getting off course.”

For help to stay on course, Elder Hales taught that Heavenly Father “will speak to us through prayer, and when we pray, we will have the Holy Ghost, who will guide us. We have the scriptures, the teachings of living prophets, patriarchal blessings, the counsel of inspired parents, priesthood and auxiliary leaders, and, above all, the still, small voice of the Spirit. …

“I testify that if you are there for the Lord, He will be there for you (see D&C 88:63). If you love Him and keep His commandments, you will have His Spirit to be with you and guide you.”1

Robert D. Hales as a boy

Photograph courtesy of the Hales family

Elder Hales as a boy.

Robert D. Hales as a young man

Photograph courtesy of the Hales family

And as a young man, Elder Hales set a good example for his friends.

Robert D. Hales and his wife, Mary

Photograph courtesy of the Hales family

Elder Hales’s sweetheart, Mary, became his wife.

Elder Hales and his wife, Mary

Photograph courtesy of the Hales family

Elder Hales and Mary remained sweethearts.

Elder Hales with young men

Photograph by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Elder Hales encouraged youth.

Elder Hales at a baseball game

Photograph by Sonja Eddings Brown, Deseret News

Elder Hales played baseball from childhood through college and once threw the first pitch at a professional baseball game.

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