It wouldn’t be uncommon to find Elder Robert Kent Dellenbach
helping homeless people sort cans as part of a recycling project in Denver.
It wouldn’t be uncommon, either, to find him helping scientists and engineers
with a high-tech project in the Soviet Union. What would be uncommon would
be to find Elder Dellenbach without a smile while he’s working on any project
that involves interaction with others.
“I love people,” he said sincerely, when interviewed by a correspondent for The Ensign on the occasion of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. “They’re what make me tick.”
Elder Dellenbach, was born on 10 May 1937
in Salt Lake City to Frank and Leona Conshafter Dellenbach and was reared
in Clinton, Utah. “I grew up on a farm, and we worked with many different
people from many walks of life,” he says. “There were the businessmen,
the other farmers, and the migrant workers who came up to help with the
fall harvest. We worked together, and we worked hard. I learned to accept
and honor their individuality and the differences among us.”
Those attitudes are reflected in Elder Dellenbach’s
feelings toward the gospel. “It gives comfort to everyone,” he said. “Every
person is entitled to the grace of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice and to
blessings from the Father.”
Elder Dellenbach and his wife, the former Mary-Jayne
Broadbent, have always tried to put the gospel first in their lives. They
were married on 17 August 1962 in the Manti Temple. They had three sons—Rob,
David, and Dan.
“Family prayer is the bedrock of our family relationship,”
said Sister Dellenbach. “We have it both morning and evening. It’s the
most stabilizing force in our family life.”
Working together on the garden, the house, and other
chores helped the family stay unified, as did playing together—they
enjoyed fishing, skiing, and traveling. “And the emphasis that Mary-Jayne
(a former schoolteacher) has placed on music and books in our home has
also been a great influence,” he said.
After serving a 2 1/2 year mission in West Germany,
Elder Dellenbach returned to earn a degree in international relations from
the University of Utah and then a master’s degree in business from BYU.
He and his family have been on the move ever since.
The Dellenbachs lived in Fairbanks and Anchorage,
Alaska, where Elder Dellenbach served as a business manager and as a vice
president and president of local universities. They have also lived in
southern California, where Elder Dellenbach
worked with the Salk Institute; in Washington, D. C., where Elder Dellenbach
was involved with a company that assisted agencies and scientific institutes
in the Soviet Union; and in Germany, where Elder and Sister Dellenbach
presided first over the
Germany Dusseldorf Mission, then over the Germany Munich Mission.
Although Elder Dellenbach held many Church callings,
including bishop, stake president, Sunday School president, and regional
representative, he had a special love for the time he spent as a mission
president. “In the mission field you deal with such an exciting element,”
he says. “You’re working with the young people of the Church, dedicated
couples, and new converts. What more could you want?”
He paused for a moment, then added: “Actually, we
want more missionaries. We need 100 percent of our young men to serve.
We need more couples. Opportunities are opening up all over the world,
and we need to be ready to share the light of the gospel with others.”
In the six years prior to his call as a General Authority, the Dellenbachs lived
in Salt Lake City, where Elder Dellenbach dealt with a variety of environmental issues.
“In working with people from all echelons of life,
I’ve learned that there’s a lot of good in everyone,” said Elder Dellenbach.
“We need to keep encouraging that.”
Elder Dellenbach served in the Second Quorum of the
Seventy for only two years before being called to the First Quorum of the
Seventy June 6, 1992. On October 6, 2007, he was released from the First Quorum and named General Authority emeritus.