The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder Devere Harris of the First Quorum of the
Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1984 on the occasion of Elder
Harris' call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
When Devere Harris, president of the Idaho Falls Temple,
walked into President Gordon B. Hinckley’s office,
he had no idea what was coming. Maybe he was doing something that needed
changing in his temple assignment.
“Are you tired of the temple?” President Hinckley
asked. President Harris’s answer was quick and sure.
“No! I want to stay there!”
It was not to be. But President Harris would bring
to his new calling a deep love for the House of the Lord.
“Serving in the temple for these past four years
was the greatest thing that ever happened to us. Things have happened there
that are too sacred to relate.”
Elder Harris, who was sixty- seven years of age at the time of his call as a General Authority,
grew up in the little town of Portage, Utah, near the Idaho border. At
Bear River High School he starred in both basketball and track. After graduating,
he attended business college in Salt Lake. He
later became a salesman for an insurance company, rising to the position
of manager of three states. In 1930 he married Velda Gibbs, also of Portage,
in the Logan Temple.
Elder Harris was kept busy in the Church. Among other
callings, he served as elders quorum president, stake mission president,
and high councilor. At the same time, he was traveling sixty to eighty
thousand miles a year for his company and supervising some forty men. Then
he was called to be bishop of the Portage Ward. When Elder Harris was set
apart, Elder Boyd K. Packer promised him that
as long as he did the Lord’s work, his business would prosper.
And that’s exactly what happened.
“I have never hesitated since that day to ask people
to serve the Lord, in any capacity. I’ve never thought I could put a hardship
on anybody that way—never.”
With so many demands on his time, Elder Harris learned
to give quality time to his family, even when time was scarce. “One summer,”
he recalls, “we took our children on a trip to Canada, Mexico, and about
twenty-four states. Later someone asked my son what he considered the most
exciting thing he’d done all summer. My chest kind of stuck out a little,
and I thought, ‘Well, he’s got plenty to choose from,’ but he said, ‘The
most fun I’ve had this summer is the night I lay out on the lawn with my
dad and watched the Milky Way and made up poetry.’ ”
The Harris’s son and four daughters have all been
married in the temple and have provided a proud grandpa and grandma with
twenty grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Of his new calling, Elder Harris says, “I feel inadequate,
of course, but I’m thrilled with the call, and I’m willing to give it everything
I’ve got. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that if I get myself in a condition
to serve the Lord, that he will sustain me.”
Elder Harris’s assurance comes from a deep faith.
“I’ve had a witness borne to me of the Spirit that the gospel of Jesus
Christ is true, that the Church is true, that God lives. I have enjoyed
some beautiful manifestations of the Spirit. But I don’t believe that a
man’s testimony can be built on beautiful manifestations. I think it’s
more important to hear the whisper of the still small voice that gives
assurance, day after day and year after year, that the gospel is true.
I have heard that whisper.”
Elder Harris served in the First Quorum of the Seventy
until April 1, 1989 when he was released and called into the newly created
Second Quorum of the Seventy. There he served faithfully until honorably
released on October 1, 1989.
Elder Harris died Thursday, July 6, 2006, at his home in Logan, Utah. He was 90 years old. Interment was in the Portage, Utah, cemetery. Elder Harris was survived by his wife, six children, 26 grandchildren, 31 great-grandchildren, and a sister and a brother.