This biographical sketch adapted from "News of the
Church: Elder Dean L. Larsen of the First Quorum of Seventy" from the Ensign,
November 1976, page 136 on the occasion of his call to serve in the First
Quorum of the Seventy and from other sources
“I have a great desire to be useful—to the Lord and
to people both in and out of the Church,” said Elder Dean L. Larsen of
his new calling to the First Quorum of Seventy. Indeed, this desire
to be of service typifies a ruling concern of his life: Elder Larsen cares
about people. Upon meeting him, you are impressed by his humility and his
sincerity, and by his eyes that are at once discerning and kind. You trust
Elder Larsen was born May 24, 1927, in Hyrum, Utah,
to Gertrude Prouse and Edgar N. Larsen. He was the fifth child in a family
of seven and grew up on a “semi-farm,” working with gardening and livestock.
After graduation from high School he served in the U.S. Navy towards the
end of World War II, then attended the University of Utah and Utah State
University, graduating from the latter with a degree in English and Spanish
in 1950. Midway through his college training he married Geneal Johnson
of Ashton, Idaho, and today they are the parents of five children—“all
boys except four,” Elder Larsen quiped.
After two years of sales work and other endeavors,
and eight years of high school teaching and early-morning seminary, Elder
Larsen went to teach seminary at Utah’s Brigham City Intermountain Indian
“All my life I have been interested in Indians—as
a boy I used to read everything I could get my hands on about them,” he
said. Then, one year later (1961) he became assistant coordinator of Indian
Seminaries at Brigham Young University, and the next year was appointed
secretary of the Church Indian Committee.
He taught one year at the University of Utah Institute
of Religion before being called as president of the Texas South Mission.
A former missionary who served under him recalls: “I was impressed by his
command of the scriptures and his ability to explain them so lucidly—so
that they could be easily understood by anyone. He had the rare ability
to get close to people, to let them know that he really cared about them.”
After three years of service in this capacity, Elder
Larsen taught at the Ogden Institute of Religion. In March 1972 he became
coordinator of curriculum planning for the Church; he also served as director
of instructional materials before becoming the editor of Church Magazines
earlier this year.
Elder Larsen came to he First Quorum of the Seventy prepared
by a long list of Church service: he served as a stake missionary,
bishop, high councilor, member of the Church Priesthood Missionary Committee,
secretary of the adult correlation committee, member of the Sunday
School General Board, and Regional Representative of the Twelve. “I’ve
enjoyed all my assignments, but my favorite have always been where I can
work directly with people, as in the mission field or in a bishopric.”
How did his family respond to the frequent moves
and many calls? “They’ve learned to take a new call in stride, but they’re
very pleased and always very supportive. We’re very close as a family,
and we enjoy and appreciate these calls because they are shared by the
whole family. It’s been a great experience for us.
“It’s an awesome responsibility and tremendous privilege
to associate with the General Authorities in the great work of building
the kingdom of God. The unity and brotherhood among the Brethren is wonderful,
and very humbling.
“My goal is to help people discover the gospel and
help them enjoy living its principles. I hope it does as much for them
as it has for me.”
Having served long and well, Elder Dean LeRoy Larsen was released from the First Quorum and given a vote of thanks by a grateful Church assembled in General Conference as he was named an Emeritus General Authority on October 4, 1997.