The following biographical sketch is adapted from
the "News of the Church: Elder John R. Lasater of the First Quorum of the
Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1987 on the occasion of
Elder Lasater's call to the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Not since Joseph Smith was lieutenant general of the
Nauvoo Legion has there been a General Authority of the Church who was
actually a general.
Elder John R. Lasater, sustained in April conference
to the First Quorum of the Seventy, becomes the first. A retired Air Force
general and F-4 fighter pilot by profession, Elder Lasater, fifty-five,
has been serving as president of the New Zealand
Auckland Mission. Born 8 December 1931, Elder Lasater married the former
Marilyn Jones of Samaria, Idaho. They are the parents of four daughters—Mary
Lynn, Leslie Ann, Melanie, and Carolyn, all of whom are married—and a son,
Garth, who is at BYU and will marry this spring.
The Lasater family has lived in Germany three times.
The last time they were there, Elder Lasater was regional representative
assigned to the Servicemen’s Stake—Europe. Before that, he was president
of that stake, which covers some sixty-five thousand square miles. President
Harold B. Lee called John Lasater to that position
and blessed him with a wonderful promise. At the time of the call, Major
Lasater thought himself an unlikely man for the job, since he was required
to spend nearly all his time flying to various U.S. bases throughout Europe,
training and evaluating pilot performance. But President Lee set him apart,
promising him that he would be able to preside over and conduct the affairs
of the stake without interference
from his work. President Lee further blessed him that his advancement
in the military ranks would be extraordinary.
The very next day, as Major Lasater was preparing
to leave on a routine flight evaluation visit to bases in Europe, he was
called in by his commanding general and told he would not be going on that
flight; furthermore, his assignment had been
permanently changed. From that day on he was to report to that general’s
office as his executive assistant. John Lasater did not travel one day
after that, which enabled him to serve uninterrupted as stake president.
General Lasater attributes his uncommonly rapid rise in rank directly to
the Lord’s blessing as well as to the priesthood standards that have guided
in his life.
Each of the five points on the stars worn by generals
in the military stands for a quality expected of men of that rank: honor,
integrity, loyalty, service, fidelity. These high standards are the qualities
of a true leader, “qualities that come from within a man.”
As Elder Lasater sees it, military ideals and gospel
principles are more similar than most people realize. He sees the military
as a “noble profession—though it hasn’t always been—where old virtues are
practiced and defended. One advances by living
these virtues, rather than by subscribing to any of the myths about
war being glorious and soldiers being tough.
Upon his being promoted to general, Brother Lasater
remembers telling his superior officer, “I hope I can remember that I can
be wrong and that I can be big enough to admit it.”
He has tried to remember this and has depended on
the Lord in his major assignments, where much depended on his judgment.
As Senior Military Adviser to Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; as U.S.
Commissioner to the Standing Consultative Committee at Geneva SALT talks
XIX and XX; as commander of the SAC 4th Air Division (responsible for B-52
bombers, ICBMs, and 28,000 men); and then as deputy assistant Secretary
of Defense under Caspar Weinberger, Elder Lasater believes he was more
effective because he relied on the Lord for help.
The army of the Lord also needs faithful servants
who measure up to such standards of leadership.
Elder Lasater served but two years of his five-year
call as a General Authority in the First Quorum of the Seventy, being released
on April 1, 1989 to serve the remainder of his call in the Second Quorum
of the Seventy. He served faithfully and was honorably released from the
Second Quorum on October 3, 1992.