Years ago, when Sister Jessie Evans Smith wanted ice
cream, she would call Rex Reeve, a dairy company executive. He would bring
Sister Smith and her husband, President Joseph
Fielding Smith, a couple of half-gallons of ice cream and then sit
and talk with them for a few minutes. He felt privileged—“I felt like I
was on holy ground.”
When called a General Authority himself, Elder Rex Cropper
Reeve treasured the moments spent with Church leaders. At the Saturday
morning session of annual general conference in April, 1978 Elder Reeve was
sustained a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
The son of Arthur H. and Mary Cropper Reeve, he was born in Hinckley, Utah, on Nov. 23, 1914. In his boyhood and youth, he drove a hay wagon and had a newspaper route. Growing up during the Depression, he saw the bank come and take the family's sheep. "Since those days, I have had a healthy respect for staying out of debt. I have never felt much like plunging," he said at the time of his calling as a General Authority.
He was serving as president of the California Anaheim
Mission when a telephone call came from President Spencer
W. Kimball a few days before conference. President Kimball spoke to
both Elder Reeve and his wife, Phyllis Mae Nielsen Reeve, as he extended
“This wasn’t the first time President Kimball had
blessed our lives. He set me apart as a counselor in a stake presidency
thirty years ago,” Elder Reeve said. After that, Elder Reeve served
as a stake president, stake patriarch, Regional Representative of the Twelve,
and mission president. In his church work, he knew six of the presidents
of the Church. To call their influence on him “profound” is an understatement,
The Reeves became acquainted with President David
O. McKay before they were married, when they took an evening class
from him on courtship and marriage. He agreed to officiate at their marriage
“He taught how to be happy—the secrets of living
a happy life,” said Elder Reeve. “One thing he taught was to never let
the sun set on a misunderstanding. I can say we’ve done that. And we’ve
prayed together—with few exceptions—every morning and night.”
The Reeves first met at a Mutual dance in Salt Lake
City. “I knew the first night that she was the one,” he said. They dated
a year before they were married. “We had a marvelous courtship. We studied
the Book of Mormon together, went for walks together, and took the class
from President McKay.”
They decided before marriage to have as large a family
as they could and to always put the Lord and his work first.
That foundation has served them well through several
hardships. They nearly lost their oldest son, Rex C. Reeve, Jr., who became director of the institute at Orem Technical College.
Their oldest daughter, Rebecca Ann, was paralyzed
sixteen years ago, in an automobile accident while she was serving a mission
in New Mexico. “She is an inspiration,” Elder Reeve says. “She’s not bitter
at all; she has an electric wheel chair, and she gives a lot of talks to
“But we’ve been blessed,” Elder Reeve said. He spoke
happily of the accomplishments of all his children—including his sons Roger
Warne Reeve of Phoenix, Arizona, and David A. Reeve, a law student at Brigham
Young University; and of his daughter, JoAnne Reeve, who taught at Ricks
College; and of his two other daughters, Mrs. Garth (Venice) Finlinson
of Oak City, Utah, and Mrs. Lane (Barbara) Nielson of Monett, Missouri.
And he spoke proudly of his pioneer ancestors, some
of whom are buried along the Mormon trail.
“For a long time I felt I had been riding on a ticket
purchased by someone else,” he said in tribute to his progenitors. “The
work ahead will be difficult, but I am grateful for this opportunity to
serve. With the help of the Lord, you can do anything. Without the help
of the Lord, you can’t.”
Elder Reeve served honorably and well in the First Quorum
of the Seventy for eleven years until he was named an Emeritus General
Authority on October 1, 1989.
Elder Reeve died July 18, 2005, in Salt Lake City. He was 90 years old.