"There are no such things as coincidences in life," said Elder Vern P. Stanfill,
a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. "Things happen for a purpose and the Lord guides our lives
with His tender mercies." Born in Townsend, Montana, on Aug. 8, 1957, Elder Stanfill is the third of
four children, with two older brothers and a younger sister. His parents, Peggy and Jed Stanfill taught
him the gospel and principles of hard work while working on the family ranch.
Most days growing up, Vern Stanfill would spend the whole day outside playing or
working on tasks that needed to be completed on the ranch. "He learned a remarkable amount of self
discipline growing up," said his wife of 35 years, Alicia Cox Stanfill. "He learned how to follow
through on a project until the job was done."
At a young age, Elder Stanfill said he developed a strong testimony of Jesus
Christ, which he never doubted. It kept him strong in the gospel. After a year at BYU, Elder Stanfill
served a full-time mission in Toulouse, France. He then returned to BYU to finish his degree.
At BYU, he pursued a degree in agricultural
economics to learn how to run the business side of the family ranch. He met his wife, a convert from
Newport Beach, California, at BYU. They married December 17, 1980, in the Salt Lake Temple, moved to
Montana after graduation and started an eternal partnership.
Back home in Townsend, Montana, Elder Stanfill managed the family ranch. He and
Sister Stanfill have four daughters. "We all had projects to complete and worked on the ranch together,"
he said. Sister Stanfill remarked, "We lived by a principle called 'best for last.' On Saturdays and
during the summer, we all worked on the ranch first and when we were done with the work we spent time
doing fun activities together."
In 1998 Elder Stanfill sold the ranch and moved his family to Bigfork, Montana.
There he became involved in managing the family financial portfolio. Elder Stanfill said, "I have been
very blessed in my life to do a variety of interesting and rewarding things. I learned that while
certain things can seem outside our level of expertise or understanding most can be learned with a
One of Elder Stanfill's passions is flying both fixed wing and rotor aircraft.
His love of aviation led him to qualify for and possess a commercial license for airplanes and
helicopters. His favorite airplane to fly is the Swiss-made Pilatus PC-12; for helicopters, he enjoys
the Bell Jet Ranger.
As his life unfolded, Elder Stanfill had opportunities to serve in the Church.
The local branch he grew up in eventually became a ward, and he served as a bishop and stake president
in Montana. To non-members in his ranching community he was often known respectfully as the "preacher"
or "Bishop Vern" because of his involvement in spiritual matters.
"The hand of the Lord is present in our lives despite our weaknesses," he said.
"My wife and I are not perfect people. We don't have a perfect family. We are just ordinary people who
have tried to live our lives day by day and allow the Lord to be part of it." He shared a story to
illustrate his point.
Returning home late one night after attending a high council meeting, Elder
Stanfill felt a prompting to check on one of his daughters. Typically he wouldn't check on his daughter
at the late hour but he followed the prompting. "I approached her room and saw that she was still
awake," said Elder Stanfill. "She was cleaning her room, and I asked her if there was something the
matter. She broke into tears and told me she was upset about some friends who were starting to make bad
decisions, and she was worried about them."
Elder Stanfill listened to his daughter's concerns and offered to pray with her.
They knelt down together and said a prayer. His daughter wondered how he knew to come and speak to her.
It was a comfort to her to know that Heavenly Father cared enough to send her father to counsel and
console her. It was a powerful experience that blessed both of them.
A strongly held belief of Elder Stanfill's is that the Lord places people in the
path of individuals to teach and help them become closer to God. "Many individuals, both members of the
Church and those who are not members, have taught me how to become better. I love to learn from others.
It is interesting and remarkable when we approach our day-to-day relationships with a sincere interest
to learn from others."
Elder Stanfill expressed that even though there are many administrative aspects
to Church leadership, his favorite part of the work is getting out and ministering to people one on
one. He said, "Over the years I've learned to be sensitive to other people's needs. Sitting across from
somebody, showing them love and compassion and inviting them to follow Jesus Christ is wonderful.
Though I am basically a shy person, the gospel has taught me to extend myself and think of others."
Concerning engagement in the latter-day work, Elder Stanfill shared the
importance of binding the heart and mind to that work by sharing a passage from Doctrine and Covenants
43:9. "And thus ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye
have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me." He explained, "We have
to bind ourselves to something . in our family we have tried to bind ourselves to a holy purpose."
Now living in St. George, Utah, and Montana, Elder Stanfill and his wife
purchased a motor home and were planning on doing some traveling but this call to full-time service in
the First Quorum of the Seventy will change that. "Do you know anyone who wants to buy a motor home?"
Elder Stanfill joked. Full-time service to the Lord is humbling and requires sacrifice but Elder and
Sister Stanfill feel prepared.
"Over the years I have seen my husband refined, softened and blessed with a
greater capacity for love and compassion," said Sister Stanfill. Elder Stanfill was sustained in
general conference on April 4 2015, and continues to serve at this posting.