Elder Kevin S. Hamilton: Choose to do good

Elder Kevin Scott Hamilton describes himself as “the product of a conversion and a rescue.”

The story goes back to his birth in March 1955 in Wenatchee, Wash., to Norman Russell and Kay Hamilton.

"After I was born, my mother had all these questions about life," related Elder Hamilton, who was sustained at the general conference in April as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. "She talked to her minister, but didn't receive the answers she was looking for, so she talked to one of our friends who was a Latter-day Saint, Richard Pratt (a good Mormon name)."

Brother Pratt connected her with missionaries of the Church, and she began to receive lessons from them.

Meanwhile, her husband let her know he was already a member of the Church. He was born into an LDS family and baptized, but at the age of 27, had not been active since his early teens and had not advanced in the priesthood, so the subject of his membership in the Church had never come up in conversations with his wife.

“So she joined the Church, my dad became active in the Church and shortly after that, I was sealed to them in the Salt Lake Temple.”

Subsequent children — two sisters and two brothers — were all born under the covenant. The family grew in faithfulness, and by age 19, Elder Hamilton was prepared to serve in the Switzerland Geneva Mission.

"I was probably as green as anybody," he said, "but going to France and Switzerland and learning the language and preaching the gospel in that part of the world changed me. It changed my heart. It created a fire and a burning desire to serve that never left."

While serving, he undertook "an intense quest to read the scriptures and pray and really come to know for myself."

He added, "I would not say that I had a visitation from heavenly messengers; I just came to know in the depths of my soul, in a very personal and sure way that Jesus Christ was my Savior and that this is His Church. Once I understood that and it really became part of me, then everything else just kind of flowed from that."

Elder Hamilton found a kindred spirit in Claudia Keysor, and on July 27, 1978, they were married in the Los Angeles California Temple. Six children have blessed their marriage, all married now with families of their own, except for the youngest, who is a sophomore at BYU. The Hamiltons have eight grandchildren with one on the way in September.

While rearing the children, Elder and Sister Hamilton endeavored to make of their home something of a visitors' center for gospel precepts. For years, the entryway has been regularly stocked with copies of the Book of Mormon, For the Strength of Youth booklets and other Church literature that is regularly replenished as visitors take them.

"I don't have to say anything, but I notice the stack diminishes," Sister Hamilton said. And the copies have been handy when family members encounter missionary opportunities.

"They say you can have a silent sermon in your home, and we have had these little quotes around the house," Sister Hamilton said.

For example, a plaque in the home bears the passage from Joshua 24:15, "Choose you this day whom ye will serve; ... but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

The hope is that, whatever family members choose to do on any given day, they will thereby serve the Lord.

"It has been our family motto," Elder Hamilton affirmed.

It guided them when he was called to preside over the Belgium Brussels Netherlands Mission from 2003 to 2006.

"We served with marvelous young elders and sisters and senior couples," he said. Half of our mission was French-speaking, and the other half was Dutch-speaking at the time. They've reorganized it since; it's not that way today."

He was serving as a stake president when called, and that gave him occasion to get involved in what has become an abiding interest in community interfaith activities. Members of some Evangelical Christian organizations at the time had rather negative perceptions of the LDS faith.

"There was a large congregation in our community," Elder Hamilton recounted. "I picked up the phone one day and reached out to their senior pastor, Larry DeWitt. I said, 'Larry, you have about the same number of members as I have. We're in the same community. We should be friends.'

"He was a little reluctant, but I persisted, and he invited me to attend their interfaith prayer breakfast they had monthly. I showed up, the only representative of the Latter-day Saint faith.

"Over the years, Pastor DeWitt and I not only became friends, we became good friends, dear friends. He introduced me to a number of other faith leaders we normally wouldn't have interacted with."

Then the mission call came, and President and Sister Hamilton departed for their three-years' service. When they returned, they joined with a coalition of Catholic and Protestant groups to work together on community affairs and public issues.

"We had a wonderful outpouring of interaction and support with these different faith groups who have some of the same values that we do, especially concerning the family," Elder Hamilton said. "We have so much common ground. And ironically, so much of the negative discussion about the Church has just kind of quietly died away. You hardly ever hear it anymore."

In bridge building, as in other endeavors Elder Hamilton has seen the wisdom of relying on the Lord.

"Every time I have been called to do something, I kind of shake my head and think, 'How could the Lord possibly trust me to do that?' And I have found that, whether the task be large or small, if we simply just move and start the process, the Lord miraculously opens doors, provides strength, wisdom and capability that was unknown previously."

It is a knowledge that gives him assurance as he embarks on this newest calling.

Biographical information

Family: Born March 26, 1955, in Wenatchee, Wash., to Norman Russell and Kay Girard Hamilton. Married Claudia Keysor on July 27, 1978, in the Los Angeles California Temple. Six children: Ryan (Tricia), Michelle (Caton Hanson), Matthew (Belize), Peter (Linda), Heather (Taylor Moss), Brook; eight grandchildren.

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business management from BYU in 1979; master of business arts degree from University of Washington in 1982.

Career: Worked in business mostly in the telecommunications industry in several companies, serving as CEO a number of times. Also, a background in venture capital and private equity.

Community service: Ventura Council of Boy Scouts of America in California; active in community interfaith organizations.

Church service: Full-time missionary in Geneva Switzerland Mission, 1974-76; president of Belgium Brussels Netherlands Mission, 2003-2006; bishop, stake president, director of Southern California Public Affairs Council.

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