Elder Kim B. Clark: A lifelong learner and a life of teaching

A lifetime of education — as a student and a teacher — will be of great benefit to Elder Kim Bryce Clark in his new assignment to serve in the First Quorum of the Seventy. With his new calling announced on April 4 in general conference, Elder Clark will begin his service just weeks after he finished his assignment as president of BYU-Idaho on April 12.

“I have been in school since I was five years old,” the newly called Seventy said. “I love learning and teaching.”

He was born in Salt Lake City on March 20, 1949, to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark — the eldest of three children. At a very young age his parents instilled in him an understanding of the importance and power of persistence and how to work hard.

“At the age of five my mother signed me up for elocution lessons,” Elder Clark said. “Every Saturday for three hours I would present vocabulary words, scripture, poetry and dramatic readings I had memorized.”

Then, every morning before school his mother would have him practice the next week’s assignments — over and over.

“She would always say, ‘If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well,’ ” he remembered. His mother always encouraged him to be a leader and to do his very best. His father, a real cowboy in his early years in southern Utah, taught his children how to work hard. Their teachings and examples have stayed with Elder Clark and been a positive influence throughout his life.

When Elder Clark was 11 years old he and his family became involved in building a new ward meetinghouse in his Salt Lake City neighborhood.

“An announcement was made in church that President [David O.] McKay was coming to dedicate the building,” he said. “I felt — and I still remember the feeling I had — a compelling desire to be at that meeting.”

After obtaining permission from his parents, the young boy left his house very early for the dedication, getting to the chapel hours before the meeting started. He chose a seat at the very front, with a close view of the prophet.

“I heard him, I saw him walk, I heard him speak and I heard him pray, and I knew, ‘This is God’s prophet,’ ” he said. “I was 11, and since then, that memory, that feeling has only grown every time I have raised my hand to sustain a new president of the Church.”

Not long after that experience Elder Clark’s family moved to Spokane, Washington, where he attended junior high and high school. The firm testimony of a living prophet gained at a young age helped shape the important decisions Elder Clark has made throughout his life — especially in learning to use the Spirit as his guide.

Although his original plan was to attend Brigham Young University, as a junior in high school he felt he needed to explore other options and decided to apply to Harvard University — a place that would eventually become his home for more than three decades.

“It had to be the hand of the Lord,” he said.

The process to get into Harvard had been rigorous, and included an interview with a Harvard alum living in his area.

“We sat in his office and he grilled me about the Church,” Elder Clark remembers. “I went through intense questioning, but I got in.”

It wasn’t until years later that Elder Clark found out the man had written a letter to the Harvard admissions officers encouraging them to “take a chance” on the Mormon young man from Washington state.

So Elder Clark enrolled at Harvard and moved across the country to attend his first year of college. Sabbath days became a sacred time for the young student, helping him stay focused during a difficult first year filled with rigorous classes.

“The Sabbath day was a great, great sanctuary,” Elder Clark said. “I couldn’t wait for the Sabbath day. There were great people at Church who took me in and helped me to grow.”

After his freshman year of study, Elder Clark welcomed a call to the South German Mission from 1968-1970.

“No other LDS man — then or since — has gone on a mission happier than me,” he said. “That first year at Harvard was a hard year.”

On his mission he had great experiences that strengthened his faith in Jesus Christ and taught him to rely on the Lord — especially in times he felt discouraged or when he didn’t know what to do.

Upon his return, he decided it would be best that he attend BYU, where he soon met Sue Lorraine Hunt in his ward. They married a few months later, on June 14, 1971. Parents of seven children, they have 23 grandchildren and another on the way.

Right after they were married, the couple moved to the Boston, Massachusetts, area, where Elder Clark again enrolled at Harvard. There he earned his bachelor of arts degree, a master of arts degree and a PhD — all in economics. After finishing his doctorate, Elder Clark became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1978; he served as the school’s dean from 1995-2005.

What originally started as a three-year plan in the Boston area turned in to an almost 30-year career at Harvard. There they raised their family and made lifelong friends. It was also during that busy time that both Elder and Sister Clark were given many opportunities to serve — within their home raising a family and in their Church callings.

“Those were good years,” he said. “Challenging, and oftentimes hard years, but good years filled with time together as a family. We had family home evening, scripture study, would work together on Saturdays and do various recreational activities — all within the context of the Church.”

The Clarks lived in Boston until Elder Clark was asked to be the president of Brigham Young University-Idaho in 2005; he served there for nearly a decade.

“Our experience [at BYU-Idaho] has been incredible,” Sister Clark said. “It’s much harder to leave Rexburg than it was leaving Boston.”

Elder and Sister Clark both loved their time in Rexburg, where they were able to be a “part of the Lord’s preparation” of His people.

“It has been an amazing experience,” Elder Clark said. “BYU-Idaho is full of consecrated people, and we have had the experience of seeing what happens when Saints gather together in a consecrated, unified and aligned way.”

As he looks to his new assignment in the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Clark will rely on the Spirit, using that same dedication and hard work instilled in him as a young boy to do the Lord’s work.

“We need to find out what the Lord wants done,” he said, “and then go and do it.”

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Biographical information

Family: Born March 20, 1949, in Salt Lake City to Merlin and Helen Mar Clark; married Sue Lorraine Hunt on June 14, 1971, in the Salt Lake Temple; seven children: Bryce (Stephanie), Erin, Johnathan (Debra), Andrew (Rebekah), Michael (Hannah), Julia (David Moss), Jennifer (Phillip Singer); 23 grandchildren and another on the way.

Education: Received a bachelor of arts degree in economics, master’s degree in economics, and a PhD in economics — all from Harvard University.

Employment: Became a member of the Harvard Business School faculty in 1978; was Harvard Business School dean from 1995-2005. In 2005, Elder Clark became president of Brigham Young University-Idaho where he served until his call in April 2015.

Church service: Former missionary in the South German Mission from 1968-1970, elders quorum president, ward executive secretary, bishop’s counselor, bishop, high councilor, stake mission president’s counselor and Area Seventy. @marianne_holman

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