How Elder Allen D. Haynie learned early to be kind and tolerant

While growing up, Allen D. Haynie, due to family circumstances, divided his time between living in Utah and California, attending five different elementary schools and two different junior high schools.

“This taught me a great lesson about learning to appreciate everybody, because it seemed that every year I was changing and having to make friends all over again,” reflected Elder Haynie, who was sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy on April 4 in general conference.

“I think I grew to value not just certain types of kids, but I kind of liked all of them,” said Elder Haynie, who was born in Logan, Utah, and lived in North Salt Lake and Bountiful and in the San Jose and Cupertino area of California, eventually attending Utah’s Bountiful High School.

“It was a bit eclectic,” he said, regarding his adolescent experience. “I hung around with a lot of athletes, who were good friends, but I wasn’t interested in pursuing that very aggressively.”

He dabbled in theater and debate and worked on the school newspaper, eventually becoming student body president his senior year.

“I just learned to appreciate all kinds of different people,” he said. “It’s actually one of the things I love about the Church: It gives us an opportunity to associate with people that maybe on our own we wouldn’t choose to associate with, and yet we find we value their different backgrounds, experience, talents and abilities.”

He was taught by his mother to be kind and tolerant. He recalled going with her at about the age of 12 to San Francisco, where they encountered some devotees of the Hare Krishna faith.

“I remember my mother going up and talking with them,” he said. “I thought, ‘Why is she wasting her time? They don’t have the complete truth; we do.’ But she taught me that this sort of kindness and willingness to talk and share feelings was valuable.”

It was a lesson that came in handy during his mission in Argentina, he said. There, he finally understood what his mother was trying to teach him, as he experienced some who were not kind or tolerant.

Elder Haynie, who read and marked his own copy of the Book of Mormon for the first time at age 12, has no recollection of not believing in the truthfulness of the gospel.

“I don’t have a memory of not praying,” he said.

Influenced by “great older brothers and younger sisters,” he also had friends who strengthened his faith. In high school, he and his friend were to write a skit “that we thought was so important, and we really wanted the audience to laugh. I remember a friend — and he remains a dear friend to this day — grabbing me and saying, ‘We ought to pray about this before the skit is performed.’ That became our pattern all through high school.”

As a teenager, he said, he was drawn to the Salt Lake Temple and would often go there to experience its presence. “To this day I remain drawn to temples and what occurs inside of them.”

He recalled, “I remember, when I was a senior in high school, learning that there are decisions that matter, that our Father in Heaven has things in mind for us.” That included his eventual enrollment at Brigham Young University.

“My family did not have a strong BYU legacy,” he said. “My older brothers had gone to the University of Utah. I had always planned on living at home and attending the U and, in fact, had accepted a scholarship there.”

One day, his high school counselor introduced him to someone who turned out to be a BYU representative. He agreed to the meeting because it would get him excused from class, but he made it clear to the representative he was not remotely interested in attending BYU, even though the man said it was likely he could receive a scholarship and left him his business card.

That night, he jokingly shared the experience with his father, and, in his prayer that night, mentioned it a similarly joking way to his Heavenly Father. “I discovered it wasn’t all that funny,” he said. Two days later he sheepishly called the representative from BYU and accepted the offer.

“That’s not an endorsement of BYU vs. the University of Utah but, for me, things happened there that I needed to experience that were unique to me.”

One of those things was meeting his wife-to-be, Deborah Ruth Hall. They were introduced after he had received his bachelor’s degree and enrolled in the law school at BYU. In this, after praying about the matter, he followed the advice of the dean of his college, Martin Hickman, who he had worked for as a research assistant, even though both understood that the conventional wisdom was to pursue a graduate degree at a different institution from where one obtained a bachelor’s degree.

As it happened, he met someone the first day of class who eventually introduced him to the young woman he would marry.

“After my father met Deborah for the first time,” he said, “he took me aside and even though previously he had always refused to become involved in any of my romantic endeavors, he told me that ‘if you let this one get away, I’m going to kick you in the seat of your pants.’ So I didn’t let her get away.”

He observed, “Although meeting Deborah was the most important thing that could have happened to me while attending law school, as it turned out, every professional opportunity that I might have received had I attended a different law school became available to me upon graduation from BYU law school. I learned that good things happen when we follow the counsel of our Father in Heaven.”

Elder and Sister Haynie reared six children together in the San Diego area.

As he approaches his new calling, Elder Haynie is guided by a framed quote sent to him by a friend at the time of his calling as an Area Seventy. It is from the journal of President Wilford Woodruff written at the time the leadership of the Church fell to him after the passing of President John Taylor: “I pray God, my Heavenly Father to give me grace equal to my day.”

Elder Haynie mused, "Maybe the only thing that qualifies me at all is the fact that I know I will be completely unsuccessful on my own in this calling, but His grace will be sufficient."

Biographical information

Family: Born Aug. 29, 1958, in Logan, Utah, to Van Lloyd and Sarah Lulu Lewis Haynie; married Deborah Ruth Hall on Dec. 19, 1983, in the Salt Lake Temple; six children: Stephen (Maria), Elizabeth (Travis Stolk), Matthew (Annie), Kathryn (T.J. Sudweeks), Allison, Samantha; eight grandchildren and one on the way.

Education: Bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University in political science with a minor in English; juris doctorate from Brigham Young University.

Employment: One-year clerkship with Federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals after law school graduation in 1985; partner with Latham and Watkins law firm; thereafter became a partner with his brother in Haynie Law Group in San Diego.

Church service: Missionary in the Argentina Cordoba Mission, 1977-79; former elders quorum president, ward Young Men president, seminary teacher, bishop and counselor in a bishopric, high councilor, stake president and Area President in the North America West Area.

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