After a life built on the foundation of the Savior, Sister Jean S. Groberg, 87, wife of Elder John H. Groberg, dies

Emeritus General Authority Elder John H. Groberg and his wife, Sister Jean S. Groberg, answer questions following his keynote address during the opening session of the Mormon Pacific Historical Society’s annual conference on Oct.21, 2016, in the Polynesia Credit: Mike Foley
Jean and Elder John H. Groberg
President of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple, John H. Groberg and his wife, Jean Sabin Groberg, dated in college, married after his mission. Credit: Photo by Julie Dockstader Heaps

After a life of humble, unselfish devotion to her family and the Church, Sister Jean Sabin Groberg, wife of Elder John H. Groberg, died on Friday, Oct. 8, 2021, in Bountiful, Utah. She was 87.

Sister Groberg served alongside her husband in many capacities within the Church, including as he served as a General Authority Seventy from 1976 to 2005. The two also served as temple president and matron of the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple from 2005 to 2008.

Many of Elder and Sister Groberg’s life experiences were dramatized in “The Other Side of Heaven” movies which depicted parts of their courtship as well as their call to serve as mission leaders in Tonga in the 1960s when their fifth daughter was only 6 weeks old.

When asked about the accuracy of the movie, Sister Groberg quipped that it was “Hollywoodized” because Elder Groberg was never that good of a dancer as portrayed in the movie.

She summarized their life in the Pacific later on by saying that it was more than a chapter, it was the whole theme of life. “It really doesn’t matter where you are, the things that really count can be developed in any humble or great place” (“Perennial Radiance: Jean Sabin Grobeg,” Ensign, November 1981).

She first learned “the things that really count” during her youth in North Hollywood, California. During an interview in 2019, Sister Groberg expressed her gratitude to being born to faithful, hardworking, good parents. ”I’m just so grateful for that beginning and grateful for the testimony that’s grown, strengthening that desire to build my life on the foundation of the Savior.”

After high school, Jean attended Brigham Young University where she met John Groberg, who was also a freshman. The two both had older sisters in the orchestra who arranged their first date. It turned out to be a great date. Elder Groberg wrote in his journal: “This is the girl I am going to marry someday.” 

After his mission to Tonga and her completion of a teaching degree, the couple were married in the Los Angeles California Temple five years later. The sealer that day told Jean not to worry about being a “Church widow” and having her husband serve. “I wanted him to be active in the Church and he has been very busy,” she told the Church News when Elder Groberg was called to be a general authority in 1976.

Jean and Elder John H. Groberg
Jean and Elder John H. Groberg

In addition to his time as a general authority, Elder Groberg also served as a bishop, mission president and regional representative which would often take him away from their family that eventually grew to include 11 children.

Of his service, Sister Groberg said humbly: “When your husband is giving his all, it doesn’t separate you even while he is away. It really doesn’t separate you. You are a part of it with him” (Ensign, November 1981).

At the time of his call to be a general authority, Elder Groberg described his wife as a woman of “great faith and tremendous support.” 

Nearly four decades later, in contemplating their marriage and strong, fulfilling and ever-expanding family, Elder Groberg commented, “I love my wife, Jean, and my family more than ever.”

In a podcast in 2019, Sister Groberg spoke of inviting her grandchildren and great-grandchildren to add to “Grandma and Grandpa’s Rock Garden.” They would sing the children’s song about the wise man who built his house upon the rock, and she would explain how they would be happier if they built their foundation upon the Rock of the Savior Jesus Christ. Then the child would write their name on a rock and put it in Grandma’s little basket. “[I] pray that they will always build their lives on the Rock of our Savior Jesus Christ,” Sister Groberg said of their posterity.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, at the Bountiful Utah Central Stake building, 640 South 750 East, Bountiful, where friends may visit with the family on Friday evening from 6-8 p.m. and from 9:30-10:30 a.m. before the service on Saturday. A traditional Tongan ’A Po will be held from 6-8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 14, at 1621 South 11th East in Salt Lake City. Interment at the Bountiful City Cemetery will follow the Saturday funeral service. For those wishing to attend virtually the service will be streamed live at Russon Brothers Mortuary Facebook page.

Correction: An earlier version stated that the Grobergs’ youngest child was six months old when they served in Tonga as mission leaders. She was six weeks old. Also, Sister Groberg passed away on Friday, Oct. 8, not Oct. 9.

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