When Elder Richard P. Lindsay walks down the street of what was once called the "settlement" of Taylorsville, Utah, he sees more than homes - he sees people who influenced his life since childhood.
"I often pay my respects to members of the [old Taylorsville] ward long gone," said the new member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. "I feel so strongly the goodness and the warmth of those people."The compassion of the people of Taylorsville, located about 10 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, touched Elder Lindsay's life when they rallied to help his tragedy-stricken family. Within 10 days in 1932, his father, Bishop Samuel J. Lindsay, died of pneumonia, and his oldest brother died of meningitis.
This left his mother, Mary, with five children to rear on her own, including 5-year-old Richard. She soon became ill herself, weighed down by the responsibilities that seemed to overwhelm her.
"She prayed earnestly for help," Elder Lindsay recalled. "She felt the spirit of the Savior and knew He would help see her through."
His mother was a devout Latter-day Saint who taught her children to pray, to enjoy good books, to love education and to become self-reliant. Before her marriage she had felt impressed to obtain a degree in nursing and had traveled to Michigan to pursue her education.
"She felt that was the Lord's way to equip her for the trials of single parenthood during the Depression," Elder Lindsay said.
Soon after the tragedy, a neighbor came to the home and taught Richard and his 8-year-old brother how to milk the family cow. Other families continued to watch over and help the family throughout Elder Lindsay's youth. He hasn't forgotten. He built his home on a portion of the farm owned by his father and homesteaded by his grandfather more than a century earlier. He has served as a bishop and stake president in Taylorsville. He has been active in the community and served in the Utah Legislature for three terms.
Before his call as a General Authority, he directed the Public Communications/Special Affairs Department of the Church. He has spoken out on issues ranging from gambling to community service. Elder Lindsay, 63, is as articulate talking one-on-one as he is in public. Standing 5-foot-11 with a stocky build, he brims with enthusiasm and vigor, seemingly relishing the feverish pace of his life. But he's quick to put a visitor at ease with a smile and firm handshake.
"He never gives you the feeling that he's important," said longtime friend David McDougal. "He will say, `Tell me about yourself.' He makes other people feel important."
His favorite pastime is visiting, said his wife of 40 years, the former Marian Bangerter. She met him at a stake conference in 1949 when he reported his three-year mission to Switzerland and Austria.
"The first days we dated, he would take me visiting with the Swiss saints who had immigrated to Utah," she said.
A few weeks ago, Elder Lindsay didn't have a weekend assignment so he and Marian stopped by the McDougals' home late one Sunday night. McDougal later learned that the new General Authority had been making similar visits to old friends for the past three months. The Lindsays continue to fulfill an assignment to regularly visit several elderly people at a retirement home in Taylorsville.
"He's always been one to visit the widow, the orphan or the less-fortunate," McDougal said. "If anybody is sick, he's there."
His son Bruce, a television anchorman, said his father recently canceled appointments so he could help Bruce give a priesthood blessing to his son, who had broken his arm playing baseball. When Bruce was young, his father was often away from home working or serving in the Church, but he made it a point to play baseball with his sons whenever possible. He also would go from room to room, checking on each of his six children to see if any were still awake when he arrived home late at night.
The roots of Elder Lindsay's devotion to his family and fellowman were planted in the original Taylorsville Ward and the community.
"The ward environment provided the central focus of our lives," Elder Lindsay said. "That's where I feel I really received a testimony of the gospel."
Elder Lindsay saluted one member of his Taylorsville ward in a first-person account written for the "My most influential teacher" column of the Church News on March 8, 1980. The man was his deacons quorum adviser, Edwin (Ed) E. Hofeling.
"He held no academic degrees and may never have completed a teacher preparation course," Elder Lindsay wrote. "Nonetheless, each Sunday morning priesthood session in the dark basement of our pioneer community ward chapel was a lifting, spiritual experience."
Elder Lindsay said Hofeling combined patience and firmness in his teaching. In many ways, he said, Ed was a role model substitute for his father.
Another man, Samuel S. Smith, a son of President Joseph F. Smith, who was a bishop in the stake during the same time that Elder Lindsay's father was serving as bishop, visited the Lindsay home to check on the family's welfare.
"When I graduated from high school I didn't have any transportation," Elder Lindsay recalled. "He [Bishop Smith] made it clear to me that I was to pursue a university degree. He then gave me a ride to school [the University of Utah] every day."
Elder Lindsay completed high school at 16 and enlisted at age 18 in a Navy officer training program during World War II. The war ended before his training did, and he spent his military service in landlocked locations, such as Colorado and Illinois. At each military base he gained strength from the Church and its local leaders.
After his mission and marriage, he worked for a national manufacturer in San Francisco, Calif., and Denver, Colo. As his mother before him, he continued his schooling in an effort to improve himself. He worked full-time while finishing his bachelor's degree at the Denver University and earning his master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Utah.
His business career in Colorado provided him and his family a comfortable living. But he had never sought to be rich. On the contrary, the employment decisions he made throughout his life were not dictated by how much money he could make.
"I found out fairly early in my career that the blessings of financial gain and political power and even intellectual accomplishment are largely transitory," he said. "The greatest joys that exist in life are grounded in the joy of living the gospel."
Prominent on his office wall is a plaque with Jacob 2:18 inscribed on it: "But before ye seek for riches, seek ye first for the kingdom of God." That has been the motto for their marriage, Marian said. It would influence their decision to leave behind a well-paying job in Denver to return to Salt Lake City in 1954.
"We [he and Marian] had attended an especially spiritual sacrament meeting [in the Denver 4th Ward]," remembered Elder Lindsay, who was then serving as a counselor in the bishopric to another future General Authority, Victor L. Brown. "Following that meeting, I had an assignment from my company to host a large group of business clients attending a major convention.
"The contrast between the spirituality of that sacrament meeting and the noisy, raucous atmosphere prevailing in the business responsibility caused Marian and me to return home and, on the spot, make a decision to change the course of my career. We clearly knew the Lord wanted us to pursue a different course even before the course became clear."
He returned to Salt Lake City, feeling strongly that the Lord lived, and he need not fear for his future. He worked as an insurance adjuster and in other businesses before his appointment to the Utah State Finance Commission in 1959. He later became executive director of the Utah State Department of Social Services. For many years, he directed the state's welfare, mental health, corrections and drug and alcohol programs. Most of the problems he encountered were caused by people failing to understand and apply gospel principles, he said. When he later spoke out on these issues in behalf of the Church, he had the background and the knowledge to support what he said.
In the late 1960s he became director of the Bureau of Community Development at the University of Utah. He served in that position until 1978 when he was named director of the Church's Special Affairs Department, which was later combined with the Public Communications Department.
Now as he begins a new phase of his life in the full-time service of the Lord, he hopes to meet the needs of others.
"The Lord meets our needs usually through other people," he said. "That has been true in my life. People have been there at critical times in my life. As I think of those people, I realize how important it is that we as members of the Church devote ourselves to trying to meet the needs of our fellow saints and other people."
Elder Richard P. Lindsay
- Born: March 18, 1926, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Samuel J. and Mary Powell Lindsay.
- Family: Married Marian Bangerter; parents of Bruce, Gordon, Susan (Gong), Sharon (Lyons), John, and Miriam (Warnick).
- Career: Director of Church Public Communications/Special Affairs Department; director of the Bureau of Community Development at the University of Utah; executive director of Utah State Department of Social Services.
- Education: Bachelor's degree, Denver University; master's and doctoral degrees, University of Utah.
- Military: Served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
- Church callings: Missionary, bishop, high councilor and stake president.