Obedience is a basic gospel principle, and one that Clinton L. Cutler has emphasized as a husband, father, bishop, stake president, regional representative and mission president. Now, as a newly called member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, he will continue to preach and strive to live that principle.
"Nothing is realized until after obedience to the Lord's commandments," Elder Cutler declared. "That's the first law of heaven. You may not always buy love with that, but you always earn respect and love will follow."Respect and love have always been a part of Elder Cutler's life. Beginning in his childhood and continuing throughout his growing up years, he has sought to have those ingredients in his life. The epitome of those feelings are encompassed in the relationship he has with his wife, the former Carma Neilsen, who he describes as "the heart and soul of our family."
Clint and Carma first met as sophomores in an English class at Jordan High School in Salt Lake County. Clint, more interested in basketball than dating, had declined to go out on a group date with a bunch of his friends.
"However, his brother, who is just 13 months younger, made a date with me and said he was Clint," remembered Sister Cutler. "Although Clint didn't want to go, he decided that to save face he'd better keep the date."
He did, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The couple dated through their junior and senior years of high school and worked together their senior year as elected student body officers. When 6-foot-1-inch Clint accepted a scholarship to Utah State University to play basketball, Carma also decided to attend the school and the couple decided to marry. They were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple on June 22, 1949.
It doesn't take long to figure out that the Cutlers are a close family. Just finishing a three-year call as president of the Washington Seattle Mission, Elder Cutler loves to talk about his wife and their six children - three boys and three girls.
It is Sister Cutler, however, who slips those little-known family accomplishments into conversations.
While reminiscing about early married years, she mentions that her husband graduated with honors from the University of Utah (he transferred from Utah State after his first year) - and that was while working full-time and holding down several Church jobs. It doesn't take long to discover that their youngest son, Chuck, graduated from BYU last year and was a starting wide receiver on the university's football team. And 10 years ago, their youngest daughter, Carolee, was named the Days of '47 queen.
And Elder and Sister Cutler both beam when talking about little Joshua, the newest addition to the Cutler clan and the couple's 24th grandchild.
Although the Cutlers claim that Heavenly Father just sent them special spirits, their philosophy of family life certainly has something to do with the closeness the family feels.
"Our children were always our best friends," Elder Cutler, 60, commented. "We loved them unconditionally and those teenage years that were supposed to be so hard never really bothered us. Of course, we still had to discipline them, but they always knew we loved them and we were always close."
Each one of the Cutler boys has taken a turn at being Dad's home teaching companion, and the Cutlers have been avid supporters of everything their children have been involved in. "We've attended musicals, seen plays, and traveled with ball teams," Elder Cutler said.
The Cutlers feel that part of the family closeness is probably a result of the family's frequent moves, which were dictated by Elder Cutler's employment with Mountain Bell Telephone.
"The movesT were very difficult, but we really had to rely on one another and the family became best friends," Elder Cutler pointed out. "We've seen that friendship continue today. Even though we've been up in Washington, the children still get together. They carry on many of the traditions that began in their childhood."
After moving around so frequently, the Cutlers purchased a house in Draper, Utah, in 1981. They enjoyed restoring the old Victorian residence but willingly left it to serve in the mission field. They still own the house, though, and plan on someday calling Draper home.
The legacy of family loyalty began early for the Cutlers. Although Elder Cutler's father was not active in the Church, he was supportive of his children's Church involvement. And it was from his father that Elder Cutler, the oldest of 10 children, learned some important gospel principles.
"Dad taught me to work hard, to be honest, and to have integrity," Elder Cutler remembered. "He just couldn't tolerate anyone who wasn't honest."
Some of the new General Authority's favorite memories are of working with his father as his boss at a Salt Lake mill for several years. "We had a wonderful relationship," he said fondly.
Another favorite childhood memory Elder Cutler shares is of reading Bible stories with his mother.
"I remember five or six little Bible storybooks in the bookcase and we'd gather around Mom and read those stories," he recalled. "I remember getting excited when I learned about David, Samuel, Abraham, and Isaac. Those men became my heroes in a way. When I read the Book of Mormon for the first time as a senior in high school, I got that same excited feeling."
And that excited feeling about the gospel has not waned through the years. Whether coaching ward basketball, presiding over a stake, or working as director of marketing for the telephone company (a position he retired from in 1985), Elder Cutler has always sought to live obedient to gospel principles.
Sister Cutler has followed suit. While she was raised in the Church, her real commitment to the Church came after marriage.
"We'd always been active and trying to do the things that were right," she recalled. "But, at one point in my life, as a young mother with four small children, I found myself wanting to keep up with my friends who were buying things, playing on Sunday, and not spending time at home with their families."
The turning point began one Sabbath after a particularly impressive Sunday School lesson. Sister Cutler began to reflect on gospel principles and her own priorities and, after praying and pondering for several days, she followed the Spirit and took her doubts, fears, thoughts and feelings to her husband.
"I remember meeting him at the door when he came home from work and saying, `I've got to talk to you,' " she recalled. "We talked into the night and, oh, the peace I felt. I can honestly say it was the first real spiritual experience I had had in my life."
Of course, it wasn't the last. There have been challenges and opposition in the ensuing years, but the Cutlers have faced them together with a positive attitude.
"You've got to be grateful," Sister Cutler observed. "Ingratitude causes depression. That's one of the things we focus on with the missionaries.
"The president honestly has gone 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for three years now," remarked Sister Cutler of her husband. "It's been exhausting, but we've been rejuvenated through the blessing and the power of the priesthood and the Holy Ghost."
Those blessings will undoubtedly continue as Elder Cutler begins his service as a new General Authority. Admittedly humbled by his new responsibilities, Elder Cutler feels that one of his biggest assets is his administrative skills.
"I've been blessed through the years to be involved with responsibilities both in and out of the Church that have involved organizing and restructuring," he noted. "I'm sure that experience will serve me well."
Also serving Elder Cutler well will be his strong testimony. "People need to know that having the Lord on your side and qualifying for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost is the most important thing in the world.
"The only peace that you can find in this life is by keeping the commandments and staying close to the Lord," he declared. "That is the peace the Savior gives. That peace doesn't come from things of the world."
Elder Clinton L. Cutler
- Family: Born Dec. 27, 1929, in Salt Lake City to Benjamin Lewis and Nellie Helena Sharp Cutler. Married Carma Neilsen; parents of three sons, three daughters; 24 grandchildren.
- Education: Attended Utah State University, 1948; graduated from University of Utah in 1961 with bachelor's degree in physical education.
- Employment: Began working with Mountain Bell Telephone Company. Worked in several regional offices. Retired as director of marketing operations, 1986.
- Previous Church service: Currently serving as president of Washington Seattle Mission; former regional representative, stake president and counselor, bishop, Young Men adviser, and athletic coach.