Ralph G. Rodgers Jr., 59, former president of the Church's Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii from 1983-88, and former president of the Samoan Mission, died May 2, 1996, in Bountiful, Utah.
Speakers at his funeral May 6 at the Bountiful Utah Mueller Park LDS Stake Center included Elders Jeffrey R. Holland and Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve.Elder Nelson noted that Brother Rodgers was not only a talented performer and singer, but also an accomplished diplomat who helped open doors for the Church in mainland China. He recounted one incident during the mid-1980s when Brother Rodgers, accompanying a group of LDS Church leaders on a visit to China, sang "I Am A Child of God" before a large audience of leaders and dignitaries in Peking's Great Hall of the People.
Elder Holland read from a letter from the First Presidency to the Rodgers family acknowledging Brother Rodgers' meaningful service to the Church in a number of callings.
"I do know there is more laughter in heaven as a result of Ralph's arrival there . . . and the quality of music has also improved," said Elder Holland, adding "What I loved most about Ralph was his deep and abiding spirituality."
A former regional representative, Brother Rodgers was managing director of Promised Valley Playhouse in Salt Lake City from 1974-82, and for many years helped produce the theater's annual summer productions. A lifelong actor, he wrote, directed, acted in and produced many shows. He also served as an adviser for tourism for China. He helped write the script for four epic-scale Church productions: "Moroni," "III Nephi," "Joseph" and "Behold the Lamb of God."
He served as chairman of the Church Pageant Committee and on the Young Men General Board. He established the Performing Arts School in Davis (Utah) County and the Pages Lane Theater in Centerville, Utah.