As the son of a career Royal Air Force officer in the United Kingdom, Patrick Kearon was already well-traveled by the time he was introduced to the Church in his young adulthood, having established a career as a business executive.
Elder Kearon, sustained on April 3 during general conference as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, is the youngest of five children. When he was 7, the family moved to Saudi Arabia, where he attended school for a few years before going to boarding school in England.
When he was 19, tragedy struck. His father and his sister’s husband were killed in an auto accident.
In the aftermath, Elder Kearon ended his educational aspirations and began what became a successful career, working first for a member of Parliament. A series of positions first with the Nestle food company took him to the Middle East, where he worked four years in Saudi Arabia, then to England and eventually to the United States.
“And it was during that time that I lived with an extraordinary family of faithful members of the Church, who lived a joyful existence founded on service,” he recounted.
His time with the family in Laguna, Calif., impressed him deeply, though he did not immediately join the Church. That would come a couple of years later, after a chance meeting on a street in London with some LDS missionaries. He started what would become a momentous association with them by saying, “I admire you greatly, but don’t try to convert me.”
However, he recalled of subsequent meetings with them, “I began to feel things that I couldn’t otherwise explain.”
Those feelings were reinforced as he associated with both the young missionaries and senior couple missionaries, “providing an environment where I learned the Church is true, that our Savior lives and that we can live joyfully here and hereafter too,” he said. He was baptized on Christmas Eve 1987.
Good missionaries continued to look after him. “And local leaders gave me responsibility very early, where I began to find my way and understand that all of us in the Church must serve, that it takes everybody to be a part of the service so that our faith can grow in and through our service,” Elder Kearon recounted.
It was two years later that he met his future wife, Jennifer Hulme, an American.
She recalls the incident in these words: “I was at BYU in my sophomore year. I went to London on Study Abroad for six months, and it was my second Sunday in the singles ward in London that I first saw Patrick, although we didn’t meet that day.” That happened a few weeks later.
Of that meeting, Elder Kearon remembered encountering “a young lady who was beautiful and had great faith, energy, love, intellect and a zest for life.”
He said he believes they met at just the right moment, “that if we are aware and in tune, we will realize when our opportunities are being presented to us.”
“I don’t want to give the sense that the ship sails only once, because it doesn’t,” he said. “But I do feel that those things I talked about happened in a meaningful sequence.”
That promptings come “and if you listen, you find your way,” was borne out in a difficult but ultimately sublime experience that beset the couple early on: the death of their eldest son, Sean, from a heart condition at 3 weeks old.
“Numerous things happened along that most tender of journeys, that when we lost him, we knew we had left no stone unturned and no path unexplored in terms of trying to preserve his life, which meant we had no regret,” Elder Kearon said.
Sister Kearon added: “Every step of the way in that process, we absolutely knew the Lord was watching over us and providing every tender mercy He possibly could to make that terrible loss as bearable as it could be.”
The Kearons would find happiness later with what he describes as “three extraordinarily wonderful girls, Lizzie, Susie and Emma, who brighten our lives in every conceivable way and bring joy to each day.” As a family, they love to be outside, in the mountains or near the coast, riding bicycles, walking and picnicking.
As the only member of the Church among his parents and siblings, Elder Kearon is deeply appreciative of parents who lived their lives according to “guiding, Christlike principles.”
“I would find my dad praying by their bed at night, long before I thought of faith,” he said. “And my mother, not a church-going lady, is a better natural Christian than I am or believe I will be,” Elder Kearon said. “I’m grateful for parents like that, who are strong, who lived through war and served their country and never flinched from responsibility, who lived through great trials and huge demands upon them and were such an outstanding example for us as their children.”
Perhaps motivated in part by a desire to emulate goodly parents, Elder and Sister Kearon also live their lives according to sound principles, drawing strength from the scriptures. He cites as one of his favorites, “Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25), and she, 2 Nephi 25:26, “We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ … that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.”
PATRICK KEARON BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION
FAMILY: Born July 18, 1961, in Carlisle, England, to Paddy Kearon and Patricia Wilson Kearon; married Jennifer Carole Hulme on Jan. 12, 1991, in the Oakland California Temple. Parents of four children: Sean (deceased), Lizzie, Susie and Emma.
CAREER: Until his recent call to the Seventy, owner with his wife of Kearon Hulme Communications, a public affairs consultancy.
EDUCATION: Concluded formal education in his late teens, having attended schools in Saudi Arabia and England.
CHURCH SERVICE: Area Seventy serving in Europe Area presidency; stake president, branch president, counselor in bishopric, ward Young Men president.