15 fun facts about Elder Gary E. Stevenson on his 65th birthday

Elder Gary E. Stevenson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during the 185th Semiannual General Conference of the Church on Oct. 3, 2015. For close to five years he has been traveling the world teaching and testifying to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a special witness of Jesus Christ.

Here are a few facts and photos about Elder Stevenson, in honor of his 65th birthday.

1. Gary Stevenson was born on Aug. 6, 1955, to Evan and Jean Hall Stevenson, the second child and oldest son.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson with his mother from the Ensign article “Elder Gary E. Stevenson: An Understanding Heart,” by Elder Robert D. Hales. (June 2016)
Elder Gary E. Stevenson with his mother from the Ensign article “Elder Gary E. Stevenson: An Understanding Heart,” by Elder Robert D. Hales. (June 2016) Credit: Screenshot, ChurchofJesusChrist.org

2. Elder Stevenson’s middle name is Evan, which is the name of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. His son shares the middle name, and his grandson is named Evan. 

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, right, is shown in an undated photo with his father, Evan N. Stevenson.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson, right, is shown in an undated photo with his father, Evan N. Stevenson.

3. He was born and raised in Cache Valley, Utah, in a family of pioneer stock. “We were taught from an early age about the conversion of the members of our family from generations past. It created a sense of responsibility and a sense of obligation,” he said.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson are pictured at RootsTech with their granddaughters, Sophie, Talia and Layla, on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Sister Lesa Stevenson are pictured at RootsTech with their granddaughters, Sophie, Talia and Layla, on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

4. One of his ancestors was Marie Stalle, born in Italy, who immigrated to Utah as a young pioneer girl. Her family joined the first handcart company on its way from Iowa to Salt Lake City.

5. The Apostle met his wife, Lesa Jean Higley, during an Old Testament class at the institute of religion at Utah State University. “The teacher asked Lesa to role-play as Eve and for me to play the role of Satan to tempt her. As a result, it took a while for me to convince her to go out with me,” he recalled with a smile. 

Elder Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson. Credit: Screenshot Rootstech.org

6. They dated for just over a year and were married on April 20, 1979, in Sister Stevenson’s hometown in the Idaho Falls Idaho Temple. 

Elder and Sister Stevenson met at Utah State University and were married in the Idaho Falls Temple.
Elder and Sister Stevenson met at Utah State University and were married in the Idaho Falls Temple. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

7. The Stevensons are the parents of four sons.

Elder and Sister Stevenson are pictured with their four sons and their families.
Elder and Sister Stevenson are pictured with their four sons and their families. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

8. As parents of four outdoor-minded boys, Elder and Sister Stevenson enjoy recreation in northern Utah’s snow and water. “We ski and we snowboard and we snow-mobile and fly fish,” Elder Stevenson said.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson hugs a granddaughter at the Church Office Building, October 3, 2015.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson hugs a granddaughter at the Church Office Building, October 3, 2015. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

9. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Utah State University in 1979. 

President Russell Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gary Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles smile during the grand opening of the Primary Children's and Families' Cancer Research Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The new facility is dedicated to the study of genetically traced cancers known to afflict children.
President Russell Nelson, President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, left, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Gary Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles smile during the grand opening of the Primary Children’s and Families’ Cancer Research Center at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 21, 2017. The new facility is dedicated to the study of genetically traced cancers known to afflict children. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

10. He was the co-founder, president and chief operating officer of Icon Health & Fitness, Inc. which took him all around the world.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets students arriving for the commencement ceremony for the LDS Business College at the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 12, 2019.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles greets students arriving for the commencement ceremony for the LDS Business College at the Tabernacle at Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 12, 2019. Credit: Silas Walker, Deseret News

11. He served as a full-time missionary in the Japan Fukuoka Mission. 

Elder and Sister Stevenson, left, are pictured with a family in Japan, whose son Johnny has an interest in family history.
Elder and Sister Stevenson, left, are pictured with a family in Japan, whose son Johnny has an interest in family history. Credit: Screenshot ChurchofJesusChrist.org

12. His faith was nurtured not only by his parents and siblings but also his extended family. For example, when his oldest cousin left on a mission, he signed a $2 bill and passed it to the next cousin preparing to serve. That $2 bill passed through 16 cousins who served missions throughout the world, reminding each one that they were united in serving the Lord.

Elder Jack N. Gerard, right, a General Authority Seventy, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk to members of the media outside of the newly renovated Oakland California Temple, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, May 6, 2019.
Elder Jack N. Gerard, right, a General Authority Seventy, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talk to members of the media outside of the newly renovated Oakland California Temple, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in Oakland, Calif., on Monday, May 6, 2019. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

13. Elder Stevenson was serving as president of the Asia North Area in March 2011 when an earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan. The 9.0-magnitude temblor generated a seismic sea wave that left 20,000 dead, displaced thousands, and destroyed 550,000 homes.

Bishop David H. Burton, then Presiding Bishop of the Church, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson, then president of the Church Asia North Area, look at the destruction caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead, displaced thousands and destroyed more than 551,000 homes throughout Japan on March 11, 2011.
Bishop David H. Burton, then Presiding Bishop of the Church, and Elder Gary E. Stevenson, then president of the Church Asia North Area, look at the destruction caused by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and powerful tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead, displaced thousands and destroyed more than 551,000 homes throughout Japan on March 11, 2011. Credit: Sarah Jane Weaver

14. The Stevensons moved their family to Asia in 2004 when Elder Stevenson accepted a call to serve as president of the Japan Nagoya Mission; the family moved back to that area of the world when Elder Stevenson was called as a General Authority.

Elder Gary E. Stevenson greets members during a meeting in Taichung, Taiwan, during a 10-day tour of the Asia Area March 9-19.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson greets members during a meeting in Taichung, Taiwan, during a 10-day tour of the Asia Area March 9-19. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc., Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

15. The role of bishop holds special significance for Elder Stevenson. When he was 12, his father was called as bishop, he served as a bishop and was called to serve as the Presiding Bishop of the Church after serving four years as a General Authority Seventy.

Presiding Bishopric Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, Bishop Gérald Caussé and Bishop Dean M. Davies sing during a congregational hymn during the 182nd Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Sunday, April 1, 2012.
Presiding Bishopric Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, Bishop Gérald Caussé and Bishop Dean M. Davies sing during a congregational hymn during the 182nd Annual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City Sunday, April 1, 2012. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News