Elder Dean Davies, 69, dies of cancer after almost a decade of service as a general authority and years in Church employment

Elder Dean M. Davies — a husband, father, grandfather and dedicated disciple — died Tuesday Aug. 31, 2021, in North Salt Lake following a battle with cancer.

His approachability, warm smile and understated wisdom earned him the friendship and trust of people of all backgrounds throughout a richly-lived life, including almost a decade of service as a general authority.

Elder Davies, who was 69, is survived by his wife, Sister Darla Davies, five children and 17 grandchildren. The sum of his life’s work, he once told the Church News, is that “the Lord loves and guides His children.”

Born Sept. 5, 1951, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Oliver and Myra Davies, young Dean Davies grew up in a loving home, learning the joys of hard work and doing a job the right way. 

Growing up, he had not planned to be a full-time missionary. But he ultimately acted upon a prompting that he knew came from the Lord, answering a call to serve in the Uruguay-Paraguay Mission.

“My mission was an absolute anchor in my life. I learned to love the gospel and those I worked with,” he said of his labors in South America.

Eight months after returning from his mission, he married his childhood friend, Darla James. The Davieses are the parents of a son and four daughters — Aaron, Rebecca, Jill, Sarah and Jennifer.

Bishop Dean Davies and his wife, Sister Darla Davies.
Bishop Dean Davies and his wife, Sister Darla Davies. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Elder Davies earned an undergraduate degree in agricultural economics from Brigham Young University and fulfilled advanced executive leadership programs at Stanford and Northwestern universities. 

A diverse real estate and construction career served him and his faith well when he was hired as the Church’s director of real estate and, later, as managing director of the physical facilities department and managing director of special projects, overseeing temple design and construction.

His blend of leadership skills and gospel devotion made him a mentor and an influential priesthood leader during several ecclesiastical assignments. Prior to becoming a general authority, he served as a counselor in three bishoprics and two stake presidencies and presided over the Pleasanton California and Danville California stakes.

He and Sister Davies served as missionary companions when he was president of the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission from 1998 to 2001.

During the April 2012 general conference, Elder Davies was called to serve as second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, working alongside then-Presiding Bishop Gary E. Stevenson and his fellow counselor, Bishop Gérald Caussé. He would later serve as Bishop Caussé’s first counselor.

His tenure in the Presiding Bishopric deepened his appreciation for the importance of making the temple accessible to members worldwide — along with guiding welfare principles such as provident living and wise management of temporal affairs. 

Read more: Elder Davies says ‘you really can’t describe’ participating in temple milestones

He was a familiar face at many new temple sites in the pivotal days leading up to the temple dedication events.

“Our most valuable resource in the Church is its people,” he said in a 2015 Church News interview. “It’s not the bricks and mortar but it is the faith, testimony, devotion, experience and skills of every Church member and every Church employee. That’s the true worth of the Church.”

The June 12, 2021, groundbreaking for the Syracuse Utah Temple was Elder Davies’ final public appearance. Aptly, he testified of how temples represent the love of the Father and the Son, the love of living prophets and the love of members past, present and future, all over the world.

The house of the Lord, he said, “is the virtual evidence of the Lord’s tangible love for His people. He reached out and provides these houses where we can learn of Him and His Son and be united as families. You really can’t describe it — it just fills your heart with gratitude.”

On Oct. 3, 2020, Elder Davies was released from the Presiding Bishopric before being called as a General Authority Seventy.

Funeral services are pending.