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Sister Mary Hales, wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales, dies at age 90

President Nelson described Sister Hales as ‘one of the noble and great women of this Church’ in his remarks at Elder Hales’ funeral in 2017

Sister Mary Crandall Hales, wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2023, at her home in North Salt Lake at the age of 90.

President Russell M. Nelson described Sister Hales as “one of the noble and great women of this Church” in his remarks at Elder Hales’ funeral in October 2017.

“She has, with unwearyingness, supported, sustained and cared for her eternal companion. Mary, we thank you. We honor you. We love you,” said President Nelson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mary Crandall was born in Salt Lake City on Aug. 6, 1932, to Gordon Crandall and Elene Clegg Crandall. She had three brothers and one sister.

Portrait of Mary Crandall Hales, wife of the late Elder Robert D. Hales. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The family moved to California when Mary was a young child, and Mary and her siblings attended school in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, Mary moved to Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University, where she studied nutrition. The Crandall family moved to New York while Mary was studying at BYU.

Elder Hales first saw Mary as she boarded a bus in New York while visiting her family. To his surprise, he saw her again the next day at church; she and her family were new to the ward.

They began dating that summer. In the fall, she returned to BYU, and he returned to the University of Utah. Working up to 60 hours per week and taking 18 hours of class work exhausted Robert. Quite frequently, while driving to visit Mary in Provo, he would end up sleeping on a public lobby sofa as Mary, sitting nearby, did her homework. Her roommate said to her one evening, “I don’t know what you see in that boy. All he does is sleep.”

Mary indeed saw potential in “Bob” Hales. They married in the Salt Lake Temple on June 10, 1953. They are the parents of two sons, Stephen and David.

Robert Hales and Mary Hales and their sons, Stephen and David, circa 1975. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“One of the qualities that impressed me when we were dating is that he listened to me. My feelings mattered to him, and they still matter,” Sister Hales told the Church News in 1994 when Elder Hales was called as an Apostle. “We don’t always agree, and we have our own minds, but I know he listens and values my opinion. That is very important to me.”

In the same interview, Elder Hales said of his wife: “She has always been a great support to me. She often quotes a Quaker proverb: ‘Thee lift me, and I lift thee and we’ll ascend together.’ It’s team effort lifting and strengthening one another; you give and take.

“After I met her, I never went out with anyone else,” continued Elder Hales. “We were together every evening after work for the first two months sharing family activities. She’d help me wash my car, and I’d help her babysit her brothers; it was as though we were never going to be apart.”

While Robert Hales worked at a Salt Lake City television station soon after their marriage, Mary Hales occasionally packed sandwiches and visited with him at the station. “We’d watch the movies so that I could edit them and splice in the commercials. She’d sit with me. Those were great years,” he said.

Said Sister Hales: “We’ve always had a good time together. … Bob has a great sense of humor. He is very caring.”

President Henry B. Eyring spoke at Elder Hales’ funeral about his decision to accept a call as an elders quorum president, risking failure in his Harvard Business School classes. After praying and discussing the call, she told him: “I’d rather have an active priesthood holder than a man who holds a master’s degree from Harvard. We’ll do them both.” 

President Eyring said, “In their acceptance of that call, they were perfectly loyal friends of the Master.”

Sister Hales even walled off a section of their apartment’s unfinished basement so Robert Hales would have a quiet place to study. “I would not be what I am without her,” said Elder Hales. “I love her dearly. She has gifts of the Spirit. … I think listening to my wife, next to listening to the Holy Ghost, has been the most important influence in my life.”

In connection with Elder Hales’ work, the Hales family lived in England, Germany, Spain and several different areas of the United States. Elder Hales praised his wife’s tenacious ability to adapt.

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles leaves with his wife, Sister Mary Hales, from the Sunday afternoon session of general conference in April 2015. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For instance, when they moved to Germany, Robert Hales dropped off her and their two boys in Frankfurt, then flew on to Berlin for a temporary assignment. “Mary got the boys into school, learned to find her way around the busy autobahn and eventually learned to speak German. This was typical. She has always made it work,” said Elder Hales.

Their daughter-in-law Susan said: “Their relationship is 100 percent equal; one does not dominate the other. Each opinion is valued.”

At Elder Hales’ funeral, then-Elder M. Russell Ballard called Mary the light of Elder Hales’ life: “You have always been there for him, your sons, your grandchildren and other family members.”

During their ministry together, Sister and Elder Hales attended the Anchorage Alaska Temple rededication in February 2004, previewed the “Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition” in May 2004 and taught new mission leaders together in the 2015 Mission Leadership Seminar.

Sister Hales died peacefully due to incident of age, according to a news release on ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

Sister Hales is survived by her two sons, Stephen (Gail) and David; two brothers, Dennis (Jane) and Nathan Jay, (Liz). She was preceded in death by her husband; older sister, Virginia Crandall Taylor Spencer; and a younger brother, Lt. Gordon Clegg Crandall, United States Air Force, reported missing in action, Jan. 2, 1964.

A viewing will be held on Friday, Jan. 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Foxhill Ward meetinghouse at 200 S. Eagle Ridge Drive, North Salt Lake, Utah. On Saturday, Jan. 21, a viewing will be held at 10 a.m., and the funeral will be held at 11 a.m.

The services will also be live streamed at: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84011951072.

It can also be accessed at: https://www.larkinmortuary.com/obituary/view/mary-crandall-hales-/.

Editor’s note: This was updated Jan. 17, 2023, with the viewing and funeral information.

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