Elder Rex D. Pinegar — longtime General Authority and tireless gospel servant — dies at 89

Elder Rex D. Pinegar, an emeritus General Authority Seventy who lived a life defined by dedication and service to his family and faith, died Thursday, June 24, in Holladay, Utah. He was 89.

Latter-day Saints worldwide came to know Elder Pinegar during his several decades of leadership as a General Authority, mission president and temple president. He was preceded in death by his wife, Sister Bonnie Lee Crabb Pinegar, who passed away Feb. 6, 2021.

Serving in the gospel was never a task for Elder Pinegar. Each Church assignment was an adventure and a blessing.

“What a great privilege it is to serve the Lord and to strive to be an effective instrument in His hands,” he told the Church News in 1989 following his call to the Presidency of the Seventy. “This is the source of true joy wherever or in whatever capacity we serve.”

The Utah native was a relatively young man  — age 41 — when he was called to the First Council of the Seventy on Oct. 6, 1972. Four years later he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy.

Elder Rex D. Pinegar, an emeritus Seventy, who served as a General Authority for several decades, died June 24, 2021, in Holladay, Utah. He was 89.
Elder Rex D. Pinegar, an emeritus Seventy, who served as a General Authority for several decades, died June 24, 2021, in Holladay, Utah. He was 89. Credit: Photo by Paul Barker/Deseret News

Elder Pinegar served in the Presidency of the Seventy for six years, including two years as its senior president. He also served in the Young Men general presidency, as president of the North America Southwest Area and as a member of the Asia, North America Southeast and North America Southwest area presidencies.

He also presided over the North Carolina-Virginia and Virginia Roanoke missions from 1971 to 1974. From 2002 to 2005, Elder and Sister Pinegar served together in the Mount Timpanogos Utah Temple as president and matron, respectively.

The Pinegars made a formidable “team” in their home and in their Church duties.

“Being able to leave on assignments and knowing Bonnie not only supports me but also wants me to serve has meant a lot,” he once said of his wife. “I can go without any reservations, and have always felt that the very principles I am going out to teach are the same ones she is teaching in the home in my absence. I have great appreciation for my wife and her support.”

Born Sept. 18, 1931, in Orem, Utah, to John F. and Grace Pinegar, Rex D. Pinegar grew up in a large family — he had nine siblings — where he learned lessons that served him throughout his life.

“As I look back at the things I have learned, probably one of the most important lessons is that of obedience,” Elder Pinegar reflected in one interview. “There were many things that helped teach me that, but I think the most outstanding was the example and expectation of my father in regard to our attitude toward our mother. When she asked us to do something, the answer was always expected to be,`Yes Ma’am.′ We didn’t have the attitude that we had to be obedient; we just wanted to do as she asked.

“Obedience was taught in loving ways. Our mother loved us into doing right by her expectations, her smile and her faith. We knew she not only had faith in the Lord, but she also had faith in her children. To disappoint her would be very hard on us.”

He became a sailor while still a teenager, serving in the U.S. Navy for four years before enrolling in Brigham Young University with plans to become a teacher. A short time later, on Jan. 24, 1955, he and Bonnie, a childhood friend, were married in the Salt Lake Temple. 

The Pinegar are parents to six children — Kevin, Lisa, Suzanne, Shelley, Kristen and Amy — and grandparents to more than 60 grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

After he received a bachelor’s degree from BYU in 1958, he did graduate work at San Francisco State College and the University of Southern California for his master’s degree and doctorate in education.

In California, he was a stake missionary, seventies quorum group leader and in a stake YMMIA superintendency, and taught seminary and institute of religion.

After receiving his doctorate in 1965, he became a member of BYU’s special education faculty and later became chairman of the educational psychology department in the College of Education.

He was serving on the Sunday School general board when he was called in 1971 to be a mission president. He became a General Authority a year later.

When not fulfilling an ecclesiastical assignment, Elder Pinegar relished simple pleasures such as being with his family, gardening and working in his yard.

A funeral service for Elder Pinegar will be Saturday, July 17, at 1 p.m. at the Salt Lake Mt. Olympus Stake Center, 4176 S. Adonis Drive, in Holladay, Utah. A public viewing will be Friday, July 16, 6 p.m. at Larkin Mortuary, 260 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City.