The New York Times ‘Those We've Lost’ series shares life and legacy of former Birmingham Alabama Temple president

by | Oct. 16, 2020

An ongoing series by The New York Times called “Those We’ve Lost” highlights people who have died due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One of these obituaries celebrates the life of Gary Pettus—former president of the Birmingham Alabama Temple and convert to the Church at age 27.

As reported by The New York Times, “In the late 1970s, missionaries knocked on their door and gave Mr. Pettus the Book of Mormon. He found time to read it during breaks at his maintenance job at a Ford Motor Company plant in Sheffield, Ala. Within months, Mr. Pettus converted.”

You may also like: The Greek meaning of conversion that will deepen your understanding of what it means to come unto Christ

Following his conversion, Pettus served in a variety of church callings—stake president, senior missionary, high councilor, bishop, and pioneer trek leader. He was also an entrepreneur—creating his own plumbing and piping business and often waking up at 4 a.m. to begin each day.

An article from Deseret News offers additional insights into Pettus’s life and legacy. Pettus, who was 70 had served as temple president with his wife, Cheryl Rooks Pettus, serving as the temple matron since November.

“We thoroughly enjoyed this short little season,” Cheryl Pettus told Deseret News. “I look forward to the temple being reopened fully, because I’ll feel closer to him there probably than anywhere else.”

Read more about Gary Pettus in the article from The New York Times.

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Valerie Russell

Valerie Russell is an editorial intern for LDS Living. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, which is also where she discovered the restored gospel and joined the Church. With a bachelor’s degree in human biology, she delights in translating her research and analytical skills into journalism. She believes that nothing is too hard for the Savior and that life is made infinitely better by good stories and sweet dogs.

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