This story was originally published by LDS Living in June 2018.
The prophet and apostles are not only wonderful leaders in the Church, they are also exceptional husbands and fathers. Learn more about their character by reading what has been said by the women who know them best.
President Russell M. Nelson
President Nelson met Dantzel White in 1942 when they were both cast as members of the play Hayfoot, Strawfoot at the University of Utah. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple three years later.
President Nelson and his wife, Dantzel White Nelson. Image from churchofjesuschrist.org.
An excerpt from President Nelson's biography, Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle, gives us insight into President Nelson's character from Dantzel's perspective:
[When] President Harold B. Lee asked Dantzel how she would cope with raising a large family while her husband served as general superintendent of the Sunday School and worked as a busy heart surgeon, Dantzel replied simply, "When he's home, he's home." President Lee repeated that comment throughout the length and breadth of the Church when encouraging busy priesthood leaders to focus more upon their families in giving them their undivided attention.
After Dantzel's passing in 2005, President Nelson married Wendy L. Watson. She often accompanies and speaks with him as he travels to fulfill his prophetic duties.
President Nelson and his wife, Wendy Watson Nelson. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
At the conclusion of their 11-day, three-continent world tour, Sister Wendy Nelson spoke of the change she has seen in her husband since his call to be the prophet. In her talk at BYU-Hawaii, she stated,
During our 12 years of marriage I have been accustomed to my husband being awakened during the night with ideas for and refinements to general conference talks. But since becoming President of the Church, the frequency and abundance of the messages to him from heaven have increased exponentially. . . . I can take any witness stand in any nation on earth and testify that I know that President Russell Marion Nelson has been called by God to be the living prophet of the Lord on the earth today.
President and Sister Nelson finishing their global tour in Laie, Hawaii. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
President Dallin H. Oaks
President Oaks met June Dixon during his freshman year at Brigham Young University. They were sealed in the summer of 1952 and enjoyed 40 years of marriage together.
Of her husband, June stated:
He's like his mother in that he never, never criticizes anyone. I've never heard him say anything unkind about anyone, and we've been married almost 30 years.
Dallin Oaks and his bride, June Dixon, at their wedding in 1952. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Several years following June's death, in the year 2000, President Oaks married Kristen McMain in the Salt Lake Temple. In her book, A Single Voice, she shares,
When I met my husband I met my best friend. There was romance, but more important, I found someone I felt comfortable with—someone with whom I could pull weeds in the garden, wash dishes, pray, and confer over problems. I enjoyed his company more than anyone else's and came to depend on his honest feedback and wise advice. I could confide in him, and I had complete confidence in him. He would also laugh at my jokes.
Elder Oaks with his wife Kristen at Oxford University campus. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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President Henry B. Eyring
Henry Eyring and Kathleen Johnson met in Boston, where he was serving in the district presidency and she was attending summer school. They were sealed in the Logan Temple by President Spencer W. Kimball in 1962.
Henry and Kathy Erying at their wedding. Photo from LDS Living.
In describing her husband's character, Kathy stated:
Steadiness—that is one of the best adjectives to describe him. He is a wonderful husband and father, very caring. One of the things I appreciate most about Hal is his sensitivity to the Spirit, which he brings into our home.
President and Sister Eyring at the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple dedication. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
President M. Russell Ballard
President Ballard was at the University of Utah at a "Hello Day Dance" when he met Barbara Bowen. Though he danced with her that night for less than a minute, it was the start to a courtship that led to their sealing in the Salt Lake Temple in 1951.
The Ballards on their wedding day. Photo from LDS Living.
Of her husband's commitment to his family, Barbara has said,
He’s extremely devoted to his family, and they’ve always come first. He was a bishop for many years and held lots of Church jobs, but those responsibilities have never been to the detriment of his family.
President and Sister Ballard waving as they exit the Conference Center. Photo from Church Newsroom.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Elder Holland was an athlete in track, football, baseball, and basketball at Dixie High School, where Patricia Terry was a cheerleader for the school's sports teams. They dated for two years before his mission and were eventually married in the St. George Temple.
Jeffrey and Patricia Holland as young college students. Image from Elder Holland's Facebook page.
[Elder Holland] believes—he believes in people, he believes in God, he believes that our Father only wants good for us.
Elder and Sister Holland at a devotional broadcast in Musashino, Japan. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Young Dieter Uchtdorf noticed Harriet Reich at church when her family began attending church while taking the missionary discussions. They were sealed in December 1962 in the Bern Switzerland Temple.
The Uchtdorfs as young newlyweds. Image from LDS Living.
In describing her eternal companion, Sister Uchtdorf says,
He is kind. He is a good and compassionate leader. We hear that from many of his former professional colleagues as well as from friends in the Church. He is a wonderful husband, always looking for ways to support me. He is a man of great humor and wit. I am very blessed to be his wife.
Elder and Sister Uchtdorf greeting a congregation at the Tabernacle on Temple Square. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder David A. Bednar
After serving as a full-time missionary in Germany, Elder Bednar met his wife, Susan Kay Robinson, at BYU. The two were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1975.
Elder and Sister Bednar at Face to Face Event in 2015. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Sister Bednar articulated Elder Bednar's qualities well when she stated,
People who know him well would say that he’s tough but tender. He’s competent and compassionate. He’s driven yet discerning. He’s faithful and fearless. He has a great capacity to lead and the wisdom to follow.
The Bednars pose for a picture after speaking at the U.S. Airforce Academy. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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Elder Quentin L. Cook
Elder Cook knew his wife, Mary Gaddie Cook, when they were attending high school: when he was elected as student-body president, Mary was elected as vice president. They were married in the Logan Temple in November 1962.
Elder and Sister Cook on their wedding day. Image from LDS Living.
In an interview with Sheri Dew, Sister Cook described her husband's qualities:
. . . [H]is love for the Lord stands out supremely. But accompanying that is his integrity. He’s very sensitive to others and is kind and good, but he is honest…. His integrity is just part of who he is.
Sister and Elder Cook posing for a photo. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Upon returning from his mission in Argentina, Elder Christofferson attended BYU, where he met Kathy Jacob. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1968, a year before their graduation.
Elder and Sister Christofferson with their parents on their wedding day. Photo from LDS Living.
He's always been a person who is concerned about everybody. He's worked diligently with some people who have had real spiritual needs or other needs to try to bring them back or keep them steady and give them some reason to hope.
Elder Christofferson and his wife, Kathy, in Guatemala. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Elder Andersen was campaigning for student body office at BYU when he met Kathy Williams. Their first date was on Kathy's birthday, and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple in spring of 1975.
One of Elder and Sister Andersen's wedding pictures. Image from LDS Living.
Reflecting on their courtship and the life Elder Andersen has led, Kathy stated:
I thought he was the most remarkable man I had ever met, and that holds true to this day and forever. . . . Neil is a man of great faith. It is one of the things I love the most about him. He believes that if we trust in God and do our part, miracles will follow.
Elder Andersen and his wife, Kathy, visiting members in Tonga. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
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Elder Ronald A. Rasband
When he came home from his mission, Elder Rasband attended the University of Utah and joined Delta Phi Kappa, a fraternity for returned missionaries. It was through his associations with Delta Phi that he met Melanie Twitchell. In 1973, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
Ron and Melanie at their wedding. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Of their meeting, Sister Rasband said,
I said to myself, ‘He is such an amazing man that it doesn’t matter if I never get to date him. I just want to be his best friend.’
Elder and Sister Rasband. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Elder Stevenson and Lesa Jean Higley were students at Utah State University when they met in an Old Testament class at the Logan Institute of Religion. The couple married in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1979.
Gary and Lesa Stevenson on their wedding day. Photo from LDS Living.
To describe her husband, Sister Stevenson quoted the following scripture:
"Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). That is the scripture he constantly quotes, and that’s how he has lived his life.
Elder and Sister Stevenson. Photo from Deseret News.
Elder Dale G. Renlund
When Elder Renlund first asked Ruth Lybbert out on a date, she politely declined because of a scheduling conflict. When he gathered up the courage to ask again a few months later, she was happy to accept. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1977.
The Renlunds on their wedding day. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder and Sister Renlund's early years as parents were a juggling act; Elder Renlund was gaining medical residency while Ruth was attending law school. Sister Renlund told the Mormon Women Project:
When Dale was a resident he had a demanding call schedule, on call every third night. . . . At that same time he also was called as the bishop of an inner-city ward, so when he wasn’t at work he was doing Church business. . . . During finals Dale would take [our daughter Ashley] with him on home visits while I studied. It actually worked out quite well because no one could refuse letting him into their home with such a cute 4-year-old.
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Elder and Sister Renlund. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong
Elder Gong and Sister Susan Gong both served as young missionaries in Taiwan at different times. The two of them were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1980.
Elder and Sister Gong at BYU Women's Conference. Image from Church Newsroom.
Sister Gong stated that there are three main qualities that quintessentially describe Elder Gerrit Gong:
One, he is unfailingly kind. Two, he is interested in everything, which makes him a fascinating person to live with. Three, he loves the Lord. He really desires with all his heart to build the kingdom and bless Heavenly Father’s children.
Elder and Sister Gong. Photo from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
Elder Ulisses Soares
Elder Soares met Rosana Fernandez when they were both serving as missionaries in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission. When Rosana returned, Elder Soares was already home and engaged, but he knew after seeing her at a dance that his engagement was not right. The couple married in the São Paulo Brazil Temple in October 1982.
Elder and Sister Soares at a BYU Devotional. Image from ChurchofJesusChrist.org.
After his call as an apostle, Sister Soares made the following comment:
My eternal boyfriend. . . [lives] for our family and our three children and grandchildren. . . When he sees I’m tired he will tell me, ‘Go rest, I’ll do whatever needs to be done.’