“Elder Devere Harris of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1984, 94
When Devere Harris, president of the Idaho Falls Temple, walked into President Gordon B. Hinckley’s office, he had no idea what was coming. Maybe he was doing something that needed changing in his temple assignment.
“Are you tired of the temple?” President Hinckley asked. President Harris’s answer was quick and sure.
“No! I want to stay there!”
It was not to be. But President Harris would bring to his new calling a deep love for the House of the Lord.
“Serving in the temple for these past four years was the greatest thing that ever happened to us. Things have happened there that are too sacred to relate.”
Elder Harris, who is now sixty- seven years of age, grew up in the little town of Portage, Utah, near the Idaho border. At Bear River High School he starred in both basketball and track. After graduating, he attended business college in Salt Lake. He later became a salesman for an insurance company, rising to the position of manager of three states. In 1930 he married Velda Gibbs, also of Portage, in the Logan Temple.
Elder Harris was kept busy in the Church. Among other callings, he served as elders quorum president, stake mission president, and high councilor. At the same time, he was traveling sixty to eighty thousand miles a year for his company and supervising some forty men. Then he was called to be bishop of the Portage Ward. When Elder Harris was set apart, Elder Boyd K. Packer promised him that as long as he did the Lord’s work, his business would prosper.
And that’s exactly what happened.
“I have never hesitated since that day to ask people to serve the Lord, in any capacity. I’ve never thought I could put a hardship on anybody that way—never.”
With so many demands on his time, Elder Harris learned to give quality time to his family, even when time was scarce. “One summer,” he recalls, “we took our children on a trip to Canada, Mexico, and about twenty-four states. Later someone asked my son what he considered the most exciting thing he’d done all summer. My chest kind of stuck out a little, and I thought, ‘Well, he’s got plenty to choose from,’ but he said, ‘The most fun I’ve had this summer is the night I lay out on the lawn with my dad and watched the Milky Way and made up poetry.’”
The Harris’s son and four daughters have all been married in the temple and have provided a proud grandpa and grandma with twenty grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
Of his new calling, Elder Harris says, “I feel inadequate, of course, but I’m thrilled with the call, and I’m willing to give it everything I’ve got. I don’t have any doubt in my mind that if I get myself in a condition to serve the Lord, that he will sustain me.”
Elder Harris’s assurance comes from a deep faith. “I’ve had a witness borne to me of the Spirit that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true, that the Church is true, that God lives. I have enjoyed some beautiful manifestations of the Spirit. But I don’t believe that a man’s testimony can be built on beautiful manifestations. I think it’s more important to hear the whisper of the still small voice that gives assurance, day after day and year after year, that the gospel is true. I have heard that whisper.”