“Elder Robert B. Harbertson of the First Quorum of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 1984, 93
Elder Robert B. Harbertson, newly called member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, grew up without many material blessings. “We never had much money,” he says. “But I never knew we were poor until I got older.”
But his parents more than made up for temporal lack by acquiring spiritual treasures. “As I talk to Heavenly Father about my blessings, I mention quite often how grateful I am for parents who taught me to be obedient, to be honest, to make my word as good as my bond. That has brought me a great deal of happiness.”
Robert Harbertson was born in South Ogden, Utah, in 1932. Three older sisters preceded him; a younger brother came later. Together they were taught “the most important things that one needs to know as a child.” It was while in that home that Robert began to discover the joys of the gospel. “My parents’ lives were centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ,” he remembers. “I grew up knowing nothing else.” Over the years that budding testimony was strengthened again and again. “I have never doubted its truthfulness.”
“The thing that strengthens my testimony most,” he says, “is my prayers and communication with my Father in Heaven. I would not dare leave my home in the morning or retire to my bed at night without talking to him. Knowing I can talk to my Father in Heaven is a great comfort in my life.”
Elder Harbertson has another sustaining influence that he is quick to name: his wife, Norma Creer. “She is about as perfect a wife as I could ever hope to have,” he says. “She is always positive and happy and concerned for other people.” Married in 1953, they are the parents of five children and now have four grandchildren.
In the fifties Brother Harbertson graduated from Utah State University, served a two-year stint in the army, and began his career. His latest position was as an executive for a large Salt Lake City hardware supplier.
Over the years Elder Harbertson has also been busy in Church service. He has served as a bishop, a member of the General Aaronic Priesthood Committee, and mission president (California Fresno Mission). Since 1978, he has served as a Regional Representative of the Twelve.
“My wife has always supported me in my Church callings 100 percent. There has never been one negative word. But when she thinks I can do better, she lets me know. She’s my greatest critic—always in a very sweet way. She’s a tremendous woman.”
When Elder Harbertson is asked to name the greatest lessons he’s learned over the years, he has a ready answer. “I believe that to be obedient is one of the greatest characteristics of a follower of Christ. I have yet to find an obedient person who is not happy and is not being blessed and growing as an individual. That doesn’t mean he won’t have problems or trials or temptations—those are a part of life. But when we’re obedient, we save ourselves so much torment, so many problems—and we find ourselves growing closer to the Spirit.”
Undergirding that obedience must be a testimony of the divinity of Christ. That testimony is part and parcel of Elder Harbertson’s approach to life.”