“Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric,” Ensign, May 1985, 94
“Are you sure you’re doing the right thing with your life?” asked his wife, Kathleen Johnson Eyring.
The question had caught Professor Henry Bennion Eyring short. He was at the peak of a successful career enjoying teaching in the graduate school at one of the nation’s leading universities. He delighted in the nearness of his wife’s family, the natural beauty of Palo Alto, and the general physical and spiritual setting of their life.
For a man trained in physics and business, serving as bishop with a growing family, the logical answer was obvious. But like his wife, Kathleen, Bishop Eyring had learned that the voice of the Spirit often transcends logic. So, the only certain answer to this surprising question was to come through prayer.
“Within a month of that prayer, I was asked to be president of Ricks College,” recalls Bishop Eyring.
As a boy he had learned from his father, renowned scientist Henry Eyring, never to worry about the future. “Just do your homework, and we’ll see how the test goes tomorrow,” his father would say. Throughout his life, this simple statement has helped Henry B. Eyring to be prepared to do his very best—as a student, then as a missionary while stationed on the Sandia Air Force Base, then in the Cambridge Massachusetts District presidency during graduate school, as bishop at Stanford, as president of Ricks College, as Church Commissioner of Education, and now as a member of the Presiding Bishopric of the Church.
With couples like the Eyrings it is always impossible to know which of the two is right when each credits the other with being the spiritual strength of the home. The two have become one in purpose.
“Once while camping,” Sister Eyring confides, “a strong wind required that Hal hold the tent pole in the sand all night. For the last twenty-two years of our married life, he has been ‘holding up the tent’ in both calm and storm.”
She adds that during the Teton Dam disaster, he was in there “mucking out” and scrubbing walls, as well as organizing massive meals at the college and the distribution of supplies and resources. “His capacity to be both methodical and creative, strong yet submissive, have enriched my life immeasurably,” says the slim, soft-spoken mother of six, who doesn’t look as though she could have beaten him at tennis on their first date.
Modestly, he insists that it was his wife who set the example in Rexburg. And he attributes any good he was able to do there to her.
Often, no matter how early Sister Eyring awakens in the morning, her husband has been up, set the table, and prepared a wonderful breakfast. Whether waffles or biscuits, “the main course is always the scriptures.”
“He has taught the gospel in our home with great clarity and conviction, and, to make it all the clearer for us to understand,” she assures, “he has lived it.”
His love of watercolor, for instance, finds expression as he creates elaborate and colorful family home evening teaching materials, exemplifying his motto, “Be the best you can.”
Sister Eyring’s father recently officiated at the marriage of their oldest son, Henry, to Kelly Ann Child, in the Salt Lake Temple. Stuart is serving a mission in Japan, where Henry had served. Matthew and John are serving in their Aaronic Priesthood quorums preparing for missions. The Eyrings have two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary Kathleen.