“Roy Darley: Missionary Work Is His Forte,” Ensign, July 1985, 52–53
Roy M. Darley has been involved in full-time Church service since 1941 when he entered the Eastern States Mission as a missionary. At present, forty-four years later, he is filling the missionary role again, this time in Timaru, New Zealand.
And the half a lifetime between his two missions? That, too, was missionary work, in its way, whether as a United States Army chaplain or as an organist in the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. For Roy Darley, it was all tied to the gospel.
After his first mission, he was selected as organist and director for the Church’s Bureau of Information in Washington, D.C. It seemed a golden opportunity because being an organist had been his goal since boyhood. He remembers that after attending silent movies as a boy, he usually couldn’t recall the picture but he could recall every organ record that had been played as accompaniment. He became ward organist at twelve, and stake organist at seventeen.
But something much more important came from his service at the Bureau of Information. It was there he met Kathleen Latham, an attractive lieutenant, junior grade, in the United States Navy. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple 12 May 1944.
Shortly afterward, Brother Darley entered the Army, serving as an LDS chaplain in the Philippines first, and later, after hostilities ended, in war-ravaged Japan.
In Hiroshima, he found “unbelievable devastation” wrought by the first atom bomb. “It was terrible, absolutely terrible.” Compassion would not let him be simply a witness to the suffering he saw. Despite scarcity, for example, he somehow secured blankets for seven children living in a bombed-out car beside a road, making their improvised home a bit more bearable. Japanese mothers had nothing with which to clothe their tiny infants, so he wrote home and asked his wife to send baby clothes. “I think I sent everything our baby (the first of five) had because I knew I could get more,” she recalls.
After his military service, he was called, in April of 1947, as a full-time organist in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. It was the fulfillment of a dream. The thrill of sitting at the console of the Tabernacle organ never wore off in his thirty-seven years of service there, he says.
It afforded him wonderful opportunities to play recitals on one of the world’s great instruments, to study with leading organists, to be accompanist for the Mormon Youth Symphony and Chorus from its beginning in 1969, and, most important, to see people touched by the messages and the music they heard in the Tabernacle. He enjoyed many cherished moments. “You just can’t work on Temple Square without having beautiful experiences almost daily.”
He recorded extensively, periodically accompanied Tabernacle Choir performances, and played for general conferences, firesides, and other events. The Darleys also spent a year in London on special assignment, where he performed more than three hundred organ recitals at the Hyde Park Chapel, as well as other concerts throughout England and Scotland, aiding missionary work. Along the way, Brother Darley also found time to serve for twenty-five years on the Young Men General Board, and for a number of years on the Church Music Committee.
His retirement, on 1 January 1984, did not leave the Darleys idle. Within three months they were on their way to the New Zealand Christchurch Mission.
“I feel so sorry for the individual who doesn’t have time for the Church,” Brother Darley says. “It’s a marvelous feeling to be involved in Christian service.”
He serves as second counselor to Grant L. Spackman, mission president, and both of the Darleys are deeply involved in reactivating members and strengthening local leaders on New Zealand’s southern island.
In addition, he has played organ recitals in cities from Christchurch to Invercargill, at New Zealand’s southern tip. These provide opportunities for both community involvement and missionary work.
Sister Darley is helping to put the story of the LDS Church before New Zealanders through lectures to travel clubs and other groups. They want to know what Utah is like, and it’s impossible to tell them without talking about the people who settled the area, and what they believe.
While the Darleys have been teaching, they have learned much as well. Brother Darley says the New Zealand Saints have helped him see new dimensions of “devotion—real, genuine devotion.” He speaks of local leaders, still young in the Church, who commit all the talents and abilities they have to offer, and of his faithful home teaching companion who is willing to meet with families as often and as long as it takes to handle spiritual or temporal needs. “It isn’t just once-a-month service,” he says.
After a life of Church involvement, there still is nothing Roy Darley would rather be doing now.
Serving as a missionary with his wife is a privilege, he says. It makes for a wonderful, close companionship, providing opportunities for each to grow as they prepare to teach. “It’s a spiritual experience which I think every couple needs.”