“Elder Robert F. Orton Of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 2001, 106
“I don’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t known God lives,” says Elder Robert F. Orton of Salt Lake City. That testimony has been strengthened through years of scripture study—much of it undertaken at night when he is unable to sleep. “When I wake up, instead of lying there I study the scriptures,” he says. He feels this intense personal study will be a benefit in his new call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Elder Orton was born on 24 August 1936 to H. Frank and Gwen Riggs Orton and was raised in Panguitch, Utah. His parents had been married in the temple, but not long afterward his father became less active. It wasn’t until young Robert was 12 years old that his father determined to return to full activity. “That took place after many years of hoping and praying and pleading,” Elder Orton says. “He had always been a good father, but there was now a calmness and sweetness in our home because of the spiritual relationship that existed between my father and the rest of our family.”
Another profound influence in Elder Orton’s life was his grandmother Mildred Riggs, who lived with the family after the death of her husband. She set an example of personal righteousness and self-discipline, reading the scriptures faithfully every day and choosing to serve a mission while in her late 60s. “When the time came for me to consider going on a mission, I began to think of my grandmother and the kind of person she had been,” Elder Orton recalls. “Finally I said to myself, If Grandma Riggs can do it, you can do it, and you should do it.” Elder Orton subsequently served in the French Mission, an experience he credits with deepening his love for the restored gospel.
Elder Orton earned a bachelor’s degree at Brigham Young University and a law degree at the University of Utah. On 13 June 1963 he married Joy Dahlberg in the Salt Lake Temple, and they now have six children and nine grandchildren.
Elder Orton’s numerous callings include service as a bishop, counselor in a stake presidency, and mission president.