“Elder William W. Parmley Of the Seventy,” Ensign, May 2003, 127
The past several months of Elder William Watts Parmley’s life sum up the last several decades. He and his wife, Shanna Nielsen Parmley, made the decision that he would retire from his profession as a cardiologist and professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco so they could serve a mission together. As Elder Parmley prepared for a mission—and instead was called to serve as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy—the true impact of his lifelong testimony became very evident.
“They all know of his honesty and his integrity and his love of family,” says Sister Parmley, speaking of those Elder Parmley associated with daily. “It is very obvious to these people that he loves God.”
Retiring from a profession people often do not retire from, Elder Parmley, age 67, has had many opportunities to share the reason he is setting aside medicine. He recalls a man he recently met at an annual conference. He told attendees why after 39 years he would no longer be involved in the profession. The next day, a colleague approached him and said, “My wife and I couldn’t sleep last night because we were thinking about what you said. Tell us more about this mission.” Elder Parmley did, and the man simply said, “Can we go with you?”
When the call came to serve as a member of the Seventy, it was not quite the call he had expected, but Elder Parmley is happy to serve in whatever capacity he is asked. Such response is typical from one whose life has been defined by service as a physician, a husband, a father and grandfather, and a member of the Church.
“As King Benjamin said, that’s what we are really here to do,” Elder Parmley says. “We serve each other, and that’s our service to God.”
Elder and Sister Parmley were married in 1961 in the Salt Lake Temple. They have four children and eight grandchildren. Elder Parmley, the son of Thomas Jennison Parmley and LaVern Watts Parmley, was born in Salt Lake City on 22 January 1936. He served a full-time mission in the Northwestern States Mission and has served as a bishop, stake president, regional representative, and an Area Authority Seventy.