“Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie,” Liahona, July 2000, 126–27
In March 1958, while serving as one of the first missionaries in the West Spanish-American Mission, Elder H. Aldridge Gillespie had an experience that profoundly affected his life. Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (1895–1985) had been assigned to formally organize the mission, and the young Elder Gillespie, a newly called second counselor in the mission presidency, was given the opportunity to be his “chauffeur, roommate, and companion” for approximately two weeks.
“Elder Kimball had special spiritual capacities that touched my heart and influenced my opinion of what life should be and how I should live it,” Elder Gillespie recalls. “My concept of what man should be, what families should be, and how people should conduct themselves was greatly amplified in that brief time.”
Born on 22 May 1935 in Riverside, California, he spent his youth in Utah. He met his wife, Virginia Ann Larsen, in Manti, Utah, and on 18 July 1958 they were married in the Manti Temple.
The years following their marriage were full ones, with Brother Gillespie earning advanced college degrees and serving in various Church leadership callings while working so that Sister Gillespie could stay at home with their young children.
“Those days were poor days, but Heavenly Father supported us,” says Elder Gillespie. “We had faith that if we went ahead and had children, the way would be provided for us to have what we needed—and it was.”
Elder Gillespie earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in civil engineering from Utah State University and a Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Following several years as a professor at the University of Oklahoma, he worked for the United States Department of Transportation in Oklahoma City, serving for 17 years as director of the Transportation Safety Institute. A former bishop, stake president, regional representative, and patriarch, he was serving as president of the México Tampico Mission at the time of his call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy. He and his wife have 5 children and 14 grandchildren.
“From the very earliest years of our marriage, we have dedicated ourselves to the Lord’s service,” says Elder Gillespie. “We both love the Lord very much and feel deeply indebted for the many rich blessings we have received.”