“New Brethren Called,” New Era, July 1975, 6
Elder W. Grant Bangerter stood before the thousands gathered in the Tabernacle for the 145th Annual General Conference of the Church, the first of four new Assistants to the Council of the Twelve called by President Spencer W. Kimball. “My one qualification,” he said, “possessed and treasured by all Latter-day Saints, is a sweet assurance given to me by the Holy Ghost that God really does live—the knowledge that I have talked with him in prayer and that he has answered me many times and given me the influence of the Holy Spirit.”
In addition to this vital qualification, Elder Bangerter brings to his new calling years of preparation in Church service. He was called as one of the first group of Regional Representatives of the Twelve in September 1967. His assignment included directing the increasing number of stakes and missions in Brazil, where he had served as a missionary and mission president. Prior to his call as a Regional Representative, Elder Bangerter served as bishop of the Granger (Utah) Ward, president of the Salt Lake Jordan North Stake, president of the Salt Lake Granger Stake, and chairman of the Pioneer Welfare Region. He also served four years on the Church Home Teaching Committee.
A 1948 graduate of the University of Utah, Elder Bangerter served as an army air force pilot and training squadron commander in World War II. He is married to the former Geraldine Hamblin. They are the parents of ten children.
The second of the four new Assistants to the Twelve is Elder Robert D. Hales. His career in the air force and in private business has given him the opportunity to serve the Church in England, Germany, Spain, and throughout the United States. He has also served as a Regional Representative of the Church since 1970.
A native of New York, Elder Hales is a graduate of the University of Utah and Harvard. He served as a jet fighter pilot and intelligence officer in the air force.
Elder Hales has held the position of branch president many times—in Albany, Georgia; Weston, Massachusetts; Frankfurt, Germany; and Seville, Spain. He also served as bishop in Frankfurt, Chicago, and Weston and was a member of the high council of the London England Stake and a seminary teacher in Downey, California.
He is married to the former Mary Elene Crandall; the Hales have two sons.
In reviewing his years as a bishop, he commented, “The office of the bishop that is bestowed on men in a few moments of prayer takes many years of service and hard work to earn.”
When he addressed the conference, Elder Hales spoke on the law of consecration, stressing that it “is not one particular event. It is a lifetime, day by day, each one of us striving to do our best, that we might … live the best we can, in the service of others.”
In his leisure time Elder Hales enjoys sports with Aaronic-Priesthood-age boys and is pursuing a self-conceived “doctorate” in Church history and the scriptures.
Elder Adney Y. Komatsu, the third of the new Assistants to the Twelve, joined the Church when he was 17 years old. He came in contact with the missionaries when he was invited to play on the Japanese Mission basketball team. Since that time he has served continuously in leadership positions.
A native of Hawaii, Elder Komatsu joined the army’s counterintelligence corps in the Pacific and Japan during World War II. After the war he returned to Japan where he met, baptized, and married his wife, the former Judy Fujitani. The Komatsus have four children.
Two days after their marriage the Komatsus attended their new branch for the first time, and there, with out prior notice, he was called as branch president. He later served on the Honolulu Hawaii Stake high council and as president of the Northern Far East Mission. He has also had the privilege of performing ordinances in the Hawaii Temple.
Elder Komatsu was called as a Regional Representative of the Twelve in 1970 and has supervised Church activities in Hawaii and Japan.
Relating his mother’s sorrow at his rejection of the Buddhist faith for the gospel of Jesus Christ, Elder Komatsu said that he “promised her that if she would permit me to be baptized and later found that through my behavior I had caused her any embarrassment—or committed some shameful or dishonorable act, then all she had to do was ask me to stop going to Church, and I would, without question, obey her will.”
If, however, he were to become a better individual, he asked for permission to continue to attend because it was “the place where I [could] gain an education for an eternal life.” He added, “It is my testimony today that I never had to leave the Church nor cause my mother any concern about my behavior.”
Also called as an Assistant to the Twelve was Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin. He served as first counselor in the general presidency of the Sunday School of the Church prior to his call.
A native of Salt Lake City, Elder Wirthlin is the son of Joseph L. Wirthlin who served 23 years in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church. He is married to the former Elisa Y. Rogers, and they are the parents of eight children.
Elder Wirthlin filled a mission to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. He served as bishop of the Bonneville (Utah) Ward and as a member of the Salt Lake Bonneville Stake high council and presidency.
A graduate of the University of Utah, where he was halfback on the football team, Elder Wirthlin has been active in Salt Lake business affairs.
Addressing Church members at conference, Elder Wirthlin recalled his years working in the Sunday School organization and said, “This organization will do much to carry out and help and assist the missionary effort in the Church.” He added, “I know that the Lord’s Spirit does whisper to his servants, and it is up to all of us to listen to these whisperings.”