Elder David B. Haight: Committed to Serve

    “Elder David B. Haight: Committed to Serve,” New Era, Nov. 2004, 10

    Elder David B. Haight:
    Committed to Serve

    Elder David B. Haight

    A kind, humble servant of the Lord, Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles passed away on 31 July 2004 at age 97. He will be remembered as a family man with a warm sense of humor who devoted his life to serving the Lord. An Apostle for the last 28 years, Elder Haight also served as a stake president, mission president, and priest quorum adviser.

    When David was a boy, he dreamed of playing professional baseball. He thought the greatest moment of his life would be to hit the game-winning home run in game seven of the World Series.

    When he was older, he changed his mind about this dream. One day Elder Haight was sitting with his wife and three children—one of whom was about to be married—in a sealing room of the Los Angeles Temple. Looking around the room, he thought, “David, you had your priorities all mixed up. Being a hero in a worldly event isn’t the great moment of life. … The great moment … is here, … because all I have that is really important is in this room. All of my children are committed to the Church.”1

    Born on 2 September 1906 in Oakley, Idaho, David enjoyed serving others during his Aaronic Priesthood years. He said, “We accounted for all of our members and would see that they were all at church. We enjoyed being together. We chopped wood for the elderly and the widows, filled the coal bins at church, cleaned the meetinghouse, swept the steps, raked the gravel yard, saw that the sacrament trays and lace sacrament cloths were clean. …

    “We were part of the Church and the Church was part of us. We knew it; we felt it! We held the priesthood of God!”2

    During high school David played basketball and football. The school bought some inexpensive jerseys for the 12 players on the football team. But the players had to wear their basketball shoes. Their chemistry teacher, the only one at Oakley High who had actually seen a football game, taught them a few simple plays.

    The school’s first-ever football game was against Twin Falls, the previous year’s Idaho state champs. David was amazed as he saw 39 players in full uniform run onto the field to warm up.

    David explained: “After two plays we didn’t have any desire to have the ball—so we would kick it, and soon they would score. When they got the ball, they would run a baffling play and score. Our problem was to get rid of the ball—it was less punishing.”

    In the final minutes, one of David’s teammates intercepted a pass and ran for his life. He scored, making the final score 106 to 6. About this game, Elder Haight later said, “In all things success depends upon previous preparation.”3

    After high school, David studied business at Utah State University. He graduated, found a job at a Salt Lake City department store, and was put in charge of hiring new employees. That’s when he met his sweetheart, Ruby Olson.

    After spring term at the University of Utah, Ruby was hired to work at the store where David worked. He soon asked her to lunch. They dated for a year and were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 4 September 1930. Elder Haight said, “Ruby and I were married the right way, sealed in the temple with its divine covenants and commitments that promote trustworthiness, faithfulness, devotion, and dedication.”4 He and Ruby enjoyed 74 years of marriage. They have 3 children, 18 grandchildren, and 78 great-grandchildren.

    In his career, Elder Haight was a successful businessman and served two terms as mayor of Palo Alto, California. He resigned as mayor when he was called to preside over the Scottish Mission.

    Elder Haight’s family and the Church were important to him, even more so after an experience he had while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II. One night, while flying over the Pacific Ocean on his way from California to Hawaii, he looked out the plane’s window and saw flames coming out of an engine. “It was spewing so much fire that I thought the plane was on fire, which caused me great concern. I wondered about my family, whether I would see them again,” he recalled.

    David couldn’t sleep that night, so he prayed. “I made a commitment to the Lord that if I got out of the war alive and back with my family, the Church would always come first in my life. … Before then it seemed to me that I didn’t have my priorities in proper order. That night I reappraised my life and recommitted myself to the Lord.”5

    The plane arrived safely, and Elder Haight kept his commitment to the end of his life.

    David and Ruby Haight with their children, Bruce, Robert, and Karen.

    Young David played the violin and participated in scouting and sports.

    Elder and Sister Haight were married on 4 September 1930.

    The Haights enjoyed family time at their cabin each summer.