Robert Dean Hales is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was born on August 24, 1932, in New York City. He grew up on Long Island, but spent summers in Utah, giving him a unique understanding of both eastern and western culture. In addition to a broad understanding of his nation’s culture, he also gained an appreciation for world culture, because the United Nations was included in the boundaries of his school. The exposure to students from all over the world made a huge impression on him, and he vowed to have an international experience in his life. This goal would be fulfilled beyond what he could have imagined at that time.
While home during the summer of his sophomore year of college, he met Mary Crandall. Both were college students in Utah, but at different schools. They spent the summer doing things together and then returned to school. The following summer, they were married. Elder Hales completed his senior year while working at a television station. He graduated in 1954 and then went into active duty in the air force as a jet fighter pilot. The motto on his plane was “Return with Honor.” Elder Hales holds to that motto today as a reminder to be honest and to live with integrity.
His family lived in Florida while he was in the military. At the end of his service, he was accepted into Harvard University, where he graduated with a degree in business. He immediately began to have the international experiences he had hoped for, as his work led him to live in England, Germany, and Spain, as well as throughout the United States.
Throughout this time, his church work also increased. The Mormons have a lay clergy, which means all church work is unpaid and done while carrying out secular employment and family life. In 1975, he received a telephone call from a high ranking church official asking him to serve as a mission president in England. This would be a volunteer job for several years, full-time, requiring a leave of absence from his secular employment. He promptly accepted, but soon another call came, this time from the president of the church, who said they were changing his mission and extending the time. He was invited to become a general authority, a lifelong position as a high-ranking Mormon church leader. Although he was disappointed not to be going to England, he accepted, and years later, actually was sent to England as a mission president, a place he learned to love. This was followed by assignments that led his family to live in Europe for quite some time.
During this time, he often found himself in the middle of violence or war. He worked with the Polish government to organize church affairs while military tanks rolled down the street controlling violence.
In 1994, Elder Hales was selected to become an apostle of the Lord.