I was blessed on September 4, 1955, by my grandfather, Francis Leland Seely at the Brigham 5th Ward building.
Both my parents were born in the Church but were not originally married in the temple. Mom tells of how my older brother Jeff came home from Primary one day when he was still very young. He told her that in Primary they had talked about the temple and that a family had to be sealed in the temple to be able to be together forever. He asked, “Were you and Dad married in the temple?” When Mom confessed that they had not been, big tears came to Jeff’s eyes and he said, “Does that mean we can’t be together forever?” She said that right then and there she determined that they would be married in the temple, which they were on November 20, 1958, in the Logan Temple. Jeff and I were sealed to them at that time.
I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by my father on August 3, 1963, at the Brigham City 5th Ward building. The next day, I was confirmed by my father in the Brigham 9th Ward building, which was our regular meetinghouse. Kenneth Godfrey was the bishop.
Our church in Brigham City was at 230 West 200 South, just a block to the northwest of our house. (See picture taken in 2013.)
Our junior Sunday school room had an organ that the organist had to pump with her feet. One day, I got my hand stuck in the bars on the back of the little wooden chairs. My teacher had to help me get it out. All she had to do was turn my hand vertical and it slipped right out.
In the back of the church, there were large cement window wells for the classrooms in the basement. The window wells had bars that spanned the opening about every three feet. I remember playing and swinging on the bars.
There were also several large trees behind the church which had seed pods that would drop from the trees. They looked like squashed brown bananas. We thought they were boomerangs and would throw them around and have lots of fun.
While we lived in Brigham, my father was the second counselor in the bishopric of the Brigham City 9th Ward with Bishop Claudius B. Olsen and Glen Dixon as the other counselor.
When we moved to Granger, we were in the Granger 17th Ward. The bishop was A. Barclay Gardner. Our first counselor was Scott Smith, and our second counselor was Garth Ripley, who because of the 50-mile Scout hike got the nickname “Wrong-way Ripley.”
I was ordained a deacon by my father on July 9, 1967, in the Granger 17th Ward. In December, I became the first counselor in the quorum. Ronald Muir and Richard Langford were the quorum advisors. Later, Brother Langford became my deacons quorum advisor. He lived across the street from us in the downstairs apartment of Wright’s house.
In July 1968, we moved to Boise, Idaho, and were in the Boise 19th Ward, Boise North Stake. We attended church at the Northview meetinghouse, which was 3.5 miles away from our home. Later, a meetinghouse was built on Goddard Road, just a mile from our house.
Our bishop was J. Richard Clarke (who was later called to the Presiding Bishopric), with Dale Olpin and Tracy Wright as counselors. Dale Olpin later became our bishop, with Walt Jones and Reed Hanson as counselors, then later, Pete Williams and Robert Packard were his counselors.
On August 3, 1969, I was ordained a teacher by my father. I was president of the teachers quorum, with Bryan Roberts and Mitch Poole as counselors, and Randy Page as secretary. Howard Furner, Mike Haradick, Ralph Goff, Blaine Huff, and Steve Gardner were advisors during those two years.
I was ordained a priest by my father on July 11, 1971. Our first priests quorum advisor was Bob Blaine. At that time, Gary Ames, Dale Morgan, and others in our quorum were about to graduate from high school. Almost every lesson was on missionary work, as Brother Blaine tried to instill in us a desire to go on a mission. Nearly all his lessons were about how we were growing up and the responsibilities that entailed. Bob Bennett (our neighbor) later became our advisor, and I became the secretary.
My home teaching companion from September 1971 until I graduated from high school was Wes Poole. He was a great example to me. Although we usually visited our families toward the end of the month, they were always visited each month.
When my mother died on December 13, 1971, Dad was working with Richard J. Salisbury in the stake YMMIA program. On January 17, 1972, Brother Salisbury sent the following letter to us kids.
Larry, Joy Lynn, and Ricky Richman
5111 Mountain View Drive
Dear Young Richmans,
I just wanted to drop you a note to tell you how much I appreciate your good father. He sets a great example for me, gives me 100% of his support and is totally dedicated to his calling. But then I don’t need to tell you how great he is, if anyone is aware of his attributes it should be you three fine young people.
I’m really writing to tell you how much I appreciate the support you give to him. He could not give the time and dedication that he does to his calling if it weren’t for the efforts that each of you put forth in his behalf. Even though he has to be away many hours, and as a result you are required to accept additional responsibilities, I’m really sure that you will be a happier family because of his service and the support that you give him.
Will you do me one favor? If there is something special you would like your dad to do, if you would like him to participate in a school or church activity in which you’re taking part, or whatever the case might be, or any other special event, please let me know, or make sure that he lets me know so that we can arrange to have him with you.
Again, thanks so much for being such wonderful young people. Thank you, Larry, for your conference talk, and your support in the M.I.A. programs. May our Father in Heaven bless each of you in all of your endeavors.
Richard J. Salisbury
Y. M. M. I. A. Superintendent
Boise North Stake
On May 20, 1973, the stake presidency sent me the following letter. It is an example of how involved the stake presidency was with the youth of the stake.
Dear Brother Larry,
Word has come to us of your excellent scholastic achievement in attaining straight “As” during the past school term.
Your accomplishment is evidence to us of hard work and of the fact that you have applied the natural talent given you by your Father in Heaven. We encourage you to continue in these worthwhile efforts.
We are proud of you and are so pleased to have you represent our Church and this stake at Capital High School. We know you are not only outstanding in your scholastic work, but also in your living patterns.
We assure you of continued blessings, self-satisfaction, and success in your life if you continue to put forth such effort.
May the Lord continue to bless you always.
Sincerely, your brethren,
Boise North Stake Presidency
Seth D. Redford
Ted C. Peck
Ronald L. Loveland
I received my patriarchal blessing from Dennis E. Flake on August 26, 1973. Brother Flake had been called as a patriarch shortly before that. I knew Brother Flake and he knew me because I was a good friend of his daughter Claudia. I had been at his home many times. However, after the blessing, he remarked “I know you much better now.”
I was ordained an elder by my father on February 24, 1974. By then, the ward boundaries had changed, and we were in the Boise 20th Ward. I received my endowment in the Logan Temple on August 2, 1974, the day before I left for the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission.
Three of our stake presidents in Boise became General Authorities: L. Aldin Porter (stake president in 1965, General Authority in 1987), Vaughn J. Featherstone (stake president in 1970, Presiding Bishopric in 1972) and J. Richard Clarke (stake president of the new Meridian Idaho Stake in 1972, Presiding Bishopric in 1976, and General Authority in 1985).
The summer of 1974, before I received my mission call, I decided that I wanted to read all the standard works from cover to cover. Although I had read most of the scriptures in seminary, I really could not say I had read them all from cover to cover. If I was going to preach the gospel, and someone may ask me if I had read and believed every word, I had to be able to say that I, indeed, had read every word. I had recently read the entire Book of Mormon, but I had not read the full Bible or the Doctrine and Covenants. So, my goal was to read the remaining books from cover to cover before my mission.
I worked at the M&W Market at 6423 Ustick Road from April until July 1974. On my lunch hour, I would sit in the green Ford Galaxy 500 in the parking lot and read scriptures while I ate my peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich (same lunch every day). To avoid boredom, I sometimes added variety by switching between drinking Shasta grape soda and orange soda that I would buy from the store for 17 cents. (17 cents was a chunk of change from my hourly salary.) I am not sure how much I was making at that point, but when I started working for M&W Markets, I made one dollar and 65 and a half cents an hour. (I was grateful for that half cent, which meant that every two hours of working made me an extra penny!)
I remember that experience to this day and am grateful for that decision to read all the standard works to know them and be able to testify of them. My testimony did not come in those hours in the Ford Galaxy 500, but it was certainly reaffirmed and solidified then. It continues to grow.
I received my mission call June 24, 1974. I was working at the M&W Market on Ustick Road, and mom and dad brought me the envelope with the call the minute it arrived in the mail. We opened the envelope and found that it was to the Guatemala-El Salvador Mission. I did not even know where Guatemala was. I thought it was in South America.
After mom and dad left, I went into the restroom and knelt and thanked the Lord for the call and for the chance to serve Him on a mission.
During July 1974, the Boise Regional Young Adults were preparing the play Saturday’s Warrior. They had their final dress rehearsal for it on Friday, July 26, the last Friday I was home before leaving for the mission home. My girlfriend, KaLee Neal, was there, as was Jeff and Grandma Richman. We all went to see the play. The missionary theme in it really hit home with me, and the excitement and vision of the play helped me get even more excited about my mission. Cathy Ellsworth was in the play, and for some time afterwards, she wrote me letters calling me a Saturday’s warrior and relating some of the themes of the play to me and to the other guys in “the gang.”
The next day, Jim Seely and Reta, Paul, and Donna Nelson came to Boise for my farewell on Sunday, July 28, 1974, in the Boise 20th Ward. Dale Olpin was the bishop. Mary spoke first, then me, and then Dad.
On Friday, August 2, 1974, Mom, Dad, and I went to the Logan Temple where I received my endowment. Saturday morning, I entered the mission home in Salt Lake City.
For information about wards I attended and Church callings I held while attending BYU as a student, see the chapter “School.”
After marrying Teri on July 9, 1982, we became members of the Provo 20th Ward. I was called to teach the Sunday School gospel doctrine class from about March 1984 to the end of December.
In 2015, the Hunter 6th Ward had ten former bishops living in the ward: Rick Turner, Randy Sylvester, Larry Richman, Steve Fullmer, Lynn Despain (YSA), Don Wilkerson, Darrell Curtis, Jay Harding, Craig Miller, and Ron Sanders.
From my youth, I knew that the gospel was true. The gospel teachings made sense to me and have always felt very familiar. And as I read from the scriptures, their beauty and warmth reassured me. And as I prayed to know the truth, each time I got that warm, comforting feeling that the scriptures are true. A testimony is a gift of the spirit. It is a miracle. Often, we think of miracles in terms of something spectacular, something that happens quickly. But miracles can happen slowly. The speed of a miracle does not change its value as a miracle.
If the best we can do is say that we received a testimony at a particular time in our life, then perhaps we need to re-examine our lives and find ways to reaffirm, re-establish, and strengthen our testimonies. Testimonies need to continually grow and expand as our life experiences accumulate and as our knowledge of the gospel and life in general increases. My testimony did not come in one blinding moment. But it came in small moments, one stroke of revelation at a time. I know it more surely than if I had seen an angel. People can explain away an occurrence like a visit from an angel, but they cannot explain away an assurance that has been with them their whole life.
Elder David A. Bednar explained, “For many of us, conversion is an ongoing process and not a onetime event that results from a powerful or dramatic experience.” (“Converted unto the Lord,” general conference, October 2012.) My testimony is an accumulation of gold flecks. The reference is to the story of a prospector during the California gold rush in 1849. Because he was only looking to find a large gold nugget, he missed all the flecks of gold, which in accumulation were of more value than a nugget. (See “Finding Joy through Loving Service,” M. Russell Ballard, general conference, April 2011.)
Answers to prayer usually do not come as a “big” answer. We cannot always expect an answer the minute we say “amen.” Usually, answers come gradually, with many small answers—line upon line—over time. They usually come as we are working to accomplish the things for which we have prayed. We may first receive a small prompting of assurance to proceed in a particular direction, then a small nudge to adjust our course, and finally a growing confidence and confirmation that the pathway we are pursuing is in accordance with the will of the Lord.
The Lord does not want us to do what is right. He wants us to choose to do what is right and to be what is right. We do not obey the commandments to earn something. We obey to become something.
When I meet the Savior, I do not think he’ll ask to see my resume and a long list of things I have checked off that I have done in life. I think he will mostly ask me how I love Him and how I treated other people and helped them along the way.
In preparing for my mission, I prayed for a confirmation of my testimony. I knew that if I was to be a missionary and testify of the Gospel to others, I had to have a sure witness for myself. I could not just rely on my parents’ testimony or that of others. I had to know independently for myself. The answer I received was like Doctrine and Covenants 6:22–23, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” I knew that I already had a testimony and that I did not need any greater witness because I already knew. I had received my testimony line upon line (see Doctrine and Covenants 98:12.)
I have never had a heavenly manifestation or visitation, and I do not need one. Sometimes people seek for a glorious sign from heaven to prove the things that are true. But spiritual things are proven through the influence of the spirit. Things that you see, hear, or touch can be explained away over time. As the recollection dims, people can begin to doubt what they actually saw, and they find ways to explain them away. But when the truth of something is confirmed to you by the Spirit, you cannot deny it or explain it away. The Spirit can provide a more sure, continuing witness than you can have by sight, hearing, or touch.
I remember contemplating on the eternities as a Primary child. I distinctly remember one day coming in late to Primary and sitting on the back row of the chapel. Perhaps someone was talking about eternal life—I do not remember anything that was said—but I remember looking at the bricks on the wall of the chapel and thinking about eternity, and how a row of bricks seemingly never ends.
On my mission in Guatemala, key spiritual influencers included Pablo Choc, Daniel Choc, the earthquake, Camp Patzicía, and Cakchiquel translation work.
I worked for the Church for 45 years (42 years full-time and 3 years part-time). Over those years, I often worked with General Officers and General Authorities, including members of the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency. I got to see many of the inner workings of Church administration. Every experience I had increased my testimony in their divine callings, in the surety that this is Jesus Christ’s church, and in the value of gospel principles
Through 45 years working for the Church, I have files of good proposals. Sometimes, I could not understand why a given proposal was not approved when we proposed it, but in retrospect, I realize that they were necessary steps to move from one step to another. For some, it was not the right thing to do. For others, it may not have been the right time. And for yet others, it was just a learning experience for the staff who were involved. None were uninspired, they were necessary steps for us to take to learn what the Lord would have us do.
I have enjoyed various Church callings during my life. I have typically excelled at callings such as executive secretary and clerk because I am an effective administrator. But I’ve always had to consciously emphasize one-on-one personal ministering because I tend to focus too much on being an effective administrator.
Summary of callings: Stake presidency (4 years), bishop (5 years), bishopric first and second counselor (twice, 4 years), high council (3 years), ward clerk (3 years), ward executive secretary (2 years), ward historical clerk (1 year), elders quorum president (twice, 1 year), high priest group leader (2 years), Sunday School president (1 year), Young Men president (3 years), Sunday School teacher (4 years), PEF Church service missionary (1 year), Scout committee chairman (1 year), and full-time missionary (2 years).
Below is a list of callings and ordinations.
- Ordained Deacon, July 9, 1967, by Lynn T. Richman, Granger 17th Ward, Bishop A. Barclay Gardner
- Deacons Quorum First Counselor, 1968, Granger 17th Ward, Granger Stake
- Deacons Quorum First Counselor, 1969, Boise 19th Ward, Boise North Stake
- Deacons Quorum President, 1969, Boise 19th Ward, Boise North Stake
- Ordained Teacher, August 3, 1969, by Lynn T. Richman, Boise 19th Ward, Bishop J. Richard Clarke
- Teachers Quorum First Counselor, 1970, Boise 19th Ward, Boise North Stake
- Ordained Priest, July 11, 1971, by Lynn T. Richman, Boise 19th Ward, Bishop R. Dale Olpin
- Genealogy Research Specialist, November 11, 1972
- Ordained Elder, February 24, 1974, by Lynn T. Richman, Boise 20th Ward, Stake President Ted C. Peck
- Full-time Missionary, Guatemala-El Salvador Mission, 1974–1976
- Branch President, Comalapa, Guatemala, 1976
- Elders Quorum President, BYU 2nd Branch, 1977
- Ward Executive Secretary, BYU 100th Ward, 1978–1979
- Ward Historical Clerk, Hunter 36th Ward, December 17, 1989–November 1991
- Ward Choir Director, September 23, 1990–
- Ordained High Priest, November 10, 1991, by Lynn T. Richman
- Bishopric second counselor, Hunter 36th Ward, November 1991–January 1992
- Bishopric first counselor, Hunter 36th Ward, January 1992–December 1993
- Stake High Council, Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake, January 1994 – about January 1997. On June 12, 1994, I spoke as a high councilor in two wards. Richard Summers was my companion again. We had spoken in six wards together. Richard was always very complimentary of my talks. The previous Sunday when I sat down after giving my “Understanding Adversity” talk, he did not say anything for about 30 seconds. Then he turned to me and said, “Have you ever done better than that?” Then he said, “That’s as fine a talk as any general conference talk I have heard.”
- Bishopric first counselor, Hunter 36th Ward, about January 1997–January 1999
- Sunday School Teacher for the 16- and 17-year-old class, September 12, 1999–
- Sunday School teacher, courses 16 and 17, June 2000–January 2003. During these two and a half years, I had the chance to teach Lanae, Jamie, and Jason.
- Family Relations Class teach, February 2005
- Combating Pornography Committee, February 18, 2005–2008. This was a general Church committee to consider measures to combat the challenge of pornography. I helped develop publications, training materials, and websites. See more detail in the section “Major Projects” in the chapter “Church Employee.”
- Ward Young Men President, January 2003–July 31, 2005
- Marriage and Family Relations course teacher with Teri, January 2005–December 2006
- Scout Committee Chairman, September 4, 2005–December 2006
- Ward Young Single Adult Representative, December 2006–2008
- Part-time Church Service Missionary, Perpetual Education Fund, Spanish-speaking, September 27, 2005–May 2006
- Served three times as Pa and Ma of stake and ward pioneer treks
- Tribal leader at stake youth conference, June 2006
- Bishop, Hunter 36th Ward, March 30, 2008–August 5, 2012. In March 2008, I was on a business trip to Miami, Florida, and was in the car when I got a telephone call from Teri saying that the stake president, Cornell B. Porter, had called and wanted to see me. My immediate thought was that I was going to be called as a bishop.
Several Sundays prior to that, President Porter visited our ward, thinking about who the next bishop of the ward should be. I had come into that meeting by myself and sat in the center section toward the back of the chapel. I remember President Porter looking at me, and I knew that he was thinking about me, because he looked at me several times. He later recounted that when he saw me come in and sit down, he knew very clearly that I was the one the Lord wanted as the next bishop. He said that his feeling was clearer and more direct than any other calling he had extended.
I was set apart as a bishop on March 30, 2008. I loved caring about the members of the ward. Sitting on the stand, I watched people come in and I thought about their lives and needs. Sometimes the Spirit would tell me something that I needed to do for them. It would tell me when it was time to follow up with them on a given issue. I could sense when they were happy or sad or tell if they had a concern that I needed to address with them.
Serving as bishop were days never to be forgotten. I met with members in jail and cried with them and gave them blessings. During my tenure as bishop, I helped various members through divorces, imprisonments, suicides, an attempted murder, and a murder.
Susan and Josh Powell were members of our ward in December 2009. (See “Disappearance of Susan Powell.”) I had met with them as their bishop to help them resolve conflicts they had in their marriage. I knew he was a controlling person, but I had no idea he would be violent toward her. I also wasn’t aware of the concerns she expressed to some of her friends that he might hurt her. Although Josh only occasionally attended church, the Sunday after Susan disappeared, he was at church. From my interactions with him, my impression was that the only reason he was there was to keep up appearances. He wasn’t worried about her being missing, nor concerned about where she may have gone or what else might have happened to her. His only comments to me were about his need to move forward. He was resigned to the fact that she wasn’t coming back.
I learned a lot about the process of revelation. Sometimes it came in small pieces over time. For example, as a bishopric we felt inspired to call Bruce Johansen as the Young Men president. After we called him, we met with him to discuss the needs of the young men and to discuss possible counselors. In the middle of this discussion, it became clear that he wasn’t to be the Young Men president, but the scoutmaster, because that age was the most critical group, and he was uniquely qualified at that time to reach them. Calling him as the Young Men president was the necessary step that led to yet more inspiration. That taught me that sometimes, things are revealed to us line upon line.
For months, we had planned a ward temple night with a dinner at the temple on July 30, 2009. We got permission to have the youth come with us, attend the dinner, then do baptisms for the dead. I had worked hard with the youth and adults to get a good attendance. We had 13 youth there and a few dozen adults, including two who hadn’t held a temple recommend for 8–10 years. I had talked personally with nearly every endowed member of our ward who did not have a recommend to determine if they could be ready for this temple night, and if not, if they could be ready in time for the dedication of the Oquirrh Mountain Temple in August. Several people renewed their recommends, even though some of them could not attend that night. Elder Ray Bateman (who I worked with many years ago as an assistant executive director in the Curriculum Department) was in the temple presidency and was a speaker at the dinner. He was Diane Lavender’s father. After the dinner, I went with the youth to the baptistery, and was able to perform the baptisms for all the youth—about 75 baptisms. The spirit present at baptisms and confirmations in the temple made it a wonderful experience to bond with the youth.
In July 2012, I renewed my temple recommend and signed it as the member and as the bishop. (See Temple Recommend.JPG.)
I was released as bishop August 5, 2012. About a month before, President Porter told me that the boundaries of our ward would be realigned. The change would put both me and Bishop Rick Turner in the same ward, and since I had served longer, I would be released, and Bishop Turner would continue. I was grateful for the advanced notice, as it gave me time to wrap up some issues with the members. It also helped me mentally prepare for the release, since it was shorter than the typical five-year term for bishops. (I only served four years and four months.)
- High Priest First Assistant, September 2, 2012
- High Priest Group Leader, Hunter 6th Ward, July 7, 2013–July 5, 2015
- Ward Clerk, Hunter 6th Ward, June 14, 2015, to April 29, 2018. When I arrived at the interview when President Jerry K. Hunt called me, he said, “You always look the same. You never change. You’re like the Dick Clark of the stake.”
- Elders quorum president, Hunter 6th Ward, April 15, 2018–September 30, 2018. I was called to be the elders quorum president just after the April 2018 general conference where elders and high priests quorums were combined into a single quorum and where home and visiting teaching were changed to ministering.) I had been heavily involved as a Church employee in preparing for the combination of elders quorums and high priests groups and in the transition from home teaching to ministering. I felt honored to be called as the elders quorum president to implement this in my ward.
The following is an entry from my journal on August 19, 2018: “Maybe our ward’s elders quorum is getting somewhere after all. Instead of the planned lesson about how to figure out what people need, we spent the whole time talking about real needs of each other. It was quite an open discussion. I think we broke down some walls and several people opened up about their real needs, without worrying about what other people might think of them. It was different than the typical feeling that we must present a perfect façade for others to see. We had a visitor who began by saying that he and his wife (who is pregnant with twins) are living under a bush behind Walmart. So, we talked openly about what he needed. An inactive member of our ward committed suicide last week, so we talked about suicide. Several men in the quorum have cancer and they readily talked about their needs. One man talked about his Parkinson’s and that it was the reason that they were moving. He admitted that he had fallen several times, so they need to move to a single-story house. Another talked about his upcoming surgery for prostate cancer and his feelings about the fire chief who died recently fighting a forest fire. One man talked about his injuries from falling off a roof and how he is dealing with it. Another man talked openly about his daughter who is a drug addict and had thoughts of suicide. It was quite a good discussion about ministering to needs.”
- Stake Presidency, second counselor, September 30, 2018–January 16, 2022. In the stake priesthood meeting on September 30, 2018, I was sustained as the second counselor in the stake presidency of the Salt Lake Hunter Central Stake. There were probably a hundred people in the stake who could have done this job. Apparently, the Lord had something in mind that I needed to learn from this calling. And hopefully, there were people I helped in the process. Jerry Hunt was the stake president, Randy Sylvester was the first counselor, Darrell Curtis was the clerk, and Mark Warnick was the executive secretary. Later, Mark moved, and Steve Beck became the executive secretary. In October 2021, Brad Rowe replaced Darrell Curtis as stake clerk. I was released on January 16, 2022, in order to submit our papers to serve a senior mission.