Elder Craig Allen Cardon of the Seventy was born on December 30, 1948, in Mesa,
Arizona, USA, to Vilate Allen Cardon and Wilford Pratt Cardon. While growing up, Elder Cardon says, he
benefited from the righteous example and teachings of his parents. “I had a mother who taught me to pray
and a father who taught me to trust and love the Lord,” he says. Their guidance helped him recognize the
Spirit at a young age. On one occasion, a concern weighed heavily on his mind. “Because of the way I’d
been taught, I went out to kneel in the fields near our home. I remember getting some distinct answers.”
Tutoring experiences continued throughout his life and helped prepare him for his call to the Second
Quorum of the Seventy.
When Elder Cardon was called to serve a mission to Italy in 1968, the country
became central to his self-concept in a way that would influence his life as a husband and father in
years to come.
"In my ignorance as a young man, I had not ever focused on the fact that the
Cardon family came from Italy and was converted in 1852 during the time of Lorenzo
Snow's ministry to Italy," said Elder Cardon, who was sustained at April 2006 general conference to
the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
The mission put him in touch with his Italian heritage and, he fondly recounted
the fact that Cardons, along with other families who would become prominent in the Church, lived in the
French-Italian Alps as adherents to the Waldensian faith prior to their conversion.
Elder Cardon was privileged to begin his mission soon after the work opened in
While on his mission, he corresponded by mail
with Deborah Dana, whom he had dated while they attended high school in Mesa, Ariz., but never steadily.
"Dad had a three-in-one rule," he noted. "You could have three dates with the same
girl, then you needed a date with someone else."
Both Elder and Sister Cardon affirm the wisdom of that rule, and they have carried
it on in rearing their own children. But they saw each other much more frequently after he returned
from Italy and, within two months, they were married in the Mesa Arizona Temple. They are the parents
of eight children.
Elder Cardon, who worked in a family real-estate business, received his bachelor’s
degree from Arizona State University and his master’s degree from Harvard University’s Kennedy School
of Government. He has been a bishop, stake president, Gospel Doctrine teacher, and institute instructor.
Elder Cardon said there is no substitute for the power that comes through the
scriptures. “I set a rule for myself long ago,” he says. “I was not going to let my eyes close for the
final time upon the day unless they had fallen upon the scriptures.”
When serving as president of the Italy Rome Mission from 1983 to 1986, Elder
Cardon started discussing the scriptures during each presidency meeting—a practice he continued in
subsequent callings. “Teaching from the scriptures was always on the agenda,” he says. “We would spend
a significant amount of time focusing on the doctrine as taught in the scriptures. That was a valued,
Seven of their eight children had been born by the time he was called to preside
over what has become the Italy Rome Mission at the young age of 34.
"Frankly, I believe the Church was looking for leaders who spoke Italian, and I
think part of the reason I was called at an early age was that I spoke the language," he reflected. In
any event, missionary service in Italy would again be an important element in Elder Cardon's life
experience, this time with his wife and their seven children. What by any account would be a challenge
for such a large and young family was, in fact, a blessing, both Cardons affirm.
"The kids became each others' best friends," he said, attributing the spirit of
love in their home to his wife, who, he said, "abhors contention."
"On a spiritual note," Sister Cardon said, "I remember when we were in Italy and
we were striving to read scriptures as a family while the children were little." Elder and Sister Cardon
had to be away from home one Monday evening, a rare occurrence for the customary family home evening
time. When they returned, eldest daughter Tricia told of the children's efforts to read the scriptures.
Andrea, then about baptism age, had become emotional during the scripture reading, saying that she felt
Heavenly Father close to her and that she felt His love for the family.
"They were just little children reading the scriptures together," Sister Cardon said. "And I just think that experience, being there in Italy, cemented their relationship."
The family's dedication to building the kingdom of God continued a legacy passed to
Elder Cardon from his father, Wilford, who was in the petroleum retailing business. On one occasion,
after a three-hour contract negotiation with some oil company vice presidents, Wilford had insisted they
remain while he tell them about the most important thing in his life. They each left with a copy of the
Book of Mormon.
"Can you imagine the example that was to me as a young man?" Elder Cardon asked.
"It was in his soul; he just loved it."
And so it was that while presiding over the mission in Italy, President Cardon,
emulating his father, lived close to the Spirit.
With affection, he told of the endeavor in the mission to acquire properties that
could be converted into meetinghouses. This was at a time when local members were expected to pay a share
of the cost of the property acquisition. To him, it seemed the burden would be impossible for the local
members to meet.
He was drafting a letter to Church headquarters to ask for an exception to the
requirement, when he experienced the proverbial stupor of thought (see Doctrine and Covenants 9:7). This
caused him to go to the Lord in prayer, and he received a strong impression that the leaders were not to
ask for the exception.
"We were coming up on the Christmas season, and I learned that you have to be
careful what you ask the saints, because they are faithful," he recounted. "But we determined that we
would invite the saints, to the extent that they would feel comfortable within their own homes, to forgo
their Christmas plans and other plans and, rather, to contribute to the building fund." Those who did so
received a brick to place under their Christmas tree as a memento of their sacrifice.
He described the result as a miracle. Contributions far exceeded what was
anticipated, "and Zion was established temporally in that part of the Lord's kingdom."
As a General Authority, Elder Cardon will has the opportunity to work full time
building the kingdom in other ways.
In 2012, Elder Cardon was released from the Second Quorum and called into the First Quorum of the Seventy.