- Born 1927 Rexburg, Idaho
- Married Barbara Jean Reed; eight children
- Bishop, Stake President, Mission President, Regional
- Second Counselor in Presiding Bishopric 1976-1985
- First Quorum of the Seventy 1985-1997
- Presidency of the Seventy 1988-1993
- Named Emeritus General Authority 1997
“It's an overwhelming experience to be called by a prophet,”
said J. Richard Clarke, on the occasion of being sustained as second counselor in the Presiding
Bishopric. “If it weren't for the perfect confidence I have in revelation—and
I know from experience how real that is—I’d have to wonder if they have
the right man.”
Bishop Clarke, born and raised in Rexburg, Idaho,
and living in Boise, Idaho, at the time of his call, is a soft-spoken man,
quiet, committed, and warm. That warmth showed when he talked about his wife,
Barbara Jean Reed, and their seven living children (one daughter died at
age eleven). “They've been amazing about this call,” he said. “We expected
the kids to at least think about what they'd be giving up, but they've
just expressed their excitement and their support.”
Actually, this reaction was predictable. Ever since
Bishop Clarke and his wife began accepting Church responsibilities—and
those responsibilities ranged from ward and stake Relief Society and MIA
presidencies, ward bishoprics, stake presidencies, and Regional Representative
assignments—they have made them family callings. “I've always said that
I could serve only if had the unity and harmony of the family. Also, that
I couldn't stand for one set of principles and have my family accept another.
Honestly, they're wonderful kids. When my oldest son, Dallan, was growing
up, I was always on the stand. We couldn't have those good shoulder-rubbing
experiences in priesthood meeting; and it would have been really hard for
me as a father if I hadn't known that he accepted and supported what I
The warmth showed when he praised his parents—John
Rolland Clarke and Nora L. Redford Clarke—for the great trust they always
showed in him, and his wife's family—James H. Reed and Maude Armstrong
Reed—for their exceptional unity.
It really showed when he talked about Bishop Vaughn
J. Featherstone, whom he had served as counselor in the Boise North
Stake presidency before it was divided and he was called as the president
of the new Meridian Idaho Stake. “We had ten years of experience in two.
He taught me a great deal. He didn't know about this call beforehand, of
course; and I always say they ‘retired the number’ on the uniform after
he's played the position.”
The warmth showed again when he talked about his former
employment and his new assignment. As general manager for an insurance
company in the Idaho-Oregon-Washington area, he found the company very
receptive to the method of priesthood correlation principles that he used,
and gracious about relinquishing him to his calling.
“I don't have favorites among the Brethren,” he said,
“but I've always had a special love for President J.
Reuben Clark, President [Harold B.] Lee, and
President Marion G. Romney—those giants of
welfare. Meeting the needs of the unfortunate is a great way of witnessing
to the principles Christ taught—and we're still in our infancy there. Until
we're prepared to surrender our physical appetites and worldly possessions—until
consecration becomes a motivating principle and stewardship a sacred responsibility
— we'll have a long way to go until we're prepared as a Church to meet
He spoke with unreserved respect of his colleagues
in the Presiding Bishop's office. “They're great men. They'd be leaders
no matter where they are”—and with equal respect of the membership. “Because
of our members’ testimonies, and their respect for priesthood authority,
anyone in a leadership position needs to treat that allegiance as a sacred
trust, with the utmost sensitivity.” With special affection, he looked forward
to working with the Young Women and the Aaronic Priesthood.
“We're in good hands as long as we keep looking at the youth,” he said.
“I sure have great faith in their future.”
Prior to his call to the Presiding Bishopric, Elder
Clarke worked as a general manager of a major life insurance agency in
Boise, Idaho. He served as a bishop, stake president, Regional Representative,
mission president, and as a managing director in the Missionary Department.
A native of Rexburg, Idaho, Elder Clarke attended
Ricks College and graduated from Brigham Young University. He did graduate
work at Stanford University.
Elder Clarke served as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric of the Church from October 1, 1976, until he was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy
on April 6, 1985. Then on October 1, 1988, Elder J. Richard Clarke, 61, was
sustained as a member of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
President Clarke was released from the Presidency in 1993. He was granted emeritus status October 4 of 1997.
"News of the Church: Bishop J. Richard Clarke...," The Ensign, Nov. 1976, p. 139
“Solemn Assembly and Sustaining of Church Officers,” Ensign, May 1986, p. 73
"Year in Review," Church News Archives, Dec. 31, 1988
2005 Church Almanac, p. 77