In April, 1976 Elder John H. Groberg, then newly called to the First Quorum
of the Seventy, had many of the classic characteristics of a lifelong member
of the Church in the Rocky Mountains: his ancestors were early members
in Nauvoo and early pioneers; he was raised in the Church; a turning point
in his life was a three-year mission to Tonga which started in a most
"Back on the Ship!" the imigration officials on the dock ordered the
lone missionary on the gangplank. "Not on my Ship!" bellowed the
captain from behind him. The Tonga-bound young man had already
been subjected to voyages on three ships since leaving California,
but at Suva, Fiji, there still was no one to meet him and help him on his way. And now
he was forbidden either to land or to reboard the ship. Despite such unpromising
beginnings, twenty-year-old Elder Groberg's mission in Tonga would become a
profoundly memorable experience.
After a sucessful mission, he married the girl who
waited for him to return; and they now have ten children.
For the planting of his faith, Elder Groberg credits
his parents and upbringing. He was born June 17, 1934, in Idaho Falls,
Idaho, and his parents, Delbert V. and Jennie Holbrook Groberg, had been
president and matron of the Idaho Falls Temple since October of 1976
At age twenty Elder Groberg was called to Tonga as
a missionary. He saw many miracles among the faithful Tongan people, including
several in which his life was saved. At one time he was stranded on a hurricane-devastated
island for nine weeks, during which time some died from starvation and exposure.
When he returned from the mission he married Jean
Sabin, whom he describes as a wife of “great faith and tremendous support.”
Elder Groberg was made a bishop soon after his mission and served five
years in the Idaho Falls Twenty-Sixth Ward. He was then called back to
Tonga to serve as mission president.
The Grobergs’ first son was born in Tonga with a
kidney defect. The problem was so severe that Sister Groberg took the baby
back to Utah for treatment. She returned to Tonga after he had recovered
and they didn’t see their son again for over a year. He was cared for by
Elder Groberg was called as a Regional Representative
to the South Pacific in 1969 and returned from his first assignment there
just a few hours before another of his children was born. He pays tribute
to his wife who encouraged him to go on the
assignment and assured him that the baby would not be born until he
The children include Nancy Jean, Elizabeth, Marilyn,
Jane, Gayle, John Enoch, Susan, Thomas Sabin, Jennie Marie, and Viki Ann.
They range from a high school senior to a baby in arms. Elder Groberg said
they are generally excited about his calling and not all sure what it will
As a member of the Lamanite Committee, Elder Groberg
had been planning to attend conference, but a call from President Kimball
brought him to Salt Lake a few days early. He said he promised the Lord
at an early age to serve him all his life. His past service was ready preparation
for the responsibility he now received.
Elder Groberg served honorably in the First Quorum of the Seventy and in April 2004
was called to the Presidency of the Seventy. The call lasted but a year as he was released from the Presidency in August 2005.
Having served with honor and distinction for many years, Elder John H. Groberg was honorably released from the First Quorum of the Seventy and named an Emeritus General Authority October 1, 2005.