Elder Erastus Snow was a Church apostle who served under President Brigham Young and whose particular role seemed to involve ministering faithfully in far-flung outposts of the Lord's kingdom, such as in Denmark and the frontier St. George, Utah, area of the 1860s.
Today, 117 years after Apostle Snow's death, his sense of duty and consecration pervades the consciousness of his great-grandson, Elder Lowell M. Snow, sustained at general conference in April, 2005 to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
"He was a sturdy man," Elder Snow said of his illustrious ancestor. "He'd be a good man to have at your side in a tough spot. And that always resonated with me; I always thought about him a lot." In fact, Apostle Snow's picture hangs over Elder Snow's desk in his home office, along with pictures of Elder Snow's grandfather — Apostle Snow's son — and Elder Snow's father.
Does he occasionally talk to them as President A HREF="hinckgb1.htm">Gordon B. Hinckley does to President Brigham Young, whose portrait hangs over his desk?
"I do," he admitted. "(It seems) they talk back to me, and sometimes it's not sugar-coated. I get it pretty straight, coming from them."
Reflected his wife, Tamara: "I think his parents worked very diligently to instill a knowledge and a love into their children for their ancestors. The stories were told over and over."
"They were larger than life," acknowledged Elder Snow, "and it was all faith-promoting. My extended family lived under the blanket of feeling like we had to keep going what some of these people had started."
Thus, Elder and Sister Snow were prepared for their first General Authority assignment — to West Africa. He mentioned relatives, all descendants of Erastus Snow, who, in the tradition of faithful service he established, have served as mission presidents or missionaries in Africa and South Africa.
"There is a well-known talk (Erastus Snow) gave in general conference as an apostle in which he says that if we are called to go to a gainsaying world . . . we go out and try to help them obtain what we have," Elder Snow noted.
Born and reared in St. George, Utah, the town founded by Erastus Snow, Elder Snow credits the influence of people whose determination was steeled by life on "the Muddy," the Virgin River, and instilled within him a determination of that same kind that "helped me, in education, in work."
He met Tamara at BYU, where they attended the same singles ward. They were married, and the following year, the ward was converted into a marrieds unit, so they remained, and he became a member of the bishopric.
She put him through school, including an overseas graduate program from Wayne State University while he was stationed as a U.S. Army officer in Berlin, Germany, during the Vietnam War era, serving in military intelligence. He is grateful for those who have blessed his life. “When I was growing up, my family taught and lived the gospel,” Elder Snow says. “My wife is a convert to the Church with a wonderful testimony. Priesthood leaders and teachers, older siblings, bishops, mission presidents, and stake presidents have all guided and lifted me.”Returning to Utah, he obtained a law degree from the University of Utah that set the stage for a 30-year career as an attorney.
Sister Snow would return to BYU in the mid-1990s after the children were mostly raised, and she would obtain a degree in health education. A penchant for education carried over to their five offspring, all of whom have obtained college degrees; two have Master's degrees and one a doctorate.
Sister Snow's plans to earn a Master's degree were permanently interrupted when the couple was called in 1997 to preside over the Temple Square Mission.
While they were accustomed to missionary service together — he presided in 1982-85 over the Mississippi Jackson Mission — they found the Temple Square Mission to be different in a pleasant sort of way. "In this mission, the sisters teach all day," he said. "You open the gates in the morning and tens of thousands of people flock in to ask you to tell them something about the Church."
The Snows count it a privilege to have spent so much time, fairly early in life, together engaging in missionary work. Their stint in Mississippi crystallized within them the desire to serve a mission together as a retired couple.
Over the almost 10 years Elder Snow served as a full-time missionary, he cultivated a testimony of the power of the Atonement and the importance of missionary work.
“Every good thing I have in my life is because of the Atonement,” Elder Snow says. “That’s why I like missionary work so much. I want others to experience the same blessings I have received.”
That opportunity came both with the Temple Square Mission and thereafter when they were called to direct Church hosting.
"That was pretty intimidating at first," Elder Snow said, "because we're just normal, common-denominator people, and we were meeting very influential ambassadors, vice presidents of countries and such. But what was interesting to me was to discover that despite where they lived or even their educational level, most of them are interested in their families. So there was always a common thing to be able to talk to them about."
Another blessing the Snows found in that assignment was the chance to observe President Hinckley in action. "I'm sure most people don't understand — we didn't until those years — how knowledgable President Hinckley is, and how thorough."
He added, "President Hinckley is the greatest tool we have as a Church, I think, because he is an ambassador for good among the movers and shakers of the world."
Next to the Church president, the elements of the Church that impressed people the most, the Snows said, were the Church's humanitarian work and BYU. "It wasn't the buildings at BYU," he said. "It was always the students."
With all the experiences they have had, Elder and Sister Snow value those with their family the most.
"We've tried to tell our children," Elder Snow said, "and they've come to understand the truth of what my great-grandfather said: Having been so richly blessed, we can't withhold what we have from those in the world that need it. We have to give something back."
Though Elder Snow has served in many callings, the most important roles to him are being a “dad, a husband, and a disciple of Christ. The only things I’m interested in are being those things.”
Elder Snow was born on January 2, 1944, in St. George, Utah, to Rulon A. and Marian M. Snow. He met his future wife, Tamara Ann Means Snow, while both were students at Brigham Young University. The couple was married on September 8, 1966, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They have five children.
Elder Snow was serving as an Area Seventy in the Utah North Area prior to his call to serve as a member of the Seventy full-time.
Elder Snow’s other Church service includes area executive secretary, Church hosting
director, mission president, stake and ward Young Men president, counselor in a stake presidency, bishop,
bishop’s counselor, branch president, and full-time missionary in the West German Mission.
Elder Snow served in the Second Quorum of the Seventy until his release Octover 1, 2011.