What can you say about a man of God that would capture his personality in the purest way? President Boyd K. Packer, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church,”) is a man who is dedicated to the Lord Jesus Christ in every aspect of his life. Anyone can see his virtue and light by looking up his name on the Internet, or occasionally by watching him on T.V., because of his role in The Church of Jesus Christ; but what is he like behind the scenes?
Boyd K. Packer’s Personal Endeavors
Like all great men and women who have made a positive mark on the world, President Packer has an outlet for personal growth and development. For some this may be fishing, others exercising, but for President Boyd K. Packer it has been carving and painting—with a particular emphasis on carving and painting birds. “‘Carving was restful to me. Sometimes when I got a little stressed or cranky, my wife would say, ‘Well, you had better start another carving,'” says President Packer. “Bird carving kept my hands busy and my mind free to think, ponder, and pray’” (see LDS Living).
Not only is President Packer a masterful (and very humble) artist, he is a teacher above reproach. He decided to become a teacher on a military assignment in Japan. He said:
I was on Ie Shima, a tiny speck of an island off the northwest coast of Okinawa. A few days earlier the island had been destroyed by a typhoon of such ferocious power that large ships went down and planes were blown off the island. The storm was passed, and the war was over, and I had a future.
One calm, clear, moonlit night, I sat alone on a cliff high above the beach. Only a few days before, the ocean, so calm now, sent immense waves crashing over the top of that cliff. I sat for hours pondering and praying. I decided what to do with my future. I would be a teacher.
Since then he has served as a teacher in many different capacities. In 1949 he started working as seminary teacher—and having taught a year of seminary myself, I have a deep admiration for his influence in teaching teachers; especially treasured are the teachings from his book Teach Ye Diligently (for which he was the illustrator as well!) Two chapters from his book have particularly remained with me: 1) The chapter titled “Feed them When They are Hungry” (pp 137-138)—he and his wife made it a practice to feed the children when they came home from school (when they were most hungry), and this principle can readily be applied to the hungry student. And 2) The Teacher is a Visual Aid (pp 282-285)—where he explains the principle that students learn by reaching up, not over; meaning that the teacher should be an example to look up to in both appearance and in the attitude of “do as I do, and as I say.”
His ability to carve, paint, and teach are all great works of art. His approach to these personal endeavors (that in turn bless the world) is “beautifully simple and simply beautiful.”
Family Life at the Packer’s
Fortunately for me, I am blessed to have an angelic friend who happens to be Boyd K. Packer’s granddaughter, Natalie Brinton. After I asked her if I could ask her a few questions about “Grandpa,” she readily agreed. She was so hospitable—she even had a family history book out and showed me pictures of her grandparent’s property where she has fond memories from all throughout her growing up years.
Our conversation started like this… “A lot of people ask me what it is like to be related, and I say, ‘it’s a lot like having a grandpa, and I see him on T.V. every now and then.’” Natalie went on to say that Grandpa is not intimidating at all, and in fact he is very funny. She shared over and over again that family means the world to him. When Natalie was first married, he asked if she and her new groom could come and visit at his home. Brinton’s husband was nervous at first, but President Packer just wanted to get to know his new grandson. Christian (Natalie’s husband) even asked President Packer during their visit, “You have been married for over 60 years. What’s the secret to a successful marriage?” Grandpa replied, “That’s a sermon for another day; just cut each other a break, and you’ll be fine.” Natalie emphasized the fact that he is not preachy, he is just family—and if you want him to teach you gospel doctrine, you generally have to ask.
The Packers raised 10 children, and to date they have over 90 great grandchildren. When the Brintons’ took their new daughter to meat Great Grandpa, he sincerely told them that, “Every person in the family is so precious.” As I spoke with Natalie, it was evident that she knows the love that her grandfather has for his posterity, including herself. She even told of a story that illustrates how aware Grandpa is of each family member: When he went to visit the Carl Block art exhibit at the Museum of Art on the campus of BYU, the big group that surrounded him was his family. Christian Brinton was kind of hanging behind the big family group, and President Packer said with care, “Where’s Chris?”
Though President Packer isn’t “preachy” to his family, he surely teaches them many lessons by the example that he sets for them—and simply by the way he loves them. At the end of our sweet visit, as we were looking through pictures, she showed me a picture of a little carved boat floating on a duck pond; Natalie said that her dad had carved that boat. Having 10 children, and a teacher’s salary, it was special to learn that the things her dad remembers from growing up were riding horses around the property, doing things outside, and learning how to carve—just like his dad. Surely his legacy of putting family as his top priority will go on through all the generations of time. And it is evident through his granddaughter that his legacy of goodness and virtue will be passed down through his posterity.
President Packer’s Dedication to the Lord
President Boyd K. Packer is a man of God through and through. He is humble. He is prayerful. He is everything that is good and holy. His will is aligned with the will of the Lord;
and his efforts line up with His purpose, “To bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man ” (Moses 1:39). Though his body is getting old and frail, he is able to witness with more authenticity each and every day that Jesus is the Christ, the Redeemer of the world. Just this past General Conference (a bi-annual meeting where Mormons get to learn from their leaders) he shared his powerful witness of Jesus Christ by teaching through a poem he wrote, here is just an excerpt:
I now can say with all certainty
That I know and love the Lord.
I can testify with them of old
As I preach His holy word.
I know what He felt in Gethsemane
Is too much to comprehend.
I know He did it all for us;
We have no greater Friend.
I know that He will come anew
With power and in glory.
I know I will see Him once again
At the end of my life’s story.
I’ll kneel before His wounded feet;
I’ll feel His Spirit glow.
My whispering, quivering voice will say,
“My Lord, my God, I know.”
I invite you to learn more about President Boyd K. Packer, and what has made him who he is, by meeting with Mormon missionaries. These missionaries are called of God and have the great commission to bring others closer to Jesus Christ. I know and witness that President Boyd K. Packer is an especial witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. My heart overflows with gratitude for this great man who has given his life, fully dedicated to our God, and to his family.
 “The One of Pure Defense,” Teaching Seminary Pre-service Readings Religion 370, 471, and 475, (2004), 7–12.
 Boyd K. Packer, “The Things I know,” Ensign, May 2013.
Ashley Bell is a 22-year old wife, mother, BYU graduate, and member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Ashley loves to run, cook, garden, read, and most of all spend time with family and friends.