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Mary Crandall Hales Dies, Wife of Elder Robert D. Hales

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Mary Crandall Hales passed away incident to age on Sunday, January 15, 2023, at her home in North Salt Lake. She was 90. She joins her dear husband of 64 years in death, Elder Robert D. Hales (1932-2017), Apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Mary was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on August 6, 1932, to Gordon Crandall and Elene Clegg Crandall. As a young child, the family moved to California, and Mary and her siblings, three brothers and one sister, attended school in Los Angeles. After graduating from high school, Mary moved to Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University, where she studied nutrition.

Sister Hales and Elder Hales at the Brigham Young University Junior Prom in 1953.

The Crandall family moved to New York while Mary was studying at BYU, and during a visit to her family in the summer of 1952 she met a young man, Robert Dean Hales, a University of Utah student. They became acquainted that summer, returned to school in Utah in the fall and were married the following summer on June 10, 1953, in the Salt Lake Temple.

The Hales in 1975.

Mary was the loving mother of two sons, Stephen and David, who remember her as a refined, principled and self-sufficient woman with a firm commitment to the gospel and her family.

“Mom was so strong,” said oldest son, Stephen. “She demonstrated unconditional Christlike love and always encouraged us to be peacemakers, seek common ground and show empathy.”

Elder Hales later recalled how Mary’s support was vital to their family throughout his education, career and Church service: “Once, when I received a promotion, my boss told me that I wouldn’t be where I was without my wife,” said Elder Hales. “He said, ‘Mary is your greatest asset, and don’t you forget it.’ And I never have.”

After service in the military and graduation from a master’s program at Harvard, Elder Hales’s professional career took the family to live in England, Germany, Spain and several places in the United States—totaling 15 relocations in their early married life. Amidst the constant changes during this time, Stephen said his mother was at the center of providing consistency and security to him and his brother. He recalled the way she and his father would “signal” their next move by producing a plain white envelope at a family home evening with plane tickets and details of their next destination.

The Hales and their sons in 1969.

“Mom had a blueprint for winding up school, saying goodbyes and organizing learning experiences focused on our next destination,” said Stephen. “She helped us collect and pack the necessities, and all else was sent to family members or donated to those in need to teach us a willingness to share.”

Although moving was challenging, Mary met the task with independence and determination. Elder Hales once shared her ability to quickly adapt to their new home when they moved to Germany: “Mary got the boys into school, learned to find her way around the busy autobahn and eventually learned to speak German. This was typical. She has always made it work.”

As she traveled and lived around the world, she taught her children about the inclusive nature of the gospel of Jesus Christ and that each place had good people. “We learned by her example that we were guests in new lands,” said Stephen. “It was an opportunity to find new friends and new meanings and to think in new ways and glean new viewpoints.”

Elder Robert D. Hales
The Hales in General Conference in 2015.

The family’s experiences around the world prepared them for international assignments as Robert was called to full-time Church service in 1975. In April 1994, Elder Robert D. Hales was called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Mary enjoyed reading histories and biographies and had a lifelong love of learning. Upon returning to the United States after living overseas, she enrolled in extension courses in a broad range of study, including literature, psychology and accounting. In April 1982, she graduated from BYU with a degree in home and family development, as well as a minor in psychology.

When Elder Hales began suffering from health problems, he and Mary met them together with determination. Their motto, a Quaker proverb, “Thee lift me, and I’ll lift thee, and we will ascend together,” typified their ability to work together. Their son Stephen said his mother cared for his father “in every conceivable facet,” both spiritually and physically, for many years. “Her efforts enabled Dad to remain focused on his role as special witness of the living Savior to all he came in contact with.” Elder Robert D. Hales passed away on October 1, 2017, at age 85.

Elder Hales Funeral
Sister Hales at the graveside service for Elder Hales.

Mary often shared that her testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ began by following her parents’ examples and grew as she invested effort to seek out and understand truth wherever it was presented.

“She exercised her faith, harnessed truth as a guide in her life and grew through study and prayer, securing her faith into a sure knowledge of the restored gospel,” said son Stephen. “She taught us not only through her words, but through her actions. She will be remembered as one who loves the Lord, someone who passed faith and knowledge to rising generations.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.

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