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Hi I'm Richard

I converted to the church in New Zealand and was baptized my senior year of high school. I'm a Mormon.

About Me

Roger, Tom, and Bob played volleyball and basketball on their Bakersfield ward teams in the 1960’s. Roger moved to Placerville, CA and soon Tom joined Roger in Placerville. Bob became a high school Spanish teacher in Bakersfield. When I started high school, I learned that our freshman basketball team would have a new coach, Tom. We heard he had been a star on the Southern Utah State College basketball team, and after seeing him play a few times, we could believe it! His agility on the court was an inspiration to us. As we went through the rigors of daily practice, we were excited to see our new coach in action. And he was a disciplinarian. He would not allow any of the team members to swear, cheat, or use tobacco or alcohol. He trained us hard, but he made practice fun. He also made us believe in ourselves and in our ability to win. We ended up with a 14-2 record for the season. I was even more impressed with Tom off the court. He was clean-cut, fun-loving and always friendly to everyone. He invited the whole team over to his home for a team party. I could feel a warm, loving spirit there. I learned he was a Mormon. His religion seemed to play such a big part in making him the kind of person he was. He was always willing to answer my questions, and he gave me a copy of Joseph Smith’s Testimony, the Book of Mormon and the book, "The Mormon Story.” Our new coach left at the end of the school year to teach at the Church College of New Zealand.

Why I am a Mormon

The next season, my junior varsity coach was Tom’s friend from Bakersfield, Roger Campbell. I had a similar positive experience playing for Roger. He played with a real love for the game that rubbed off on his players. Roger’s infectious sense of humor insured everyone had a good time on his team. Tom Means wrote me frequently over the next two years and invited me to visit him in New Zealand. At the end of my junior year, I did just that, and spent the summer with him and his family. Tom and his wife Marge served in a student ward where Tom was the bishop. Tom coached the school’s basketball team to win the National Championship. It was in their home that I first attended Family Home Evening and decided I wanted to learn about the Church. I wanted the kind of happiness they had in their family. I studied with the stake missionaries and gained a testimony. When I returned home for my senior year, I was baptized by my new bishop & former coach, Roger Campbell. Roger treated me like one of his own children and carefully guided me as a recent convert. He took me home teaching and had me speak in sacrament meeting, regularly. As a family activity, we rode our bicycles from Lake Tahoe, CA to Provo, UT. After my mission to Sapporo, Japan, we took another bike trip from Palmyra, NY to California. Tom Means was a witness at our sealing when my wife Donna and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple. Roger and Tom and their families have been powerful examples to our family. As we raised our children, we wanted the blessings of missions and temple marriage for them that have been so important in Roger and Tom’s families. But the story doesn’t end there. Their friend from Bakersfield, Bob Gabbitas, became my son’s mission president in the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission. He had a wonderful influence in molding my son into a happy and effective missionary. These three friends from Bakersfield have made a great difference to my family.

How I live my faith

I have had the privilege to serve in numerous callings in the church including 17 years as a counselor in several bishoprics, and as a branch president, and as a bishop. The example of faithful service of the people I have served with has been an inspiration to me as I have grown in the gospel. One experience my wife and I had recently was to have the full-time missionaries live in our home for two years. These wonderful young men serve at their own expense to share the gospel with others. They come from varied backgrounds but all have a sincere desire to be of service and teach others about the church. An additional blessing for our family has been to do the temple work for hundreds of our ancestors. While I am the only church member from the family I grew up in, I am happy to know there are many family members on the other side of the veil that have had the sealing ordinances of the temple performed for them. Families are meant to be eternal, not just for this life.