President Gordon B. Hinckley's counsel for Church members to reach out to less-active members by fulfilling their needs for something to do - a responsibility, a friend, and nurturing with the good word of God, is close to the heart of Elder Ned B. Roueche.
A dance enthusiast from his youth, Elder Roueche was asked to do the floor show for a Church dance when he was 20 years old. The following Sunday, he was surrounded by newly made friends from the dance during Church meetings and was nurtured by priesthood leaders and others. That led to a full-time mission, service in various callings in the Church, and finally to his call as a General Authority. He was sustained a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy during April general conference.As a young man attending the University of Utah, he was also taking dancing lessons at a studio in Salt Lake City. So he was pleased to accept an invitation to participate in a ward dance, and was accompanied by a woman from the studio to be his partner. "I thought I was just part of the floor show, but when we got there, we were the floor show."
He enjoyed the dance and got better acquainted with others in the ward who watched him perform, including JoAnn Sheffield, whom he eventually married.
"I was asked to help," said Elder Roueche, a lifelong member of the Church. "I was given something to do. And that's important. You feel needed." Sometime after the dance, his future wife remembers him saying " `I felt this was what I wanted, and I knew that I never wanted the feeling to go away.' "
That experience in his early years has been a benefit to him since, in his Church service especially among the less active. "He has a great understanding for people," Sister Roueche said.
Elder Roueche added, "I have a special spot in my heart for the people who have the chance to come back, because there is opportunity for everyone to enjoy the fullness of the gospel. The gospel is something that no one should be without. Those who are without it don't realize what they are missing."
When Elder Roueche was born, he entered a family with a strong Utah heritage. He was reared in the west Kaysville family home where President John Taylor died. His great-grandfather was the first mayor of Kaysville and also was elected to the state Legislature.
According to Elder Roueche, 63, that heritage gives him something to live up to, and he believes he has been watched over. "I know my life has been preserved a lot of times," he said.
One time occurred on the family farm when he was 3 years old.
"I toddled down the road, past the neighbor's house and out in the field hunting my dad. He was cutting grain, but I missed him."
Young Ned found himself lost in a large field of mature oats with stalks so high that he couldn't see where to go to get out. Before he was found the following day, he ended up spending the night in the field as a large army of neighbors and other concerned people searched for him. In the process, the searchers stomped down many of the crops on the farm and drained a pond, killing all the fish in it. "I guess it was a major disaster area when they were through," Elder Roueche said. Many years later, a member of the search party, Glen Stewart, told Elder Roueche about wading down a ditch, searching under the bank and in the overgrown roots for the lost boy.
Another searcher, Ben Webster, had grown up with Elder Roueche's father and was a good friend of the family. Elder Roueche said, "Ben Webster came down to the farm and said, `I'll find your boy, Leonard,' and he did. I feel that he was inspired and directed. I still remember him picking me up. He said I was really chewed up by mosquitoes and that if I hadn't been in excellent health, I may not have made it."
Despite that trauma, Elder Roueche was grateful for the farm where he learned to work in a loving family.
Although he and his future wife grew up in the same ward and went through Primary together, they didn't really know each other until Elder Roueche's floor-show performance. For their first date, Sister Roueche asked him to a girls'-choice dance at Davis High School in Kaysville. He said her parents went to the dance "to see what kind of a boy I was."
Elder and Sister Roueche dated regularly, doing simple things, they said. For example, he laughed, "One time I threw her into a snow bank and then bought her a malt." "I love malts," Sister Roueche added. Then she said, "I knew that he was my eternal companion."
But before their relationship went any further, Elder Roueche had a mission to fulfill - to Mexico. "I told her that if things are right, we'll be together when I get back," he said. Three months after he returned, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
After returning from his mission and getting married, Elder Roueche landed a job with IBM that served him and his family well for 31 years until he retired in 1993.
His career began with the company shortly after he attended one of its recruiting meetings and "decided this is what I really wanted because it was a combination of public relations and engineering." He had been studying electrical engineering at the University of Utah. He tested for the job and was told he needed some electronics engineering education.
"So I went up to Weber College and crammed three quarters into two. I took the test again and then called later in the afternoon to see how I had done. [The IBM representative] asked, `How do you think you did?' I told him, `I got them all right except one and I haven't covered that yet.' "
He was hired and ended up as a field engineering manager when he retired. And he was able to stay with the Salt Lake City office the entire time. He had opportunities to move up with the company if he would relocate, but Sister Roueche said, "We chose to stay here in our area so that we would have roots and we could care for our parents as they got older."
With the basic foundation of his life settled, he continued with valiant Church service. To begin with, he and his wife worked in the dance program. He went on to serve in the Young Men organization, as an elders quorum president, as a bishop and as a stake president's counselor. When he was released from the latter calling, he was called as a counselor in the Young Men presidency with responsibility for the teachers quorum. "I enjoyed the service with those young men, and it was shortly after that when I was called to be a mission president [in the Venezuela Barcelona Mission]."
Of their vast experiences, Elder and Sister Roueche spoke most fondly of parenthood.
They taught their children the law of tithing by paying them to dig dandelions and then helping them manage the money they received including giving the Lord His tenth. "We never sprayed the lawn so there would always be dandelions."
Once, for a family night lesson, they took their children, all less than 10 years old, to a grocery store and let each child independently buy a course for that evening's dinner. "We had chips, animal crackers, candy, all that junk stuff," Elder Roueche said. "Fortunately, we bought a can of soup or something so we wouldn't die." They repeated the exercise a few months later and the children, having learned a lesson, were able to dine on a nice meal that evening.
Sister Roueche said: "It's been a good life. I wouldn't trade one thing in my life. Not one."
Elder Roueche added: "We serve wherever we can, and love the people. I guess that's one thing we have to offer - love. I know that Jesus is the Christ and the Savior of the world. I know that He lives and I am grateful for His unconditional love and His tender mercy. I am grateful for the restoration and the fullness of His gospel through His prophets. I know it is true and is our path to salvation."
Elder Ned B. Roueche
Family: Born Aug. 5, 1934, to Leonard C and Ruth Lee Roueche in Salt Lake City. Married JoAnn Sheffield Nov. 21, 1958, in the Salt Lake Temple. Five children: daughters Shaun Hall, Ralene Eller, Allyson Lords and Julie Probst, and son Michael; 14 grandchildren.
Education: Studied electrical and electronic engineering at University of Utah and Weber State College.
Employment: Retired field engineering manager for IBM.
Church service: Former president of the Venezuela Barcelona Mission; member of an advisory committee in the Missionary Department; counselor in stake presidency; high councilor; bishop; temple worker; elders quorum president; Young Men president; and missionary in the Mexican Mission, 1956-58.