Richard D. King had been member of the Church a year when he was elected student body vice president at the University of California at Berkeley in the late 1950s. Nevertheless, he was surprised when many of the student body staff were members of the Church. The university has not been known for its conservative student population.

"I liked them," he said, speaking of his college colleagues. "I liked their quiet integrity, their character, their competence about doing a good job and not worrying about whether they got applause for it. I thought, 'This is a religious philosophy which not only saves people in the hereafter, but which also makes the most of people here.' "So the young man deepened his faith and sought to develop those same qualities. Today, more than 40 years later, those qualities are serving him well as the newly appointed world president of Rotary International -- a global network of some 30,000 community-based service clubs with about 1.2 million members. This is actually the second time a Church member has served as world president of Rotary. Elder Richard L. Evans of the Quorum of the Twelve served as president from 1966 to 1967.

Brother King, 61, of the Central Park Ward, Fremont California South Stake, will begin his official 2001-2002 term in July 2001. He is serving as president-nominee until July of this year, and then as president-elect. However, he said, his term comes out more to three years.

During the next 30 months, he will travel in his new capacity to Burma, South Africa, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, China and Mongolia promoting and strengthening Rotary clubs. And with him every mile will be his wife, Cherie.

To discuss this new appointment, Brother King recently stopped in the Church News office in Salt Lake City with his wife, and Utah Rotary district governor Danny Brock and his wife, Kelly.

"Rotary is a miracle," Brother King said during the visit. "In an era of wars and strife all over the world, Rotary comprises every religious faith, every color, creed, nationality, language and culture on the face of the globe. All over, these people, who are people of business prominence, come together every week and strive to do good in the world."

Rotary International, which was established Feb. 23, 1905, has a permanent delegation with the United Nations and works with countries in economic development.

Rotary has immunized more than 1.3 billion children against polio, is battling the last vestiges of the disease in Africa and Southeast Asia, and is involved in anti-hunger campaigns, literacy programs, medical clinics, orphanages and many other service-oriented projects the world over.

"From a very personal point of view," Brother King explained, "I see Rotary as an extension of our faith, wherein the Lord tells us to love others, whether they are Latter-day Saints or not. In fact, two or three people I've baptized I've met in Rotary. Everywhere I go they know I'm a member of the Church. They call on me to give the prayer because they know Latter-day Saints are on easy terms with our Father in Heaven."

Brother King, senior partner in the California law firm, King, King and King, joined Rotary International in 1968. Over the years, he has served as the organization's international director, as chairman of the executive board, as trustee of the Rotary foundation, as district governor and on various committees. In his Church capacities, he has served as elders quorum president, high priests group leader, high councilor and Sunday School president and teacher. From 1962 to 1963, he taught English and law in the College of Business at BYU.

His wife, with whom he has two sons, said her husband is a leader. "My husband is able to motivate people and actually change their direction. He brings spiritual guidance as to what needs to be done. He treats everyone as a child of God."

In fact, spiritual lessons -- even those directed at Brother King -- often appear unexpectedly in relation to Rotary. He related how when he was serving as a district governor, a local club president called on him to go to a hospital to confer a Rotary medal on a critically ill club member. Brother King, his eyes filling with tears, recalled how he momentarily forgot himself and replied that he was very busy but he would take the time.

He arrived at the hospital, entered a room filled with Rotary members surrounding the bed of the sick man, and conferred the medal. "I started to stand up; the patient grabbed me by my necktie. He pulled me down so he could whisper, 'Now, Brother King, would you give me a blessing?' You can imagine I didn't feel so important any more. I prayed that the Lord would bless this man through me, even though I didn't feel worthy to do it. I thought, 'If ever I learned a lesson about what's most important in life, the Lord has gently reminded me today.' "

That's what Brother King often finds in Rotary International -- reminders of what is most important.