W. Brent Hardy is one of the unsung heroes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is well-known to locals in the Las Vegas area for his devoted service to the Church. He has accomplished a great deal in his lifetime. He is one of
my favorite people in the Church and for that reason I want to tell you about him and how I came to know him.
In 1974 I met W. Brent Hardy just a couple months after joining the LDS Church. I was a business major at Clark County Community College
which later became Community College of Southern Nevada and finally College of Southern Nevada. In one of my business classes the instructor asked us to find out what makes a business leader successful. The question we were to ask the person interviewed was
"What principles, methods, or policies have made you the success that you are today?"
Being a convert to the LDS Church I didn't know too many people in business other than a few people who worked in my father's casino and most them were Mafia
types. Everyone in my stake told me that I should interview W. Brent Hardy since he was a most righteous man. I suggested I might talk to the stake president James K. Seastrand but an attractive girl in my class named Twila said he was too busy talk but Brother
Hardy won't let you down and you won't be sorry because he is an amazing man. I wondered what made him so special when I heard where he worked.
He was the owner of O.K. Tire in North Las Vegas which wasn't too far away from the Clark County Community
College where I was attending. They all told me he was a nice person that would sit down and talk with me. I called him up and set up an appointment. We met in his office on N. Las Vegas Boulevard which was few miles up the road from the original campus which
was across the street from a furniture store by a railroad track.
At first blush he didn't look like a high-powered business man but in the first few minutes I learned he was a very unusual man. He was dressed in coveralls like most tire guys
wear in putting on tires. He was a clean cut middle-age guy that had a warm smile and was very down to earth. Looking at him you would guess he was just some good old boy that owned a tire store.
This proved to be far from the case. The first
thing he talked about was how he had designed a wireless microphone. This confused me since he had a couple of tire stores. I wondered why he didn't have a manufacturing plant for microphones. He said he had the patent on one of the first wireless microphones
ever invented. He told me that innovation and adaptability were strong components of his business success. He told me how he was active in business affairs in the community and served on the Ensign Federal Credit Union. It was charted in 1961 to serve members
of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Las Vegas North Stake, today it serves nearly 9,000 members throughout Southern Nevada. He served on their board for twenty-four years. He later went on to form another credit union the Bank of North
Las Vegas in the area.
He told me about his church service. He had involvement with Taiwan going back almost twenty years before. In December 1958 President W. Brent Hardy, the second counselor in the mission presidency, organized the Northern
and Southern Districts in Taiwan. In July 1968 he was made a mission president in the Southern Far East Mission located in Hong Kong which included Taiwan, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Thailand in its area.
In 2002 Grant
Heaton on the Thailand Bangkok Mission site wrote: "W. Brent Hardy was born on October 14, 1933 in La Verkin, Utah. He served his mission in the Southern Far East Mission in the 1950's. At that time, the mission included the entire
southeast Asia area and so, President Hardy had the opportunity to serve in Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Philippines and Guam. President Hardy became the Mission President of the Southern Far East Mission in 1968 and finished as President of the Hong Kong Mission
in 1971. The mission was divided three times during that period of time (see History). President Hardy graduated from Hurricane High School and earned a degree in Economics at the University of Utah. He also served in the Army for two years. President Hardy
has been Bishop, Regional Representative and Mission Representative of the Twelve for Taiwan, Hong Kong and Vietnam Regions, Stake Patriarch for North Las Vegas, Youth Sunday School Teacher (17 year olds) 26 years continuously. He is currently the Temple President
of the Hong Kong Temple. Sister Elaine Taylor Hardy was born July 1, 1935 in Ogden, Utah. Sister Hardy also served in the Southern Far East Mission from 1958 to 1960. She graduated from Weber High School and attended Utah State University. Sister Hardy has
served as Spiritual Living instructor, Gospel Doctrine teacher, Primary, Young Women, Secretary for Patriarch 24 years, Companion to the mission president, and Hong Kong China Temple Matron. President Hardy is currently serving as the Temple President at the
Hong Kong China Temple. President and Sister Hardy were married in the Salt Lake Temple and now have five children -- Dianne, Warren, Rebecca, Hance and Jared -- and seventeen grandchildren. (Submitted by President Grant Heaton)
R. Lanier Britsch
described Brent Hardy's influence as a counselor to President W. Grant Heaton: "By the end of 1957 the elders had baptized more than fifty Chinese, and by mid-1958 the work was moving ahead at a satisfactory pace. By then there were 286 local members, 184
of whom were in Taipei. In the first quarter of 1958, the elders extended the work to Tainan and Taichung, and soon after to Kaohsiung and other cities in the south.
But the Church did not take hold in Taiwan quite as quickly as it did in Hong
Kong. There were several reasons for this. President Heaton did not assign as many missionaries there as in Hong Kong. He could not visit Taiwan very often—about quarterly—and did not feel comfortable having many elders and sisters away from his
direct supervision. This led to feelings of separateness among many of the Taiwan workers. When Heaton or his counselors visited Taiwan, at least until September 1958, the missionaries treated them coolly, and when the leaders were gone, the Taiwan elders
disregarded some mission rules and directions. But during the last part of 1958, President Heaton assigned his counselor, W. Brent Hardy, to live in Taiwan and act as president. This change brought the desired effect, and from then on the work progressed at
a faster pace.
A change in local political conditions at about the same time also had a good effect. During August and September 1958, Communist China and the Republic of China almost went to war. Elder Hardy related that tensions were extremely
high during this time and that the missionaries were not sure whether they could stay. At approximately the same time that the threat of war was at its height, the missionaries held an islandwide meeting in which they prayed that they could remain and pledged
their loyalty to the Lord, the Church, the Chinese people, and each other. Within a few days the danger of war passed, and by the end of the year new investigators were studying the restored gospel. As the two powers settled into the uncomfortable peace that
has endured to the present, the level of propaganda was reduced somewhat in Taiwan, and the people had an opportunity to think about matters other than war. From that time on, the LDS missionaries had better success.
Evidently the missionaries
did not encounter as much poverty in Taiwan as they had in Hong Kong. The mission records do not mention shortages of food, housing, or medical attention. Education, too, seems to have been adequate and steadily improving. President Heaton and the Taiwan elders
did have a difficult time finding suitable property for chapels. By the time of Heaton's release, the Church had acquired no property. Meeting facilities were poor. Related to the property matter was official registration of the Church. The Church needed to
own property before it could register. Hence, buying property took on additional importance. (From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998, p. 253-255).
Also R. Lanier Britsch in his
book From the East said about Brent Hardy's times as a mission president: "W. Brent Hardy, fifth president of the mission, was also a businessman. He had served in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the early years of the mission and knew well the Mandarin and Cantonese
languages and Chinese ways. His wife, too, spoke Cantonese. He worked closely with local leaders to strengthen the Chinese Saints. Virtually all programs of the Church were in use in Hong Kong and Taiwan by this time, and members were generally struggling
with the same problems as the Saints elsewhere in the world. "President Hardy," said William S. Bradshaw, who followed him as mission president in Hong Kong, "had the mammoth responsibility of seeing the Church undergo organizational changes in many, many
countries." 2 He was referring to the separation of Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Vietnam into the new Southeast Asia Mission in 1969, the reassimilation of South Vietnam a short time later, and the creation of the Taiwan Mission in January 1971.
Being involved in these changes was time-consuming and taxing on his energies. President Hardy also worked at acquiring new property for chapels." (From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998,
Lani Britsch also said about Hardy's involvement in that region: "On March 19, 1968, about a month after President Keith E. Garner took the first six missionaries to Thailand, he sent Elders Todd Bake, Joel Richard III, Kim Shipley, and
Melvin Shurtz to Singapore to begin proselyting work. Their efforts were soon rewarded when Alice Tan was baptized on May 4, 1968, and other local people joined the Church soon after.
By October 1968 additional missionaries had joined the staff,
new converts had joined the Church, and the Singapore government had recognized the Church as a legal corporation. On October 13, one day after the registration of the Church, President W. Brent Hardy, who had replaced President Garner, organized the Singapore
Branch. He called a missionary, Elder John McSweeney, as branch president. Seventy-five people were in attendance at the organizational meeting, half of whom were investigators. Nearly forty people joined the Church between the arrival of the elders in March
and the end of 1968.
In April 1969 Elder Ezra Taft Benson, then supervisor of Asian missions, visited Singapore and, under authority from President David O. McKay, dedicated the nation for the preaching of the restored gospel. The service was
held on the evening of April 14 on Mount Faber. Forty-five Saints, including President and Sister W. Brent Hardy, attended. In his address to the group, Elder Benson made two statements that he also reiterated in his prayer: "We expect confidently that thousands
upon thousands of people in this choice country will hear the message and will accept the gospel, and that this may someday become a center from which the gospel can be directed and sent into other countries which have not yet heard the message of the restored
gospel." And again, "This will be a training ground for missionaries and others who will be able to go out from here to carry the message to other nations in Asia." In the decades that have followed, Singapore has played a much larger role in the growth of
the Church than could have been foreseen when Elder Benson's words were uttered. Singapore has been the hub from which hundreds of missionaries have been sent to serve in various nations of South and Southeast Asia and from which the various programs of the
Church have emanated.
Church leaders in Salt Lake City evidently had much more in mind for Singapore than Elder Benson was at liberty to discuss at the dedicatory service, for not long after that the First Presidency called G. Carlos Smith Jr.
to preside over the soon-to-be-organized Southeast Asia Mission. This mission was to encompass Burma, Brunei, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Far East Mission president W. Brent Hardy (fourth from right), missionaries, members,
and friends gathered atop Mount Faber overlooking Singapore to witness Elder Ezra Taft Benson dedicate that nation for the preaching of the restored gospel on 14 April 1969. (Courtesy Greg Gubler) Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam, most of which were new to
LDS efforts. When the Smiths arrived in Singapore on October 24, they had the pleasant experience of moving into an established branch where the missionaries and members had affairs well organized. Two days later, on October 26, Elders Ezra Taft Benson and
Bruce R. McConkie met with the Smiths and the missionary force to officially initiate the mission. "Under the direction of President Smith," wrote Dale S. Cox, "the work was stepped up significantly, and the missionary force in Singapore was increased to 48
in the latter part of 1969. . . . Also during this period a comparatively large number of strong local men were baptized who were qualified to take responsible leadership positions." By the end of 1969, 118 people had entered the waters of baptism. Many of
the individuals and families who joined the Church in Singapore during the first several years have remained faithful and have provided strong leadership ever since.
Making the choice to become Latter-day Saints was usually not easy for Singaporeans.
Long-held ideas and family traditions made accepting the gospel a challenge. A. C. and Helen Ho, who were baptized in 1969, described how they overcame these obstacles:
The idea that there is such a thing as the "right church" hit us like a cannonball
at first and left us several painful days to ponder over the matter. It was our belief that all churches belong to God and if a man would choose any church and worship God in all sincerity, he would be on the right path. It had never occurred to us that a
particular church could be any "righter" than another until the missionaries introduced us to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. . . .
We had never heard of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints until the missionaries visited
us one evening at home. At first we were skeptical. The introduction of the Book of Mormon hit us like a second cannonball—this time with greater impact than the first. We had to examine and handle the book physically before accepting it as scripture.
It took us a while to read the Book of Mormon and pray before we accepted the gospel. We are glad that we have received the gospel in its fullness. It has changed our lives. It has also helped us realize our duties in serving our brothers and sisters and setting
the example by living according to the teachings of Christ. (From the East: The History of the Latter-day Saints in Asia, 1851-1996, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1998, pp. 453-457).
Truman Madsen in Presidents of the Church under the chapter
on Spencer W. Kimball tells a story W. Brent Hardy shared about calling Elder Kimball while mission president: "In far-off Asia, an elder with emotional problems was being kept in the mission home. One night the mission president and his wife woke to see the
young man with a knife, standing over them as they lay in their bed. When the elder left the room, the president phoned Elder Kimball, explained the situation and then said, "What do I do?"
Elder Kimball said, "Save him. The Lord bless you." He
never gave up on anyone."(Truman G. Madsen, The Presidents of the Church: Insights into their Lives and Teachings, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004).
the Hong Kong version of LDS.Org we learn: "President W. Brent Hardy, the new mission president, arrived in Hong Kong on 4 July 1968 to replace President Garner. The Elders Quorum held a farewell party for President Garner and his wife
on the evening of 3 July. On the 13th of the same month, President Hardy conducted the worship service at the Peak. There were about 400 people attending that service. The first thing that President Hardy did after assuming the office was to visit the quarters
of the missionaries. He also made a great effort to improve the leadership skills of local members. On 1 August, Sister Hardy gave birth to their fourth child in the Baptist Hospital in Kowloon. That was the second time that a child was born to a mission president
in Hong Kong. The first was the birth of President H. Grant Heaton’s daughter Lisa.