That new direction would set the course for the rest of his life. Pace, who died Tuesday at age 77, went on to become a Mormon general authority, serving his church full time for more than three decades, including stints in the Presiding Bishopric and as head of welfare services.
Known for his sense of humor and love of LDS history, Pace was born March 21, 1940, in Provo to Kenneth LeRoy Pace and Elizabeth Anna Wilde. He graduated from Provo High School and attended Brigham Young University before serving a Mormon mission in New England.
On June 7, 1963, he married Jolene Clayton in the Salt Lake Temple. Pace completed his BYU education with a master's degree in accountancy and parlayed that into work as a certified public accountant and in real estate development.
Already managing director of the church's Welfare Department (1981-1990), Pace was called as a general authority in 1985, becoming second counselor to then-Presiding Bishop Robert D. Hales, who now serves as an LDS apostle.
The presiding bishop and his two counselors tend to the vast real estate and commercial holdings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In 1992, Pace joined the faith's First Quorum of the Seventy and was the first president of the Australia Sydney North Mission; he also served stints as head of the North America Northwest and Northeast areas, and the Africa West Area.
He gained emeritus general authority status in October 2010.
"I have had many wonderful assignments. Now it's time to focus on my most important one: Dad and Grandpa," he said at the time.
A frequent speaker at the Utah-based faith's twice-yearly General Conferences, Pace's final churchwide sermon came in April 2007, when he urged fellow Mormons to trust their "spiritual sense" to reaffirm faith in Mormon founder Joseph Smith's prophetic gifts.
"At 11 years of age, I knew Joseph Smith was a prophet of God," Pace said then. "I didn't hear voices, see angels, or anything like that. What I felt was much more certain. ... I felt elation springing forth from the innermost part of my being, which is protected from all deceit."
Pace, who had a history of heart problems, died in his Bountiful home surrounded by family and friends. An obituary noted that his final words to those keeping vigil were to, "Look around you, notice the one who is hurting and love them."
A public viewing is set for 6 p.m. Friday at the Bountiful 13th LDS Ward, 1350 N. 650 East. Funeral services will be held at the same location at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, preceded by another public viewing from 11 a.m. to noon.
Editor David Noyce contributed to this story.