‘Everything about temples reflects love’ — LDS leader who oversaw temple design and construction dies

General authority Seventy Dean M. Davies dies after “extended battle with cancer” fives days short of his 70th birthday.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Dean M. Davies, a Latter-day Saint general authority who once oversaw the church’s real estate, temple design and temple construction projects, died Tuesday night. He was 69.

Dean M. Davies, a general authority who once oversaw real estate, temple design and temple construction projects for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has died.

The Salt Lake City native was 69.

“With tender feelings, we announce that Elder Dean M. Davies of the Seventy died after an extended battle with cancer Tuesday night in North Salt Lake,” a Wednesday new release from the church said. He would have turned 70 on Saturday.

Davies, who is survived by his wife, Darla, their five children and 17 grandchildren, was named a general authority Seventy in October 2020. Before that, he served as a counselor for eight years in the Presiding Bishopric, the ecclesiastical office that manages the Utah-based faith’s vast financial, real estate, investment and charitable operations.

Before becoming a general authority, Davies was a managing director of the church’s Special Projects Department. In that role, he oversaw temple design and construction.

Davies went on a full-time mission to the Uruguay/Paraguay Mission. He received his bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from church-owned Brigham Young University, and also completed advanced executive programs at Stanford and Northwestern universities.

Davies previously served as president of the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission, as a mission president’s counselor, a stake (regional) president, a stake president’s counselor, a stake executive secretary, a high councilor and within several bishoprics.

Davies was born in Salt Lake City in 1951, according to a biography on the church’s website. He was one of eight children.

“As a teenager,” Davies said in the bio, “having the best-cut lawn in our neighborhood brought joy to me, and I learned an important lesson: that a little extra effort can make a real difference in almost everything we do.”

He married Darla James in 1973 in the Salt Lake Temple.

(The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Dean M. Davies and his wife, Darla, sing a duet in Spanish of “Love One Another” at a Latter-day Saint stake conference in Puerto Rico on Feb. 18, 2018. Dean Davies died Tuesday at age 69.

The Church News reported in 2016 that before working for the church, Davies held executive positions in several large corporations. When senior leadership told him that his church service would interfere with his ability to succeed in the corporate world, he submitted his resignation.

“The Lord guides and directs you if you’re open to the whisperings of the Spirit,” he told the Church News. “He will lead you to know what to say, what to do or what information to have if you will invite him and invite the Spirit into the process.”

Davies’ most recent General Conference talk, “Come, Listen to a Prophet’s Voice,” was given during an October 2018 session.

During this address, he shared a story of working with then-church President Gordon B. Hinckley to secure a site for the Vancouver Temple in British Columbia. Davies and his colleagues believed they had found a perfect spot for the temple, Davies said, but Hinckley, using “the gift of prophetic seership,” guided them to “where God’s temple should stand.”

“Listening to and hearkening to living prophets will have profound, even life-changing effects in our lives,” Davies said at that time. “We are strengthened. We are more assured and confident in the Lord. We hear the word of the Lord. We feel God’s love. We will know how to conduct our lives with purpose.”

(Courtesy of The Church News and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Elder Dean M. Davies, a general authority Seventy, speaks during groundbreaking for the Syracuse Temple on June 12, 2021. Davies died Tuesday at age 69.

On June 12, 2021, Davies spoke at the northern Utah groundbreaking for the Syracuse Temple, where he said, “everything about temples reflects love. Love of the Father and the Son, love of living prophets and the love of church members throughout the world.”

Funeral arrangements are pending.