Elder Backman spent most of his childhood in South Africa while his father served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s South African Mission.

Robert married Virginia Picket in 1941. They have seven daughters, 31 grandchildren, and 56 great-grandchildren. After Virginia’s passing, he married Janet Rigby, and lives still in Salt Lake City.

He is the oldest living emeritus General Authority in the Church. He takes pride in his good health. He still walks two miles each morning and continues to be very sharp mentally.

Robert and Janet — 2010

Law Career

As many men of his time, he served in the U.S. Army during WWII. Immediately following the war, he enrolled in law school at the University of Utah—beginning his acclaimed law career. Practicing law for 25 years, he was also a member of the Utah House of Representatives.

Robert — WWII

Church Service


Robert has spent much of his life serving in the church:

  • Full-time missionary in the Northern States
  • Mission President of the Northwestern States Mission.
  • Salt Lake City Parley’s First Ward Bishopric Member
  • Salt Lake City Parley’s Stake Presidency Member
  • Regional Representative for the Church
  • President of the Aaronic Priesthood MIA
  • Member of the First Quorum of the Seventy
  • General Young Men’s President
  • Executive Director of the Missionary Department
  • Member of the Presidency of the Seventy
  • Vice-chair to the Sesquicentennial Committee
  • President of the Jordan River Utah Temple
  • Boy Scouts of America:
    • BSA National Executive Board
    • BSA Varsity Scouting Committee
    • Community Development Committee of World Scouting Organization (Geneva, Switzerland)
    • Silver Antelope 1983
    • Distinguished Eagle Scout
    • Silver Buffalo 1986


Click here to find talks given by Elder Backman.

If you have any questions, please email Jim Backman at backmanj@law.byu.edu

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