Jean S. Groberg

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John and Jean Groberg

Jean Sabin Groberg’s courtship to her husband, John H. Groberg, and their service in Tonga was dramatized in two feature films, “The Other Side of Heaven” and The Other Side of Heaven 2.”

Jean was born on August 30, 1934, in Payson, Utah. In 1940, Jean moved with her family to North Hollywood, California. After she graduated from North Hollywood High School, she attended Brigham Young University, where she met John Groberg on a blind date arranged by their older sisters. Portrayed in “The Other Side of Heaven,” they corresponded while he served a full-time mission in Tonga for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “His letters would come from so far away and would be written sometimes months ahead of the time he would finally find a boat to take them out. There would be times I would have a particular concern, and it seemed that I would get a letter from him just at the right time telling of an experience he had had or a lesson he had learned that held the very answer I needed. Often the letter had been written before the concern even existed, but it just seemed the timing was what it needed to be.”[1]

She earned a degree in elementary education and taught school in Anaheim, California.

After Groberg concluded his mission, Jean and John were married in the Los Angeles Temple on September 6, 1957. They eventually became parents to eleven children.

In 1976, her husband was called to serve as a General Authority. At the time of his call, she told the Church News, “I wanted him to be active in the Church and he has been very busy.”[2] Also at the time of his call, Elder Groberg described Jean as a woman of “great faith and tremendous support.” Her youngest child was only six weeks old when Jean and their five daughters departed for Tonga to serve as mission leaders in 1966. “I had heard John talk through the years of these people—their great faith, their love, and their service—and I didn’t have any worries. I was really excited about it.”[3]

In 1976, they were the parents of 10 children living in Honolulu, Hawaii where John presided as the Church’s South Pacific Area Supervisor and a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Their last daughter was born in Hawaii during their service.

Also during his full-time service in the Church of Jesus Christ, they spent three years in Buenos Aires, Argentina, four years in Hong Kong, and three years in Idaho Falls, Idaho. She traveled with him to his many assignments throughout the world, but he was also gone for extended periods.

On one occasion a call from the prophet to Elder Groberg conveyed this message: “Tell your wife you won’t be gone over six months on this special assignment (it turned out to be only two months), but we’re not sure how long it will be.” Of these times she spoke tenderly: “When your husband is giving his all, it doesn’t separate you even while he is away. It really doesn’t separate you. You are a part of it with him,” she explained. “It was his letters,” she said. And she had already developed a deep appreciation for his sensitive writing. “He would write such inspiring letters. His letters to us as a family had a profound influence on everything we did. They always have been such a strengthening influence,” she emphasized. “He would share what he could of his experiences and then he would come home and the girls would look forward to their daddy coming back and telling them really special and inspiring things that had happened on his trip.”[4]
“Even though he was not there, his influence was always there. . . . I just know that you have to keep going on the path, no matter what comes along. I do know the only way things will work out is to follow the path that the Lord has set out. I’ve always had a testimony of the fact that Heavenly Father put each of us on this earth at the right time and in the right place for our greatest development. . . . My parents taught me and I’ve come to know that it’s up to us to face life with faith and just never give up, knowing that the things that are happening are for our good.”[5]

Jean passed away in Bountiful, Utah, on October 8, 2021, from leukemia. }