The Church announced that General Authority Seventy Von G. Keetch passed away on January 26 “following a brief and sudden illness.” Elder Keetch was called as a General Authority Seventy in  April 2015 and was serving as the executive director of the Public Affairs department.

Prior to his full-time service in the Church, Elder Keetch was a litigator, typically taking on cases involving land use rights for religious groups. In addition, he was a law professor at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark law school and served on Utah’s Appellate Court Nominating Commission. He also worked as the Church’s chief outside legal council for many years, representing the Church in sexual abuse cases.

Elder Keetch gave one General Conference address in October 2015, “Blessed and Happy Are Those Who Keep the Commandments of God.” Keetch related a story about disgruntled surfers in Australia, frustrated that a mesh barrier had been set up outside a bay to serve as a breakwater. The barrier was ruining the waves, and thus, the surfing. However, upon closer inspection, the barrier actually kept out a number of sharks that were feeding on the reef just beyond the netting. And so it goes with God’s commandments – they can seem to be ruining all the fun, but they protect us from unknown dangers.

Von G. Keetch is survived by his wife, Bernice, and their six children.