Pond Became “Like a Sacred Grove” for President Boyd K. Packer

Contributed By Gerry Avant, Church News editor

  • 10 July 2015

President Boyd K. Packer enjoyed going to a pond he and his sons built on their property. “It’s like a sacred grove to me,” he said.  Photo by Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The Packers moved closer to Church headquarters so he wouldn’t have to spend so much time commuting.
  • They bought the adjacent land, where they cleared a path through a dense thicket of trees and created a pond.
  • President Packer would often go to this place to think, and it became sacred to him.

“I do a lot of thinking here. … It’s kind of like a sacred grove to me.” —President Boyd K. Packer

When President Boyd K. Packer was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he and his wife, Sister Donna Smith Packer, decided to move closer to Church headquarters so he wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time commuting to their home, which was then in Lindon, Utah. They found a home on enough acreage where they could have a garden and keep animals and birds so their children could have daily chores. In those days, before widespread development, the home was essentially in the country.

They bought adjacent land on which he and their sons cleared a path through a dense thicket of trees and bushes and created a pond. Ever since he was a young boy, he enjoyed painting things in nature, particularly birds. The little pond and surrounding woods attracted all kinds of birds: geese, ducks, pheasants, oriole, pine siskin, waxwing, redpoll, evening grosbeak, goldfinch, and woodpecker.

Among the highlights of my visits to the Packers’ home over the years was going to the pond with President and Sister Packer to feed his feathery friends. On September 12, 2009, I met with them in their home for an interview on the occasion of his 85th birthday. After they posed for Scott G Winterton, a Deseret News photographer, to take pictures of them in their backyard, President Packer asked if we were in a hurry to leave. We assured him we were in no rush.

“Let’s go feed the ducks,” he said. He walked us through the house and out the front door and told us to wait in the driveway. He went back into the house. After a few minutes, the garage door opened and there, sitting in the driver’s seat of a golf cart, was President Packer. “Hop on and I’ll give you a ride,” he said. He explained that he was having problems walking so he had taken to riding the cart the short distance to the pond.

We rode past a rather large garden (from which Sister Packer gave us raspberries as we left) and down a lane. Stopping at the pond, President Packer got off the golf cart and, with the aid of a walking stick, made his way to a barrel containing bird feed, dipped up a scoopful, and scattered it on the water. Ducks congregated at our feet. Scott took several photos.

President Packer told us how he and his sons had built the pond and how much he had enjoyed it. He said he went to the pond often, when he was home and able. “I enjoy looking at the ducks, geese, and other birds and being outdoors,” he said. “I do a lot of thinking here. … It’s kind of like a sacred grove to me.”

Everyone, he said, needs to find a special place to go, a place to enjoy nature, to think, ponder, and pray.

Scott and I left feeling grateful that President Packer had shared his special place with us.