Marvin Ezra Clark: His Many Hundreds
He went a hundred miles to perform two hundred endowments at a hundred years of age—well almost a hundred.
Marvin Ezra Clark is ninety-eight years old, and he loves going to the temple, even though the nearest one—the Logan Temple—is about a hundred miles from his home in Georgetown, Idaho. But that hasn’t stopped Brother Clark from doing the two hundred temple endowments that were his goal this past year. Since he no longer drives, Brother Clark must depend on finding rides.
He takes them when he can get them. For example, he went with one group on a Friday evening for two sessions, returning home well after midnight. He sat dressed in a chair for four hours without going to bed so he would be ready when another group left for Logan at four in the morning to do three more sessions. “Going to the temple never makes me tired,” he beams.
There’s one more “hundred” that’s important in Marvin Clark’s life—his home teaching service. Until he became ill in late 1987, Brother Clark had never missed a month of 100-percent home teaching in eighty-five years.
Furthermore, he sang in the ward choir until his mid-eighties, when he became so deaf that he couldn’t hear the notes.
Marvin Clark’s longevity derives from his love of actively serving, as well as from his physically active life on the family farm. In summers, he still repairs fences and clears away weeds and rocks. But the activity that keeps him strong and fit at ninety-eight is chopping and sawing wood for the wood-burning stove that heats his home. Behind his house stands a monument to his energy—a neat handcut stack of logs that should give many years’ worth of fires—energy to burn.
Hortense Beers: Waving Us On
Long before the Church started the consolidated meeting schedule, Hortense Beers was the chorister in her Ogden (Utah) ward. With her pleasant enthusiasm, she always considered being chorister more than merely leading the music. She was leading people—particularly the youth. Sister Beers had a way of getting them to participate as no one else could.
We did not always want to lead a song, organize a program, take part in a lesson, accompany the singing, or be in a quartet, but because of her we all did it. To this day, we remember the triumphs she urged upon us. If we were “reluctant dragons,” she never showed that she knew it.
For forty years now, Hortense has given her ward members the opportunity to lead the singing in Sunday School. At one time she developed what she called her “music staff” to teach us all how to lead a congregation in song. She turns ninety this summer and still teaches conducting.
Her “staff” has ranged from scared eleven-year-olds to returned missionaries; even a few mothers and fathers found themselves in front of the congregation with arm poised for the downbeat. Each week she trained as many as half a dozen or more boys and girls in her living room to lead with a firm upraised arm, to study a song so there would be no “surprises,” and to learn all the ways to be a graceful and successful chorister. Only when one was ready did she schedule his or her first performance.
It is anyone’s guess how many hours Sister Beers spent calling to make appointments and working with the boys and girls, teaching them all they needed to know before their debut. After that initial scary plunge into leading the music, there were always plenty of opportunities for them to gain experience. They gradually lost their fears as their skills increased.
Over the years, the reluctance of Hortense’s students changed to anticipation. The youth of the ward began to eagerly await her call to begin training. It became a status symbol to be on Hortense’s staff. Young people would telephone and ask, “Sister Beers, don’t you think I’m old enough to begin?”
Not one missionary went into the mission field unprepared to lead the singing. If President McKay taught us “Every member a missionary,” Sister Beers taught us “Every one a chorister.” Whenever a missionary left, Sister Beers gave him a telescoping baton and asked him to lead the singing one last time. When he returned, she welcomed him back with another “opportunity.” As he led us with skill and confidence, we realized that for the past two years his competency as a chorister had been used dozens of times, and a little bit of Sister Beers had been in faraway places.
She trained us well. What a legacy she has given to the hundreds of young people who dared to follow her teaching! What a gift she has given to all the Church! Her influence continues to spread.
Wilford E. Thatcher: Leaving His Mark
The scriptures are so close to Wilford E. Thatcher’s heart that he felt impelled to help his forty-three grandchildren develop that same love for the words of eternal life.
He decided on marking a set of scriptures for each child. “I read and mark passages—as well as make notes in the margins—that I believe apply to that child’s life,” he says. I also inscribe my testimony of the great power of the scriptures in the front with this message: ‘I have underlined passages that I think might be a guide and an inspiration to you throughout your life.’”
He usually gives a leather-bound set of scriptures to each grandchild around the age of baptism—“or whenever I can complete my marking,” he smiles. One young granddaughter expressed the anticipation that has grown in the family as a result when—at only six years of age—she asked her mother, “Do you think Grandpa has had time to mark my set of scriptures yet?”
Along with his scripture gifts, Brother Thatcher has been preparing a brief history of his life in the Portland Oregon East Stake, where he has served as stake president and regional representative. He left the area for a few years to serve as mission president with his wife, Estella, in Anchorage, Alaska. They are now home again, where he is serving as stake patriarch.
Wilford Thatcher appreciates the scriptures for enabling him to maintain a high spiritual plane in life. By his example and his gifts of marked scriptures, he has helped his family do the same.