Rosie Hammond: Temple Trips to Go

Eighty-seven-year-old Rosalind Hammond proves just how vital an influence elderly members can have on others. Long before the October general conference when President Ezra Taft Benson invited elderly members to make their final years their best, Rosie Hammond was doing just that.

In 1983, Rosie began to wonder how she could get to the Los Angeles Temple regularly from her home in Victorville, some one hundred miles away. She didn’t drive and had no immediate family who could take her.

She prayed for inspiration and for a ride—both for herself and for others of the Victorville stake. At one point, the stake arranged for a bus one Friday a month to encourage priesthood attendance at the temple. But the bus trips continued for only a few months.

Rosie went to her bishop with the problem. She felt prompted to ask if their ward could sponsor their own bus if she could get enough people to commit to go. The bishop agreed. So she found the cost per seat for the round-trip, then went to work.

With the bishop’s approval, Rosie announced the first trip, signed up all the interested people she could find, and chartered a bus. At first, it was difficult to fill it. She was so committed to the idea, however, that she paid the cost of any unfilled seats herself. “I just couldn’t let the project fail,” she recalls. “I want the Lord to know that there are people in Victorville who are trying hard to accomplish his work.”

It took time, but finally there was a bus running to the temple consistently once a month. With phone calls and reminders and frequent expression of testimony, Sister Hammond would patiently and vigilantly fill her bus month after month.

After she had kept the bus filled for five years running, something interesting happened. Rosie’s stake president called for an increase of temple attendance. He urged a 100-percent increase. Rosie wondered how she could do that. “We only got there once a month, and could do only so much while we’re there,” she says.

Again she felt a prompting: put together another bus trip each month. So she did. Every other Tuesday, the second and fourth of each month, seats fill up on Rosie Hammond’s buses to the temple.

How did she do it? She first went to the regular attenders and asked for a commitment for a second trip each month. Twenty-seven people accepted the challenge. Most performed endowment ordinances; some did initiatory work. This gave Rosie another idea. She realized that people could go to the family history library and do research during the same hours. So she invited members and even persons who were members of other churches to join them on the trips, each for his or her own purpose.

Rosie Hammond’s personal sense of urgency about the importance of work for the dead has influenced many other lives. From her own carefully kept records of the temple bus trips, Rosie saw her companions during the first six months of 1987 accomplish 506 endowments, 215 sealings, 1,082 other ordinances, and 56 days of genealogical library research, this last by both members and others.

Besides her efforts to get herself and others to the temple, Rosie serves as ward librarian, Deseret Industries representative, visiting teacher, and Relief Society gardening instructor. For Rosie, life has never been fuller.

[photo] Photography by Jerry Garns

James A. Sundberg is a high councilor and public communications director in the Victorville California Stake.

Leroy Zimmerman: From MVP to “Coach Z”

The question sounds like one from a sports trivia quiz—Who was the LDS athlete named National Football League “Most Valuable Player” in 1944 as quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, who also pitched fourteen Softball World Series games and won twelve of them?

The answer—Leroy Zimmerman—will stir dusty memories for longtime sports fans. Brother Zimmerman, who serves as high priests group leader in the Madera Second Ward, Fresno California West Stake, has retired—almost—from sports.

An injury forced him to retire from pro football at the age of thirty-two. He then coached both college and high school teams—the last fifteen years at Madera High School. And he is still coaching numerous young people who have worn a bare spot in his otherwise well-manicured lawn by their pitching practice.

That bare spot in the lawn tells a story of persistence. From 2:15 to 6:00 P.M. every day during softball season, “Coach Z” instructs, encourages, and sometimes exasperates one youth after another who wants to improve his or her skills.

Brother Zimmerman is a firm believer in discipline. “Obedience,” he insists, “is the first law of anything you do. I once read that wisdom is knowing what to do, knowledge is knowing how to do it, and success is doing it. And I love seeing kids succeed—seeing them measure up to their own aspirations.”

Brother Zimmerman coached girls’ softball for three years at a local high school. His former students’ daughters and younger sisters are now coming to him for help with their game. “I’ve got a couple of players who come here once a week year-round, rain or shine,” he says. “They’re winners. They’ll do well.”

“Coach Z” doesn’t charge for the half-hour “lessons.” “I’m only passing on to them the love of excelling in sports that my father passed on to me,” he says.

Somehow, it’s not difficult to picture “Coach Z” in another ten or twenty years, perhaps stooped with age, maybe in a lawn chair, calling out words of encouragement to an aspiring pitcher standing on the worn spot in his lawn.

“You don’t truly enjoy anything without loving the people you do it with,” he says. “I love being with kids.”

[photo] Photography by James R. Maxwell

James R. Maxwell is second counselor in the Fresno California West Stake Presidency.

Bill L. Hill: Painter of Light

Bill L. Hill is an artist with strong feelings about color and light. He believes that color is a channel through which truth can flow with great efficiency. “Color,” he explains, “is one of the most pure channels of communication because it is a direct derivative of light.”

Visual art deals with light more directly than the other arts do. And an inspired artist can use color to communicate truths that cannot be communicated by music, writing, or any other art. But all the arts complement each other, Brother Hill continues. Each has its own means of touching us.

Along with painting, Bill is an accomplished musician. Having studied and listened to music—its chords, patterns, and harmonics—he has developed his own theory of color. Bill is convinced that just as music creates its effects on us when tones and chords are arranged in certain families, groupings, and ranges, so do certain combinations of color as they are used together in a work.

Even though this principle is not revolutionary, Brother Hill began to realize its spiritual implications for himself as an artist. He adds, “I want to communicate the messages of light, beauty, and excellence that are part of the Light of Christ, but first I have to have a measure of these in me. You can’t give something you don’t have.” (See D&C 50:24 and D&C 88:67.)

A colorful individual himself with a white, well-trimmed beard, white wavy hair, and gray-blue eyes, Brother Hill has trained himself to distinguish colors where others generally do not. He believes that we can see subtle colors better in our peripheral vision—colors which, if focused upon, disappear.

“I had to learn to control the use of my eyes to really see what was there before I destroyed it by focusing sharply. This occurred to me one day when I was driving in the southern Utah desert. Flashes of color, evident out of the corner of my eye, vanished when I looked directly at them,” he said. “All atmospheric matter, such as dust and moisture particles, acts as microscopic prisms splintering the sunlight into its rainbow parts, creating an environment of all colors everywhere present.”

Beyond his selection of intense color, Bill uses a deliberate technique of “layering” his canvas—successive applications of transparent treatment with “all colors everywhere present.” He says that this procedure allows the light to penetrate the work, glance from various tinted facets, and ricochet outward as live energy—somewhat as light plays in a fire-opal or diamond.

Brother Hill didn’t start painting full-time until he was forty-five years old. Now sixty-seven, he works in his thirty-foot-by-forty-foot studio located behind his home in Mendon, Utah, at the foot of the Wellsville Mountains in Cache Valley. He is the high priests group instructor in his ward, and his wife, Carolyn, and he are temple specialists in their stake.

Light is one of God’s gifts to us, he declares, and it is most appropriately used when turned back to its source in devoted service. (See D&C 88:50.) Bill’s painting is his devoted service and his passion. He sees himself as a receptacle through which light and inspiration flow—an apprentice studying under the Master Artist.

[photo] Photography by Jed Clark

Thaya E. Gilmore lives in the Pittsburgh Third Ward, Pittsburgh East Pennsylvania Stake, where she and her husband, Charles, are stake missionaries.