When I was 17, I worked at an inn in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, USA. Working as a bellhop, I saw many famous people as guests of the hotel, including John Wayne, Dorothy Lamour, and Esther Williams.
One evening, after most of the guests had arrived, I was taking a break at the front of the hotel when a black limousine stopped at the curb and seven men got out, dressed in black pants, white shirts, and ties. Another man in a black suit accompanied them. After the driver parked their car, all of them went into the dining room for dinner. I thought they looked like FBI agents as I went back inside to continue my duties answering room-service calls.
About an hour later, I was outside the hotel smoking a cigarette while the group I had seen earlier came back out to return to their limo, which was waiting at the curb. They went down the walkway to the car and opened the rear door to allow the black-suited man to get in. But instead of entering the car, the black-suited man stopped, turned around to look at me leaning against the building, and walked up to me.
He was tall and thin, with wire-rimmed glasses and a small white goatee. He extended his hand to shake mine and put his other hand on my shoulder. I was struck that such a distinguished-looking man would come and talk to me, a young man he didn’t even know.
I cannot recall all the words he spoke to me other than to say that “those things are bad for you,” referring to my cigarette. His kindness and demeanor made quite an impression on me.
Over a year later I took discussions from the missionaries and was baptized.
While looking through pictures of leaders of the Church, I noticed a picture of President George Albert Smith (1870–1951) and recognized him immediately as the kind and distinguished man I’d met in front of the inn. I was even more impressed that the President of the Church would do such a thing to someone like me, a boy who wasn’t even a member of the Church and of no particular importance.
What a great man he was to show such love and concern for a young boy working in an unnoticed position and having no understanding of the gospel or our Heavenly Father’s love for us.
Sixty-five years later, I have a great understanding of that care and love, and I strive to see those around me as President Smith saw me.