“Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
“As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
“Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them. …” (Ps. 127:3–5.)
This scripture is often quoted by this month’s dynamic General Authority. His love of family and missionary work is a great example for all of us.
Born in Farmington, Utah, and raised on a farm with fourteen brothers and sisters, he learned early the value of work. “The neck was my favorite part of the chicken,” he recalls.
This man’s immediate posterity numbers over one hundred. It was a special treat for me to visit with his son and daughters, some of his grandchildren, and also some of his great-grandchildren.
“Dad loves to sing, ‘I’m Only a Bird in a Gilded Cage,’ ‘Just Break the News to Mother’ (a Spanish-American War song), and another song, ‘Two Little Girls in Blue.’”
“Dad always goes to the hospital when a new grandchild or great-grandchild is born. He goes to the nursery, looks through the window, and if it’s a girl he exclaims, ‘She’s a darling!’ If the baby is a boy, he taps on the window with his cane and says with satisfaction, ‘Ah, another missionary!’”
“My father used to rub my legs at night when they hurt. He’d rub and rub and never complain.”
“One day Dad took me downtown and bought me a red coat—not a hand-me-down, but my very own new coat. I’ll never forget that.”
“I remember that our Sunday dinners were always special. Mother didn’t ‘feed the children,’ we dined. There were linen napkins and the food was always good. After dinner the conversation sometimes turned to gospel questions and Father would end up telling us missionary stories. These were special times.”
“Dad always had candy in his pocket. He loved chocolate. Even today he enjoys a double-thick chocolate malt. When we lived in Holland, we had a ‘sweets’ closet. As children, we took delight in that treat cupboard.”
“I recall Daddy’s complete dedication to us—when he was ours he was all ours. He was interested in each one of us. He’d say, ‘Now, I’ve taken care of the Lord’s work, what can I do for my family?’”
“My father was a great missionary in the southern part of the United States. He really brought the full gospel programs to those good people. I told my father once that he seemed to preach only two messages—one was missionary work and the other was the restoration of the gospel. His reply came quickly, ‘Well, if the Lord doesn’t like my subject matter, He can call me home. I don’t know what it would be like to be dead, but it surely is great to be alive!’”
“Daddy has known all of the presidents of the Church since Wilford Woodruff. He remembers going to the Salt Lake Tabernacle to hear President Woodruff speak about ‘always living by the Spirit.’”
“Grandfather never gets tired. He radiates enthusiasm and love for the Church and for people. As he walks down the street, he speaks to everyone he meets. His father once asked, “Son, do you really know all of those people?’
“‘Yes,’ came the reply, ‘I just don’t know their names!’”
“Grandpa used to take me down to Liberty Park in Salt Lake City. He’d put me on the merry-go-round and wave to me every time I came around. He would also take his grandchildren downtown to see the beautiful lights at Christmastime on Temple Square.”
At the mention of Christmas, everyone agreed that that holiday season is very special to this great man.
“Grandfather loves to entertain. We have a big family Christmas party. There are silver dollars for each grandchild and each great-grandchild. This gift for the boys is to be used in their missionary banks. A favorite story is told of a three-year-old great-grandson who delights in running to get his bank and in asking anyone who visits his home, “Wan’na see my mission?’”
“Grandfather goes a mile a minute! He’s also a very fussy, tidy man. Everything in his home is in order. Whenever we visit him in his apartment, we have to ring a bell to get in. He always meets us at the door with a big hug and a kiss. He’s a wonderful gardener. His petunias were the envy of our neighborhood.”
“When we were young, Grandpa always put us on his knee and bounced us and sang to us. He sees the good in everyone. He tells us how wonderful we are, and after awhile we begin to believe it. We just couldn’t possibly do anything wrong in his presence.”
“He just simply loves people. When he was presiding bishop of the Church, he personally signed each award that went out to the young men in the Church. There was always a stack of certificates on the dining room table for him to sign.”
I took the opportunity to visit one of this man’s great-grandsons. “What is it like to talk to your great-grandfather?” I questioned. His reply was, “Well, I’ll ask him one question about the Church and about forty-five minutes later I’m still listening.”
Here are some favorite sayings of this General Authority:
“The gospel is true!”
“There can’t be a better taste than a piece of fresh homemade bread dipped in the top cream of fresh cow’s milk.
“I might have done a lot better if I had my life to live over, but then, again, I might have done a lot worse.”
“Look out for the third child. That child always needs a lot of love.”
This man has no guile, and he rejects no man. He loves the gospel with all his heart and knows that some day it will fill the whole earth as has been prophesied.
These interviews were concluded by something one of his daughters said:
“In the old days of the Church, many pioneer mothers used to take their babies to church meetings and socials in a drawer taken from a dresser at home. Our father was one of those babies who went to meetings in a drawer, and he’s been ‘top drawer’ with all of us ever since.”