“Describe my father? … Likable. I guess that would describe him best. He’s likable and he’s a good friend and example to all who know him. That just about says it.”
As Richard and I sat together in the late afternoon, he reminisced about his father. Richard is the only son of this General Authority, and we talked about some of his father’s traits and hobbies. I watched Richard’s face carefully and each thought and expression reflected his love and an obvious conviction of what a truly wonderful dad he has.
“Did you know that my dad won the city marble championship when he was only twelve and that he was a leading high school basketball player? He also played college basketball until he was called on his mission.
“Dad and I have taken several trips together. Once we went to Pennsylvania to establish a memorial to Thomas L. Kane, who was a great friend of the Church even though he was a nonmember. During these few days I was able to watch Dad work. In fact, I should add that work is another very outstanding trait of my father. He just loves to work—physical work, too, until the task is finished, no matter how long or hard it is. He’s also been trying very hard to teach me the joy of work.”
As many fathers share in the situation of having only one son to carry on the family name, I was interested in how Richard felt about that.
“Dad tries to teach me manners all the time. He tries to help me act in a protective way toward my older sisters. He disciplines me by showing me the principle that I have disobeyed or broken and tries to help me better understand that principle. He uses such occasions as teaching opportunities. Of course, sometimes he tells me what I can or cannot do, just like any other dad. He tells me to remember who I am.”
We discussed hobbies: “My father loves to read. In fact, he thirsts after knowledge. It’s as though he can’t get enough of it. He’s a great student of the Book of Mormon and talks about the people in that book, making them and the things they did seem real.
“Dad loves poetry. One of his poems was set to music and published in the April 1975 New Era. He sometimes writes love poems to my mom.”
One could not talk about Richard’s father without asking about his sense of humor.
“Oh Dad loves to laugh—even better, he loves to make others laugh. No, a better way to say it is that he loves to make others happy, and that’s another reason he’s so likable.
“I forgot to mention that Dad also likes to cook. He prepares finnan haddie (smoked haddock) for special occasions and makes good hotcakes and things like that.”
As Richard reported this added accomplishment, his face was beaming, sort of another way of saying, “My dad can do anything.”
In conclusion, I asked Richard whether his father ever bore his testimony to him personally or often spoke to him about religious subjects. Richard thought about this for only a moment. Then he said, “Dad does this with all of the family, all of the time. His example is his testimony to us. But one special, personal thing that my father did was to mark in the front of my own copy of the Book of Mormon a certain scriptural reference. Whenever I read this scripture I feel very humble because my father is telling me how he feels about me. I only pray that I can live up to his expectations. This is the scripture,” he said, showing me his book:
“And now, my son, I trust that I shall have great joy in you, because of your steadiness and your faithfulness unto God; for as you have commenced in your youth to look to the Lord your God, even so I hope that you will continue in keeping his commandments; for blessed is he that endureth to the end.” (Alma 38:2.)