Friend to Friend


“He never claims to have all the answers to all questions, but I’ve never asked him a question yet that I didn’t feel his answer had been thought out in advance.”

“He lets you know what he thinks, but doesn’t pressure you into making his decision.”

“He loves people, and especially his family. When I visit him at his office, he pushes everything aside and takes all the time I need no matter what else he’s doing, and that goes for my friends too. He’ll always take time with them when they have problems.”

Three statements from three lovely children of a fine man serving the Lord! I was most impressed with the love, pride, and devotion these children showed for each other and for their father and mother as I spoke with them.

“He loves big chocolate bars and usually someone gives him a couple of the largest they can find for Christmas. Oh, he loves to eat uniced chocolate cake too.”

“When we visit, he’s always concerned about how long we can stay. One evening when my brother had to leave rather suddenly, Dad sighed and said, ‘Maybe in the next world we’ll have more time to talk.’ Dad really loves us.”

The strength and importance of a family that feels loved and expresses love is very apparent in this family.

“Dad has a zest for life! He’s very energetic and gives 100 percent of himself to whatever he does. He enjoys athletics and likes to win, but he’s also a good loser.”

“He grew up on a farm where one of his main chores was tending the pigs his father raised. He has many ribbons from the state fair that were won by his prize-winning pigs. One time, however, these pigs caused him some embarrassment. While he was at school one day, some of them got out of their pen and his mother was very upset about it. She called the school and had them announce the pigs’ escape over the school’s intercom system. She asked that her son be sent home immediately to find his lost pigs. Needless to say, he wasn’t too happy about everyone in the school hearing about his wayward pigs.”

“My grandparents were converts to the Church and became totally committed to the gospel. Dad recalls many times when as a child he witnessed the power of the priesthood in his home. One night when his younger sister was very ill with whooping cough, she couldn’t breathe and they thought she might die. Dad remembers Grandpa laying his hands on her head and blessing her that she would be able to breathe and live. She soon became better. Such experiences left a lasting impression on him.”

“My father is a time-oriented person and he gets a lot of mileage out of a day.”

“Being the only son of this General Authority,” I inquired, “what does your father expect of you?”

“Dad wants to keep me alive, both physically and spiritually,” came the quick reply.

“I’m sure Dad realizes we have to make our own decisions, but when we go to him, he always explains the possible consequences of our decisions. He’s very perceptive and levelheaded.”

“Dad loves to talk about the boy Joseph who was sold into Egypt. He always says that Joseph became a leader through righteousness, and then he was able to influence many others to be righteous. My father believes we should use the gospel to influence others in this way. He also admires the way in which Joseph showed love for his family. This seems to be uppermost in Dad’s mind, I guess—the family unit.”

When I asked about their father’s sense of humor, one of the children offered this comment, “Dad has very poor handwriting and he readily admits it. He sometimes asks his office secretary to tell him what he has written on his calendar, because he can’t read it himself. President Lee called Dad’s handwriting, ‘unreformed Egyptian.’ One time when he was on the stand with President Kimball at a meeting, a message was delivered to Dad reporting that one of the Church school buildings in South America had burned. Father wrote a note to President Kimball, telling him about it. President Kimball looked at it for a long time, then sent a note back, ‘Do you mean burned or buried?’”

“My father always gets tears in his eyes when someone sings, ‘Ye Elders of Israel.’ He loves missionaries and the missionary work. He loves to read and usually finishes a book in an evening because he reads so rapidly.”

In conclusion, the children told this story about their father when he was in the army.

“One time Dad was in a foxhole and enemy bombs were coming closer and closer all around him. He said a very fervent prayer and promised he would serve the Lord righteously if his life could be spared. One shell landed about three feet from him, but miraculously his life was spared.

“On a recent trip overseas Dad visited the site of this particular foxhole. Now just a short distance from there an LDS chapel has been built. He was amazed and thrilled at the contrast and later spoke of it in a meeting at that chapel. Dad has never forgotten his commitment to the Lord, and he truly tries to live each day as righteously as he can.”

This General Authority’s name is Neal A. Maxwell, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve.