Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with the children and grandchildren and nieces of a General Authority.

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    “When I think of my grandfather, I think of a very kind, gentle, patient man; in fact, I’ve never heard him raise his voice to anyone.”

    “Papa is his name to all of us—Papa and Mother Norm. They are both such dear people. Last year Papa was honored for having served fifty-five years as secretary to the General Authorities. Until recently Papa has tried to swim nearly every day. But now that he’s nearly ninety years old he only swims the length of the swimming pool at the gym thirty-five times twice a week!”

    “He loves mashed potatoes, banana cream pie, and good chocolates.”

    “Papa was told when he was a young man that he had great talent as a stenographer. He decided that if that were the case, he wanted to get a job with the best person he could and that person to him was the president of the Church. President Heber J. Grant needed a secretary at the time, so Papa applied for the job.

    “President Grant said he was giving a talk the next day at the LDS University and told Papa that if he would go and take the talk down, he would be able to see how skillful Papa was in shorthand.

    “Papa was nervous, but he went to the meeting where President Grant spoke more rapidly than ever before and quoted many verses from literature. When the talk was over Papa felt very discouraged, knowing he had not been able to take everything down.

    “Still, Mother Norm encouraged Papa and told him it might be a good idea for them to go to the library and check the quotations to make sure they were right. This they did, and when Papa went to see President Grant the next day, he felt a little more confident. The story has a happy ending, of course, for he got the job as secretary to President Grant and served in a secretarial position until six years ago, although he was called to be a General Authority in 1970.”

    “The Church has been Dad’s life, his profession and his avocation.”

    “He never dominated us as children; he provided an environment where we just knew what was expected of us.”

    “I remember well when he used to take his morning walks. He loves dogs and would always talk to them and stop to pet them. Then they would follow him until he had a trail of dogs behind him every morning.”

    “He’s such an optimistic person—believes in the power of positive thinking. When the day is cold and gray, he asks, “Have you noticed what a lovely day this is?”

    “One time when Papa was a little boy, he was herding cows and lost track of them. He was so afraid that he climbed down off his horse and prayed with all his might that he would find them. When he got up he noticed some hoof prints and followed them until he saw his lost cows down in a gully. He was happy to find them and has always remembered how the Lord truly does answer prayers in a very real way.”

    “He loves to play with his grandchildren, often getting down on his hands and knees and barking like a dog or imitating other animals. The children are always delighted. I used to tell Dad that if he were ever out of work, he could get a job imitating a dog.”

    “The family used to enjoy getting together on Sunday evenings to hear Papa talk about his experiences.”

    “Papa feels he knows all the presidents of the Church; President Grant told him so much about the ones who were called before him, and Papa has personally known all those since President Grant.”

    “Charles Penrose was a counselor when Grandpa was first secretary to President Grant. Brother Penrose was in his nineties and used to tell Grandpa that he was going to die soon and that he wanted people to know his feelings about the gospel. They would talk for hours.”

    “When Elder James E. Talmage was an apostle he often talked to Papa. Brother Talmage discussed his affairs and plans with Papa because he was such a good listener.”

    “Dad loves the Savior. Talking about the Savior’s life is his favorite subject. He finds the scriptures of Paul inspiring and reads and rereads them often.”

    A niece made this comment, “Many of us have been fortunate enough to have been a part of this great man’s life and have been lifted up by his spirit. He radiates such a strong spirit, it’s comforting just to be around him.”

    Many fine tributes were paid to this man at a recent anniversary. But the tribute I liked best was read by one of his children:

    He’s a proud man, kind and gentle,

    This wonderful dad of ours.

    He is broadminded and forgiving.

    Above all others he towers.

    Illustrated by Jon Burton

    Show References

    • Joseph Anderson

      This General Authority’s name is Joseph Anderson, of the First Quorum of Seventy.