Friend to Friend

From a personal interview by Joleen Meredith with the family of this General Authority.

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    If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing well.

    “He always says ‘I love you’ at least ten times during the evening whenever the family gets together—his family always comes first,” said a granddaughter of this great man. “He helps us set a goal and then buys us a book about it. When the goal is reached, he buys us another book. Grandpa promised my brother John that if he attended all his priesthood, MIA, and Sunday School meetings for seven years, he would pay for his mission. John worked hard to reach that goal. He sacrificed vacations when there would not be an opportunity to attend all of his meetings. John reached his goal, was called to serve a mission in France, and Grandpa happily paid for his mission.”

    “Dad talks about his childhood,” recalled a daughter, “and about his great love for horses. He recalls that he was accident-prone as a child—broken nose, fingers, etc.—but he was strong and his body mended well.”

    “When I think of Dad, I think of the word dependability. He has repeated the story many times about when he was a boy and his father left him home to take care of the chores. For some reason, Dad did not do the assigned tasks and when his father returned, he disappointedly remarked, ‘I thought I could depend on you, son.’ Dad recalls that if he had been whipped on that occasion he would have felt no worse. He vowed then and there that neither the Lord nor anyone on earth would ever again have reason to question his dependability. He has spent all of his life since then being where he said he would be at the time he said he would be there and being fully prepared to do what he has been asked to do.”

    “Grandpa is so wise—it’s a choice experience to talk with him. While you are visiting with him, he gives you his undivided attention. You are the most important person to him at that time and what you are saying is the most important thing to him. If you ask him a question, he often answers, ‘What do you think about it?’ He helps us to think things through for ourselves and then go to the Lord for confirmation.”

    “Dad has often reflected on the influence his father had on him with regard to honesty. When they used to take potatoes into town to sell, they always took their best potatoes and never a load where only the best were on top. He was taught at an early age the value of integrity, and it is not surprising that some have called Dad ‘Mr. Integrity.’”

    “Dad has a lot of favorite sayings. A few that come to my mind are:

    • Seek ye first the kingdom of God.

    • If you have no dependability, it doesn’t matter how much ability you have.

    • Remember who you are and act accordingly.

    • If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

    • Have a good time while you’re young.

    • Life’s a serious business.

    • Always keep your promises.

    “Dad has always said that if you promise to spank a child, it is just as important to do so as it would be if you had promised him a treat.”

    “Our grandmother came to Salt Lake to have her baby when she was expecting Dad. But as she was returning to Canada with her six-week-old baby, their train was robbed. It was reported that everything valuable was stolen—except Dad.”

    I decided to speak with family members about the subject of discipline. Here are some of their recollections:

    “Dad told us why we should do something and then let us decide for ourselves.”

    “Dad said I could do what I wanted, but I was always able to tell when he’d rather I didn’t do it.”

    “I always asked myself if Daddy would be proud of me.”

    “Out of respect, we never would do anything to disappoint him.”

    “Once when Dad was a young man, his entire family became ill. His mother, father, brothers, and sisters were all very sick—one sister was delirious with a fever. Dad was the only one who was not ill, and he took right over and nursed the entire family back to health.”

    As I visited with a grandson one afternoon, I asked him what came to his mind first when he thought of his grandfather. He said, “I think of him as a man who never compromises.”

    When I asked another grandson the same question, he answered, “I think of him as a great leader, a great thinker, and a truly unselfish man.”

    Illustrated by Paul Mann

    Show References

    • President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor in the First Presidency, is the name of this General Authority.