Friend to Friend

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

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    “My father is a kind, wise, warm human being who is seldom angry, always patient, and totally selfless.”

    “When I think of my father, I think of a quiet listener, a man who considers very carefully what he is going to say before he says it.”

    “His quiet organization speaks loudly to me. He’s an example of the ‘great American way’—have a dream, work hard, and realize your dream.”

    “Dad projects a great warmth, yet he’s organized and human. That’s a real trick—to be organized and not mechanical—and Dad somehow manages both.”

    One thing about their father all three children agreed upon was that he always puts the Church first in his life.

    “He gives his time freely and willingly to the Church. He was once promised in a blessing, when he was beginning a new business, that if he would put the Church first in his life, he would be prosperous. He has always lived by that principle and his business has flourished.”

    “Two admonitions were especially important to him: ‘Live up to your full potential,’ and ‘Do what you should do when you should do it.’”

    “After a good dinner and family home evening,” said a son nostalgically, “Dad would often make fudge, pop some popcorn, and then, later, play the harmonica for us. This is all part of a very pleasant memory for me.”

    “When I was growing up, my father was given an important assignment in Bolivia. One of the things he did there was to teach the farmers how to shear their sheep properly. The state of Utah had been assigned by our government to help the people of Bolivia. Sheep were shipped to their country to help upgrade their breeding stock. Another part of the program I remember was that Utah schoolchildren saved their money and sent some of it to the schoolchildren in Bolivia to help them buy doors, glass windows, and other material for their schoolhouses. I remember how thrilled the children there were to receive the money. I also remember how impressed I was when the president of Bolivia and his delegation came to Salt Lake and the president stayed in our home. I was pleased to be asked to give up my bed for the president’s bodyguard.”

    “Momello and Pappy, as we affectionately call Mom and Dad, have a wonderful relationship. Mom has been willing to sacrifice everything to support Dad in his church callings, especially during the time when he was beginning a new business. They seem to complement each other well.”

    “Dad’s mother loved to watch baseball so much that when she was eighty-seven a Salt Lake baseball team paid special tribute to her on a particular occasion. Dad also recalls that his mother was one of the women who helped sew the new star on the flag when Utah became a state.”

    “I’ll always remember that when I was in high school, Dad and I were President and Sister Kimball’s home teachers. Every time we visited them President Kimball invited me to say the prayer. One day I asked him why he always asked me to say the prayer. Sister Kimball smiled and said, ‘Don’t worry, son, he asks me too.’ Then with a twinkle in his eyes, President Kimball said, ‘I thought you both could use the practice.’

    “Just before I left for my mission, Dad and I read all of the standard works of the Church together. We discussed the various subjects as they came up. What a choice experience that was—just the two of us.”

    “Dad loves to take his grandchildren on an imaginary lion hunt, where they all try to find a make-believe lion. First, they pretend to sit on the seat of a car. Then when they arrive at the airport, they climb invisible steps to get on the airplane. Once inside the plane, everyone fastens his safety belt and leans way back in his chair as the plane takes off. When the plane lands, everyone comes down the stairs and walks over to a jeep. They climb in and, because the jeep ride is bumpy, everyone joggles up and down.

    “When the jeep stops, everyone jumps out and gets an imaginary rope and gun to put over his shoulder. They wade through long grass and reeds—swish-swish-swish. They come to a bridge and everyone crosses over it—clump-clump-clump. Then they come to the place where the lions are, and they throw their ropes up around a rock to secure them. They all climb up the rope to get into a cave so they can creep up on the lion. The lion roars—GRRRR!! All of the brave lion hunters run out of the cave, slide down the rope, go clumping over the bridge, run swishing through the reeds, take off their ropes and guns, get back into the jeep, and take the bumpy ride back to the airport. Finally they arrive back home safe and sound after a great trip!”

    “As a young person growing up, I remember my father had us make our own choices. He would not tell us what to do but would say, ‘You know what I would like you to do—now you decide.’”

    A tribute to this great man was paid by one of his sons: “Every time I see the gray stone of the Salt Lake Temple, I think of my father. He, like it, stands tall and his hair is gray. To me the temple and my father are both symbols of strength and righteousness.”

    Illustrated by Scott Greer

    Show References

    • This General Authority is Elder Royden G. Derrick of the First Quorum of the Seventy.