An untiring worker all his life, our prophet and president, Spencer W. Kimball, continues to labor in the Lord’s service at a pace that astounds those who serve with him. Yet through it all, his attention to important details and his unnumbered acts of kindness and thoughtfulness have inspired and blessed all those within his reach.
Here are some experiences of President Kimball’s childhood in Thatcher, Arizona, selected from the book Spencer W. Kimball by Edward L. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr. (Bookcraft, Salt Lake City, Utah 1977.)
Church and gospel had central importance in Spencer’s earliest memories. Always, it seemed to him, Ma had sat with her children on the fourth row of the Thatcher meetinghouse for Sunday School and sacrament meeting. Always the family knelt before meals to pray, their chairs turned back from the table . … Always there were prayers at Ma’s knee. Always there was fasting. Always tithing. (Page 31.)
In the summer when Spencer was five, his father gave to him and Alice [Spencer’s sister] a patch of planted potatoes. When Spencer had dug them with a garden fork and Alice had cleaned them, Spencer put on clean overalls, Alice a dress, and off they went with a box of potatoes in Spencer’s red wagon. The potatoes sold, Spencer and Alice returned home jubilant. Andrew [their father] listened to them count their money, then said: “That’s capital! Now what will you do with the money?” The children answered: ice cream, candy, Christmas presents. Andrew gently said: “… The Lord has been kind to us. We planted and cultivated and harvested, but the earth is the Lord’s. He sent the moisture and the sunshine. One-tenth we always give back to the Lord for His part.”
“Pa made no requirement.” Spencer remembered, “He merely explained it so convincingly that we felt it an honor and privilege to pay tithing.” (Page 32.)
When Gordon and Del [Spencer’s brothers] put up hay … they would pitch it up on the wagon and Spencer would tromp it down. The older boys liked to reach the wagon at the same time, both with huge forks of hay. One would pitch his hay on top of Spencer, knocking him down, then the other would add his load. They would laugh while Spencer picked himself out, infuriated, threatening terrible punishments when he grew up . …
Occasionally he would enjoy a minor revenge. One hot Monday afternoon, hearing the Primary bell across the fields, Spencer said, “I’ve got to go to Primary.” As Spencer told the story years later: “They said, ‘You’re not going to Primary.’ I said, ‘If Pa were here, he’d let me go to Primary.’ Any they said, ‘Well, Pa is not here, and this is one time you’re not going to Primary.’ Gordon was seven years older than I was and Del was five . … They kept throwing the hay up and it all piled in the center of the wagon. They said, ‘What’s the matter with you up there?’ There was no sound. They looked off across the field and I was halfway to the meetinghouse.” (Pages 37 and 38.)
Reminiscing about his mother, who died when he was still a boy, President Kimball said, “Just home from school, I would hang my cap on the hook by the door over the wash dish and holler, ‘Ma! Ma! Ma!’ But when I found her in the house and she asked me what I wanted, I just said, ‘Nothing.’ Nothing but to know she was home.” (Page 46.)
Though his mother was gone, Spencer kept a place for her in his heart. His father was conscious of this. Nine years after Olive’s [his mother’s] passing, Andrew inscribed a gift copy of the Pearl of Great Price, “Andrew Kimball and Olive Woolley Kimball to Spencer Woolley Kimball, January 25, 1915.” Inside the book cover Spencer attached a picture of his dear mother.
“My mother was faultless,” Spencer [once] wrote. “She was a saint … , the epitome of perfection. Who,” he asked, “could even mention one virtue that she had not possessed?” She seemed holy “when the light would shine through her light red hair and make a halo.” Young when she died, Spencer grew up remembering her as he had seen her at eleven years of age.” (Page 48.)