“When Robert Reeve, one of my ancestors, and Alexander Wright went to general conference in 1862, they heard their names read out to go to the Cotton Mission in southern Utah. They went and stayed thirty years,” Elder Rex C. Reeve said, adding, “Later my grandfather, William Arthur Reeve, and my father, Arthur Reeve, moved north to Hinckley, Utah, to operate a farm owned by one of the Apostles. In a few years they got their own farms, and so I was born in Hinckley.
“I enjoyed Hinckley a great deal. The people there were faithful and devoted.” Elder Reeve chuckled and added, “Anyone who can survive down there can survive anywhere, because there are rattlesnakes, sagebrush, greasewood, alkali, wind, heat, and very little moisture.
“My father was a big man, six feet four inches tall. He was probably as fine an athlete as any in the state. He could run, pole-vault, and throw the discus. He played on the team that won the first Church M-Men basketball championship. He was also on the all-state basketball team. He might have had a promising athletic career, but his dad died, and as the oldest of eleven children, he had to leave school to help raise his brothers and sisters. Dad was a great soul, very generous, and he worked in the Scouting program for forty years.
“My mother was only five feet two inches tall. A very capable individual, she had been a schoolteacher before I was born, and she was an elocutionist (one who excels in public speaking). Before I started school, she taught me all the things that are taught in the first, second, and third grades. When my two brothers and two sisters came along, she didn’t have as much time to spend teaching me, and then I was just ordinary in school.
“During the Depression, my grandfather came to live with us. He had crossed the plains eighteen times, bringing people to Utah from Missouri. He would get an assignment to do this just as you might be assigned to work on the welfare farm. I sat at his feet and listened to his stories about hauling rocks for the temple, crossing the plains, and hunting bears. He was a good hunter—he had to be to survive.
“This grandfather was a stake clerk, and he would go around the stake to audit the books. He would travel in a horse and buggy maybe forty miles to a town where a ward was, audit the books, stay overnight, then go twenty-five miles to another town. One time when he was in Oak City, he had a feeling that he should return home that night. He hitched up his horse and buggy and drove twenty-six miles to his home, getting there just as the sun was coming up. He hurried into the house and asked his wife what was wrong. She told him that their youngest daughter was near death. He blessed the little girl, and she was made well.
“My mother’s mother really made an impression on me. When I was nine, she had a stroke and could no longer speak. I remember her lying on a bed in my aunt’s home. The doctor thought that she should have a stimulant, so he had some coffee prepared to give to her. She had never drunk coffee, and I can still see the fire in her eyes as she let the doctor know that she wasn’t going to drink any then, either! He got the message, and she didn’t get the coffee.
“My other grandmother, my dad’s mother, was a visiting teacher to a family during a flu epidemic after World War I. The whole family was sick with the flu; three of them had already died. My grandmother went into their home and took care of them and even dressed the bodies of the dead members in preparation for their funeral. I have always been impressed with what a faithful visiting teacher she was.
“I myself came down with smallpox, a deadly disease in those days. I was isolated in the granary, which had a stove. Pillows were tied on my hands so that I couldn’t scratch the big pox that covered my body. The Lord blessed me so that today I don’t have any pockmarks. I also had diphtheria, another deadly disease, and the Lord spared my life then too.
“I loved school and had some wonderful teachers. One of them was ElRay L. Christiansen, who later became a General Authority. He would tell us about different pieces of music and make them live for us. I still have a great love for opera and classical music.”
Elder Reeve believes that children must be acquainted with Heavenly Father. If He is the center of their lives and they love Him and talk with Him, then He can take them through any trial or problem. It might not all be pleasant, but they can survive.
“God is real. He lives, and He loves you. He loves every child; He doesn’t have favorites. He is as close to you as you will let Him be by how you live, how you mind your parents, and how you keep His commandments.”