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William Richard Stucki

Personal History

August 21, 1928 -- February 27, 2008

Compiled by Richard and formatted online
(also available for a limited time in hard cover)

Childhood Elementary School Chores Middle School Holidays Jobs High School The University
My Mother My Father My Grandparents My In-laws Obituary
The Wind Beneath My Wings
(click to listen)

It must have been cold there in my shadow,
to never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, that's your way,
you always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name -- for so long,
a beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you're my hero,
and ev'rything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
'cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
but I've got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it,
I would be nothing with out you.

Fly, fly, fly away,
you let me fly so high.
Oh, fly, fly,
so high against the sky, so high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you, thank God for you,
the wind beneath my wings.

Richard while attending college
How Great Thou Art
How Will They Know
Favorite scriptures:
Micah 6:8


LetterChildhood Memories top

The earliest memory from my childhood is the house and yard where we lived, because all of the things that happened thereafter are in that memory background. The first house I remember living in was located at 1456 Logan Avenue in Salt Lake City, Utah. At the time it was near the outskirts, but now it’s buried in the center of the city. We lived in a typical house for that era which was brick with a raised first floor about three feet above the ground. There were windows in the basement that you could see out of without a window well. The front porch was also raised with stairs and a low brick wall on either side. We often stood outside on the porch during rain storms and watched the lightning.

In front of our house there were two sycamore trees. Now when I drive by the home, the diameter of the tree trunks is huge. Then it was only six inches or so across. When I was a boy, it seemed to me that we had a pretty large yard. I realize now that it was a tiny little yard in the front and just a little bigger in the back.

One of our favorite childhood activities was to play Andy-I-Over. We would throw a ball over the top of the garage and see if the person on the other side could catch it. Another favorite game was Run Sheepie Run which we played just as it was getting dark. We would all hide and then run to try and touch the central goal without getting caught by the person defending the goal.

The Hinckley family lived across the street from us. Their daughter, Colleen, was my age and went to grade school when I did. Many years later, I learned that Neal A. Maxwell, who is a member of the Twelve had married Colleen Hinckley.

One day we saw a team of horses coming down the street and heard their hooves on the asphalt. They turned into the lot next to our neighbor’s house across the street, and began to excavate a basement for a new house. The horses seemed so big to me when I was a small boy. They were beautifully muscled horses, and they really impressed me. There was a big scoop, shaped something like a snow shovel. The driver directed it in such a way that it dug down in the dirt as the horses pulled. It would scoop the dirt and then the horses walked up an earthen ramp. The driver would tip the scoop and dump out the earth. After a time, they got a big hole dug. When that was done, carpenters came and framed up forms in the big hole, where they could pour walls for a cement basement. The forms were built with 1 x 6’s and 2 x 4’s. It was framed so it would hold the cement in place until it set up and then the forms would be removed.

To me, they had just built the most magnificent castle to play on, I could imagine. My little sister, Bonnie, and I began to play on the forms after they were finished. Mother said to me, “You’re not to go over there. You mustn’t play on that. You could really get hurt.” I told her, “Mother, they have those 2 x 4’s sticking up, and if I had a problem, I’d just grab onto them.” So I knew Mother didn’t want us there, but it wasn’t long before we went back to playing there again. One of those 2 x 4’s that was supposed to save me, tripped me, and I went head over heels. I can still see myself spinning, until—WHAM!—I landed on the bottom. There was a cross bracing of 2 x 4’s and apparently my head hit on that. To this day, I still have a knot on the back of my head from my fall.

When I woke up, Mother was standing at the top with my little sister who had run home to get her. I hurt very badly when I tried to get up. I had broken my collar bone. I learned a lesson that Mother knew more than I thought she did, and I knew less. I learned that I ought to pay attention to her advice. That was my thought when I was young.

I remember a little swimming pool Daddy formed of cement in our backyard. It had a wall about eight or ten inches high, and was about six feet square. We would fill it up with water and when the sun warmed the water and we could play in it. A little drain could be opened to let the water out. We enjoyed playing there.

In our backyard was a grape arbor that gave us shade as we played in the summer. Under the arbor was a sand pile. Now this was something that got used a lot! I found that if I turned the hose on it just a little in a fine spray, I could form the sand into castles, roads and whatever I wanted. It would stay the way I built it until it dried out. So I had a lot of fun making every kind of imaginable thing; roads for my cars, castles, and so on. This sand pile was one of my favorite things.

I had quite an experience with my tricycle when a very young boy. I loved riding my tricycle, but I got tired of pumping. I found that where our road sloped a little bit, it was easy to coast down without having to pedal. Of course, I had to pedal back up, but it was worth it just to coast down. As I looked around the neighborhood, I noticed there was a really steep slope on the street a block below our house. I thought that looked like a lot of fun. So I started down the hill on my tricycle. At first I was pedaling, then the wheels were going faster and faster. I couldn’t keep my feet on the pedals they were turning so fast. So I took them off, and away I went—lickety cut down the hill with no control. The worst part of it was that at the bottom was a cross street with curb and gutter. I went sailing across the street as cars buzzed by. I barely missed getting hit by one of them. I hit the curb and landed in a heap on the parking next to the curb. Fortunately, I didn’t get hurt seriously although I could have been killed. That was on 13th East in Salt Lake City, a very busy street. I never tried that one again!

As a child, I seemed to have fragile bones and experienced quite a few breaks. The first broken bone was when a sister lifted me up to look out our kitchen window and dropped me. I fell on the floor and broke my collar bone.

I had other broken bones during the time my family lived on Logan Avenue. My sister Margaret came down with scarlet fever. That was a very serious illness then and very contagious. Everyone in the family had to move out except Mother, who took care of Margaret. I went to my Grandma Sorenson’s house with my dad. My other two sisters stayed somewhere else. We had to stay away until Margaret got better again. When someone got sick like that in those days, a quarantine sign was put on the house to avoid the spread of the disease. While staying at Grandma’s house, I was on my hands and knees on the lawn one day playing with some of the neighbor boys. One of the boys jumped on my back cracking my left elbow. So that was another broken bone.

I broke my right wrist another time, although I can’t remember what I was doing. People worried about me quite a bit at school, and what might happen because of all the broken bones. Fortunately at some point, my bones got stronger. I’ve not had any broken bones since, which I’m glad about.

I had three sisters and no brothers. Each of us children was about two years apart. My two sisters, Barbara and Margaret were older and quite interested in older things. My younger sister, Bonnie was my best friend. She was my best friend until I got into high school, and I thought I was getting too old for her. Then as she caught up to me, we continued to have a very close friendship, and it exists still to this day.

There was a playhouse that Daddy made especially for the girls. I didn’t play in it much. One day, my little sister and I noticed on the hollyhocks, with their pretty big blossoms, the bees were busy getting pollen. We discovered if we hurried and pulled the leaves together over the bees, it was a trap from which they couldn’t escape. So we had fun throwing about a hundred bees and leaves into the playhouse and hurriedly closing the door. When Daddy came home, we didn’t get a spanking, but he said, “Do you know how much trouble I had getting those bees out? You won’t do that again will you?” That was one of the mistakes I thoughtlessly made when I was a little boy.

A very early memory is how my two older sisters found me to be quite a bother. When Mother would go to town and take my younger sister, she would say to the older girls, “Now you take good care of Richard.” Then she would tell me, “Don’t you bother your older sisters.” After Mother left, they would go into the front room, close the door, and have a lot of fun. They told me to stay out, so there I was all alone. I would open the door and want to come in. They would say, “You get out! Momma said you can’t come in!” I wanted to play too, and I got to be a nuisance, I’m sure. At least one time I can remember (although it probably happened more than once), they put me in the closet in the bedroom and closed the door. They told me I would have to stay there until I behaved. As you can imagine, I made quite a fuss. When Mother came home, she would ask, “How was Richard?” My sisters would reply, “He was naughty today!” So Mother would give me a scolding. I thought, “Me naughty? I was locked in the closet! They wouldn’t play with me. They’re the naughty ones!”

After that went on for a while, things suddenly changed. I don’t know who gets the credit, but my older sisters started treating me nice. I believe my sisters just decided they were going to be kind to me. From then on, we were best of friends. I’ve thought since that when somebody makes up their mind to do something good, like the Savior would want them to do, it changes circumstances and makes other people’s lives happier. It has a greater influence than we often realize.

As we got older, Barbara, who was four years older than me was into older things. Margaret preceded me into high school and college. When I got into the University of Utah, Margaret was there and she was a lot of help. She told me all kinds of things I needed to know at the university. She was a good friend.

As a boy, I really liked to play with modeling clay. It was quite pliable, and you could make almost anything out of it. I would roll it out into fairly long ropes and make walls for magnificent houses and castles. Then I would make people to inhabit the buildings, but my “people” were little ducks. They had a little duck head, a rounded body, and a duck’s tail. I’d make all kinds; soldiers, a king and queen, and others. One time, I made a little block store with all of the fruits and vegetables out of clay.

When I got a little older, I was fascinated with vending machines. I marveled at how you could put money in and something would come out. I decided I was going to make one, and so I did with cardboard, tape, and glue. I figured out how to put candy on one side with a little slanted shoot, and drop a penny in. The weight of the penny would lift up the door to the shoot. I could actually get candy to fall out. The bigger the coin and the more it weighed, the better it worked. I had a lot of fun inventing this.

I liked dogs, and one day Daddy told me he had a dog for me. Somebody he knew at Southeast Furniture, where he worked, had a German police dog in need of a home. He was gentle and friendly, not like those ferocious watch dogs. I got to like him very much. My dog would follow me to school every day. When I got out of school, he’d be there waiting to follow me home. (I went to Garfield School at that time). One day, he wasn’t waiting for me outside the school. I never saw him again. I looked everywhere I went to see if I could find him. Once in a while, I would see a German shepherd and I’d hurry over to see if it could possibly be my dog. Later the word got out that the dog tore up Daddy’s gardens and flowers. I overheard Mother tell someone that they had to get rid of him. I guessed they gave him away to someone. I forgave them though, because they were wonderful parents in spite of having to get rid of my dog.

When I had my dog, I would ride my bike to the grocery store a few blocks from our house, and ask the butcher for a dog bone. He would give me one, and I would lay it across my handlebars as I pedaled my bike home. One day as I was riding home, a young man came along. He was one of the nicest looking men I had ever seen. He impressed me because he had a suit on, and because he smiled and stopped to talk to me. I was surprised. No one paid much attention to me—I was just a dumb little kid. He asked my name, and I told him what I was doing. I told him about my dog and he was interested. He thought it was so neat that I would get bones for my dog. We had a nice conversation and then he went on his way. Later, I learned that he was the big brother of a friend of mine. He had just returned from a mission. That’s the way a lot of missionary’s are, out in the mission field, and hopefully when they get back home. He really made that day for me because of the interest he showed. I had never had anyone do that before. I thought about that experience, and felt it would be great in life to try and give a lift when I could to people that are blue, feel unimportant, or are lonesome, the way he lifted me that day. I’ve tried to do that, ever since that experience.

Early in my life, we didn’t have television. I remember a little record player we listened to. We would crank a handle as the record went around and it would make screeching music. Eventually we got a radio and could get a few stations. After school, we would listen to our favorite children’s programs. We had Little Orphan Annie, which was pretty good. I remember sending for the decoder from Little Orphan Annie. When you sent in box tops, you would receive a decoder for secret messages. Another program we listened to was Old Ma Perkins. Jack Armstrong The All-American Boy which was sponsored by Wheaties, “The Breakfast of Champions,” was exciting. We also listened to The Lone Ranger with his faithful pal, Tonto. He was always doing good and getting people out of trouble. I liked that program. But the program that intrigued me most was about the mounted police in Canada, Renfrew of the Mounted Police. He was up in the frozen North area and always going after escaped convicts, poachers and such.

One day, Bonnie and I were playing Renfrew of the Mounted Police. We were pretending there were murderers that were after us, and we were trying to get away. I was on the porch and I said to Bonnie, “I’ll throw you a gun—catch it!” I threw her a gun, but she didn’t catch it. It hit her right in the middle of the forehead. It left a bump and a scar on her head.

Mother would say to Bonnie and I when she would hear us start to quarrel, “If I hear you quarrel, you’ll have to go to separate rooms and play. If you stop it now, you can stay together.” So we rarely quarreled, because we wanted to stay together.

Something we liked to do was to make root beer. We stored the bottles in the basement fruit room where we stored bottled fruit. Mother knew how to make it with root beer extract and sugar. It would build up carbon dioxide inside the bottles and once in a while a lid would pop off and squirt all over.

I had pneumonia twice, and I had asthma and tonsillitis. In that day, people felt like tonsils were responsible for a lot of health problems. Mother and Dad felt that if Bonnie and I got our tonsils out, it would help with all of our throat infections. They made arrangements and the doctor came to our house. A sheet was laid on the kitchen table where we laid. A little thing with ether on it was placed over or mouth and nose until we went to sleep. When we woke up, our tonsils were out. That’s not the way it’s done today. After Margaret had scarlet fever and had gotten over it, the doctor told Mother to burn every book, toy, or doll that Margaret had. The only things spared, were those that could be put in the oven, and heated to a high temperature to kill the germs. So that’s what they did. Years later there were new antibiotics and sulfa drugs for treating such diseases. Later in my adult life, I contracted scarlet fever. This time I only required an antibiotic and a couple days of bed rest. It makes me realize what a blessing it is to live in the fullness of times, when God has given knowledge of so many ways to help ourselves with health problems. People had a great fear of polio back then. Many people died from it and others had to go into an iron lung. An iron lung was something like a coffin with windows in it, and it breathed for them. I had a friend whom I met in college. When he was a boy, he had contracted polio and it had paralyzed him. His legs were useless and he wore braces on them. I went on a couple double dates with him. He would sit on the couch while various friends would dance with his date. He was a pretty remarkable person that I admired a lot. His name was Reid Page. Eventually a vaccination was developed for polio and the fear of it went away. Hardly anyone gets it today. When we lived on Logan Avenue, I had a bedroom in the basement all by myself. The rest of the family had rooms upstairs. At night when it was dark, I would imagine monsters coming out from behind the furnace. It was real to me, and I was scared to death. I would lay there in such fear every night, that I finally wondered what I was to do. I remembered stories from Primary and Sunday School that I had heard about angels watching over us. I told myself that I would try, every time those horrible thoughts of monsters came into my mind, to put my mind so firmly on the thought of guardian angels standing round about me, that I wouldn’t have any more fearful thoughts. So that’s what I did, and it worked. Years later, Boyd K. Packer spoke about this very thing. He said, when you get bad thoughts in your mind, or temptations or impure thoughts, you can push them out by replacing them with good thoughts. You can have your patriarchal blessing handy to read, or a favorite song to sing. You can have something you’ve written about yourself and the kind of person you are and want to be; a child of God. You can replace every evil, fearful, or incorrect kind of thought with something positive and good. Many people, who have learned to do that, have found they were able to get over some pretty bad habits and problems by following Boyd K. Packer’s advice. I learned it early as a little boy sleeping in the dark basement. My parents were frugal and thrifty. They avoided debt. They had experienced the work required to pay ones bills and to succeed financially. It wasn’t handed to them. Whatever they got came from very hard work. We had prayer together at every meal, and otherwise, as a family. One by one my sisters got married, and finally I was the last one home. I had good relations with Mother and Dad because they always demonstrated caring and helpfulness; qualities that tie people together. Mother and Dad went to a study group once a month where they would study church history. They also went with a group to the temple once a month. I don’t remember very many lectures from Mother and Dad, but I do remember the many things they did which were examples to me. Consequently, I developed strong feelings about some things. One of them was that I was absolutely going on a mission. Another was that I was absolutely going to be married in the temple. Those goals saved me from some mistakes later on.

JournalElementary School top

I attended Garfield Elementary School on 15th East and a few blocks from 21st South. When I would get out of school and head for home, there were two boys, one about my age and one older, who would wait so they could twist my arm and bully me. I got so tired of that. I was lucky once in a while and had a big sister heading home at the same time. They would put a stop to it fast, but many times I was on my own. I told myself, I had to solve this problem. I realized that if I went the opposite direction from home, went down a block and then headed back, I could miss the trouble. It took me more time to get home though. I started doing that and it ended the problem. However, having been bullied as I was, I decided I was going to be the person that stood by to help anybody who was being put down, bullied or made fun of. I would be there for them if I ever had an opportunity. So I think the experience did me good. It’s made me want to help the “underdog,” ever since.

In the winter, we were supposed to wear long, brown stockings. We sure hated them. When we got to school, we felt strange and old-fashioned because not many of the other kids wore them. I didn’t like feeling like an odd ball. We all like to be accepted by the crowd. With my long, brown stockings, I gained my first experience with those kinds of feelings.

One day, the school custodian helped me get home after I had broken my arm on the playgrounds. Some time later, he came and said that since he had helped me, I owed a debt to him. He asked me to help him empty all of the wastebaskets in the classrooms every day. I thought that was fine, I liked to help people. Then one day a friend said to me, she hadn’t thought I was the kind of person to be doing janitor work. Well, custodial work is honorable, but at the time my friend’s comment turned me off. So I told the custodian I was through and wouldn’t be helping him anymore.

I was not athletic in school. When they chose teams, I wasn’t chosen until about the last. I did play certain kinds of ball though. One time I got hit in the eye with a bat. It didn’t hurt the eye, but it sure gave me a sore head for a while.

I did excel in “milk caps” though. Back then, we used to get our milk in glass bottles. They were narrow at the top, and came with a cardboard cap about 1¼ inches in diameter on the top. When you wanted to get the milk out, you could pull a little tab and get the cap off. Boys would save and collect the milk caps. I got milk caps from many different dairies, and some very interesting ones. To play, someone would throw down a cap. Then another boy would throw one down and try to land on the other boy’s cap. Pretty soon there would be a lot of milk caps on the ground and one cap could land on three or four at once. That boy would get all the caps his cap landed on. I had a lot of fun playing with milk caps.

We played marbles too, on the school grounds at lunchtime and recess. There were stone marbles made from agate we used to shoot with. If you hit other boys’ marbles out of the ring, you got to keep them. I liked playing marbles.

I was sick quite a bit in grade school. I had pneumonia twice, broken bones and other ailments that kept me home from school. So, I got behind a bit. The principal told my mother she thought perhaps they ought to hold me back. But Mother refused, and I guess in the end it was the right choice. The big problem was that I had no motivation to study or do anything in my classes. I was just putting in my time. I loved to be home. If you had been sick and then came back to school, you always had to go see the school nurse. You would sit on a bench until it was your turn, then the nurse would put a stick in your mouth and you’d say, “aaaaaaaah.” If your throat was still sore, she would send you home. Well, if you sat on the bench and coughed a bit, when the nurse saw you she would ask, “Are you the one that’s been coughing?” “Yes.” “Well, I guess you better go home.”

My attitude about school finally changed and I learned something about the importance and power of motivation. It’s a difficult thing to get people motivated. Sometimes it happens by chance. This is how it happened for me. When in the sixth grade, if you were one of the chosen ones, you got to be a traffic police. That meant you wore a white belt or band around your waist, with a strap over your shoulder, and a badge. You carried a red flag. Whenever kids were going or coming from school, the traffic police would go out to the road and stand, one on each side. When it was time for kids to cross the street, you would step into the street holding the flag out to stop cars. I wanted to be one of those traffic police—that was prestige! When they announced who the traffic police would be for the next year, my name wasn’t on the list. I felt so bad. But I had the gumption to go to the principal and tell her I wanted to be a traffic police. She said to me, “Now Richard, I’m looking here at your record. How are you doing in school?” Well, I wasn’t doing very well. Back then you didn’t get an A, B, or C, for grades. You got S for satisfactory and NS for not satisfactory, and I had a lot of NS’s. The principal said, “We can’t let someone who doesn’t apply himself in school have a leadership position. But if you will settle down and get to work, I’ll find something for you to do.” So I settled down and got to work.

Some time later, the principal called me in and said, “You’re doing a lot better in school. I want you to head the color guard, and put the flag up and take it down every day before and after school.” She chose two others boys to help me. The three of us would go out every day with the drum and bugle corps as the flag was put up or taken down. We were the ones who folded and retired the flag. Everyone in school would stand, put their hand over their heart, or appropriately salute the flag. I felt really good about that assignment. I began to like school and liked being a good student. I continued to try harder each year thereafter, until in high school, I reached straight A grades during my junior year. I learned what motivation can do. That principal in grade school, bless her heart, started me on the right path.

JournalMiddle School Years top

By the time I began junior high school, we had moved to a new house on 22nd East. It was a two story house with white painted horizontal wood siding. There was a nice front porch and entry. As you entered the house, to the right was the front room, and to the left was the dining room. Beyond that was a kitchen, the back door, and a half bath. Upstairs were four bedrooms and a bathroom. In the basement was a game room, an auxiliary kitchen for canning, a small sewing room for Mother, and another bathroom.

We had a nice yard at our new home. At the property line of our backyard, there was a rock barbecue and patio surrounded by lawn and gardens. We often had supper there together and sometimes invited friends over.

We had a double garage next to the house. The car was parked on one side, and on the other Dad had tools and things. I had a little shop set up there. I added more tools as time went on. I did projects there, and that’s where I built my rabbit pens.

As I related earlier, I had gotten motivated to do well in my classes. I recall a couple noteworthy experiences during this time. In one class we were given the assignment to make a Utah notebook. I spent considerable time in finding picture postcards and other information to make a pretty good historical Utah notebook. I worked hard and got a good grade on it. So, even though I might not have been able to remember all the questions on a test, I found I had a talent for this type of assignment.

Another class I had was Latin. I decided I might like to be a doctor when I grew up, and many medical terms come from Latin. So I chose to study Latin. I couldn’t always remember the language well, but we also got some assignments. One assignment was to do a Latin class project duplicating something that might be found in old Italy. I decided to make a beeswax tablet like they used to write on. They would etch words in the beeswax, and then it could be smoothed out in order to be written on again. In that way messages were sent to other people. I made wood styluses to write with. I got a board, fixed the edges, melted beeswax and poured it on. I had quite an impressive project. I got a good grade on that also.

I remember a lesson I learned from my art teacher in middle school. She was quite a talented artist, although I didn’t realize it at the time. She did some beautiful artwork that was hung in one of the chapels, and later put in a temple. One day, I was whistling or humming a tune from one of the popular songs of the day as I worked. It wasn’t really an appropriate type of song. The teacher didn’t like it and she said to me, “Richard, you’re too good to be whistling that kind of a tune.” I learned a lesson from her that I’ve thought about often since. I realized I needed to think more carefully about some of the things I did.

I had the opportunity once, to give a talk in an assembly at school. It was a patriotic program. That was a notable event in my middle school years. We also had school elections and school officers. One of my friends ran for office and I got involved in helping with the campaign.

During my middle school years, I heard many boys using bad language. It seemed like I was awfully different from them. At one point, I decided I wanted to be like the rest of the boys. I started using some of the same inappropriate language in my conversation. It went on for about a month, until I got so disgusted with myself and so disliked the person I sounded like. I told myself I didn’t want this any more. I cut it out and never used language like that again.

About my last year in junior high school, a Dr. Archibald taught a couple special classes. It was rumored that the students who were assigned to his homeroom were the talented students. I was assigned to be in his homeroom. I don’t know if the rumor was correct, but it gave me the feeling that if I just tried, I could excel. So I continued to try my best in school, and the more I tried, the better I did.

One time, I got an inexpensive baby Brownie camera that I took photographs with. I learned how to develop the film in our downstairs basement bathroom, where I set up a photo lab. I didn’t do a professional job, but I learned quite a bit. I enjoyed taking pictures and developing them myself.

A few of my friends and I liked making sling shots. We would find a branch with a fork it, cut it, and attach a big rubber band cut from an old inner tube. We got pretty good at shooting rocks with our sling shots. I also enjoyed bow and arrow and target practice with my BB gun.

I liked bike riding, too. If I remember correctly, my folks paid for half of a new bike and I paid for the other half. I got it for Christmas one year. I learned to take the whole bike apart, paint it, and reassemble it. When I began working for Grandpa at Southeast Furniture, I would ride my bike down 21st South to Sugar House to work. On the way home, I would often find a bus going the same direction and try to race it. If the bus had enough stops, I could keep ahead of it.

An experience that touched me for good during this time in my life was when a group of us children were invited to the tabernacle to sing in a pageant. I didn’t really have a good singing voice, but somebody thought they’d like to have me go sing. So I went with some children from our ward. When there, we sat to the side of the stage behind a curtain. I never saw what was going on the stage. I just sat in my seat and sang. One of the songs we sang was “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord, over mountain or plain or sea. I’ll say what you want me to say, dear Lord. I’ll be what you want me to be.” As I sung this, a wonderful thing happened in my mind and heart. That pledge became a part of me for the rest of my life; “I’ll go where you want me to go, dear Lord.” It was amazing that although I couldn’t see the speakers or what was going on, I was greatly impacted by the song we sang.

As a boy, I had assignments from time to time to give talks in church. I had terrible fear of doing that. Daddy would write the talks and try to help me memorize them. Finally, I decided I’d like to try writing my own, and eventually I gave talks without writing them out, but by using outlines. Later in my life, I have experienced joy in giving talks and teaching the gospel rather than fear. The things that we learn, and the progress we make in our lives through opportunities the Church gives us, are a wonderful blessing. It makes me think of the promise that if we follow the Savior, the things which are weaknesses in us will instead become strengths. I still remember some of the things Dad had me memorize, after all these years. The things I learned as a boy are of remarkable value to me, because they have touched my thinking for all of these years. Two of the poems I memorized as a boy are as follows:

To every man there openeth a highway and a low. And every man decideth which way his soul shall go. The high man climbs the highway, and the low man gropes the low. And in between on the misty flats, the rest drift to and fro. But, to every man there openeth a highway and a low. Every man decideth which way his soul shall go.

Isn’t it strange that princes and kings, and clowns that caper in sawdust rings, And just plain folks like you and me are builders for eternity. To each is given a bag of tools, a shapeless mass, and a book of rules, And each must build ere life has flown, a stumbling block or a stepping stone.

During this period of my life, I became a deacon and eventually a teacher and a priest. I was president of the deacons’ and teachers’ quorums. I had experiences in church meetings that greatly inspired me. We had a good ward choir, and some excellent singers would sing duets and such from time to time. I was also touched by the talks, especially once when a returned missionary told in a very effective way, the story of Joseph Smith’s first vision. I gained a testimony that it was true as I sat there and listened to him. Then the next time I heard it told, I was moved in the same way. I had very little knowledge then, and I could hardly tell you how I knew it was true. As the years went by and I gained more knowledge, I found that the witness of the Holy Ghost could be trusted. Many people join the Church simply because of the wonderful testimony that comes through the Holy Ghost when being taught the gospel.

There was a family in our ward named the Neeleys. The husband got sick and in time passed away. About that time, Sister Neeley had a baby boy. One day when I was at church she said, “Richard, we have watched you and we want to name our little boy, Richard, after you. I hope you won’t ever do anything that would make us feel otherwise.” I was glad they wanted him to be like me. I’m afraid sometimes I let them down, which gives me grief. However, this event made me try harder, so they wouldn’t feel sorry for their choice.

About this time, Hitler came to power and World War II had began with bombings in England. One Sunday morning as we came out of church, word came that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. The United States was then in the war. There was a family named the Bernsteins living on 21st East. They had a son and daughter a few years older than me. They were both outstanding students at East High and very much admired by those of us who were younger. The son got into the Air Force, and one day we learned that he had been shot down. Everyone was very sad, and especially we could see sorrow in the face of his dear mother. She seemed to never smile after that.

I was active in Boy Scouts. I was especially interested in first aid, and I studied it quite a bit. In our patrol, I was the person who carried the first aid kit. I progressed from time to time with merit badges and rank advancements. I would go to the scoutmaster’s home after school. His wife was there, and she would let us boys go into the basement, one at a time, and do weight lifting. Of course, as you exercise you get a little stronger and you increase the size of the weights. I wasn’t really a muscular kid. But the amazing thing is when I did weight lifting everyday, I had such vitality. I just felt so good. It was helping me be healthier and I could recognize that in the way I felt.

My best friend during my middle school years, was Oliver Richards Jr. When we got into high school we continued to be friends. Oliver and his father, and my dad and I went deer hunting together a few times.

JournalChores top

In our house on 22nd East, there was a furnace which burned little, fine pieces of coal. The coal was dumped into a cement bin with sloping walls, located under the driveway, against the house. Then, a special mechanism picked up the coal and put it into the furnace automatically. At the end of the day we had to take the clinkers out of the furnace. I helped Dad with that. Sometimes we had to open up a manhole cover, and push down the coal that was stuck on the sides, so it would go into the furnace. One time as I was doing that, I dropped the cover on my toe. Boy, did I have a sore toe! I got some advice to put my sore toe in cool water. I got mixed up, and put it in warm water instead. That helped swell the toenail right up and off. To this day, I still have a problem with that toenail.

Galvanized ducts went from the furnace to all the rooms of our house. It was very well heated. One day, I had some very wet shoes, I thought if I put them on the main heat duct coming out of the furnace, it would dry them. When I came back to get them, they had turned crisp through the sole area. They had gotten too hot, and I ruined my shoes instead of drying them.

We had as modern a washing set up as you could get at the time. There was a washing machine that would agitate the laundry similar to machines today. But when it was through, you had to put the laundry through a wringer. The wringer consisted of two rubber rollers that fit tightly together. You would take the wet laundry, one piece at a time, and put it through the wringer. This squeezed the water out and then the item would fall into a rinse tub. You would stir everything around a bit. Then everything was put through the wringer again, and this time the laundry fell into a basket. Finally everything was hung on the clothesline outside to dry. As I got older, I would wash my own clothes. I got pretty good at using the wringer washer.

We also used a mangle iron. This was a machine with a padded roller that turned and pressed down against a hot metal plate. You could iron sheets, shirts and just about anything. I would sometimes iron the family’s washed and dried clothing. I got pretty good at that, too.

I tried my best to never leave my room in a mess. I was anxious to have things in order. I made my bed and kept my clothes put away. Dad did the gardening, but it was my job to mow the lawns and edge them. It was also my job to keep the hoses coiled and neatly arranged.

JournalHolidays top

One year while living on Garfield Avenue, I wanted some skis for Christmas, and I told my parents so. I had a room in the basement, and one day I found a pair of old wooden skis behind the furnace. It turned out, that was my Christmas present, the polished up old skis. The skis were abandoned ones that had once belonged to my uncle. They were the old type of skis with a slot where a strap would go through. Your foot went through the strap. I found it difficult to ski with these old style skis. Years later I got new skis and ski boots and they worked much better. My parents didn’t have a lot of money early on, but they did the best they could.

Mother told me I could go skiing if I was careful where I went. I told her I knew the best place. There was a little creek that went through a ravine with slopes on either side. I told my Mother where I wanted to go to ski. I had tried sledding in this same location before. Mother said, “Don’t you go skiing over there—you could get hurt!” I thought to myself, “What does Mother know about that?” Kids were all over there, sledding and skiing, so I decided I was going over there anyhow. I skied down one side, walked across the creek, and started up the other side. Suddenly I slipped, and as I fell, I slid down towards the creek. The worst pain hit the upper part of my leg. There was a broken bottle or can lid under the snow. I got a cut of about two inches or more right through my pants and skin, and there was blood on my leg. I turned around and went straight home. When Mother saw me, she asked what happened. I told her, “I didn’t do what you told me. I went skiing and I got hurt.” She called our family doctor, and he came over to our home. He laid me on the bed and without anything to deaden the pain, he took something like a bent needle and sewed me up. Afterwards he put a bandage on my leg. I got over it, but I still have a scar on my leg. I learned I ought to pay a lot more attention to what my mother and father tell me.

Christmas time was quite notable. We always had a tree with lots of lights on it. We would open presents on Christmas morning. One Christmas I had told Mother and Dad that I wanted a flashlight. My heart was set on getting one. When Christmas morning came, I got some warm winter boots, gloves, and such, but no flashlight. I began to bawl and Mother suggested that I look in the toe of the new boots. I reached in and there was the flashlight! So that stopped those tears on Christmas morning.

On Christmas Eve and Thanksgiving Day, we would always go to Grandma and Grandpa Sorenson’s home. It was a wonderful event where all the relatives meet. There was plenty of room to set up tables for a scrumptious dinner. I especially looked forward to these events, because Grandpa and Grandma had more blocks than I had at home. Wow! Could I build things with them! The more blocks I had, the more imagination I had for building things. They also had about three times as many little metal soldiers as I had. I loved playing with the soldiers and building blocks there.

JobsJobs top

I would sometimes tend children for families in my ward. There was one little boy in particular that I often tended. I was able to earn some money this way.

Our next door neighbor had a relative who lived in Bountiful. Back then Bountiful was just farms, orchards, and a few scattered farmhouses. He needed young people to come and help pick the fruit in his orchard. He would come very early in the morning and pick us up at my neighbor’s house. We picked fruit all day, and then he would haul us back. I was usually one of the ones who picked the most, because I spent less time talking and messing around. I remember there was a reservoir where we would swim at lunchtime, and there were salamanders in the reservoir.

About the time I had completed requirements for a star scout, something else came along. School let out for the year, and I was looking forward to summer scout camp and all of the other activities, which I really enjoyed. My folks told me that Grandpa wanted me to come and work for him at Southeast Furniture. I understood it was something I was going to do, whether I wanted to or not. I began working in what was called the “will call” department. Whenever somebody bought an item that they wanted to take with them, they would ring a bell and I would find the ticket. Then I would look through the warehouses to find the lamp, stool, night stand, or even mattresses that were purchased. I tied large items on people’s cars for them. Often it was busy, and other times I had time on my hands. In addition, I unpacked and polished furniture.

Frequently I worked next to a man who refinished any damaged furniture that came in. I would whistle church songs while I worked, and he would tease me a little about it. I didn’t know, at the time, whether he was in the Church of not. Later on, when I was older and working at La Rie’s, one day that man came into the store and asked where I was. I hadn’t seen him for a long time. He told me, “I came in to tell you, I’ve got a son going on a mission.” I was glad I hadn’t disappointed him by something I did or said, when working with him at Southeast Furniture.

One spring before school let out, my next door neighbor hired me to work for him. His name was Jay Eldridge and he owned a furniture store. So I worked for him that summer.

During the war, business at Southeast Furniture dropped. With all of Grandpa’s sons working at the store, there wasn’t enough money for everybody. He bought dairy farms for his two younger sons. In the summer, on a couple occasions, I went out to help my Uncle Gordon with the dairy cows. That was an interesting experience.

Another summer when the war was on, I got a job with a defense company. They built sturdy, waterproof boxes to ship equipment to the troops overseas. I was part of a box crew that handled the boxes.

The next summer, I had a job with Fulton’s Market which was a wholesale fish and chicken market. They brought in chickens from farms, butchered them, and got them ready to send to grocery stores and restaurants. I was the one that drove the truck and made deliveries. They also did some retail business. A man and his grown son got orders ready and also did selling at the front counter. I found in that experience what one often finds in the work-a-day world, men with very vulgar language and minds. I found it really obnoxious to have to listen to the things that went on when I was around them.

I was working for Fulton’s Market doing deliveries on the day the war ended. When the announcement came that there had been an armistice, businesses closed all over Salt Lake City. Everyone went home and there was a day of rejoicing.

High School YearsHigh School Years top

Living where we did, we had the choice of which high school to go to. My two sisters who were older chose to go to East High. When it came my turn, I thought East High had too many rich people attending, and I preferred the more common people. So I chose to go to South High. My younger sister chose to do the same. It’s a building still standing on State Street in Salt Lake City, although for many years it hasn’t been used as a high school.

We rode the city bus to get to school. In that day there were hardly any students that drove cars to high school. You could see a few old rattle traps outside the back where the auto shop was.

My junior year in high school, I decided I wanted to get straight A’s. I tried different things until I found out what helped me get the best grades and was most effective towards my goal. In most classes we had a text book. Usually the teacher would lecture on a subject then assign us to go home and read the text book chapter on the subject. We knew day by day what that reading assignment was going to be. I started reading the assigned chapter the day ahead; picked up what I could and wrote down the questions I had. Then when I went through the lecture if that didn’t answer my questions, I went up to see the teacher right after class. When I was through, I had all of the answers that I needed. I also decided that when I went home form school, before I played basketball, did chores, or anything else, I was going to do my lessons first. They weren’t that big or long usually. A lot of students would put their assignments off and come back without them done. Having it done and done well made a big difference in my grades. Consequently, I reached my goal of getting straight A’s in my junior year.

Because of the war going on, there was a very prominent reserve officer training corps program in every high school. Then it was referred to as R.O.T.C. Every boy could choose whether to take R.O.T.C. or athletics. About half chose R.O.T.C. The man who was in charge of the program was a regular sergeant in the army named Sergeant Redmond. He was rather stern, and I was always afraid of him. I hardly ever remember a smile on his face. Discipline was very evident, and we were all expected to be completely obedient and dedicated to what we were learning.

I suppose, because I had gotten good grades in my junior year, when I came to check out my uniform at the beginning of my senior year, Sergeant Redmond asked me to go to the end of the line after I got my uniform. That made me nervous. I had no idea what he was going to say. After the other students had gone, He said, “Richard, if you want to, you could become the commander of the officer’s saber drill team during your senior year. That meant becoming the commanding officer as far as the R.O.T.C. student organization was concerned. That was quite an eye opener for me. I think he must have talked to a few others in a similar way.

Each day we became more anxious to find out what was going to happen. Finally, on the bulletin board was posted a list of sixteen cadets who had received the rank of 2nd lieutenant. I was on that list. A week or two later, on the board was another list of eight 2nd lieutenants being advanced to 1st lieutenant. Soon another list was on the board naming four 1st lieutenants being advanced to captain. My name was on those lists, too. We knew that the next announcement was going to be who would receive the rank of lieutenant colonel which commanded all of the R.O.T.C., and major, which was second in command. We continued on with drills, testing, and so on. The day came for the expected announcement, and it was posted on the bulletin board. Another fellow in the group of four captains became lieutenant colonel and commanded the drill team. I became major and second in command. So the choice of officers for the year had been completed.

One thing that happened almost immediately is the principal, vice-principal, and Sergeant Redmond arranged that the lieutenant colonel and major be freed from whatever class was necessary, in order to be free for the two periods of R.O.T.C. We were given full credit for the missed classes.

Years later, after I had completed high school and college, and was married with little children, a man came into Southeast Furniture one day when my dad was working. It was Sergeant Redmond. Dad happened to be his salesman and they got talking about the fact that I had been one of his students. He said, “Tell Richard that since he was there at South High School, I investigated and joined the Church.” That was quite interesting to me and I was happy about that.

At the beginning of my senior year in high school, I met a girl that lived in the Sugar House area. I got to like her a lot, and she liked me. We would go to dances and places together. She had the lead in the school play which was a special thing for her.

My friend was a Baptist and we would often get on the subject of religion. She told me that I, being a Mormon, had been terribly deceived. She said there were many things Mormon’s believed that weren’t in the Bible and weren’t correct. Some of those things she outlined. This was very challenging to all the things that I had been taught. So, I became most interested in reading the scriptures. I had done very little reading of them before. I was especially interested in studying the New Testament to find answers to the question of what the original church did believe, in contrast to what she was telling me and what I had been taught. I went with her often to her church, and took her to our church sometimes. I began an intense investigation of all different churches. I was somewhat limited by time and the transportation I could muster. I visited several different churches in Salt Lake including the Catholic Church masses. I got the anti-Mormon literature and began to study intently. I got very familiar with all the anti-Mormon claims.

When I went with my friend to her services, there was always a talk centered on Christ that ended with an altar call. Everyone who had not accepted Christ as their personal Savior was invited to come up to the altar. If they did, those in attendance believed that they had been saved. I wondered why it was that a person like myself who had gone to church often, had been baptized, and had completely accepted Christ as the Savior, why that wouldn’t do. It had to be there at the Baptist Church, or almost any other Protestant Church to count, but not if it was in the Mormon Church. That was something that rather amazed me.

Having my faith challenged, and having heard all the criticisms of our doctrine, I was highly motivated to begin a quest to find the answers for myself. It began there and then. All the rest of my life, I have had a great interest in doing what is best described by Peter (1 Peter 3:15) where he said, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” So I hungered and thirsted for the answers, and I found all of them.

I examined every one of their claims against what the Bible said. To name a few: They claimed that God had no body, and that he was something indescribable as a spirit. My friend and her group believed that the Savior and Father were all one and the same, some kind of essence which manifested itself as the Savior on Earth at one time. I marveled that when she would offer a blessing at a meal, she would pray to the Father and then she would talk to the Son as if they were one and the same. But I found that in the Bible, God the Eternal Father and his beloved Son were separate. The Father had a glorified body, and the Son after he had resurrected and finished his earthly mission had a body like unto his father.

There was much said in their meetings about being saved by grace. One scripture was quoted in particular, “by grace are ye saved through faith. And that”—meaning that faith—”is not of yourself, but is a gift of God.” I didn’t understand this very well at first. I asked my good bishop, but he couldn’t explain it. I asked my father, and he couldn’t explain it. This was the only doctrine that I didn’t find an answer for immediately. But I have since found the answer. I found that the Book of Mormon teaches that through the grace of Christ, we are given salvation, something that we have no ability to do for ourselves. We can’t forgive ourselves. We can’t bring about our own resurrection, to name a few gifts. The Savior will not give the gracious gift of salvation to those who do not repent and follow him. That became very clear to me as I read the New Testament.

There was much said about what a blasphemous doctrine it was that we could become like God. Yet as I studied, I found that it was taught in the New Testament. When I studied the first century church, I learned they taught and believed the same things the Mormon Church does on this doctrine, and on many other doctrines unique to our church. I found that the Greek Orthodox Church, the early Catholic Church, and today even the eastern Catholic Church, all still believe that man’s ultimate destiny is to become like the Father.

I was also told that Joseph Smith was quite a scoundrel. In my quest, I have found well over a hundred different firsthand statements by people who knew Joseph Smith very intimately. All of them verify that he was prophetic in his ability to foresee the future, and that he was a virtuous and good man, and indeed a prophet of God.

My friend said that if there was to be another book of scripture, the Bible would have said something about it. If there was to be an apostasy as we claimed, and a restoration in the latter days, the Bible would say something about it. Well, I found out, contrary to what they were claiming, the Bible said a lot about it. There are a number of scriptures that speak about an apostasy, the restoration in the latter days, and the coming forth of additional scriptures. There’s much more, but I’ll leave it with that.

In consequence of this quest and my study, I became so converted that when it came time to go on a mission, I was really anxious to go.

When I invited my friend to go to a church meeting with me, particularly a sacrament meeting, I was anxious that it had some really inspiring talks given. I hoped for talks that would center around Christ and his mission, which would appeal to her. Unfortunately, the speakers often got sidetracked on other subjects. Not that they aren’t important. Certainly the pioneers, the prophet Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young were important, and so on. But when the main talk left out the Savior, it did not impress her.

I began to be taught by the Holy Spirit to under-stand what was right and what was wrong in many circumstances. At that time, I realized that something major had to be done in order to not get sidetracked with all of the side issues, but keep Christ in the forefront of our talks and lessons. It’s easy to do, no matter what the subject. I’ve noticed over the years how the brethren have emphasized that. They added to the cover of the Book of Mormon the words, “Another Witness of Jesus Christ.” They’ve directed that every sacrament meeting should have its focal point in the talks as well as the sacrament, the Savior and his mission.

Through the example of my parents and teachings I had received, I had a determination that nothing would stand in my way of going on a mission and a temple marriage. Because of that, I decided I was going to stop going with this friend. I could see that she was never going to join the Church.

I made a couple other resolves because of my own experiences and that of many friends. I realized we should have listened more to the wisdom of our church leaders who counseled young people to postpone dating to a later age. They also counseled us against steady dating, which was a prominent practice back then. The brethren spoke against doing so until we were of such an age that we were ready to marry, could support a wife and children, and so on. I determined that hereafter, I wouldn’t spend time dating someone who I would never be able to marry in the temple, and have the kind of life I wanted. I decided that until I had gone through college and returned from a mission, I would take out a different person on each date.

When it came time for high school graduation, I was called in with a few others to see Miss Dyer, the assistant principal. She wanted us to all sit down in a classroom and write a patriotic talk, and then they would chose some of us to give the valedictorian speeches at graduation. After we turned in our essays, and waited a while, the answer came and ten were chosen. I was one of the ten. These were to be short talks as you might imagine. Speaking at graduation was an interesting experience.

About this time, the officers of the R.O.T.C. decided to have a year end party. I was to organize it. We set the date and time, and made assignments. The officers were responsible for all the food, and were to bring a date. It was planned for a particular evening at Fairmont Park in Sugar House. When the day came for the party, we got there early to set up tables, put the paper plates out, the drinks on ice, etc. We had different kinds of soda pop, and there was never any thought of serving beer or anything else of like nature. Just as the cadets and their dates started arriving, to my great amazement, the assistant principle and the dean of women came walking briskly down the lane. They walked immediately to the tables and looked to see what our drinks were. As soon as they saw it was all soda pop and not any beer, they turned around and walked over to a couple of us. The assistant principal said, “Richard, I should have known that with you in charge, we didn’t have anything to worry about. Have a good time, and good night,” and away they went. It pleased me that she would think of me in that way.

My sister, Bonnie, was a year behind me in high school. She had a great interest and talent in literature and poetry. She and a friend were editors of a South High periodical. Towards the end of her senior year, there was a big dance planned. She came to me and said her friend never got asked out, and hadn’t been invited to this dance. She asked if I would take her. I tried to talk her out of it. I was in college then and I didn’t know her friend. I told her I really didn’t want to do it. Well, Bonnie prevailed. She wanted her friend to have one happy dating experience during her high school days. I finally told her I would do it. Bonnie and her date, and Bonnie’s friend and I went to the dance. I honestly did the best I could to show her a good time. To me, it wasn’t really an exciting evening, but I did my best to be kind to her and see that she traded some dances, and so on.

I’ve thought since, that of all the times I’d thought of myself when I made a date or went to a dance, that this was probably the only unselfish thing I had ever done in this regard. The best event of my high school experience actually occurred after I had left and went back to help my sister, Bonnie, make her friend happy. Doing something unselfish for someone else brought continuing joy into my life. I learned that a lot of things which eventually bring us joy, at the time require sacrifice. On the other hand, things that give us quick gratification often leave us empty and with regret later on.

JournalThe University top

When I attended the University of Utah, we were still living on 22nd East. I would take a bus down 21st South and transfer to a city bus that ran past the university. At that time, most of the buildings were in the old horseshoe shaped campus. In time the university grew rapidly and expanded into the buildings and property that used to be Fort Douglas.

I believe the most important things I learned at the university were learned going every day to one or more classes at the LDS Institute of Religion. At that time, there were only two teachers and we met in the old university chapel. One teacher was Brother Lowell Bennion who I took a special liking to. He was the one who started the first university Institute in the Church, under the direction of the brethren. Now it’s grown to more than 2000 university campuses over the country. Brother Bennion was a very pleasant person with a happy attitude, and a constant smile. When I left for my mission, he was a speaker at my farewell.

The reason these Institute classes were so important is that they gave me an adult level of understanding of our religion, and answers to challenges which came hot and furious from some of the U. of U. professors. There were professors who delighted in trying to break the faith of Christians and Mormon students in particular.

I majored in biology and took classes to fill premed requirements, and other classes required for graduation. I had special interest in sociology and philosophy, and so I took a number of those classes as electives. I encountered some especially bad professors in those fields who tried to shake the faith of students.

In contrast, I had a great experience when I took a class called the Philosophy of Democracy from a professor named O. C. Tanner. I didn’t know too much about him at the time except that he operated a jewelry business. Years later his business became a huge and prosperous operation. O. C. Tanner was a doctor of philosophy, and he taught because he had great interest in helping students get through the maze instead of getting lost in it. I admired him for the fact that he left his growing business in order to teach “truth.” Later, I learned that he was an active LDS man, and the one who paid for many beautiful water fountains throughout the country, including the huge fountain in front of the Church Office Building in Salt Lake.

The Philosophy of Democracy class went into the good and bad aspects of communism and socialism, and explored their differences. We also studied our American form of government, which is not a democracy as claimed today, but is better than that. It was established as a republic where God has given us certain unalienable rights that cannot be taken away from us by popular vote. Every principle that Dr. Tanner taught in relation to the various systems of government, I saw manifest through the many years of war and Cold War since then.

I didn’t have any interest in the regular fraternities at the university, but I did join Lambda Delta Sigma. This was the name back then for the Church fraternity for men, and the Church sorority for women. We had weekly meetings in the Institute building. There were several socials throughout the year. We were able to associate with a lot of different people who had the same standards. It was at one of these socials where I met Marjorie, the most important event in my university experience.

I also joined a service fraternity called the Intercollegiate Knights. The college women had a similar organization called the Spurs. Members wore white sweaters with red U. of U. emblems on them. We ushered for various activities including plays and other events held at the university.

At the end of my college days, prior to graduating, the Intercollegiate Knights had their final party of the year. There was a social and dinner arranged for just the fellows. At each place setting there was a big cigar and a bottle of beer. It was very different from the socials we had at Lambda Delta Sigma. I enjoyed the socials and the company of the latter a lot more.

Halfway through my university studies, I went on my mission. When I returned to the U. following my mission, I learned that a new, large facility had been built for the Institute of Religion. There were more teachers and classes and more room for social activities. The new building was very impressive. Today, Lambda Delta Sigma and the Institute has grown beyond anything we could have imagined. Back then, there were seven or eight girls’ chapters and three of four boys’ chapters. Over all of these was an inter chapter presidency. Our senior year I ran against my friend, DuWayne Schmidt, for interchapter president. He won. After another contest, I was elected president of the Beta men’s chapter.

The friends I made at the university through Lambda Delta Sigma are as fine a people as I have ever known. With friends like them, one could never go wrong. I plead with you, my dear grandchildren, to choose such friends, and to be such a friend.

JournalMy Father, William Theophil Stucki top

When Dad was growing up, the children had to take turns each year, half of them going to school and the other half working on the farm. Next year they would reverse places. So, when my father went away to college, he was much older than most of the students. Once registered, Dad went looking for work as he had to pay his own way to college. Everywhere he went, he got the same answer, “We don’t need any help.” It was discouraging. However, at one place, a bakery, he could see behind the counters how much cleaning up was needed. So he said to the owner, “Let me work three days for free, and see what I can do to help. If you don’t think you need me after that, I’ll go on my way.” The man agreed, and after the three days the place was so clean and orderly, he said, “I need you here permanently.” So Dad had a job. Occasionally, Dad found coins on the counter or on the floor. He always turned them in to the owner. One day the owner said, “I’ve been testing you by leaving money around to see how honest you are. You passed, and I want you to help me make sales and take the cash from now on.” Dad’s job lasted until he was through with college and planning to go to Salt Lake. His employer said, “I have a friend in business in Salt Lake, and I’m going to take you to meet him. I’m going to tell my friend he’s got to hire you.” His employer did as he said and the friend hired him.

During college, Dad noticed how many young men wasted their money buying cigarettes. Dad said to himself, “If they can find money for cigarettes, I can find an equal amount of money to save, poor as I am.” So he did this for a long time, and called his savings his cigarette fund. He continued the savings after he married. In time it added up. I was told that during the depression, he used this money to pay off the balance due on their house.

Significant in my early memory is that I adored my father. He played with me, paid attention to me, and made me feel like someone worthwhile. In fact, he was so glad he had a son who could carry on his family name. It seemed really important to him. As I got older and more serious things were a part of my thinking, I never wanted to let my father down. I wanted to pass on my posterity a good example and help him achieve his goal of having a righteous posterity. So that was on my mind at crossroads in my later years.

When I was very young, Daddy went off to work when I was still in bed. Mother would usually call me and I would run to the front door and give him a hug and a kiss. If, as sometimes happened, she thought, “Richard is tired, I won’t call him this morning,” and Daddy got away before I woke up, she had a crying boy on her hands until noon. When Daddy would come home, I would rush to the door to greet him, and often he would play horse with me around the dining room table. I would be the rider and he was the horse. One time I got bucked off the “horse,” landed on my shoulder, and broke my collar bone.

I had great respect for my father. I sometimes marvel at how close I felt to my father when he had no interest in sports—he had never played sports. All he had done as a boy was to work on a farm. We didn’t go to ball games together, although we did watch major boxing matches as I got older. At that time all of the men and their sons seemed to have great interest in that. I remember the “unbeatable” Joe Lewis.

Mother and Dad wanted me to learn things about electrical wiring so I could do things like change a light switch, and carpentry, so I could build things. When my father was a boy he only learned about farming. He never had a chance to learn any of these types of things. He didn’t know how to change the car oil, but he could get on a horse and ride it up in the hills and herd cattle. He could irrigate, pick fruit, and prune the trees. He knew all about that.

Dad often did special things, showing he cared about me. In my teens, when I was working summers, I used some of the money to start a rabbit business. I got booklets on rabbit raising. I built pens, bought does and bucks, and feed. I raised young rabbits just the right size for marketing, dressed them, and sold them to a Sugar House grocery store for their meat market. In time, I had expanded to twelve pens put together in duplex fashion, with free choice hay and grain feeders. They were located under Dad’s fruit trees behind the garage. I needed two more large pens to house the rabbits being grown for market. There wasn’t a place for any more pens unless I took out two of Dad’s cherished fruit trees. Dad graciously consented. I think I appreciated this much more as a man raising my own fruit trees.

Another time I came home from work, with too little time to wash Dad’s car which was very dirty, and get ready for an important date. When I was ready and went for the car, Dad had washed it for me.

As the children were getting older and to college and mission age, there was need for more money than we had in the family. Dad decided he was going to have to take a second job. He spent the whole day working for South East Furniture. At first it was six days a week. Then he finally got a day off and got some vacation time. He went to a bakery in Sugar House and got a job after hours. He worked late into the night cleaning baking pans and getting everything ready for the bakers when they arrived early the next morning. Well, his intention was good, but it was too much for him. He couldn’t handle that many long hours of hard work, and working that many days of the week. Mother realized that she needed to find a job too, and that’s when she started working.

I learned a lesson during that time. I had worked and I saved quite a bit of money that I used for my rabbits and pens. When I finally got into high school and started dating, I’d buy corsages and spend whatever I needed for dating. One day Dad talked to me about that. He was not a critical person and he was always gentle and considerate. He said, “It seems to be a mistake you’re making to spend so much on these girls when you should be saving more of your money for the girl that someday is going to really count. You’re going to have to go to college, and you’re going to have to buy her a ring. You’re going to have to be able to make a down payment someday on a house. You ought to think a little more carefully at how freely you spend your money.” Then he told me, “I won’t even buy myself a package of gum because it’s so hard to try and pay the bills.” I remember that, and it was during the time when he was working at two jobs. I began to think more about the consequences of some of the things I was doing. I learned to appreciate more what Dad was sacrificing to help the family.

When I was about to end my mission and return home, I got a letter from Dad. He wrote, “You’re coming home now. Your dear mother has worked her heart out” (at the time she was working) “to send you money for your mission. She loves you very much and I don’t want her to feel overlooked. So when you get off the train, I want you to run to her first, and give her a hug because she deserves it.” Dad was constantly thinking about the welfare of mother and he showed it.

Dad’s main hobby was gardening. His whole life, he loved to garden . He planted a beautiful yard and flowers. Unfortunately, he liked it so well that when Mother got out there, she found it was hard to do any creative gardening. She determined she had better not interfere. She just left the gardening to him, and found expression with her other talents, which were many.

One Sunday, I remember Dad helping some hitchhikers. We were on our way home from church at Parley’s ward on the corner of 21st South and 21st East. We started up 21st south, which was a main road then. It went down through Sugar House in one direction and clear up into Parley’s Canyon in the other, so quite a few hitchhikers could be seen along the road back then. There were a couple men standing there as we walked up the street. Dad stopped and asked them, “Have you men had something to eat yet today?” They said, “No, we haven’t.” He said, “Well, c’mon home and we’ll have some dinner for you.” Mother had been home fixing dinner and doing things. When we got home, she really didn’t mind helping them, but she was scared to death of strangers. She was afraid to have them come in the house. However, she agreed if they would just sit and eat on the porch. They didn’t mind doing that for a good meal. They ate, and dad talked to them and treated them well. They appreciated it very much. In fact, one of the men chose to write back a time or two and express his appreciation to Dad.

Dad had a health problem I didn’t know anything about until sometime after his death, when Mother told me. Early in his life, he had some type of illness that left him with a rheumatic heart. He went to the doctor and the doctor told him that he was going to be limited in what he could do. But he wasn’t limited. He gardened, worked, and lived a full life. Later in his life, after he had retired from work, he went to see the doctor. The doctor told him, “Bill, you are remarkable because you had a full and normal life with a bad, rheumatic heart. We felt like that couldn’t happen with your condition.” He then asked, “Would you mind if I take your story when I go back to a medical conference, and refer to you as we discuss rheumatic heart problems?” Dad didn’t mind.

I believe Dad felt he lived as well and as strong as he did, because he was dedicated to following the Word of Wisdom. He ate very healthy all of his life. This was a fulfillment, in my opinion, of the promises in the Word of Wisdom. Dad wished that he might have continued in school and gone into the field of preventive medicine. In that day, there were very few people who talked about maintaining good health with diet and exercise. There really wasn’t a medical school that taught it, but there were a few health lecturers who did.

Along with those interests, Dad joined the Anti-Cigarette League. They sent him an apparatus to be used in lectures. A tape was put into a projector, and turned by hand from slide to slide. It showed how a person who used cigarettes tied himself up in a very difficult habit to break. It illustrated the various poisons besides nicotine found in tobacco. It showed the difference between a healthy kidney and one from a habitual smoker; the difference between a plum and a prune. It showed the difference in the lungs and heart of a smoker versus a nonsmoker. I used to go with Dad when he gave the lectures to youth. The highlight of the lecture was a demonstration with a white mouse. Dad would use the apparatus by putting a cigarette in the tube and lighting it. The smoke would go through the tube, and he would collect the nicotine. The nicotine would then be put it in an eye dropper and given to the unwilling mouse. By the end of the lecture, the mouse was dead. The desire to smoke is one thing I never had a problem with. I was cured of that by just watching those films and listening to the lectures. It was very convincing to me.

One of the reasons I felt so close to Dad, and he had such an influence on me was because of my respect and love for him, for the kind of person he was and what he stood for. I never heard him once profane the name of God or the Savior. I never heard him swear. He never used vile language. He never cheated on his wife. He never told a dirty story. I never heard him tell a poor joke. He never brought any worldly magazines to the house. He was a man of solid goodness. He cared about others, and I saw that in him. He cared about his family. He was a dedicated, kind and faithful husband and father.

I think about the great sacrifices my parents and fore bearers made for me, and the great example they set of complete faithfulness to the Savior and His teachings in their lives. Now it’s my turn. I would surely feel amiss to pass on to my posterity something less.

JournalMy Mother, Lucy Marie Sorenson Stucki top

As a young woman, Mother was a vivacious and talented person, and interested in all kinds of homemaking skills. She was a good cook and she did a lot of canning. She sewed, and knew a lot about fabric. She learned what she could in school, and she learned a lot from a good mother. She went to college, and that is where she met Dad. Mother’s knowledge was enhanced by having gone to college.

When mother and Dad decided that they wanted to get married, they were from quite different family backgrounds. Mother’s parents didn’t really approve of her marrying my dad. Mother saw a lot of good in him, and wasn’t going to be told she couldn’t marry him. So they got married in spite of some objections. Well, I don’t think it was a mistake, though sometimes mistakes happen when we go against the advice of parents. Their first home was on the avenues in Salt Lake City, and that’s where they lived when their children were born.

Mother also knew something about nutrition. Since I was often sick as a boy, she did everything she could to change my health for the better. She’d give me the best school lunch imaginable. She’d put in carrot and celery sticks, nuts, and some dried fruit or raisins. She would make whole wheat bread sandwiches, although they sort of crumbled and fell apart at times. The sandwiches would be made with nutritious things like cheese, lettuce leaves, and other good things. On occasion I’d have a cottage cheese sandwich. She just wanted to put the best things in my lunch. It would seem like too much to eat at times. I noticed some of the other boys would open their sacks and take out a stack of about six white bread sandwiches, each with jam on it, and that was their lunch. I came to appreciate my mother and all the extra things she did for me. Some threw the leftover part of their lunches in the garbage, but I could never do that.

Mother had little sayings that she would quote on certain occasions. One I remember is “If you get a lemon, make lemonade.” She was such a positive thinker; she believed everything could be turned to our advantage. My, I’ve used that bit of advice often and it’s helped a lot.

Around the time I got into junior high school, we moved from Garfield Avenue to a house in a better neighborhood, with bigger homes and larger yards. At that time, Mother and Dad began had an economic crunch because of the demands for clothes, school costs, college, and so on. Mother talked to Dad about it and said, “We’re going to have to do something. Why don’t we get out and start our own business?” “What kind of business would you think of?” Dad wondered. She said, “Why don’t we start a carpet store. That’s something there is great demand for. You could do well—you’re an excellent salesman and I’d help you. I could help with the books and advertising and things.” She encouraged him, and they talked and thought about a number of different options. But, Dad never felt like he was quite ready to do it. It seemed too risky to him. He worried about not having money to pay the bills. He was working at Southeast Furniture at the time, and he had a steady income. He could count on it, and he knew it would be there. His background was farming, so there were some things he didn’t feel comfortable with. Mother came from a business family, and it was second nature for her to think about doing this kind of thing. Although, in that era, women didn’t very often venture out as she had proposed for her and Dad.

Since Dad just didn’t feel like he wanted to take that step, Mother decided she’d better look for a job. She applied at the ZCMI store in downtown Salt Lake City, which was the big store of that era. They were happy for someone with her background and offered her a job in the fabric department. She was to start work the next day, as I remember. She was told what the pay would be, and she weighed things out in her mind. When she got home, Mother said, “If I can’t earn more on my own than what I’m going to get paid working in a fabric department, then there’s something the matter with me!” So, she decided she was going to start her own business. But of course, this would take a bit of financing.

From the time Southeast Furniture had opened, to this point in our family’s history, the furniture company had grown and prospered. Grandpa Sorenson, who was the owner (his sons had become involved in the business, too) had enough money to give each of his daughters a duplex or something similar. In my mother’s case, it was a duplex with a little house adjacent. It took too much time and care, and eventually they sold the duplex. With the money from the sale, Mother had enough to start her business.

She opened a dress and gift shop called La Rie’s in Sugar House. The name was a blend of Mother’s name, Lucy Marie. Sugar House was the first suburban Salt Lake City shopping area. This was where Southeast Furniture was also located, and their slogan was, “Drive out and save!” La Rie’s was one of the very first, if not the first ladies dress shop started in suburban Salt Lake City. Actually, it didn’t start as a dress shop, but sold handmade gifts and infants things. In a matter of a few months, Mother realized there was a lot more to be made buying, stocking, and selling a complete line of things for women rather than just handmade items. The handmade things were nice, but she realized she couldn’t derive the income needed from them. She took a plunge, and began going to the merchandise market and buying goods. She had a couple of kind friends who gave her help and advice. She had courage enough to do it, and Dad supported her all the way.

After the first store in Sugar House was prospering and she was able to save some money, Mother opened another little store in Murray. A third store opened in Rose Park, and finally another in Midvale. Dad would deliver the new merchandise. He’d put things in his car, carefully laid out, and drive them to the different shops. That’s what happened for a number of years until the business got bigger and they bought a delivery truck.

There was a price though, to Mother’s business venture, and that was her time. She had a lion by the tail, and she was trying to do it alone. It took much more time and energy than a person had, and she needed more help. At times, Dad would be home alone, and lonesome in the evenings when mother had to stay and write orders or take care of business matters. She did get an accountant and hired an office girl. Then she hired a second office girl, and she had several sales girls. It still required her involvement in many ways including buying the right merchandise.

There were rewards too. Eventually, Dad and Mother had the chance to take some wonderful trips to different parts of the world. They wouldn’t have been able to except for the extra financing that Mother was able to contribute.

Mother could also do things to help her children. If we knew all the things she had done for children and grandchildren, with her ability to help finance things, it would be quite a story to tell. She kept it very quiet when she helped a sister’s husband, struggling to get through college and about ready to quit. She helped with some finances. Then there was a granddaughter who wanted so badly to be an artist, but never had a brush or paints. One day, Mother took her to an art store and told the clerk, “I want you to give her everything she needs for studying, practicing and working at oil painting.” She bought her everything she needed. This granddaughter later became a very famous artist. Mother did things for every one of us, but she never talked about it. Some of these things I’ve come to know about. I appreciate how she utilized her success to assist members of the family and many others.

Mother’s sister, Faye needed a job when her husband passed away. So Mother hired her and put her in charge of the children, infants and maternity department at La Rie’s. She worked there with Mother for years.

A lady I met on my mission; someone I knew very well and admired, Sister Bigney, was leaving Nova Scotia and moving to Utah with her husband and family. She needed a job. I asked Mother if, when Sister Bigney got here, she would give her a job, and Mother did.

I was impressed with how Mother dealt with another situation. A young woman applied for a bookkeeping job at La Rie’s. She looked like just the type of person Mother would like to handle the books, so she hired her. After a little while, it became obvious that this young woman, who was not married, was expecting a baby. In those days, even when a woman was married and in the best of circumstances, when she got pregnant and started showing, her job ended. Back then, that’s the way it was. Mother sat down with the girl one day, and said, “I think there’s something you need to talk to me about.” The girl admitted that she was pregnant. She pled with Mother to not fire her and she didn’t. Mother told her that if she did her work, she had a job. The girl’s family had disowned her. When it came time for the baby to arrive, the girl needed some help with the bill. She had saved some money, but when the hospital found out she was an unwed mother, they told her she had to have someone to guarantee the bill in case she couldn’t pay it. Mother told the hospital to take care of the girl, and she would pay the bill if the girl couldn’t. As I recall, Mother was at the hospital with the girl when the baby arrived. The girl’s own mother wasn’t there. Some time later, the girl made some improvements in her circumstances, moved to a different job, and married a nice young man. One day, this young man came into the shop and wanted to see Mrs. Stucki. He told her, “I just wanted to come in and tell you how much I appreciated what you did to help my wife when she was in desperate need. Thank you for being her friend.”

When Mother was actively working in her business and opening the various branch stores, she would hire good people. It didn’t concern her if they didn’t have training for the particular job, if she saw potential in them. She would work with them for a month or more, teaching them the job and how to serve customers. Some people that you might think would never be able to pick it up, became good, capable salespeople and store managers. Mother saw the best in people, unpolished though they were. I see a parallel with the way the Savior sees people. The development we gain from church service, assignments, and many other ways, helps us to become something we have potential for but wouldn’t otherwise achieve.

One of the most notable of those circumstances was a lady in Rose Park. She became one of the most successful and capable store managers. Eventually she gained all of the skills that she was lacking when she started out. It has impressed me over the years since then, how the Lord does this with our lives. If we follow him, read about him, and utilize his teachings and example, then when our life has ended, we will have become trained and skilled in heavenly qualities.

On occasion, when an employee would get irritated with Mother about something, and tell her off, Mother would just listen, and when it was over she wouldn’t say anything. She didn’t retaliate or fire the employee. Others who were present and noticed her kindness, were impressed and came to admire her for this. After many years, when the business was going to close and the employees heard of it, most of them said they would stay to the last day. She had some very dedicated people working for her because she had earned their respect.

Mother had a special attachment to her grandchildren. There isn’t anyone I know who loved their grandchildren more. If she was working with a salesman and a daughter or daughter-in-law came in with some of her children, Mother would drop everything and ask the salesman to wait. She always gave the children a hug and talked to them. It was an amazing thing to see salesmen stand and wait, while she spent time with her grandchildren. She would find either a little treat or something the grandchild needed in the way of clothing, and give them special attention. The grandchildren always came first.

It was a unique thing, in my mother’s day, for a woman to get into the merchandise markets. Mother was always a lady. Also, the salesmen knew she wouldn’t take a drink. Later on I became part of the company, as did my brother-in-law, Lynn Christensen. When we would go to the market, the salesmen wouldn’t even ask us. They knew from Mother’s standards, the standards we had. Mother had shown by her example, what we all stood for.

Dad would often go with Mother to the markets, especially if it appeared she might be walking into a situation that may not be a wholesome one. Sometimes, when she left for an appointment, she would arrange to call Dad if she found she needed him with her. One time she went to the merchandise market at the Hotel Utah. As she was about to enter the salesman’s room where the merchandise was, she noticed the lights dimmed, a candle lit, and a bottle of champagne or wine on the table. She slipped back to the elevator, went to a phone and called my dad. She asked him if he could get there quickly. As soon as he got there, they both went up to the room. When the salesman saw she had brought her husband with her, he had a whole change of attitude. The lights went on, the candle went out, and the champagne went in the back room. Mother never violated the fidelity and goodness that would be expected of a Latter-day Saint woman.

As Mother was engaged in this growing business, with most of the responsibility on her shoulders alone, one day she became so weary and tired from staying up late to get orders done that she just collapsed there in her office. Through this, we were alerted to the fact that the burden on her was more than we had realized. I was still in school then, but in due time when Lynn and I came to help, we were able to take much of the responsibility to lighten her load.

There was an experience I had with Mother when I was seventeen. It was when she was working and would go to the merchandise markets in California, Chicago, or New York. The first time I went with her was when I was still in high school. I was out of school, so she invited me to go with her. She made a reservation for us at the LaSalle Hotel in Chicago. A check was sent and she got back a confirmation. She always had to make reservations early because so many people attended the markets that the hotels would fill up.

We flew to Chicago and drove to the hotel by taxi. We went to the front desk, Mother gave her name and told them we had a reservation and wanted to check in. They told us they couldn’t find it. Mother told them, “That can’t be, because I sent my check and you sent me back a confirmation for a room with two beds.” They looked again but couldn’t find her reservation. In all the years, that never happened to her before or after. This time it was lost. Mother felt like they just had to make a place for us. But they told us they were completely filled up and didn’t have one room left. The sympathetic desk clerk told us she had a friend who owned some furnished apartments, and that she would probably have an empty one. She called her friend and made arrangements for us to stay there, so we did. In the middle of the night, we were awakened by lots of fire engines. They came across a bridge over a river and headed down the same street as we were on. We marveled at how many fire engines came one after the other. We wondered where the fire was. The next morning, the bold newspaper headlines told about how the LaSalle Hotel, where we were supposed to have stayed, had burned. Fifty-two people had died and two hundred were injured. This was one of quite a few times in my life, when the Lord spared me, and I am most grateful.

When mother was in business with her first dress shop, she needed some stock room shelves. She bought me a saw and asked if I would come help her. I went out and helped her put the shelves up. I still have that saw and it’s my favorite one. I’ve had it all these years. I always think of my mother and our experiences together when I use that saw.

My respect for Mother grew as I got older and appreciated all she did for people, and her gentle, kind and loving nature. One of the last years of her life was spent with Margie and me in Castle Valley. In all of the time that she was there, I can’t remember once when she complained. Sometimes, I’d cook dinner (I’m not very good at that), but it didn’t matter how poor it was or how late it came, she never had a word of complaint. I was busy working and wasn’t home all of the time. But, when I came home, I found if I spent 20 minutes or so with her, talking about my day and other things, she loved to sit there and listen. I enjoyed being able to talk to her and express myself without lectures or comments, just listening. I learned a lesson about being a good listener from her example.

JournalMy Grandparents top

I never really knew my Grandma Stucki because she had passed away. Grandpa Stucki lived down in the Santa Clara area of Utah. He came up to Salt Lake City on rare occasions. I was very young and barely remember seeing him before he passed away. I have a photograph that shows he apparently went on a trip with my family once when I was young.

I know my Grandpa Stucki very well though, because he wrote a journal that told much of his life’s experiences. I am so grateful for that. If I were to lose everything I had, and could only save a couple things, I’d grab my scriptures and John S. Stucki’s Journal. It means that much to me. I’m sorry that my grandmother hadn’t written anything. She would have had much of interest to tell from her perspective. My great grandparents left their families in Switzerland and eventually came across the plains with handcarts to Utah. I wish I had something from them, too.

I remember more about my mother’s parents, my Grandpa and Grandma Sorenson. My first recollection of them is when we would go to their home for Thanksgiving and for Christmas Eve. They had wonderful dinners, and I had fun playing with the toys they had in a large basement room. They seemed to have quite a bit of money, because I remember they had a very nice, spacious house, and a big yard with a fish pond. It was on about 13th East, below the university.

They started out their marriage quite humbly. Grandma told us that early on, when they had a young family, they lived above a store in an apartment. She would carry their water from ground level up all those the stairs, for washing, cooking, and laundry.

Grandma also told about Grandpa wanting to get started in business, and selling Monarch ranges. These were the old-fashioned wood or coal cook stoves with a water tank on one end where you could heat water. He was very successful at it and sold stoves all over the state of Utah. As he traveled about in his car selling stoves, he would often come home with his car sold. Sometimes he would come home in someone’s old jalopy that he had sold his car to. Then he would buy himself a new car, and on the next trip he would sell it. He was quite a salesman. Grandma told about when he once drove home in a car that he had traded his for, and the car was in such a condition that he couldn’t figure out how to stop it. When he arrived home, he plowed into the garden before he got the car stopped.

My Grandma Sorenson was a good cook and she always made the most delicious things. She was famous with her grandchildren for her sugar cookies. She used a special rolling pin and rolled them quite thin. The rolling pin made little ridges running the length of the cookie. We always looked forward to a visit to Grandma and a treat, often those sugar cookies.

Grandpa seemed to have a special liking for a little rounded, flat, butterscotch candy. I hardly ever saw them anywhere else, but he always had a box of them on the top shelf of his closet. So when we went to visit, we got one of Grandpa’s special butterscotch candies.

When Grandpa started Southeast Furniture, he had his son Horace, my dad, and my Uncle Harvey (Mother’s sister, Faye’s husband) who were all involved in the business. They did all the selling, the unpacking of furniture in the evenings after the store had closed, the deliveries, the cleaning of the store, etc. Little by little, it grew until it was a very large and successful establishment with many salesmen, delivery trucks and delivery men. My dad worked from the very beginning of Southeast Furniture until his retirement.

Grandpa’s sons became part owners of the business and one time, early on, Grandpa offered my father and Uncle Harvey a chance to become part owners. For some reason, which I don’t know, they declined. They received commissions for their furniture sales as salesmen, but the sons got considerably more money as part owners. This made a difference between the income levels of the daughters’ families and the sons’ families. My uncles were charismatic and involved in the community affairs. Some of them used their extra income for other investments besides the furniture store, which proved to be a very wise thing in later years. In some cases, the money they earned was not for their best interests, from what I know.

Grandpa was on the high council at one time in his stake. He did much, as did some of his sons, for the community and other people. Grandpa was always helping family members. Sometimes, my mother would be at the point where she was so pressed, she didn’t know how she was going to pay the bills. Grandpa would come and quietly say, “I just wanted to bring you a little money.” He did much to help my mother and father in that way as they tried to advance toward their goals.

Many years later, Grandma Sorenson came to stay for a period of time in our home with me, Margie and our family. We had Grandma stay in our master bedroom where she had a fireplace, a view out the front window, and her own bathroom. Her room was just off the front entry, so company could easily visit. She paid us something for the help we were giving her, which we were grateful for and needed at the time. She was a delightful person to be around. She would eat dinner with the family, and we enjoyed the stories she would tell about her life. I tried to make a point of visiting with her every day after work.

JournalMy in-laws top

I’d like to say a couple things about Margie’s mother and dad. When her mother took sick, her father faithfully cared for her, and loved her the rest her life. I know of some similar situations, where the husband left his wife when she contracted a serious disease. One of the most admirable things I’ve seen in my life, is how Arnold, Christ-like, gave himself for his wife. He made many sacrifices to give her what joy, comfort and help he could. I admire him so much for that. I also admire Myrtle, because even though she must have had blue and discouraging moments, she was always a lovely, happy and pleasant person. I never heard complaints from her. She stayed faithful to her principles, faithful to the Lord, and pleasant in her attitude, in spite of the devastating illness she faced. I love them both, as I love my own parents.

Patriarchal Blessing In my senior year of high school, when I was dealing with a number of problems about which I’ve previously written, I sought the help I knew could come from my Father in Heaven. I called our stake patriarch and set up an appointment to receive my patriarchal blessing. I had perfect confidence that it would provide the guidance I was seeking in my life.

As was customary at the time, the patriarch came to my home to give the blessing. I didn’t recall having ever seen or met him before. I felt the spirit very strongly and was highly motivated by the things the patriarch told me. Each blessing promised me in this life, under certain conditions, has come to pass. Those things that had seemed to be momentous problems quickly passed away. My pathway has been constantly made clear as my life has progressed.

I fulfilled a mission in Nova Scotia, Canada. I did find a choice eternal companion with whom I have been sealed for eternity. Together we have labored for many years supporting each other in numerous church callings, having and raising children that have brought us much joy in life, and providing a living in a work-a-day world.

We’ve gone many times to the temple since our marriage including the inspiring experience of serving as temple ordinance workers, and as a sealer. Many very sacred moments were experienced as we conducted the Lord’s work in his temple.

I have found that the spiritual gifts spoken of in scripture can most assuredly be ours when our lives are in harmony with the Savior’s teachings and commandments. I cannot express enough appreciation for the countless times when discernment has been greatly needed, and I’ve been enabled to make those judgments. The Lord has been most gracious to me.

And finally, Marjorie and I were able to serve as senior missionaries on an 18 month mission to Winnsboro, Louisiana. In a harmonious blend of each partner’s special talents, we overcame some serious obstacles and were able to do much good among members and others alike.

As I continue with my history it’s the year 2004. Marjorie and I have much we yet look forward to. Perhaps it will be a mission together in the spirit world, which I even grow anxious for. It’s our hope and prayer that we will be present at the grand second coming of the Savior when he will be the “King of kings” and “Lord of lords.” We especially desire to have each of our beloved family present with us at that great event, and for that blessing we will continually work and pray.

JournalCastle Valley top

An Era of Sweeping Changes
Few of us could anticipate those things that were about to take place as Salt Lake City’s population expanded and whole new concepts in the retail industry began to take place. The smaller community specialty stores, which had been successful for many years, were going to be replaced by the establishment of new malls which would draw the customers to these central points, and each of the main retailers in the Salt Lake area foresaw the need to try and keep up by opening branches in the new malls. There was a program introduced by financial institutions that seemed the only answer, since most of us did not have the finances to “pay as we go.” They called it leasing … that is you could have a financial institution pay for fixturing of a store and then they would lease you the fixturing. In time, by monthly payments, you would pay off the debt and own the fixtures. It was another angle of how to borrow money. LaRie’s, as we thought about it, decided to do as others were doing. We investigated the different malls and began to make plans and open stores in those particular locations that seemed to be best. It all seemed well and good until one day our accountant said, having brought the books up-to-date for some period of time, “You’re in big trouble. You’re spending way more for your overhead in these different stores and in making the payments that you’re obligated to make, than you’ve got money coming in from sales.” What was happening to us, we didn’t realize until a little later, was happening to most of the other main retail establishments in the valley. They were going bankrupt also. When it was over we had brought to mind the fact that during this expansion time we heard from the brethren rather frequently to get out of debt and to keep out of debt. It seemed like that was for everyone else, but we in retailing had to be competitive and so we made the mistake of not listening to that advice. I could name a dozen different retail establishments including LaRie’s that found themselves one after the other in bankruptcy and closing down for good including a major department store—Auerbach’s. We could not foresee the establishment of Wal-Mart and others that had such a drawing power and they also affected the outcome. We tried everything we could to find some additional financing. There were people we knew that could have put money in and we believed this would see us through this time of crisis. But we learned something from them: If they have money invested that’s making money, they don’t want to pull it out and put it into something that losing money. They called it “Don’t send good money after bad.” After considerable effort to secure some outside financing which we were unable to find, it became inevitable that we were going to have to take out bankruptcy as a company. One heart-warming thing was that Mother had been so well liked by her employees for many years that they all said they would stay with the company and see us through until we closed. We had that faithful support of employees in all of the stores until that day came when the doors had to close. I had never thought I’d see the day, but I surely gained a lot more understanding of other people who had gone through similar kinds of frustrations. Now where do you work? What are you going to do to make your money to pay your bills? So we began to think and plan and see what we were going to be able to come up with. We did learn about a special chapter in bankruptcy which permitted a company if they had adequate resources available in fixturing and stocks and so on to gather together all of their assets in the one most profitable location and start over almost free of debt giving them a chance to make a revival of their business. I became very interested in that. Mother was weary and didn’t want to be a part of it, but she surely would support me, she said. I had all of the figures available and went over them with a very capable accountant with expertise in this area. He said that I had as good a chance as anyone he’d ever seen to make it work. That was pulling all of the resources back together to the Cottonwood Mall store that had been very successful for some time. I made arrangements to meet with this person who was helping us with our problems and do the necessary paperwork to get started toward this goal. I remember it was late one night when all of the last figures had been put together, I had things firmly in my mind, and I was ready to meet him the next morning. As I was heading for bed, it came to me that this was something I really ought to pray about, and so I went down to the basement where I was all alone and knelt down and prayed very earnestly to know if this was the right thing for me to be doing. It seemed like the counsel given in the Doctrine and Covenants, section 9, verses 7-9 jumped out and filled my mind with thoughts. This passage tells us that when we have a problem and need an answer, first we must study it out in our mind. I had surely done that. Then we must ask if it be right, and I was doing that in my prayer. And it says, “And if it is right, I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you, therefore you shall feel that it is right. But if it is not right, you shall have no such feelings but shall have a stupor of thought that will cause you to forget the thing which is wrong.” That’s what I was experiencing in trying to tell Father in Heaven why this thing I wanted to do so terribly much was right, I seemed unable to explain the reasons. I closed my prayer and I thought about it and I said, this must be an answer … but I’ve got so much as stake I’ve got to be sure.” I prayed again and found the same thing happening. I had all of the reasons why I should be doing it, but I had no confirmation of assurance. I closed my prayer. At least once more I went back, but this time I said, “Father in Heaven, although this is something I want desperately, Thy will be done, and if it is not Thy will, it is so important to me, I need a very clear sign indication so that I don’t make a mistake as I select the best option.” Then I said, “Since I have been receiving no confirmation I’ve decided not to do it.” A wonderful feeling swept over me that can hardly be described. I had been told most certainly that this wasn’t something that I should be doing. I went to bed and the next morning I called the man that was going to meet me to proceed with this program and tell him I had decided I was not going to do it.

Of course that left us with a lot of questions as to what we were to do now. Somehow things come along at the right time to see us through some of our difficult trials. My Grandma Sorenson who had lived in retirement with certain family members in the past was needing another place to stay, and we invited her to come to our house. We had a very nice newly remodeled area that had been completed a couple years earlier with a nice view out the front window, a fireplace and a private bath. It was almost like her own little suite coming in the front door. She decided she would like to come and stay with us, and she did so for a year. Family and friends could come an visit, and she was very happy staying with us. She also wanted to pay us a certain amount each month for maintaining her—money that would otherwise have gone to a rest home. That saw us through this difficult period.

During this time that Grandma was with us, we decided we’d try a little antique store and gift shop with handmade gifts and restored antiques. We found a nice little house in a convenient location—an older home that had some charm. We began to fix it up, paint it, and do everything we could to make it very attractive.

We knew we would have to get a permit to operate the business, and so when we were just to that point and ready begin, we went down to talk to the people who would be giving us their approval. As we sat in the meeting—a city council meeting, we were anxious as we saw them order someone to take down a garage because they hadn’t obtained a building permit and that sort of thing. As our turn arrived, we were informed that there were building restrictions for opening a business at that location. They told us we would have to provide a handicap ramp to the building entrance and modify the door ways to allow wheelchair access. We were also told that the basement stairs didn’t meet the specifications so we would have to change them, and other things including parking requirements. We explained to the council members that we were a little “mom and pop” operation and that we were just starting up. We had no way of financing all of these changes. We were afraid they would just do as they had been doing and tell us that we wouldn’t be able to do it.

Then one of the men stood up and he said that if a little “mom and pop” operation can’t be given a chance to succeed, what have we come to? He urged that we be given a variance so that we could go ahead and operate our business without demanding such extreme things from us. We were happy to be able to walk out of the meeting with permission to begin our antique and gift shop business.

The business was small and it wasn’t really bringing in all of the money we needed, but it was a start. We had family members contributing their handicrafts that sold well. We had some pretty prominent people that heard about our little shop and came down to buy things. This wasn’t the typical antique shop: everything we put out for sale had been repaired and restored. I had set up a workshop in the basement in order to be able to do that.

There was something new that came on the horizon. For a long time, Marjorie had wanted to have an experience living in the country. From time to time, we’d go to look at nearby or some more distant places to see what was available and what kind of property we might be able to buy, how big it would be, and mostly it was disappointing. There were wonderful ads which would talk about a beautiful pond, shade trees, and so on, but when we would get out to look at the place there would be a mud puddle, and it wasn’t that great. Nothing seemed to really be the right thing.

We had stopped our looking during this time of the bankruptcy. However, Margie saw in the newspaper one day a full page pictured ad of a place called Castle Valley outside of Moab and looking up at Castle Rock. It sounded so inviting, she said, “I’m going to go and see what’s there.” She took a couple of the children (Kim and Robyn) and went down to see. I expected it would be a similar experience to the others we had had, but when she came back, she was just glowing. She said, “You’ve got to come with… you’ve got to come see.” We arranged a time to get away and for me to go down and take a look with her.

All of family went. It was evening as we drove up the river road that accompanies the Colorado River, from Moab up towards this Castle Valley area. A phenomena that happens once in while was of great interest, because all of a sudden as the clouds and the sun… everything was just right… a very bright, vivid beam of light struck one of the big mountain peaks (buttes) ahead and just covered it with light. And she always felt that was a good sign.

It was as nice a place and as country a place as we could have asked for.

We talked about it and some of our other relatives knew what we were thinking about and they weren’t very keen on the idea. I could foresee all kinds of problems, but hardly could I imagine what it would really be like to make that kind of a move from our present adequate home out into the country starting up in fields.

We made an appointment to go see the realtor who was then selling the property. We were one of the very first people to buy property and start occupying it there in Castle Valley. We went to where he was living up in Castleton and visited with him and we were all ready to sign the papers to make the transaction. I was very hesitant inside, worrying about the consequences. But I remembered how often Margie had expressed (these sentiments), and now more than ever expressed that this is something she had always wanted to do. I felt if we didn’t do it, it would be a great disappointment to her. I thought, let’s put caution (to) the wind in favor doing something that would mean so much to Margie. So in just a relatively few moments of deliberation, I made that choice to sign the papers and do it.

Being one of the first among many who eventually came to the valley to purchase lots, we had our pick. We chose a very green and beautiful spot. We got two five-acre lots that were side-by-side… with huge cottonwood trees at the back of the property and a greenbelt which looked like we were living on the edge of a forest. We had water rights which most of the lots didn’t have.

Time doesn’t permit the telling of all of the things that can be imagined that we had to do to get ready and make that move from our home, getting it listed and down to Castle Valley.

On June 4, 1976, when I was almost 48 years of age, we landed in a field to begin our truly pioneering experience in our own present time. In spite of the fact that we were, at least for a number of years, almost on the verge of poverty, and had to work very hard and all of the adversities we ran into, we were all very happy. It was a creative opportunity and it did a lot of remarkable things for the spiritual welfare of our family. At later times when I would talk about what a great thing it had been, some people would say to me, “I guess I should sell my house and move down there,” and I’d say to them, “Well, what you need to do is pray and ask Father in Heaven what’s right for you. This was right for us.” There were a lot of families moving in at that time. The property was fairly inexpensive and they would come with quite a few children. Some of them, it worked out pretty well and some not so good depending on all types of circumstances. But for us, it was the best thing that had happened in our lives.

We bought a used pickup truck to help us move down and borrowed a big enclosed van. On the way our troubles began. The truck threw a rod in the motor near Green River. We managed to get to the farm location, get the truck down there, and began unloading most of our things to a rented storage shed in downtown Moab.

We started out with a tent, but after a few days in the sun and heat, we quickly moved that tent down under the large cottonwood trees where we got some shade. The house in Salt Lake didn’t sell as quickly as we hoped it would, so we were very short of money. For the first summer we had to improvise in every possible way to get started and be in some kind of a finished house or shelter before winter came. The remainder of the summer, we were on what you could call a perpetual camping trip down in the trees trying to establish facilities for sleeping, cooking, washing. We had electric power available and could plug in a stove. We took the camper top and put it on some framework and made a little kitchen where we could put in a refrigerator. We got a “john” established with a little building we made. Then we put the tent on a wood platform where we would sleep at night in very crowded bunk conditions which we built. Soon we replace the tent with actual wood framework. To this day, we refer to it as “the Bunkhouse.” It was something like 10 by 12 feet in size.

As fall wore on, it began to get cold at night and we would all huddle down in our sleeping bags on our bunk beds to keep warm while we would read together. We put a little pot-bellied stove in to try and help warm the building up, but it had so many cracks that it really hardly helped. But we were happy, very happy doing the things that we were doing together.

(Animals) Pigs We always kept the animal pens very clean and sprinkled with straw. One of the first animals we brought to the farm was a big sow. When we went shopping and bought this big sow, we saw pigs as big as cows. I had no idea they could get so enormous. One day as we went out we saw the sow asleep on the straw and next to it, cuddled up, was Mathew sleeping next to it in the straw and having his own nap by that big, friendly sow.

We had an experience later on where our sow—a different one—was going to be having piglets. We had read carefully in the book about the process as we always had to do, learning everything as we went. One little piglet was born and nothing happened—no more piglets came. Marge, with her special talent of pursuing something that didn’t seem right, said that we know from reading that pigs never have just one and if there’s a dead pig it can stop the rest from coming and lead to the death of the sow and the rest of the pigs. You’ve got to do what the book says and reach up and find the little dead pig and pull it out. So, referring to the book, I reached my arm in up to my elbow and there was a little mass there. I pulled it out and it was dead pig and immediately all of the rest began to be born, healthy and in a normal fashion. About another nine or ten of them were born.

All of the family, Margie and the children, participated in all of our farm projects and happily. Sometimes each one had a special assignment to their liking. Kim, in grade school, for a long time took care of the milk goats… milking them. When we bottled it up and sold goat milk at the co-op, she earned some money from the sale.

All was well making pets with our animals until it came time to butcher some of them and no one wanted the experience of killing their pet… and especially not eating it at the dinner table. And so certain ones we had to sort of designate as having that kind of outcome and not make pets of them or it was impossible to put them to use. We did butcher the animals when the time came… again learning from the book what to do and how to take care of everything.

As time went along, we subscribed to publications and ordered in books that answered questions on organic gardening, nutritional matters, and continued to enlighten ourselves more and more. Actually opinions were changing and we found that the amount of meat people were eating was not a necessary thing but rather a luxury, and often harmful to their health. We also learned the point of view of the vegetarians and something began to dawn on me… As we’d raise a pig for butchering and get quite a bit of nice meat from it, it would take bags and bags of whole grains and that if times got hard and we had to rely on it, the amount of grain that we put into one pig would have fed our whole family for a year, and we wouldn’t have suffered from starvation. I realized that from a world view that if America just cut down to what was best for us instead of our appetites, the leftover grains that would be saved and feedstuff would have produced enough foods that we could have stopped a famine in one of the lands of Africa where many were dying of starvation. One important factor in our thinking was that I went to a priesthood Saturday night leadership meeting in connection with a General Conference. President Spencer W. Kimball gave a special talk that some of us refer to as The Little Birds Talk. He said to the brethren, we should never go out hunting and shooting and killing for the thrill of having killed something. We need to begin to think about what it’s going to be like in the millennium when no animals will be killed or butchered, but everything lives in harmony and peace. No animals will threaten others of the animal kingdom, and we don’t threaten them. I don’t know how it went over. I don’t think with the deer hunters that it made too big a hit, but it certainly gave me something to think about.

At any rate, the last time I butchered an animal, it was a pig. As it hung there by its hind leg looking at me, unable to die, and I never butchered another animal again.

The first few years we tried to raise our own hay. It worked… we had an elaborate sprinkler system that required a lot of energy to keep changing it and setting the water. When the time came to harvest the hay, we had to have somebody come and cut it for us and we would rake it and put it in a stack. We would try to save by producing our own hay. I found that by the end of the summer, it had cost so much for electricity pumping the water that I could actually buy the hay for less. So, we turned our fields into pastures where the horses and cows could graze contentedly from early spring until late in the fall, even after Thanksgiving. Then we could buy just enough hay to see us through the winter time from the nearest and best local source for good alfalfa hay.

Additional experience about serving as Branch President:
When people began to move into the valley at the first there were a lot of families, some poorer people who came for the same reason we did, they could afford the land and there was a trend to go back to the country which was shared by quite a few. Usually there were a lot of children. Later on it got to where the property went up in price and the people coming and buying property were more retired couples with money enough to build their house and do the things they wanted. But they didn’t have too many years before one of them would get sick and pass away, and they would have to be finding another place.

One of the early families, however, that we got to know well was an older retired couple. I think one of them had had some connection with the church as a child, but they were off on the typical kind of protestant thinking. I would visit with them from time to time and got to be good friends. They lived in a very run down little trailer with an add-on constructed kitchen area. We would often discuss things. We didn’t make doctrinal progress but got to be good friends. On one occasion, I heard from them that they were losing their lot because they were behind two payments and when they missed the next one, the person who had sold them the property wanted it back. They wanted to be able to resale it and make a much better profit. And they were going to lose it. I went away and thought about that a little bit. I was in charge of the fast offering funds and could draw on them. I had very little occasion to do so although a lot of people in Castle Valley were struggling hard to make ends meet. But in this case, it would have taken such a little bit. I know it is reserved for the use of the saints, and what the program is, but I said to myself, “well, if he was here, what would the Savior do?” So I wrote out a check and went up and paid their back payments and saved their property. They had no place to go and not money enough to buy anything else or do anything else. They would have been homeless. All the rest of the time we were there in Castle Valley, they lived there, passed away, and a son was living there. I thought what a great difference it made to have just a little bit of compassion on somebody in need who was outside the church as well as within.

I was a part of many things which I never went home and talked about. In fact, Margie would always hear through the grapevine about things that I had never mentioned, because I didn’t want to violate any confidence that somebody had expressed something to me.

You might say we saved the best until last, as we talk about wonderful benefits of living in the country on a homestead farm. That was our trees and especially our fruit trees. Very early we started planting. We put in nut trees, all kinds of fruit trees, shade trees, and even transplanted from the foothills some little two-foot tall evergreens. They made it and continued to grow and now are very tall trees around the house. We took the highest corner of the property, as we read we should do, to plant an orchard where perhaps it would not be touched by frost. We planted three full rows of apple trees and additional ones up and down our driveway and around the turn-around. We had about 40 different kinds of apples from very famous varieties that grew centuries ago in the early United States to the latest crosses available at the time. We had apples as early as cherries and apricots came on. They were nice to get fresh even though they didn’t last very long. As the later apples came on, they could be saved and stored, and juiced and eaten. We never used sprays or commercial fertilizers. We had plenty of horse and cow manure to enrich our fields and gardens. We had a couple rows of pear trees. We had rows of famous kinds of plums and Italian prunes that had pits that came free so easily that we could dry them as well as eat them. There was a row of apricot trees, cherry trees, and several rows of nectarine and peach trees.

When the frost got our earlier fruit, we still had plenty of things left. Even on the worst years, our apples and pears would survive. We found that being down in the valley and closer to the creek, we lost our cherries and apricots when people with a lot just above us would have them. But there was a silver lining to the cloud, because in the hot summers when they were sitting up in the sunshine and roasting through the evening, we were down where the cooler breezes followed the creek bed down from the mountains and cooled us off nicely.

On the good years, we had a bumper crop of everything.

JournalDad's journal of days in Castle Valley top

Some school bus driving experiences

The other bus drivers and the man who was head of transportation were very congenial people and pleasant to be around and to work with. During the cold winter time I would have considerable trouble some mornings, when the temperatures had dropped low at night, getting the bus to start. There were some tricks I learned from the head of transportation, but finally after enough troubles, he got some kind of an engine heater put in the bus that I could plug in at night, which solved the problem. However, one morning I was having real trouble getting it started. I was about 15 min late on my run by the time I got the bus moving. I was instructed to always go up to the end of the valley and not to pick anybody up until I turned around and came down, so that I only stopped once at each of the stops after more of the kids had showed up at the bus stop. So as I proceeded along, I saw a little girl coming down the road. She wasn’t to the stop yet but I just continued on. When I got to the top and turned around and came back, the little girl was at the stop with her daddy, and was he mad. He really told me off for having left his little girl standing in that bitter cold with no gloves on her hands—her hands freezing. I just listened and realized there wasn’t much I could say at the moment, but how this all turned out would probably have more to do with what I did now than what he had said. He was a brother in the branch, and I didn’t want any bad feelings in the branch, so when I got to town and got thinking about it, some teachings of the Savior came to mind like “Bless them that curse you and do good to them...” I thought “I’m going to go buy her a pair of warm gloves, and I’m going to write a little note to her dad and explain the policy and tell him that “if I had known she was so cold, I would have stopped for her anyhow. I made a mistake. Please forgive me for that.” So when she got off the bus after school, she went home with gloves on her hands and my little note. It was the end of the problem permanently, and his friendship and mine continued to grow in the years ahead. When he suddenly passed away in the valley, the family wanted me to speak at his funeral, so sometimes such little things the Savior taught us can stop big problems, and it was pleasing to see how this all tuned out well. Every driver has had difficult students that would not follow the rules, wouldn’t keep in their seats, who throw things around the bus, and who hollered profanities and vile words back and forth. Mostly the kids were well behaved on the bus. It just took a couple of those other kind to create a problem. Well some of those kids didn’t like my effort to try and calm them down, and one day their parents showed at the superintendent’s office and said they wanted to get a new bus driver and get rid of me. He called me in a little later and told me I’m on probation. Well the next morning, a whole lot of parents from different families from the valley whose children rode the bus showed up at the superintendent’s office and said to him “What do we hear about you changing Richard. We don’t want our kids subject to vile talk on the bus. And we are very concerned about our kids going in a bus down that treacherous river road, especially in the winter time. Richard is very careful, very conscientious, and we trust him to get them to school safely. If you put somebody else in as driver that we don’t have confidence in, you’ll not have our kids riding the school bus to school any more.” Well, I got reinstated, and that was the end of that problem, but it was interesting. A while later after I continued to have trouble with a particular boy, I thought perhaps his parents don’t know what’s going on—perhaps if they did they would give me some support and expect him to behave himself on the bus. So I called his mother and began to explain. She said “Don’t you call me every time my boy does something wrong on the bus. That’s your problem, not mine.” Well, I could see good reason why that boy was hard to control. His parents didn’t care how he acted, and I didn’t get any support from them. Not everything was a problem.

One special little experience occurred. I started doing a school bus run down in Moab where I drove way out to the outskirts of town to pickup students and take them home after school. One day a little girl that had been getting on the bus, and seemed to have a sweet disposition, stopped a moment by me and said “Mr. Stucki, would you be my grandpa?” I said “Well sure. I would be delighted to be your grandpa.” And so every day when she got on the bus, she would take a moment and say “Good morning grandpa. I hope your day is going well” or something like that. And when she’d get off, she would reach over and give me a little hug and say “Goodbye grandpa. I hope you have a good afternoon.” That continued on as long as I was doing that run, and she rode my bus.

Ernie Faust

When we first got to the valley, one of the earliest (people) that we found living there was a man by the name of Ernie Faust. He lived up the valley a ways, and we heard that he had tomatoes to sell, so we went up to buy tomatoes. He was in a wheelchair out in his garden trying to plant and harvest rows of tomatoes. He only had one leg, and as we got to know him better, we found out that he had been a rather famous cowboy riding steers and bucking horses in the rodeos. But one day, as he was going out the chute, the horse lunged against the side wall and smashed his leg so badly they could never get it to heal and eventually they amputated his leg. So under that condition, he was trying to make a go of it all on his own there in Castle Valley. He lived in a little root cellar with 6 or 8 steps down into very small cinder block room which had a roof on top covered with earth. As time went on we got to know him better. He was a member of the church. He got somebody to haul some poles and logs down from the mountains for him, and he started to build his house. He could get those poles up about three feet is all, and then from his wheelchair he couldn’t go any higher. So some of the branch men and young men had work projects to help him. They carried the poles and kept the log walls going up. Finally they did a roof, the roofing, and chinking in the cracks of the logs to keep the weather out. So before long he had a better place to stay; his own house made of logs from our mountains. In the Fall, we’d get loads of firewood, bring it to his place, and get the logs cut to length, split and stacked by his door. He had a big barrel stove that he could feed and keep warm in the winter time. Ernie began to have trouble with his lungs, emphysema. He had started smoking years before, and he just couldn’t seem to give it up, yet it was destroying his lungs. One day as I was sitting there talking to Ernie, he said “I had friends, if you can call them friends, who talked me into smoking. Look what they have done to me!” And he put his hands in a circle and said “If I could get a hold of those guys, I would choke them to death. Look what they have done to me.” He was constantly on oxygen, his lungs getting worse, largely from the effects of a long time of smoking. In time, he passed away and left his property to the church.

Mathew’s accident

It was 1980 and a feeling of tranquility had settled around us on the farm. Mathew was in high school on the football team and working on the side at City Market. He made good pay checks, bought himself a car, and was able to drive it to football practices. Margie and I decided that we could leave for education week up in Provo. We arrived there and stayed over night. The next morning, August 20th, we went to the auditorium where there was going to be a keynote speaker. Just before the speaker began, one of those announcements we hear came over the loud speaker, but this time it said “Richard and Marjorie Stucki, if you are in the audience, please go to the telephone at the receptionist desk.” Our hearts were filled with a bit of horror as to what had happened. We took the phone and found out that Mathew on his way to football practice that very morning had a terrible accident. There was fresh asphalt that had been poured the day before, or so, at the bridge that went over a creek by the Tommy White ranch. With the proper moisture and temperature conditions, fresh asphalt can be slick, and it was. Mathew’s car slipped on it. His car went right against a big cement railing of the bridge, which cut his car in two and dropped Mathew on the pavement below. We learned that they had taken him to Saint Mary’s hospital in Grand Junction by ambulance. We left education week immediately, stopping a time or two on our way to phone and check on his condition, but nobody was willing to tell us much about it. To learn more, we had hours of driving until we got to the hospital. When we went into his room and saw him laying unconscious on a bed rotating from left-to-right, right-to-left, with pins in his head and weights hanging down to stretch his neck (where he had some broken vertebras). It was a terrible sight for us to see. He stayed unconscious for a number of days, slowly coming out, and going through the different stages that people with head injuries go through. The first night we got a motel and used the last money we had on hand anywhere to pay for a night’s lodging. We could see that we were going to be there with him for months to see that everything went well for him. There was no way that we could afford to rent a motel that long. I thought who could give us a little help in a strange location in a large place, where we don’t know any of the people? It came to mind to call the bishop of area right around the hospital. I did and explained our situation. I suggested there may be a widow who had a room to let out, a place where we could sleep, have a change of clothes, a shower, and fix a little something to eat. He said “I’ll check.” He called back pretty soon and said I found a place for you. There is only one condition. The lady of the place where you stay will NOT take any money for helping you. We found that this was a very lovely lady whose husband had quite a bit of property and was a sheep man. He loved to stay up on the sheep ranch. He would come down very seldom just to pay some bills and say hello. She had wished that he might have considered that this time of life she and he could have done some things together and taken some trips. They had grown children. Things weren’t going well with some of them. Again evidence that too much money is worse on children than a little too little. But she was trying to keep happy by giving service to others. She gave us a key, and we could come and go as we needed to. This couple had donated considerable land to the hospital to help build and expand the hospital facilities. Their house was right on the edge of the hospital parking, so we could walk from the house to the hospital very easily. Every morning, noon, and evening, she had a meal on the table for us. This very good lady had done the same thing for a number of other people through the years who found themselves in similar circumstances to us. Margie would be with Mathew through the week, when I had to carry on my bus driving, and then I would go over on the weekend. Sometimes we would both be together, or she would try to go back home for a few days. I would have to leave in time to get to my bus run Monday morning. We tried to stay with Mathew day and night for a while. We had car problems at times and couldn’t even drive back and forth, except Robyn let us use her car, which saved the day for us. Mathew had a tracheotomy so he couldn’t talk when he regained consciousness. He slowly learned to write on a little black board what he wanted to tell us. In time he got pretty capable of writing his messages. For a period of time, when he was going through those difficult stages, he would ask me every day to give him a blessing, and I did. We sometimes think that having one blessing is sufficient but we never turn down a request by someone who is comforted and sustained by additional blessings. Mathew was comforted very much by each blessing. We sometimes got interrupted when nurses would open the door to step in, but they would wait for the blessing to end. We were so long at the hospital that we got known by everybody, and they referred to us as the family that prayed together. There was a wonderful staff of doctors and nurses, including some very dedicated nuns. Our own doctor was a specialist in head injuries and very capable. We were very grateful we had someone of his background helping Mathew. Eventually the doctor removed Mathew’s trachea tube and closed the hole in his throat, enabling him to talk again. In time they wanted him to go to a rehabilitation facility. They felt that it was essential for him to make progress. He went, but he was unhappy from the beginning of that experience to the end. He wanted to get back to the farm. Consequently, we soon told the rehab staff “We know another month or so here seems like it would be helpful, and you feel it is necessary, but we would like him to come home.” Well, as soon as he got home, a miracle occurred in his progress. Just being with us in the farm setting where he was comfortable and able to get up and go and do things, he turned from almost a scarecrow to a very filled out happy and well person, where his faculties had all returned just about to normal. Our doctor was so pleased that he had one patient, Mathew, who had been left without handicap as so many with head injuries have to deal with handicaps all the rest of their lives. Mathew was very richly blessed. This experience reinforced our understanding that we are not spared trials. The rain descends on the just and the unjust as well as the sunshine, but Father in Heaven in his mercy, when we have been serving in the Saviors cause, brings about some remarkable things to see us through our trials. We had been blessed and Mathew had been blessed, very richly, by Father in Heaven as we endured this experience. When we finally got all the bills, the expense for Mathew’s accident was humungous, but because he working at City Market and was on their insurance plan, nearly every dollar was paid by the insurance leaving just a few dollars we had to pay. What a blessing! If that hadn’t been the case, we would have had to sell the farm to pay the bills, and we still wouldn’t have been able to pay all of that bill.

A terrible tragedy

It was September 21, 1979. Between bus runs, I had gone over to the orchards owned by our friends in Moab, where we had picked apples for them, and they had let us take all of the fallen apples we wanted. I had loaded boxes of fallen apples and put them in the pickup truck. Guy, Robyn’s husband, had gone to Moab to pay on a treadle sewing machine he was buying for Robyn. They didn’t have electric power yet, and so Robyn couldn’t sew with a regular electric machine and she wanted this treadle machine very badly. Guy wanted to surprise her with it. The plan was that Guy would drive the pickup truck home, as I would be drving the school bus home when it was time to take the student’s home from school. Then the next day which was Saturday, we would all get together and using our juice press would wash, cut, and juice all of the apples into gallons of delicious fresh apple juice. I got home and was working in the garden when a neighbor came by and told me that Guy, on the way home had been hit head-on by a large truck with a huge engine on a flat bed behind the truck and had been killed. Robyn had come down to our house to shower because she and Guy didn’t have plumbing yet. She was sitting with her month-old baby Levi in our front room. I told Robyn the terrible news. We were all in tears. She said “Dad, I need a blessing,” which I gave her. I built a coffin for Guy out of redwood and cedar boards which I tongue and grooved. We wrapped (Guy’s body) in a beautiful quilt that had been made by the sisters in our Salt Lake City ward and given to Margie when we left there.

We didn’t have our LDS chapel yet in Castle Valley and the Seventh Day academy there said that we could use their chapel and that their choir would sing for us at the funeral. They did. While we were preparing for the funeral, Marjorie said tearfully that she had been fasting and praying to have a confirmation that everything we believed in about eternal life and the resurrection was all true. I was impressed that I needed to fast and pray also that she might have a confirmation of the truth of those things. I was branch president and conducting the funeral, and I gave a talk. Looking down at Robyn and Marjorie, I could see great peace on their faces, and I knew that the confirmation that had been asked for and the peace that Marjorie sought had come to both of them. The chapel was filled with people from the branch and the seventh day academy. It was a long awaited opportunity for me to bear testimony to our Seventh Day friends of a restoration and more. Guy was buried in the little old cemetery that had been used years ago and was now in the center of the Castle Valley development.

Another trial for Robyn

Robyn and Guy had almost finished building their modest house up the valley from us. After Guy’s death, I went up with Robyn, and she showed me some things that still needed to be finished up, which I did for her. She came down with the baby, Levi, and stayed with us at our place. Their house had a lot of her things stored in it and all of the Guy’s things, including some valuable antiques and other (items) that meant a lot to Robyn were stored there.

One day we heard shouts of a fire, and we found out that the men who were putting in a well in the center of the valley were welding, and sparks had flown into the dry weeds starting a (brush) fire that spread rapidly up the valley. Everyone that was living in the valley and home at the time could see the seriousness of (the situation). The fire could burn a lot of homes if (it) spread. So with tractors, bulldozers, and other equipment, they tried to widen the roads to make barriers to contain the fire. However, the fire went on up the valley, and threatened Robyn’s house. In spite of our efforts to try and knock the flames out with shovels, it got to her house and burned it down. Robyn lost all of the things that she had stored in the house. This happened on August 5, 1980. Another tragedy to try us all. The most faithful often have serious trials, we have observed. Those who aren’t bitter but stand fast as disciples of Christ no matter their trials “are they unto whose hands the Father has given all things” we are told in D&C 76:50-70.

The bakery business

Time went by and we found we needed to increase our income to cover our needs. Marge had become known among family and friends for her excellent baking. She did breads and rolls of various kinds, cookies and muffins that I don’t think could be surpassed. She got the idea that if she baked more, and we packaged it at the farm, we could sell it in Moab. So I would leave early for my afternoon bus run (when I would go down to town to get the bus and the students), and I would take with me the baked goods that she had done that same morning and packaged and delivered them to small grocery stores and corner markets that were very happy to get them. Everyday they would sell what she had baked. It became very much in demand among those who knew that she was baking and knew where to buy her baking. She taught me how to do muffins and in time I did literally thousands of muffins as she baked the bread and the rolls. Because of the success we were having, we decided to open a small retail bake shop on the Main street in Moab, which we did, and business grew, and soon we expanded the operation both space wise, and we added sandwiches made on our own homemade buns, salads and desserts, and other things. We put in tables and chairs so customers could not only buy things but sit down and eat right there in our shop. We moved all of our bakery equipment from the farm to the new bakery on the main street in Moab. I would help Marjorie between my bus runs. She would be doing all of the baking in the back of the bake shop. We would open the doors for customers in time for lunch. About the time I would leave to take students home on the bus, we would close the shop. So we were open largely for lunches. We hired some good help—ladies that we knew—and our children when not in school earned money by helping us at the bakery. Considering our expenses Margie and I were only getting a modest income for all of our hard work. We tired of the bakery and asked ourselves if there wasn’t something that we could do that would be more lucrative with the same amount of time and hard work. Marjorie with her creative mind came up with an idea that seemed more promising: A bed & breakfast.

The Bed & Breakfast

Robyn had purchased a two-story large old house a few blocks off the main street in Moab. She was renting it as apartments but it proved to have a number of problems for her. People would damage things, and it was hard to keep it rented during the winter season. Margie and I talked to Robyn and said “how about if we open a bed and breakfast in that house?” She said that’s just fine. If you would just pay me the money I would normally be getting for rent on those apartments, you can go ahead and do what you like. And so we began remodeling. We closed the business on Main Street and gave all of our time to preparing that large house for rental as a bed and breakfast. Before long we had a room ready and soon another room and pretty soon the whole house was finished and the rooms ready for rent. The income was much better than the income we had from the bakery on Main Street. Behind the house there was a fair-sized building that we converted into a large kitchen with a very adequate baking area and used that in connection with the bed and breakfast. The large house had a very nice and spacious front room where we served breakfast.

Next to Robyn’s house was a vacant lot, and then next to it was a small house with a basement, which had been purchased by one of our children. Soon that little house and the lot between it and Robyn’s larger house was incorporated into the bed and breakfast. Things were going well, so we borrowed money to enlarge that small house to a very large and attractive addition to the bed and breakfast, containing additional bedrooms and a large front room for guest use. Behind both of the houses was a spacious parking area that we developed. And working together with other family members we beautified all of the grounds, added a swimming pool, and other nice improvements. It was really the most attractive place in Moab. When all was finished we had 8 rooms and 2 two-room units for guests, plus an apartment for the innkeepers—all had private baths. In time, Marjorie and I withdrew as innkeepers. After that some of our married children along with their spouses took a turn at being innkeeper. However, as I write this in 2007, Gregg and his wife Terri and their family have been the innkeepers for a number of years. When all was finished we had ten rooms and two room units for guests plus an apartment for the innkeepers.

Guests liked their accommodations a lot and would often stay in the bed and breakfast again when they returned to Moab. We named both the bakery, and then the bed and breakfast “Sunflower Hill” using the sunflower as our symbol.

Temple Service

I was released as branch president ,and soon after on February 25, 1992, I was set apart as a high (councilor) in the Moab Utah stake, a calling I had for about six years. My special assignment was working with the sisters of the Relief Society. Over the years Marjorie and I went to the temple as often as we could arrange it. The nearest temple was some distance from Moab until the Church built the first of the smaller temples in Monticello Utah. Temple workers were called from nearby stakes and on July 20, 1998 Marjorie and I were set apart as ordinance workers. President and Sister Hinckley and other general authorities came for the dedication of the Monticello temple. At that time on July 27th, Margie and I served in our temple callings for a little more than two years. This service fulfilled fully the part of my patriarchal blessing that said I would serve in the temple many years for both the living and the dead. On occasions, we as well as other temple workers felt , 1998 I was set apart by President James E Faust as a temple sealer. Marjorie the presence very strongly of visitors from the spirit world while we were performing the ordinances.

Perhaps of interest is the fact that we spent approximately 214 days in temple service, about 600 hours of driving time, and we drove a total of approximately 32,000 miles going back and forth from our home to the temple during this time of service.

Senior Missionary Service

Margie and I thought we were past the age for senior missions. That is until we were sitting in the front room of our Castle Valley home listening to a church conference. One of the general authorities made a plea for senior missionaries no matter how old they were. Marjorie and I looked at each other and one of us asked “Are we going?” The answer was “Yes.” We began making the necessary preparations, and on September 8, 2001, we found in our mailbox a call to the Mississippi Jackson Mission. We arranged for our son Brent and his wife Debbie to live at our farm and take care of it while we were gone. We spent nine days at the Provo Missionary Training Center as part of a much larger group of senior missionaries than they usually had. Others had heard the call for senior missionaries and responded as we did—some at considerable sacrifice we learned.

We drove our car to our assigned area, Winnsboro, Louisiana. We worked with a small branch there of about 30 very dedicated active members. They had a small, nice chapel. Two younger elders also worked in our area. It was difficult for any of us to get teaching appointments. This was discouraging to both Sr. and younger missionaries in our mission. However, Sister Stucki and I resolved to not let this stop us. We found other ways to actually carry on the Savior’s work. Senior missionaries have more latitude as to what they can do, so we spent considerable time developing good will between the church and the people in Winnsboro. We drew on the big supply of used clothing from the Desert Industries available to our mission and held several very successful free clothing events for the poorer people in Winnsboro. Each Monday morning, the two elders, Sister Stucki, and I had a devotional for residents of a rest home. We’d sing, say a prayer, and each of us would give a ten minute talk. About 60 would be in attendance. At the end of the devotional, we went around the room and shook hands with those in attendance. One was a likeable very deaf retired minister. On a couple occasions he said to me “I can’t hear a word you say, but I feel the Spirit and know you are teaching truths.” Sis. Stucki helped the branch have several nice dinners, and she showed them how to organize their library properly. Few branch members had a year supply on hand, and they didn’t know how to get started. We printed up sheets listing the basics on which each family could list the amount they wanted. Then a black brother with a trailer and I went to the church store house some miles away and brought back to each family what they had ordered. Nearly every family gratefully participated.

Now for the last event I will mention. Out in the country side there was an elderly black lady named Mary who lived in a singlewide trailer house three feet above the ground. She used stairs to go in and out of the house. Her adult daughter, whose husband had died, was an inactive member living with Mary. At first when we would visit the daughter, Mary would not come out. She had heard bad things about the Mormons. However, in time she did. Mary was a dedicated Christian, and she liked to talk about her faith in the Savior. I would tell her about mine, and we became friends. I gave Mary a Book of Mormon with a message written in the front. Mary didn’t have a working lawn mower, so the branch president came with his mower and mowed (her) lawns. Bugs under the house found their way into the house so we also sprayed for them. Mary had a knee operation and trouble with her knee after that, so she needed a wheel chair. She got a price from a few carpenters to build a long wheel chair ramp to help her get in and out of her house. Mary and her daughter could only scrape enough money together to buy the materials but not enough to pay a carpenter. When I heard that I said “Mary I will build the ramp, and I won’t take any pay.” The project began. Men in the branch and the two elders in the area also gave some help. Soon the project was done. Mary’s black neighbors would wave as they drove by and saw us working on the ramp. I was glad they knew that Mormons really cared about blacks.

For Thanksgiving and Christmas, Mary had her children and their families—a big group—all blacks came for a special dinner. She invited Sister Stucki and I, too. We went, and all treated us kindly. Many were smokers, but not one lit a cigarette while we were there. When it was time to leave the mission field and head for home we visited Mary and her daughter to say goodbye. We were about to take their picture when Mary said wait. She got the Book of Mormon that I had given her and held it to her chest for the picture. I was touched.

While I was busy on the ramp project, Sister Stucki made a very nice lap quilt for the mission president’s wife and gave it to her at the next missionary conference. The timing was just right as the mission president’s wife was suffering from being in a chapel that was kept too cold.

Before a missionary whose time is up leaves for home, the mission president has an interview with him. At my interview, the mission president said “Elder Stucki if the Savior were sitting here with us, I sincerely believe he would say ‘Elder Stucki you have magnified your calling.’” I think this simple compliment means more to me than any other complement I have ever received.

On April 3, 2003 our mission ended in Winnsboro, and we were soon back on the farm. We expected to spend the rest of our lives there and continued making repairs and improvements.

A serious upset to our plans

Just two years after returning home, I had a back injury that required big changes in our plans. Our son, Mathew, came to Castle Valley to help us. We had a roll of fence that we needed to move into the best position to fence the yard behind the house. He lifted one side and I the other. I felt a pain hit my spine about half way up my back. I expected it would go away, but it didn’t. So I soon went to see a doctor friend in Moab about my back. After xrays and some special blood tests, he said it looked like I (sustained) a crushed vertebra because of a serious cancer condition that had weakened my bones. He urged me to see a good specialist in the Salt Lake area. Following the advice, we made an appointment with Dr. Martha Glen at the Huntsman cancer center in Salt Lake. After numerous tests and x-rays of various kinds it was verified that I did indeed have a cancer called multiple myeloma, which among other things deteriorates the bones. Because of my age and condition, an operation to try to fix the vertebras was ill advised. Dr Glenn and associates began the best known treatments at that time to slow down or stop the progress of the disease. A cure wasn’t known. I began taking numerous medications, mostly in pill form, some by injections, and some by IVs. Frequent appointments were necessary for monitoring my progress and dealing with side effects. The hard work I had done on the farm and any kind of lifting were no longer possible. Also driving to and from Castle Valley to the frequent appointments and treatments in Salt Lake was out of the question. We had to move closer. We had five of our children’s families living from American Fork to Payson. A residence about central to them seemed wise. The many tasks ahead of us seemed insurmountable in my condition. They included selling the farm and farm equipment, finding the proper residence for Margie and me in a new area, moving all of our belongings from the farmhouse to our new home, and all the legal work involved. Our children’s families gave us wonderful help, and a merciful Father in Heaven opened the way for us to quickly and smoothly accomplish all of these tasks.

Special Features of the Stucki Farm in Castle Valley (compiled in preparation for farm sale)

Water Sources and Equipment:

Excellent 100 ft. deep well (Surface of water is 28 ft. from ground level)

Six freeze-free hydrants in various areas of the property

Irrigation water (available only to a few lots in the valley)

Two cement head gates at top of large fields for distribution of water. Numerous 6-inch

diameter gated pipes from head gates along top of fields and orchard

Underground irrigation system (includes riser and valves) to deliver well water to fields

(Some repairs needed)

Trees & Gardens:

Tillable, almost rock-free soil in all cultivated areas

Many mature trees including:

60 fruit trees of various kinds

4 nut trees (2 walnut, 2 almond)

7 Evergreen trees

2 Other shade trees

Numerous large cottonwood trees grow at rear of property in a natural, wooded area

10 mature grape vines of different varieties

Castle Creek and “Green Belt” run along back of property

Established lawns and flower gardens surround the house

Vegetable garden consisting of 12 large, raised planter boxes full of rich, composted soil.

Two boxes planted with excellent raspberries

Special Features of the House:

Log construction

High ceilings with large beams and two sleeping lofts in family room area

Galvanized metal roof (with sheeting and insulation)

Large casement windows of natural wood with screens

Four bedrooms, study, full bath, 3/4 bath, family room, kitchen/dining room, laundry, two wood heat stoves in family room. Chimney for 2nd

One large and two smaller covered patios with posts and railings. Additional open paver patio and antique brick walks in garden areas

Attached green house, 8x12 ft. (South side of house)

Evaporative cooler (roof mount)

Ceiling fan/lights

Root cellar (below house on North side)

Propane tank supplies 2 propane wall heaters, clothes drier, one water heater. (2nd heater is electric)

Wood stove in kitchen/dining room

Playhouse with fenced yard

Sauna with built in seating and wood stove

Garden shed with arbor (approx. 7x18 ft.)

Chicken coop with center feed storage room (approx. 7x20 ft.)

Four-section storage shed for fire wood, yard & garden equipment, tools, etc. (approx. 8x32 ft.)

Partially finished barn:

Right side has finished roof, five 8x12 ft. bays (three have cement floors), some walls completed.

Left side has upright posts for more 8x12 ft. bays.

Center portion is uncompleted.

Graveled driveway and turn-around

Septic tank with double-size drain field

Large pasture and three smaller pastures completely enclosed with pole fences. Wide metal farm gates

High deer fence surrounding the acre of garden area

Our new home

The new home is located at 558 W 50 S in Springville with a double garage, a spacious yard an established lawn, and some trees, and shrubbery. Houses in our area looked newer, had well kept yards, and we had good neighbors and a great ward. Medications and my back injury affected my ability to drive safely, so the driving fell upon my dear wife’s shoulders. Freeway driving longer distances like trips to Dr. appointments at the Huntsman Center, fell upon our kind children’s shoulders. Fortunately, we had smaller to super-sized stores of various kinds in Springville and Provo close to us.

Marjorie is a talented decorator, and fortunately we had money enough from the sale of the farm for her to make our home lovely inside and outside. We paid a landscaper to plant and stake sixteen evergreens of various kinds and sizes and eight tall deciduous trees, four flowering, which Margie selected from many choices. We were blessed to have mostly rainy and cloudy days following the planting, giving the trees a good start. Marjorie planted with help from our family, a lot of beautiful flowers, rose bushes, and flowering (shrubs). My back trouble substantially limited what I could do to help. We were blessed with a more spacious yard than many newer homes have today. With the loveliness of the yard, I look out our windows and think we have helped create a little garden of eden. Our landscaper placed a dozen boulders at random between the trees, which added much to the attractiveness of the yard, as did a good looking block wall at the back and wood slat fences on each side of the yard.

JournalObituary top

Deseret News Times Independent
Former Castle Valley resident, William Richard Stucki died Wednesday February 27, 2008, in Salt Lake City, Utah at the age of 79.

Richard was born August 21, 1928 in Salt Lake City to William T. and Lucy Marie (Sorenson) Stucki. As a boy, he learned the value of work by accepting various jobs, including tending children, picking fruit in an orchard, repairing and polishing furniture, and making deliveries to various grocery stores and restaurants. These early jobs sparked an interest in developing these skills in later years.

He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Nova Scotia, Canada, from 1947-1949 and graduated in 1951 from the University of Utah in Biology. He married Marjorie Curtis on July 30, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple. They reared a family of eight children. After spending many years in the retail clothing industry, Richard and Margie decided their family needed a change. They filled a truck with goats, chickens, a pig, and all their belongings and moved to Castle Valley at the foot of the LaSal mountains. Richard and Margie fulfilled a life-long dream of living in the country and building a family farm. Though some thought this a rash decision, Richard and Margie always said this was the best decision they ever made for their family. Their farm and the experiences they shared there tied their family together in an unbreakable bond. They lived on the farm for 29 years planting, pruning, gardening, and raising various animals. Richard and Margie owned a restaurant and bakery in Moab well-known for its delicious and nutritious breads. He further developed his carpentry and wood-working skills, which helped him establish a bed & breakfast in Moab, Utah. And through many years, while in Castle Valley, Richard drove a school bus between Castle Valley and Moab. He and his wife served in the Monticello Temple where he worked as a sealer. Later, they filled another mission together for the Church in Winnsboro, Louisiana in 2001-2003. Following their mission, due to complications caused by cancer, they left their beloved home in the country and moved to the rural Springville, Utah in 2005. Richard continued gardening at his home with his wife Margie.
He filled numerous Church positions throughout his life and found real joy in serving people. He often said that he tried to emulate the example of the Savior in word and deed and was dedicated to His cause. All who knew him were lifted by his radiant smile and friendship.

Richard willingly faced many challenges. When recounting his numerous blessings, he wrote: "As sweet to me and powerful in my life as these things have been, nothing brought more peace, and hope, and joy than has come from discovering the marvelous qualities of the Savior and all the gracious, loving and merciful things He has done for me and my loved ones. I cannot in any way repay Him, or properly thank Him. But this I can do, and seek with all my heart to do, and that is stand as a witness of the goodness of the Father in giving us such a leader and friend as the Savior."

He is survived by wife, Marjorie Stucki of Springville, Utah; eight children, 38 grand children, 11 great-grand children; and sisters Margaret Christensen of Salt Lake City, Utah, and Barbara Anderson of Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Richard was preceded in death by his parents and sister Bonnie Gudmundson of Bountiful, Utah.

Funeral Services are Saturday, March 1 at 2pm Springville West Stake Center, 900 W Center Street in Springville, Utah. A visitation is scheduled one hour prior to the service.

Thanks to the many people, groups, institutions, and in particular Jon M. Huntsman who have demonstrated concern by establishing a facility where those who are suffering from cancer receive kindness, respect, dignified treatment, and hope.

The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, well-wishers donate to the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. Donations may be made online at or by mail using the following form.

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Dad's favorite picture of Jesus Christ

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We have several directives from Dad concerning his funeral and burial:

1) That it will be not be more than one hour

2) That we will present a gospel message putting Christ at the forefront

3) That we keep things simple and inexpensive

This is a tall order, but because we love him, we will do our best to honor his requests.

Since I have the privilege of giving the eulogy for Dad, I get to talk about him. But because of the time constraints, I will have to pare down much of what I COULD say. Worldly honors or accolades were never important to him, nor were titles or accomplishments, so I won’t go into those. This is what I feel is important to say about Dad…

He is a man who truly loves the Lord and delights in serving Him. His faith and testimony of the Savior, the reality of the atonement and the beauty of gospel plan is not just a conviction but was the guiding principle of his life. Those tenets made him who he is.

This is what he once wrote: "As sweet to me and powerful in my life as these things have been (he was referring to the numerous blessings received in his life), nothing brought more peace, and hope, and joy than has come from discovering the marvelous qualities of the Savior and all the gracious, loving and merciful things He has done for me and my loved ones. I cannot in any way repay Him, or properly thank Him. But this I can do, and seek with all my heart to do, and that is stand as a witness of the goodness of the Father in giving us such a leader and friend as the Savior” (end quote). He did count the Savior as his greatest friend and in all ways sought to emulate Him. Everywhere he went he touched lives because he radiated the love of the Savior; it truly shown in his countenance.

He was always careful to show us and teach us that any testimony, sermon or church meeting was incomplete if it didn’t focus on Jesus Christ. And I expect that he would say any life would be incomplete without the same. Certainly it was his focus.

The hymns and songs for Dad’s funeral were chosen by him and each one is a favorite. I don’t think he could ever listen to or sing any of them without it bringing tears to his eyes. Each expressed his deepest feelings about the Savior.

Dad is a man who loves his family and delights to serve them. And, really, I would have to say, that everyone he met he treated with the same kindness, courtesy, and concern as if they were family because to him they were. He had a gift of seeing each person, regardless of station, appearance or persuasion as a beloved son or daughter of God and he treated them accordingly. His love was so genuine, his manner so gentle, his smile so ready, people couldn’t help but be drawn to him and they loved him in return. There was never any question but that family was the most important thing to him. Everything he did was with his Margie and children and grandchildren in mind and what would be for their ultimate welfare and happiness. I believe that his life was spared over the course of his illness so that he could do the things he desired to do to prepare the way for this eventuality—his going on ahead of us.

Dad was always busy and always doing. Before he became ill, he would hardly be a few minutes in any of our homes before he was repairing this and fixing that. ‘Have tool; will travel’ seemed to be his motto. Having always known him as the hardest working and healthiest person any of us had ever known, we were shocked when he suddenly became ill. His life changed dramatically at that point. I know this was hard for him, because serving others is what he did. But without a complaint and hardly missing a beat, he adjusted. If he could no longer repair our homes or work in our yards, he found things that he could do. One of those things was to give us the precious gift of a family history that he and Mom worked on over the last few years. And, ever a scholar and a teacher, he studied and learned and was anxious to share things with us.

There weren’t many things that made Dad happier than a plot of earth to cultivate, to plant and grow things in. Whether it was the 10 acre farm in Castle Valley or their much smaller yard in Springville, it was almost impossible to keep him cooped up inside during the gardening season. In the last couple years, if he couldn’t wield a shovel, he could certainly dig a hole with a trowel and that he did, one small trowel-full at a time. If he couldn’t mow the lawn, he could certainly remove every stubborn weed that dared to poke through the surface of the soil. He seemed to derive life from the soil and gained immense satisfaction from the planting and harvest.

As his family, we have always drawn on his strength, been buoyed by his constant cheerfullness and relied on his wisdom. His passing leaves us wondering how we will ever get by. We will miss him more than we have words to say.

Since Mom & Dad have lived in Springville, I have frequently found myself at their home later in the evening. As I would leave to go, Dad always insisted on coming outside and standing on the porch to see that I got to my car and on my way safely. I would often protest and tell him it wasn’t necessary, but he would never be deterred. No matter that it was cold outside, or that he didn’t feel well, or that it was an interruption to what he was doing, this was always the scenario. Even as I would drive away and could no longer see him standing on the porch, I felt his love and concern go with me as I went the rest of the way home. I expect there are others of you who have experienced this same routine.

I have thought about this over the past few days. In my mind’s eye, I see Dad standing somewhere… it’s a different place now, but he’s there… the same love and concern shines in his eyes. There isn’t one of us—his beloved Margie, his children, grand children, great-grandchildren and his dear friends who he’s not watching for, praying for and awaiting our return. Dad has now joined a multitude of loved ones on the other side of the veil who await our return. They long to be with us just as we long to be with them. I know, as Dad knew, that these family ties extend beyond the grave and death of the body. They are eternal family ties given by a loving Heavenly Father and through the tender mercies of the Savior and his glorious atonement. I bear this witness in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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May I take this opportunity to thank you for your love and concern, phone calls, encouragement, and many kindnesses. Your expressions of affection and love, particularly those in behalf of my mother, are of great worth. Thank you. We have been touched by the outpouring of love and feel to express our sincere gratitude.

Words alone cannot express my appreciation, love, and hope I have through the Savior Jesus Christ. Because of Him we will see our loved ones again and someday be reunited with them. "We talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins." (2 Nephi 25:26)

Through the intersession of Jesus Christ, we are allowed to partake of the blessings of the Atonement which satisfies the demands of justice.

The salvation of Jesus Christ is very real. And the price he paid is very terrible. Jesus is the Christ and the gospel has been restored to prepare for his second coming. The divinity of Christ is our message to you today.

He has called prophets to testify of him; missionaries all across the world proclaim the gift of the Father through his Son.

Through the intercession of Jesus our sins are forgiven and blotted out as soon as we have repented.

Through the intercession of Jesus Christ we may receive the blessings of His gospel.

Through the intercession of Jesus, we can be married for time & all eternity and come forth in the morning of the first resurrection as families.

This is the glorious doctrine of the infinite Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ.

"That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God" (D&C 76:22-24).

We declare in words of solemnity that His priesthood and His Church have been restored upon the earth—"built upon the foundation of ... apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20).

We testify that He will someday return to earth. "And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together" (Isa. 40:5). He will rule as King of Kings and reign as Lord of Lords, and every knee shall bend and every tongue shall speak in worship before Him. Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts.

Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

He is the Prince of Peace, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, our great Exemplar. Because of Him, we have hope of a glorious resurrection, resplendent and wonderful, through the grace of God the Father and his Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

To complete my thoughts, I wish to read from the testimony of my father regarding the Savior: "I think about the great sacrifices my parents and fore bearers made for me, and the great example they set of complete faithfulness to the Savior and His teachings in their lives. Now it's my turn. I would surely feel amiss to pass on to my posterity something less.

(I will) stand as a witness that Christ is divine, has risen from the dead, and out of his love for us has overcome every barrier to our return to Heavenly Father, and enjoyment of the unspeakable joys of eternal life.

I know that His teachings are the only way to happiness and peace in this life, for individuals and nations, and to joy in the life to come.

All I do and say is in the hope that I might help His cause and help others come to Him for the right guidance in life, and the strength to do what's right.

I know that through Christ sins can be overcome and forgiven, and lives changed, and hope restored."

This was my father's conviction throughout his life and today our testimony to all of you. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen

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William Richard Stucki – March 1st, 2008

Many tears have been shed today, but the tears of sorrow and loss now give way to tears of gratitude and hope; Tears of love and appreciation for friends and family; And tears of anticipation and triumph as we look forward to a future day of reunion.

How devastating death would be, if there was no Plan of Redemption, no Plan of Happiness!

Life on earth is a vital part of God’s plan of progression and growth for his children. Death is a necessary step in that plan. It tests our faith and causes us to focus more thoughtfully on our existence. It forces us to reevaluate our priorities and adjust our direction. God’s plan is marvelous in its design, magnificent in its thoroughness and overwhelming in the price that was paid to bring it to pass. Oh how the Lord must love us!

Have you ever looked into the heavens on a star filled night and marveled? The prophet Enoch explained, “were it possible that man could number the particles of earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of Thy creations… how is it Lord that thou canst weep?” And the Lord said: “Behold these Thy brethren, they are the workmanship of mine own hands… I created them… and gave unto them a commandment that they should love one another.”

In the fulfillment of God’s plan, death is not the end; it is not a period, it is merely a comma. Despair is dispersed by bright rays of hope, grief gives way to gratitude, heartache is healed through humble acceptance, and reluctance is quietly replaced by resolve.

The most enduring and powerful memory I have of my father is how after a visit, as we would be saying our goodbyes, there would be a warm embrace, and then we would stand face to face and look into each others eyes. His hand would often be on my shoulder and he would smile warmly, his eyes would sparkle. So much was communicated (without words) in those few brief seconds. His love for, and confidence in me, made me aspire to better things; to be more and do more.

Through his love and concern I could catch a glimpse of the love the Savior has for me.

In the book of Romans Paul asks, and “who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation or distress, or persecution, or famine or nakedness, or peril or sword? For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.”

Surely Dad’s greatest desire for his posterity is; “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.”

Dad (Grandpa) will not settle for having empty chairs at his table.

The underlying theme of Dad’s life is encapsulated in a letter to his children, [quote] “There is a matter I have long been concerned about. The problem comes into perspective at a sacrament meeting: adults as well as children give tender loving praise for bishops, teachers, neighbors, and the prophet. But too few feel and express it for the Savior. We are not achieving our most important goal until we have established in the hearts of our children and the saints, an even greater love for Him.

“Friends may betray us, spouses may leave us, health may fail, and our possessions burn. But, Christ, His promises, understanding, and love will never fail us. With some trials and most tragedies, only this can get us through.

“When we can take a thankless, demanding calling; give up something we wanted greatly so we can pay our tithing; or help out someone who has badly hurt us… and say, ‘I wouldn’t do this for anyone else, but I will do it for Christ!’ …then the power for good he can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives.” [quote]

I add my testimony to those already born this day. God lives, he loves us. Jesus is the Christ; our Savior and Redeemer. He lived his life, then gave his life, to rescue us from the consequences of sin and death. He has marked the path and shown the way, but it is up to us to walk it.

“The eye hath not seen, nor the ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

In the holy name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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Anyone who knew Dad, knows that his religion was more important to him than the worldly aspects of life. Dad didn’t just believe the Restored Gospel of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latter-day Saints was true, Dad absolutely KNEW IT WAS TRUE. He had proven it through an extensive and exhaustive lifetime study of the Holy Scriptures and many other great books. Dad lived a righteous life, and because he was worthy, he had divine truths constantly confirmed within his heart by a powerful spiritual witness.

Along with many well worn sets of Scriptures, Dad had an extensive library of Church books and other books on freedom, patriotism, politics, the United States Constitution and similar subjects. Dad believed just like LDS Church President David O. McKay who said:

"Next to being one in worshipping God, there is nothing in this world upon which this Church should be more united than in upholding and defending the Constitution of the United States!"

He also agreed with LDS Church President John Taylor who said that the Elders of Israel should:

"…understand that they have something to do with the world politically as well as religiously, that it is as much their duty to study correct political principles as well as religious."

Dad knew that government agencies are now putting great pressure on churches, the LDS Church in particular, threatening to take away their tax exempt status and other freedoms for speaking out about political matters. Dad has watched throughout his life as government oppression and corruption have increased dramatically. He knew that Book of Mormon prophets saw our day and warned of the terrible deceptions and physical and spiritual tragedies that would result.

Dad agreed with President Ezra Taft Benson, who said:

"There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon—it is a conspiracy fact."

Because of Dad’s intense study, preparation and prayer, he spoke and taught with the power of the Holy Spirit. The talks Dad gave and the lessons he taught had an amazing and powerfully touching spiritual quality. The truthfulness of what he said rang true to those who listened. Dad truly reflected the light of Christ in the things he did and said.

Without Dad’s religious beliefs and absolute faith and knowledge of the gospel, he would not have been the man we have grown to love and admire.

You are fooling yourself if you think you can have one without the other.

Throughout my life when challenged with an insurmountable problem or difficulty, I only had to ask "What would Dad do" and then I knew also what the Lord would have me do. To know Dad is to know what Jesus Christ is like. What an excellent example Dad has been for me.

Dad was AND IS my best friend, my role model and my hero. For the last two years Dad and I spoke on the phone every single week, often for 2 or 3 hours. We each looked forward to those calls and we never missed a week. We laughed and we wept together and we grew so very close. I can’t begin to tell you how grateful I am for this most special time that we spent together. Dad often shared his innermost thoughts and worries with me, telling me things he had never shared with anyone else before. He told me he still had important work to do here on this Earth, and I believe this is likely why his life was being spared. He told me that he still had some very important things to teach his family.

Over the last few months Dad was reading more and more good books and sharing his insights with those in the family who would listen. Yet most recently Dad was becoming sad and more heartbroken because his efforts to help seemed to be in vain. From things he said to me he seemed to know that his time was growing short and he had done all he could do. I believe in recent months and weeks Dad literally wore himself out trying.

Section 123 of the Doctrine and Covenants very well describes the reasoning and love behind Dad’s urgent and final efforts:

"…it is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart – For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it – Therefore, that WE SHOULD WASTE AND WEAR OUT OUR LIVES in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven. – These should then be attended to with great earnestness. Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things."

Yes, to paraphrase the scripture above, Dad "wasted and wore out his life" for you. He wanted you to know about the unseen dangers… Not the destruction and death of your body, but of the destruction to your spirit. He wanted you to know that just like the self-righteous Nephites in the Book of Mormon, even many of today’s best Latter-day Saints are being deceived. Dad wanted you to know that all is not well in Zion. Things are worse than you know. Please read study and ponder those books and many other things he sent you. Please find a renewed interest to become informed and better yourself.

You can honor him today and forever by not letting his efforts die in vain. You can resolve now, this day, this minute, this second, to live as he would have you live. To live by his example. To make him proud. To honor the Stucki name. To pick up the flame of religious truth handed to him by his father, his grandfather, his great grandfather and the prophets who guided them. Read, study, share and build upon the things he told you and sent you. Pick up his torch and carry this legacy forward for Dad… go forward in his stead… having the perfect hope that we can all meet and embrace again as an eternal family. In the meantime Dad will be greatly missed.

As Dad’s eldest son, I leave this message and my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!

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Dedication of Grave

William Richard Stucki

March 1, 2008

Offered by Randall C. Stucki

Our Heavenly Father.

By the authority of the Melchizedek Priesthood, I dedicate and consecrate this burial plot as the resting place for the body of William Richard Stucki. May this spot of earth be hallowed and protected until the time the body is resurrected and reunited with his spirit.

May the Stucki family and loved ones here in attendance this day feel of Thy spirit, even the Holy Ghost or Comforter, and be guided and directed and comforted in the days and months and years to come. May they know that Thou art pleased with Richard’s life, that he is where Thou wants him to be, that he is peaceful and happy and free from pain and troubles, and that he is working hard doing what he enjoyed most in life, that is loving and serving and teaching others the everlasting gospel of Jesus Christ and bearing witness of Him.

May those who visit this monument in the future come in reverence, and enjoy the beauty and nature surrounding, and even all of God’s creations. And may they be blessed with the gift of recollection, to remember the life and example of Richard and the impact he has had on their lives. And in so doing, their hearts and their minds and their desires and their actions will turn to Jesus Christ, the Father of our Salvation, the giver of all good gifts, the one who atoned for the sins of the world and made repentance possible, the one who gave the gift of resurrection to every soul who would ever live upon the earth, and the one who gave the ultimate gift of exaltation and eternal life, with Thee and with Thy Son, together as families, forever and ever, if we are but faithful. For this we pray.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

I rejoice that I am born to live, to die, and to live again. I thank God for this intelligence. It gives me joy and peace that the world cannot give, neither can the world take it away. … I have no reason to mourn, not even at death. It is true, I am weak enough to weep at the death of my friends and kindred. … But I have no cause to mourn, nor to be sad because death comes into the world. … All fear of this [temporal] death has been removed from the Latter-day Saints” -- Joseph F. Smith

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The World Changed Today
February 27, 2008

The news came this morning, hit me like a typhoon,

It came a little too late, and lot too soon.

If only I could return, to the days in my past,

I’d do things differently, I’d make them all last.

If I could return, I’d spend every hour,

I’d do the right thing, I’d use all my power.

And what of missionaries, patriots, and soldiers of light?

How will they win the battle, with their friend out of sight?

And what of the family, and generations to follow?

The boat’s chock-full, but the captain’s been swallowed.

With no clear direction, and a storm in the sky,

How can we go on? Is it even worth the try?

The loss seems too great, like we’re all doomed to fail,

Then my mind was caught up, a glimpse thru the veil?

A new warrior’s been born, more mighty than ever,

He’s here with us now, he’ll be with us forever!

He can open up doors, that were previously shut,

Help me find my way back, get me out of this rut.

With him by my side, I can do what I must,

I can win all my battles, give a mighty new thrust!

For friends and family and those mentioned above,

the way is now clear, the door opened with love.

He’ll guide us back home, this warrior of power,

Help us with problems, stay with us hour by hour.

My how the tables have turned, in just a few days,

Now he’s taking care of us, in so many ways.

He’s shown us the path, proved the gospel is true,

I can follow him home, and if I can, so can you.

Written by Jeff Stucki for his Beloved Father

TalkTrue to the End top

William Richard Stucki – April 29, 1989

It is about 10 P.M. and I just returned from our Saturday evening stake conference meeting deep in thought.

Over the years I had heard the expression that "I pray we will keep true to the end." quoted by general authorities, as well as having read it in the scriptures. I thought how much easier it must be to stay true to the principles as we get older, and in responsible positions, as we get older, when I heard this said years ago.

But now I'm nearly 61 and finding that temptations are still there, and hard decisions have to be made at every age in life.

You see, the first of March we closed our restaurant , and sold the equipment we could at the time. With the proceeds from equipment sales we paid off our creditors. Then we moved our baking equipment to an old building behind Robyn’s apartment in Moab, where we planned to make our living doing wholesale baking. However, much time, and some money, was required putting a pitched roof over the badly leaking flat roof, and sheetrocking, and otherwise finishing the insides of the building.

Now it was the end of April, time to pay our taxes, and the bank account was down to zero again, after paying the current bills that came along. Some weren’t so current, as paying the power and phone bills was required to avoid being disconnected. From sells at the restaurant before we closed we owed $422.00 sales tax, which we haven’t the money to pay. To us, that amount is a lot. I drive the school bus three weeks, and Marge bakes long hours two and a half weeks for either one of us to raise such a sum. Furthermore, each new week brings more bills, equal to, if not in excess of, all we earn together that week.

It would be easy to get free from much of the sales tax debt by reporting less in sales than occurred, and that the restaurant was closed. Believe me, every justifiable reason came to mind, and the temptation was overpowering to be free of this near back braking burden. As I sit here alone, deep in thought, other powerful impressions flood my mind.

As branch president, I’m called upon to guide branch members through a wide variety of trials and temptations of their own. Each is called upon for courage, and faithfulness to principle, when it’s not easy to do either. How can I do less than I’d have them do?

Over the years I have had some very challenging experiences giving blessings, council, and exhortations to branch and individual members. When the Holy Spirit was with me nothing was beyond my capacity. When it wasn’t, and the times I found myself without it were few, I was absolutely ineffective, and capable of what was required of me. Having the Spirit’s presence is so vital, and it’s absence so devastating, in God’s work, that if for no other reason, every principle must be lived, for the Spirit is gone when principles aren’t lived. Its presence is as critical in affairs of my family and service to them, an in meeting the challenges of daily life, as it is in church service. I can’t succeed without it. How can I drive it from me by such dishonesty?

Then there are my children who honor and respect me. Can I betray them? My son, Mathew, who graduated yesterday from the BYU and who is moving out into the work world to be a beacon light of Christlike life. Gregg who labors in his ward bishopric to spread the light and truth. Kim, my youngest who seeks my guidance in her serious decisions. Jeff whose efforts as an assistant to the president of his mission has helped turned a mission completely to the right. And others, who completely trust me. How could I let them down.

The grandchildren. There are already 21 of them who love me. When I am gone, my written stories will be left to inspire them. Will this story be one I’ll want to leave with them? My parents, and my wife’s parents have appreciated me for so long. There is little I can do for them. But, they tell me that the goodness of my life is a great joy to them. Can I do less now, than what I’ve pledged to do for them by honoring them, and bringing joy to them in the one and only way I can?

Last of all, let me not forget the great feeling it is to respect myself. In the words of perhaps my favorite poem “I have to live with myself, and so, I want to be fit for myself to know … and self respecting and conscience free.”

How could I struggle so with this trial! I must retire. It has gotten late. But first…I have to fill out the tax form to let them know I owe $422.00, and pen a note that I’m sorry I don’t have it for them on time, but it will be paid as soon as I can. And then going to bed for a really good night's sleep.

TalkMy Beloved Family top

William Richard Stucki – July 30th, 1998

My beloved family,
Recently I have had experiences of great importance to me, which I wish to share with my family.

The gate opened to a garden of beautiful and sacred events, when mention was made to me by a brother that I was being considered as a sealer in the new Monticello Temple.

Although events were weeks unfolding, deep spiritual feelings and insights swept through me day by day.

As a young man, age 16, our stake patriarch, Victor D. Nelson, came to our home and gave me a blessing. I don’t remember ever seeing him before or after, and I realized he knew nothing about me. Yet, in a two-page blessing he foretold the things of great significance in my life better than I could tell them on those pages myself today.

There was one blessing pronounced then, that is now being fulfilled. He said that my eternal companion and I will labor many years together in the temple for both the living and the dead. Since our wedding forty-seven years ago today, in the Salt Lake Temple, we have worked in the temple many times for the dead.

Now the way has opened for us to also serve the living, regularly, in the years ahead: On July 20th, Marjorie and I were set apart as Ordinance Workers in the new Monticello Temple by Lisle G. Adams, the temple president.

The opening of the Monticello temple is an historic event for the Church, as it is the first of the many small temples to be built through the world. It is equally historic for Marjorie and me, for now we have a temple close enough to work in and have my blessing realized. ON July 26 and 27 we had the privilege of attending two of the temple dedication services. President Hinckley, President Faust, Elder Wirthlin of the Council of the Twelve and other general authorities of the Seventies were present for the dedicatory services. What an inspiring event.

On July 27, I believe the capstone of all my many calls, and years of service, was set in place. We had an appointment to be in the temple by the president’s office when the morning dedicatory services ended. First, President and Sister Hinckley came by with a warm smile and handshake. Then President Faust came, and invited us into an office where we visited a little with this great man and his lovely granddaughter. Pres. Faust in a churchwide meeting, a while back, told the story of my grandfather Stucki, as a little boy, nibbling on the drying buffalo meat hanging from the back of the family’s handcart. He was delighted to learn that I was a grandson of that little boy, and he had me tell his granddaughter the story.

Then this Christlike man, a prophet of God, James (E.) Faust, layed his hands on my head, and “under delegation of authority and responsibility from President Gordon B. Hinckley who holds all the keys of the priesthood at this time,” he conferred the sealing powers upon me for binding in heaven the sacred ordinances performed in the temple on earth. My thoughts then, and now, flowed like a fountain of waters.

These are great and marvelous experiences awaiting each of you, my dear posterity. They will begin with your own temple covenants and marriage, with callings to serve the Savior, and culminate in the building of the new Jerusalem, meeting the Savior Himself when he comes, and being welcomed into a Celestial world.

It is our wish to live and serve in the temple long enough to perform sacred ordinances for many of you, our own dear ones, as well as for others. We are grateful to be in a position to do it. Please, keep yourselves followers of the Savior, his prophets and His teachings, that you may come to His Holy House for such wonderful events.

We pray for you constantly. We love you greatly. We bear our witness of the truth of all we have been taught about the Savior, and the restoration in our day, and the blessings that await us in eternity.
Grandfather W. Richard Stucki

TalkThe Burden top

William Richard Stucki – September 2005

The Message
When I think of the burdens I have carried for a long time, some of them alone, with insufficient energy or money to fix them, and which now I can do nothing myself to fix……so they weigh on both me and my family who have enough of their own, with intolerable concern…I do thank my God without ceasing, that he has brought to us a couple who “love so much” about our place that they are willing to take all of these burdens from our backs, and give us over five-hundred thousand in cash as well.

I feel as the Israelites in Egypt when Moses came in their defense, miracles happened, and they left with the wealth of Egypt in their packs. Shall I be unthankful or reject My Moses, and because of greed lose my deliverance? And my family’s?

The Burdens
The huge remaining task of finishing the basement walls after the “Sons of Moses” have already given hope of deliverance through their work!

The wiring and finishing of all the walls, windows, and doors of the barn-shop. The obnoxious presence of rats, mice, and the ground squirrels, and getting free of them by properly closing up the basement, the barn-shop, and chicken coop.

The rotting out of the lower part of our basement stairs, and need of concrete or block walls for the stairway, now dirt and plywood.

The inadequate amount of gated pipe to fully water all of our fields properly, breaks developing in our present pipes, the filling of them with trash and heavy silt, and need for the third concrete head gate at the top of the big field.

The collecting of piles of silt around head gates and in front of gated pipes so they are being buried, and water doesn’t spread properly.

Missing and sagging gates that need attention, and more broken posts that need replacing, in wood fences.

In the house, tile is needed in a bathroom, painting and papering is needed in several areas, carpet is needed in the guest bedroom, tile needs to be finished (and the counter top) in the laundry room. There is no floor tile in the hallway (and closets) under the swamp cooler. Trim and door casing is needed in most rooms (and sometimes other repairs, etc).

The kitchen cupboards, counter around the sink, and door to the greenhouse need finishing. Door casing to the outside door isn’t done.

The entire roof over the tool and machine shed is bad and a new roof covering is overdue. For anyone to survive the workload on this place, a good automatic sprinkling system is needed for flower and vegetable gardens, for all the lawns and trees around the house, and the turn-around area.

The threat of the cottonwood trees are to our buildings and very lives, because of dead wood hanging in places, some dead trees, and often the breaking off of huge live branches and tree tops. Much very expensive tree pruning and cutting is needed. Plus a sprinkling system to water the trees. Maybe then they will be safe.

The wonderful fruit trees in the orchard need serious pruning of at least two-thirds of the trees now! All need yearly pruning and don’t get it. Only some get pruned. Professional pruning help costs more than we could ever pay!

The elaborate underground watering system has some broken risers, needs flushing out, and an expensive back flow diverter is needed in the basement. A larger pump than we have now is needed. But pumping a lot of water brings up sand into the house water. The sand clogs sprinkler heads and drippers. This might be solved by expensive well revisions with a “sand screen” on the lower pipe. Besides, pumping a lot of water greatly increases our power bill. Some equipment wears out, of course. Now, a new air conditioner is required. Soon perhaps, a pressure tank…that is frequent pumping is highly recommended…and expensive.

The ability, and funds, to repair and replace the numerous items of yard and farm equipment we need and have, has always been beyond my ability and pocket book. It’s just too much with all other demands of a 10-acre homestead kind of farm. Now it’s impossible.

There are lesser needs I have been able to cope with, because of constant blessings in the past. But no longer. As Abraham, I am “bent over with age,” and unable to do as before. I thank God for the answer to my prayers at my very hour of need, as so often in the past…not in mid winter, or next spring or after the “crushing wine press” of another summer. A deliverer for not only me, but for my dear wife (who already is in the wine press, and has been ever since my accident), and for my family. Our deliverer!

Let us accept the blessing now with gratitude in the amount he has measured out to us in His wisdom, and move on into what is ahead, unburdened, and debt free, with substantial savings in the bank, as prophets have counseled!
Your loving husband and Dad

LetterThe Foundation top

William Richard Stucki – October 24, 1999 Sunday

My dearest family,
I have not written you a family letter in some time. A few things on my mind: We love you very much, and we pray for you daily.

A Sure Foundation

And now, my sons (and daughters), remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation; that when (not if) the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you, it shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo, because of the rock upon which ye are built, which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fail.

We know that because we are mortal, we shall be tried and tested; we knew that when we chose to come to to earth. And even though we may build our house on the rock, we will not be spared from the storms of life. The "mighty winds" of illness, financial challenges, death, accidents, natural catastrophes will not escape us but we are told that the storm "will have no power over us to drag us down to the gulf of misery and endless wo because of the rock upon which ye are built."

I think we are all familiar with the parable of the wise and the foolish men; the one built his house on the rock, the other built his on the sand. Even the Primary children can tell us what happened when the rains came down and the floods came up.

If our faith and our lives are built on the rock, on the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be able to understand and better withstand the storms that beat upon us. When we allow our Church friends to hurt our feelings, when our home teachers and visiting teachers forget we are on their routes for months at a time, when we suffer the frailties of men, it will be easier to forgive and to understand because of that faith.

When our houses are built on sand, we find it easy to be offended, to feel that we are unloved and unimportant to those around us, we delight in having "pity parties". We more easily succumb to the ways of the world and forget the promises of eternity. We forget we are children of a loving Father In Heaven and we, more often than not, become discouraged and depressed.

Elder John H. Groberg shared a story in April Conference 1980 that I would like to share with you today. It is a wonderful example of one man's eternal perspective and his desire to build his house on the rock.

In the early 1900s, a young father and his family joined the Church in Hawaii. He was enthused about his new-found religion, and after two years of membership, both he and his eldest son held the priesthood. They prospered and enjoyed the fellowship of the little branch. They anxiously Looked forward to being sealed as a family for eternity in the temple soon to be completed in Laie.

Then, as so often happens, a test crossed their path. One of their daughters became ill with an unknown disease and was taken away to a strange hospital. People in Hawaii were understandably wary of unknown diseases, as such diseases had wrought so much havoc there. The concerned family went to church the next Sunday, looking forward to the strength and understanding they would receive from their fellow members. It was a small branch. This young father and his son very often took the responsibility for blessing and passing the sacrament. This was one such Sunday. They reverently broke the bread while the congregation sang the sacrament hymn. When the hymn was finished, the young father began to kneel to offer the sacrament prayer. Suddenly the branch president, realizing who was at the sacred table, sprang to his feet. He pointed his finger and cried, “Stop. You can’t touch the sacrament. Your daughter has an unknown disease. Leave immediately while someone else fixes new sacrament bread. We can’t have you here. Go.” How would you react? What would you do? The stunned father slowly stood up. He searchingly looked at the branch president, then at the congregation. Then, sensing the depth of anxiety and embarrassment from all, he motioned to his family and they quietly filed out of the chapel. Not a word was said as, with faces to the ground, they moved along the dusty trail to their small home. The young son noticed the firmness in his father’s clenched fists and the tenseness of his set jaw. When they entered their home they all sat in a circle, and the father said, “We will be silent until I am ready to speak.” All sorts of thoughts went through the mind of this young boy. He envisioned his father coming up with many novel ways of getting revenge. Would they kill the branch president’s pigs, or burn his house, or join another church? He could hardly wait to see what would happen. Five minutes, ten minutes, fifteen minutes—not a sound. He glanced at his father. His eyes were closed, his mouth was set, his fingers clenched, but no sound. Twenty minutes, twenty-five minutes—still nothing. Then he noticed a slight relaxing of his father’s hands, a small tremor on his father’s lips, then a barely perceptible sob. He looked at his father—tears were trickling down his cheeks from closed eyes. Soon he noticed his mother was crying also, then one child, then another, and soon the whole family.

Finally, the father opened his eyes, cleared his throat, and announced, “I am now ready to speak. Listen carefully.” He slowly turned to his wife and said, meaningfully, “I love you.” Then turning to each child, he told them individually, “I love you. I love all of you and I want us to be together, forever, as a family. And the only way that can be is for all of us to be good members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and be sealed by his holy priesthood in the temple. This is not the branch president’s church. It is the Church of Jesus Christ. We will not let any man or any amount of hurt or embarrassment or pride keep us from being together forever. Next Sunday we will go back to church. We will stay by ourselves until our daughter’s sickness is known, but we will go back.”

At some time in our lives, each one of us will have to make a similar, if not so dramatic, decision. Will we let the words or actions of someone in the Church offend us and cloud our eternal perspective or will we remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that we must build our foundation?

Elder Adhemar Damani (of the Seventy) reminded us in the Saturday afternoon session of conference that "the house founded upon a rock does not fall with strong winds or rain. The person whose life is founded upon the gospel of Jesus Christ is able to face adversity with hope, withstand offense with forgiveness; and face death with serenity."

Elder David Stone, also of the Seventy, shared an experience of living in the Dominican Republic when Hurricane Georges hit the island with "intense fury, leaving in its path destruction, desolation, and death." He spoke of the great damage and destruction and death from the awesome phenomena of physical force, but also spoke of the desolation caused in people's lives by spiritual hurricanes. "These furious forces often cause far more devastating damage than physical cyclones, because they destroy our souls and rob us of our eternal [perspective and promise."

He then went on to remind us that "there is peace and tranquility, there is solace and safety in His gospel. If we will but listen to those whose calling it is to watch and warn, if we will give heed to the words of the Master Himself, then our spiritual house will stand firm, and we can let the rain descend and the floods come and the winds blow and beat upon our house, because we are founded upon a rock." (See Matthew 7:24-27)

In closing, I would share with you more words of Elder Damiani. "In this life we are building our eternal dwelling. Are we building upon the rock which is the gospel of Jesus Christ, or are we building upon the rock which lies in the falsehoods of this world? Each moment we must choose whom we will serve, for we have been placed upon this earth to be proven and tested. We cannot choose to serve God and the world at the same time."

LetterTestimony top

William Richard Stucki – compiled from various writings

Our Moab seminary teacher and his wife spoke in the Castle Valley branch some time ago. Her talk was on a matter I have long been concerned about. The problem comes into perspective at a sacrament meeting: Adults as well as children give tender loving praise for bishops, teachers, neighbors, and the prophet etc. But too few feel and express it for the Savior. We are not achieving our most important goal until we have established in the hearts of our children and the saints, an even greater love for Him. Friends may betray us, spouses may leave us, health may fail, and our possessions burn up. But Christ, His promises, understanding, and love will never fail us. With some trials and most tragedies, only this can get us through. When we can take a thankless, demanding calling; give up something we wanted greatly, so we can pay our tithing; or help out someone who has badly hurt us ... and say "I wouldn't do that for anyone, except I'll do it for Christ!" ... then the power for good he can have in our lives is becoming a reality. He must be the foundation of our lives.

"I think about the great sacrifices my parents and fore bearers made for me, and the great example they set of complete faithfulness to the Savior and His teachings in their lives. Now it's my turn. I would surely feel amiss to pass on to my posterity something less.

"As sweet to me and powerful in my life as the numerous blessings I have received, nothing brought more peace, and hope, and joy than has come from discovering the marvelous qualities of the Savior and all the gracious, loving and merciful things He has done for me and my loved ones. I cannot in any way repay Him, or properly thank Him. But this I can do, and seek with all my heart to do, and that is stand as a witness of the goodness of the Father in giving us such a leader and friend as the Savior.”

I will stand as a witness that Christ is divine, has risen from the dead, and out of his love for us has overcome every barrier to our return to Heavenly Father, and enjoyment of the unspeakable joys of eternal life.

I know that His teachings are the only way to happiness and peace in this life, for individuals and nations, and to joy in the life to come.

All I do and say is in the hope that I might help His cause and help others come to Him for the right guidance in life, and the strength to do what's right.

I know that through Christ, sins can be overcome and forgiven, and lives changed, and hope restored."