MY PERSONAL HISTORY My mother’s father, Mark Willden, was a potato farmer,
and he also raised sheep. I didn’t ever know my maternal
Written 1979 and Updated 1996 grandmother, Gladys Melvina Mikel, as she died when
my mother was a young child. The Grandmother Willden I
Ruth Ann Everett Jespersen have always known was Grandpa’s second wife, Mae
Mark Franklin Everett, my father, was born at the ranch
The heritage that is mine is truly rich, and I am grateful house north of Mancos, Colorado, where his parents had
for this special gift. My ancestors came to America homesteaded. He was born the day after Christmas,
primarily from England but also from Wales, Ireland and December 26, 1914, during a very heavy snowstorm.
Denmark. I have been told that I am a descendant of one While growing up, he shared in the responsibilities of the
of the Pilgrims of the Mayflower. Also among my ranch and after graduating from high school, attended Ft.
ancestors were several patriots of the American Lewis and then Colorado State College from which he
Revolution and the War of 1812. Their love for America graduated with a degree in Forestry. He then worked as a
and their willingness to make it free and united for me is a forest ranger until his service in the army during World
treasured gift. In addition, some of my ancestors were War II.
early converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-
day Saints. Their legacy to me is their pioneer history. Mother, Esther Corilla Willden, was born in the house her
father had built on the ranch he had homesteaded—also
The more I know about my ancestors and my heritage, in the Mancos community. She was born on Monday
the greater appreciation I have for them, and I gain morning the 11th of October, 1915. Mom and Dad met
strength in knowing that I am descended from truly great when in the third grade together; and from then until
people—people that were great because they were graduation from high school, they were in the same
honest, loyal, hardworking, skilled, compassionate and classes. Mom’s parents were not members of the L.D.S.
God-fearing. Church, but she knew that her heritage included Mormon
pioneers. While attending Western State College in
My father’s father, Claude Walter Everett, was a rancher, Gunnison, Colorado, mother began her investigation of
an iron molder and a leader in his community. My the L.D.S. Church to find out what her relatives had really
Grandmother Everett, Lillie Myrtle Sellers, was believed. Through her study of their religion, she became
industrious and helped with many of the chores on the convinced of its truthfulness and was baptized a member
ranch—working hard in the field as well as in the home. of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
When I was little, she was a special favorite of mine.
My birth certificate (#6608) registers my birth on Sunday, Uncle Leonard and Aunt Muriel and their daughter, Estel
May 24, 1942 at 2:40 a.m. at Mancos, Montezuma, Louise, were so special to us. They were the only
Colorado. I was born at Mrs. Coppinger’s Maternity Home relatives we had in Albuquerque, and we all went on
with a healthy body—weighing eight pounds and four many picnics as well as celebrating most holidays
ounces and measuring nineteen and a half inches long. I together; and we became very close. Uncle Leonard
had just barely enough hair to tell it was light brown and worked for the Railroad and occasionally we would have
my eyes were blue—although they have never been a the great privilege of going after him when he was
true color of blue. finished at work. Estel, as Louise was called then, was
four years older than me, but we were good friends and
The name I was given was Ruth Ann Everett—a name spent many hours together playing. Mother made
that I have always been happy to have. Ruth Fox was a complete doll wardrobes of beautiful clothes for our dolls.
special friend of the Everett family, and I was named Many years later, Lee and her clothes were lovingly
Ruth after her. The middle name, Ann, was given to me packed away to be saved for the little girls I hoped to
from the names of my Aunt Joan Ann and my have someday. Estel also helped me to learn how to ride
grandmother, Anna Guymon. I have always used both her bicycle.
names as one—Ruth Ann—except as a young child
when I was called Ruthie by my dad and some of my My love of dolls must have started back then. Daddy
relatives. On June 14, 1942, I was blessed by Bishop brought me a doll when he returned from the war and I
Lewis A. Hancock in the Mancos Ward. In the blessing I played many, many hours with her. I like all kinds of dolls
was promised health, strength and wisdom. but especially the soft, handmade ones such as Raggedy
Anns. Collecting and making dolls and doll clothes is still
I will always be grateful to my mother for her acceptance a hobby I enjoy.
of this religion, for her faith, and for the beautiful example,
as a member of the Church, that she has always been to After we had moved into the apartment, Mother and I
me. rode the bus to Sunday School. One morning our
neighbor across the hall, Klea Towery, and her children,
For several years, Mom taught school in the one-room Eileen and Kenny, were also on the same bus, and it
school houses and one summer served a short-term turned out that their destination was the same as ours. I
mission for the Church. For many years, my parents had don’t remember that experience, but later when Mother
been sweethearts and on July 3, 1941, they were married told me about it, I thought it was a special thing that had
—when Daddy was twenty-six and Mother was twenty- happened to us. Eileen was about my first friend in our
five years old. new town and our friendship has continued to the
Our apartment was upstairs and had only one bedroom Towerys. When Daddy called to tell me I had a sister, I
and the bathroom was down the hall and was shared with didn’t believe him and was sure he was teasing me as I
the other families. The clothes were hung on a line that was expecting a baby brother. My little youth bed was
was pulled up to a window. Our one window faced the moved into the living area as the crib went in the
street, and we would run to it whenever we heard a siren bedroom where I had been. Mother made it seem really
or any other unusual commotion. The garbage was special and made me a beautiful bedspread.
dropped down a chute, and it was great fun to send our
teddy bears down that slide. There was a porch to play I went to a music kindergarten when I was four and then
on at the back of the apartments, and one day I got my took a dancing class when I was five. I also began
leg stuck between the boards of the fence. After trying attending Primary. Grandma Everett wrote to me
unsuccessfully to get it out, Mom called Daddy at work, occasionally, and I loved getting my own mail.
and he rushed right home. When I saw him coming
towards me with a saw, I was certain he was going to cut In April,1947, we moved into a home at 1103 Delamar
my leg off; and I gave it a good jerk and out it came. So, where we lived for the next ten years. We were so proud
much to my relief, the saw was not needed! Next to our of our new home. It had two bedrooms and seemed so
apartment was a little house where two old ladies lived. big after living in our small apartment. We had good
They were very gruff and must have been ugly as we neighbors next door, and the school was right behind our
were very frightened of them and called them the yard. Daddy fenced the back yard to separate it from the
witches. school yard.
Mother likes to tell the story of the day that I kept asking In September, 1948, I started school there—at MacArthur
for a cracker—“you know, the kind that is white and flat Elementary—as a first grader. I loved going to school! At
like a beaver’s tail.” What I wanted was a soda cracker. the end of the first year, my teacher’s comments were,
“Ruth Ann has been a pleasure with which to work. If she
That first year in Albuquerque, I had lots of trouble with can put her personal interests and feelings aside, she
ear aches. After two short hospital stays, I had to have can be a good leader. She is original and a great asset to
daily visits to the Dr.’s office for ear examinations and the group.”
treatment, and for a long time I had to use ear drops. The
receipts from the hospital show the hospital room and Many times I have served in positions where this same
care charge was $4.00 per day. critique could have been given. I have taught many
classes both within and out of the church. I have taught
On November 11, 1946, my sister, Nancy Kay, was born. children, teens and adults and have also served in many
While Mother was at the hospital, I stayed with the leadership positions. Currently I am teaching as a tutor
for Literacy Volunteers of America and am serving as When I was seven, I still enjoyed school and my second
Stake Relief Society President. I am also the supervisor grade teacher wrote to my parents, “Ruth Ann’s reading
for the Saturday morning shift at the Chicago Temple— is satisfactory. She does nice seatwork. She is a very
something I enjoy more than any other church position I conscientious little girl. She works and plays well with the
have ever held. group. She is a very well-adjusted child.”
During that year I got to take dancing lessons which I I had some really special toys—many made by my
always enjoyed. I dreamed of having my own bicycle but parents—such as the little table, doll clothes and a
had to be content riding my friends’ bikes. completely furnished doll house.
The next Christmas Santa Claus gave me twin dolls and We got our piano when I was seven and I started taking
Mother made several matching outfits for them. Mom was lessons. Music is vital to me! I don’t feel like I am as
expecting a baby near my birthday in 1949 so I had a accomplished as I would like to be but I am so grateful
party early and instead of having a birthday party, I had a that I learned to play as well as I did. I played the clarinet
doll party. Mother made miniature cookies and we sat in the school band, and have also taken organ lessons. In
with our dolls at the little white table that Daddy had church I have played or led the singing for many years.
made for me. Then we made necklaces for our dolls by
stringing together small beads. That same year Daddy When I became eight years old, I wanted to be baptized
made me a twin bed for my birthday. The youth bed was but Daddy was against it. He thought I should be a little
then for Nancy Kay and the crib were for our new baby older. During that time, Daddy would encourage Mother
sister, Alice Myrtle. I was certain she would be born on to go to Sunday School, Primary and Relief Society.
my birthday, but she arrived two days earlier. Her birth- Many times we would all get up early and take Daddy to
date is May 22, 1949. work so Mother could have the car—and Daddy always
made sure it was filled with gas so Mom could get to her
Daddy had started working at Standard Oil for $7.00 a church meetings. Occasionally Dad would go if I had a
day as a dock worker unloading barrels of oil, but he was part in a program or if it were a special meeting or party,
a valuable employee and soon was working in the office but he loved to work around the house—and he didn’t
and continued to be promoted within the company. want to give up his Sundays so he would keep the baby
Occasionally, after Daddy started driving the gasoline and stay home and work. The missionaries frequently
trucks and delivering gas to the stations, he would come came to our house. Many sets came. They always
home for lunch and then let me have a short ride in the wanted to convince Daddy that he should join the
truck before he went back to work—and a couple of times Church, but he was still taking his time about it. He knew
I even got to go with him. that if he ever committed himself, it would have to be
whole-hearted. He did stop smoking though. He wasn’t the new Chapel on Spruce Street. His day off was Friday,
supposed to smoke at the plant so he just stopped. About and he would work at the church every Friday and
that time, the Albuquerque Chapel was being enlarged, organize and outline the work that would be done on
and Daddy would go on work parties to help with the Saturday when most of the work by the members was
construction. He also was asked to work in the Scouting done. In less than a year from the time Dad was
program. It wasn’t long after that when he gave baptized, he was ordained an Elder in the church and
permission for me to be baptized. The special day was called to be a counselor in the bishopric. Grandpa Everett
January 7, 1951. He said he would go to the baptism died. It was a very sad time; but the next year when
which I was thrilled about. The baptism was held prior to Grandma Everett died, I was a little older and went to her
Sunday School. One of the classrooms had a floor funeral (my first.) It was very difficult for me to understand
partition that could be removed to expose the baptismal about death, and I remember crying and crying when I
font. My hair was braided, and I had on my white dress. realized she was really ‘gone.’
When I walked down the hall after getting ready, I saw
my father walking down the hall in white clothes. At first I In Primary that year I was in the Zion class; and finally,
was stunned. It turned out to be a beautiful day for all of that Christmas I got my own bicycle which I spent
us. Mother must have known before that morning that hundreds of hours riding.
Daddy was going to be baptized, but it was certainly a
surprise for me. For many years my mother had prayed In the fourth grade I had my first male teacher, Mr. Laird,
and hoped and wished for my father to become a and I thought he was great! We learned to give group oral
member of her church and her dream had come true. recitations. We also had frequent spelling bees and since
Later that morning, in Fast and Testimony Meeting, we I was a good speller, they were always fun.
were confirmed members of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints. Halloween was always exciting. Each year we had a
carnival at school and all the children would come
In the third grade our class was quite large but there were dressed in costumes. We also had Christmas parties the
no other rooms so we were all in one room but had two last day before the Christmas holidays. We usually had a
teachers. The teachers" note from that year stated that I program and then a gift exchange. On Valentine’s Day,
was improving in reading but was still reading too slow. we would also have a party and would exchange
(This is a problem I still have so it appears I haven’t made Valentines with each one in our class. At Easter time we
too much progress here.) would have an Easter Egg Hunt. One year at Easter I had
the chicken pox so didn’t get to go but could see all the
That was a full year for our family. Daddy was called to excitement from our back bedroom window. During May
work in the Sunday School and continued to help build we would have a school program outside and then would
have a picnic. Each year one of the classes would get to ever excited! The first program we watched on it was
wind the streamers around the May Pole. Amos and Andy. We went to very few movies but did go
to a drive-in occasionally.
Every spring Mrs. LaRouche would have a piano recital.
In Primary I entered the Home Builder program and Daddy was a great tease and often called me Joe. He
became a Lark followed by a Bluebird and a Seagull the would play with me in the back yard—swinging me
next two years. We began learning to knit, crochet, around, doing tricks with me or letting me stand on his
embroider and sew. We learned the Virginia Reel and a shoulders. I imagined myself a great dancer and would
few other dances. In the summer our classes were often dance around my room. I was also very interested in
held in the park across the street from the chapel. It was acrobatics and worked-up several tumbling routines.
a big beautiful park with hills and trees. And then on our Mother made me some cute outfits to wear, and I would
way home from Primary, we would stop at the library. I tumble in talent shows at church or school. I also took
loved to read! baton twirling lessons a couple of summers. In our back
yard we had a high swing set. I think I spent more time on
During different times, we had some relatives live in the bar at the top—hanging by my knees or turning over it
Albuquerque for a while—Uncle Leonard and Aunt Nella, than I did on the swings. Also out in the school ground
Uncle Johnie and Aunt Helen, Uncle Bish and Aunt Betty was a swing set. We would put a long board through
and Uncle Elmer and Aunt Geneva, and even for a while, three of the swings and then stand on the board and
Grandpa and Grandma Willden and Lorraine. I learned swing. We would go quite high and were never afraid.
my times tables by repeating them over and over for Aunt Another make-believe game I often played was that of
Helen while drying her dishes. Uncle Elmer and Aunt being a trapeze star, and I would hang from branches of
Geneva lived on Sandia base, and we’d get together any tree and put on a show for my family or anyone that
occasionally for an evening. Their daughter, Sherell and I would watch. The school ground had huge cottonwood
were good friends, and it was fun to visit with her. My trees that were great for climbing. A tether-ball pole was
other cousins, Linda and Janet Cash, and I also played out our back gate, and I enjoyed that game very much—
many hours together. and was very good at it too. I worked for the money to
buy my own ball so we could play after school hours too.
In the fifth grade, we began art lessons in school but The end of the school building had no windows and was
somehow artistic ability is not one of my talents. Some of a high wall that was a great place to throw a ball against
my friends had televisions before we did, and I liked to go and play jump ball. I also played many, many hours of
visit just about the time the Lone Ranger or other favorite hopscotch, jacks and jump-rope—with one rope or two
programs would come on. Then one night, Daddy which we called double-dutch.
surprised us and brought home our own T.V. Were we
We got some chickens and it was my job to take care of Each summer I took swimming lessons at the YMCA
them. I didn’t like to eat eggs—and I didn’t like to feed downtown. I would ride my bike to the end of the street
them or gather the eggs; finally, we got rid of them. and leave it at the gas station and ride the bus to town.
When I was through, I would often go to the library and
I loved having slumber parties and my parents were would also like to stop in at Woolworth’s and buy a candy
always willing to have my friends visit. We started writing bar to eat on the bus trip home - one for a nickel or I
secret codes and also about that time I began writing could get three for a dime.
letters. I loved different kinds of stationery and also had
all colors of ink. I missed my cousins and grandparents Mother took us regularly to the library and I have always
that lived in Colorado and usually wrote them. I also enjoyed reading. I am still a slow reader but enjoy
wrote Sherell after they moved to Germany—and day- reading many types of books—usually one or two a
dreamed of my trip to visit her. When they lived by us, month.
Sherell and I spent many days making paper doll clothes
—we were such good designers. I also had a friend move Chocolate is very high on my list of favorites. I absolutely
to Farmington, and I wrote to her too. One summer I even LOVE chocolate—or for that matter, any kind of sweets.
got to stay with her for a few days. I’m not much for cooking meals but I am terrific with
desserts. For many years I was very thin and it didn’t
On April 24, 1953, Lyman Mark was born. How excited seem to matter but it has now caught up with me. I have
we were to have a brother. We thought he was terrific! the Everett thick-waist and now I try to be a little more
The Albuquerque Branch was divided and Daddy was frugal in the dessert department—but am not too
called as Branch President of the Third Branch. Once successful.
Daddy had joined the Church, he was in it all the way,
and we were all so proud of him in his new calling. That I was in a 4-H Club for a couple of years and took
summer our family went to Arizona for our vacation. It sewing, cooking and jewelry making. During that time I
was really a change from our usual visits to Colorado. We entered a few items in the state fair and one year gave a
went to the temple in Mesa on June 17, 1953 and our demonstration in making tortillas.
family was sealed. It was a wonderful experience and
one we will always cherish. While we were there I had my In the sixth grade I had another male teacher. His note on
first opportunity to act as proxy for fifteen baptisms for the my report card was, “As usual Ruth’s work is neat and
dead and that too was a special spiritual-growing complete. She does her work in a thorough and
experience. The temple grounds were beautiful, and we painstaking manner; however, she should develop more
enjoyed seeing the oranges and grapefruit trees. confidence in her own judgment.” I missed very few days
of school and a couple of years I even had 100% Each year at Christmas, the Primary would present a
attendance. program. I was an angel when we did the “Christmas
Carol” and my last year in Primary, we did a musical, and
Square dances were held one night a month at school, I was the main character in it.
and we really had fun at them. Crinoline petticoats were
starting to be fashionable and the fuller they were, the Always I have loved Christmas with the excitement and
more I liked it. Mother made me some beautiful fiesta beauty of that time of year. A favorite time was when our
dresses to wear. They had rows and rows of rick-rack family would make vinegar taffy and popcorn.
Daddy added a bedroom onto the back of the house. He
We always had the most wonderful vacations and did most of the work himself. It was really great to have
outings. All those summers we went to Colorado are another room. We used it for a family room but my bed
brilliant reminders to me of a happy childhood. Those are was also in it. He also built a little room onto the side of
the memories of a city girl out on the ranch for a couple of the garage for a work-shop. When we moved a roll-a-way
weeks each summer. We did have a couple of other trips bed in there, it was a great place to sleep when I had
—one to Arizona, one to Utah and one to California. friends spend the night. We could play games—usually
Other outings were taken when Dad had a few days off. Parchesi, Monopoly or Clue—and could be away from
We would go tobogganing, to Carlsbad Caverns, to the the little ones.
sand dunes, picnics in the Sandia Mountains and
camping at Battleship Rock. I didn’t always treat my sisters very nicely. I thought I was
much better than they were and have since learned that
Grandpa and Grandma Willden lived in Albuquerque for a they both have many talents and are very special—and
while and had a big family reunion once, and we were all that just because they weren’t good at what I was good at
there. At that time, there were about twenty Willden and felt was important— they each had their own
cousins. interests and abilities. This has been the one thing I
remember of my childhood that I am not very proud of. I
While in the sixth grade, I began taking clarinet lessons do love both of my sisters very much and hope they have
and joined the band. Mother had bought a bond for me forgiven me for the ugly way I sometimes treated them.
during the war, and I cashed it to help buy my instrument. Another thing I feel badly about is the way I sometimes
I also continued taking piano lessons. During that treated my mother. I would ‘sass’ and talk back to her;
summer I took summer band at the high school. and I must have really tried her patience (which she has
more of than anyone else I have ever known) and for
those times I am truly sorry.
We had the most wonderful vacations and outings. could eat as many as we dared. I will always remember
Almost every summer we went to visit our relatives in Aunt Edna’s bacon each morning for breakfast. She
Colorado. We would spend a little time with each of the always cooked enough so everyone could have all they
grandparents and then visit the aunts, uncles and wanted—and it was always done just right.
cousins. At the Willdens we would draw on Grandma’s
chalkboard, play in the barn attic, feed the new lambs, When we would visit in Mancos, there were always
ride in the pick-up, go out in the potato fields and put jig- horses to ride, barns and barnyards to play in, animals to
saw puzzles together on her big kitchen table. At the learn about and cousins to enjoy.
Everett grandparents, we would white-wash the front yard
fence and play in the yard. When I would have the great David and Larry had a hide-away in the garage attic. It
opportunity of sleeping there, I always got the bed in the was kind of hard to get into but was a super-good place
dining room. Their old-fashioned telephone was different to play. I was also very interested in helping them with
from ours, as were so many things she had, and it was their chores and liked to be at the barn when they were
such a treat to visit at their house. And always when we milking the cows. One day Larry and I were riding Aunt
went to Mancos, we would go visit with Mrs. Plumlee. I Serena’s old horse, Bean-O, and when we rode by the
don’t remember too much about what fascinated me pond, old Bean-O just waded right in and sat down. We
about her house except that it was quaint and had went back to the house soaking wet, and that was the
beautiful flowers, a pencil sharpener and an old- end of riding horses that day. When I was older, David
fashioned kitchen—that, like both of my grandmothers’, and Larry would take me square dancing.
seemed to have a special feeling of love built right in.
Uncle Clarence and Aunt Lucile lived in the next house
Uncle Matt’s and Aunt Edna’s had many interesting up the road. I just loved their horses and Linda and I
things too. We had to use the out-house for a bathroom, would ride way up in the fields. When my uncles were
pump the water and then to do the dishes, we had to heat haying, Daddy would help them, and I would be allowed
the water. The bedrooms were upstairs and not only were to go along too. I would ride on the hay on the wagon and
the stairs a new adventure but they had the softest beds I a couple of times they even let me “drive” the tractor. One
had ever slept on. They had a string attached to the bed time when I was there, they butchered a cow—and
that went to the light chain, and you could lay in bed and watching that was a new and very interesting experience.
turn out the light. When we were there in the winter we
would ride sleds in the snow and a couple of times I even When I was at Uncle Roy’s and Aunt Eileen’s, Judy and I
got to go to school with Edith and Esther. It was really fun would usually get to sleep out in the bunkhouse. One day
to play with them. When we were there in the summer, when they were all branding, I got to watch and feel a
we would go out in the orchard and pick cherries and part of that too.
Of all of those visits, there are memories of a city girl out Besides our trip to Arizona, we also had one other
on the farm for a couple of weeks each summer, but I’m different vacation. We went o Utah and stayed a few days
sure the time I thought was one of the highlights was the with Uncle Verle and Aunt Joan Ann. Then both families
year I got to go on the cattle drive. We were up early in drove up to Yellowstone National Park. We camped out,
the morning and ‘drove’ the cows to the mountains. I was saw all the sights and took turns going fishing in a small
on a horse all day long and was really in “high heaven” rubber boat. One day when I got to go out, it started
for that never-to-be-forgotten experience. All of my Dad’s raining and we had difficulty getting back to shore. When
brothers, and my Dad, teased me constantly. I don’t think we did reach land again, we were quite a distance from
anyone was ever teased more than I was. our camp so we had to hike back. It was a little bit scary
but very exciting too.
Those were such wonderful vacations—and I truly miss
going to the ranches. The year I turned twelve I got to Other outings were taken when Daddy had a few days
stay in Colorado by myself for a couple of weeks after the off. We went tobogganing one time and one summer we
folks had gone home, and then I rode the bus home. I went to Carlsbad Caverns which was very interesting.
had been lectured quite sternly that I was to eat Occasionally we would go to the sand hills and play in the
everything—but when they served potato soup, it was sand—usually ending with watermelon for a treat. We
asking a little too much. Breakfast was always different also had some picnics in the Sandia Mountains. We did
from what we had at home. They would have meat, some camping and our favorite place for that was
biscuits and gravy. I always thought that was unusual— Battleship Rock. We enjoyed climbing to the top point
especially when they had cereal for supper, the opposite and looking down on our ‘little’ camp.
of the way we did it at home.
Junior High was a great adventure. We had a strict dress
One year for vacation I got to go to Colorado with Uncle code and could not wear pants to school which was very
Leonard and Aunt Muriel and Estel. It was an exciting distressing to me. I rode the school bus and took my
trip. I stayed in my first motels, visited new relatives and lunch. It was fun going to different classes and having
saw some beautiful sights—such as Royal Gorge. different teachers for each subject. I enjoyed band, had
difficulty with math but made especially good grades in
Other interesting things our family did in Colorado were English. I attended Garfield Jr. High for the seventh and
the trip we took to Silverton on the narrow-gauge railroad eighth grades. In P.E. we had to change to gym clothes
—which was through beautiful country—and a visit to and that was always an ordeal for me as I was very
Mesa Verde to explore the ancient Indian ruins. modest. We wore bobby socks—fat and bulky around the
ankles—and saddle oxfords; and I started wearing
That was the year I began attending Mutual—or the along. The three of us joined a unicycle club and then we
Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association. I was rode in parades together. One time we were dressed as
in the Beehive Class and really loved it. We must have clowns; one Christmas parade we had a ‘band’ and I was
been a very difficult class as we had quite a few teachers. the majorette twirling my baton as I rode; one time we
One of them tried to teach us modeling, and I know it were in old-fashioned costumes riding with a medicine
helped us become more poised, but really we were much man; and one time we were hunters chasing a ‘fox.’
more interested in playing basketball. One year the M.I.A. Another exciting thing we did as a club was learning a
put on a three-act play and Daddy and I were both in it. square dance routine that we performed for a T.V.
Shortly after I had graduated from Primary, I received my
first Church calling—pianist for the Primary. Looking Since I was old enough to be in Mutual, that summer I
back, I know I was a real trial to the director, but I had the privilege of going to Girls’ Camp. I remember
certainly benefited from the calling. Also, Daddy usually getting fussed at for not eating everything, but other than
had me play for the baptismal services. that, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Mother’s youngest sister, Lorraine, lived with us for a Randy Willden Everett, my youngest brother, was born
while when she was in high school. I would often ‘pump’ on June 16, 1956. We welcomed him into our family and
her to the bus stop or shopping on my bicycle. since I was the oldest, I was frequently given the
responsibility of caring for him. It gave me lots of
The summer that I turned twelve, the three of us learned experience for the babysitting that I was just beginning to
to ride unicycles. I wanted my own unicycle so badly, but do. Also at that time, I had a part-time job cleaning house
they were expensive and Daddy said I would have to pay for a family. It was great to have the extra money that I
for it myself. Finally we worked out a ‘deal.’ Daddy loaned earned.
me the money, and I bought an old one. Dad was all-
business about it and wrote up a contract and even For my freshman year of school, I attended Valley High
charged me interest. It took a lot of babysitting and School. Again I rode the school bus which stopped right
mopping of kitchen floors to get the loan paid back, but of in front of our house. I was in the band and had the same
course, it helped me learn the value of money. After we trouble with the same classes and did well in the others.
learned to ride and each had our own unicycles, we In many ways that was a very difficult year for me, and
started in on the fancy things—rocking, riding backwards, now I can understand a little better why—because as a
going down steps and doing tricks while riding. We had fourteen year old, I just wasn’t ready to be in a high
so much fun together. Sometimes we would take long school setting. I did have my own friends though, so I
rides together. We really got the attention as we rode was happy.
At Church I was especially happy. In Mutual I was in the friends and memories. Yet, it was exciting too because
Mia Maid program. We were given Treasures of Truth we were going to be in a brand new home that was much
books to keep, but mine really turned into more of a larger and so many new adventures awaited us.
scrapbook. Mom made my first party dress, and I started
going to the youth dances. I remember wanting to dance Our new address was 3404 West Louisiana. It was a new
every dance but sitting-out most of them. The bop and subdivision, and I got a summer job doing yard work.
jitterbug were the “in” dances at that time. Edith moved with us, and it was nice to have her there
since I didn’t know anyone else. The first few weeks
This was the only year of seminary that I had. Dad drove there, we attended church in the upstairs of a bank.
a car-load of us to the chapel every morning before There weren’t too many members, and they seemed
school, and we studied the New Testament. It was a very delighted to have our family move in. Daddy helped finish
good experience! One of the memorable things our the small chapel, and we were soon meeting in our new
seminary class did was to travel to Mesa, Arizona, to the building. I held several church callings in the Midland
temple and perform baptisms for the dead. It was the Branch—teaching Junior Sunday School and Primary,
second time I had enjoyed that privilege, and it really typing the Sunday program, Sunday School secretary
helped me become closer to my Heavenly Father. and music. My music ability was really developed while
living in Midland. I took organ lessons and was taught
My cousin, Edith Wolff, came to live with us. We shared a how to lead congregational singing; and at every meeting
twin bed and really got along well. While she was living I either played or directed. Daddy was called as a
with us, she studied with the missionaries and was counselor in the Branch Presidency and later in the
converted to the gospel. Daddy baptized her, and it was a District Presidency, and Mom served in many positions.
great occasion. She is the only one of his family that has Since I was usually the only girl in high school in the
joined the church, and it has given us a special bond. branch, we didn’t have a regular Mutual, but I did have a
teacher and I went to her home each week. Many
Dad was promoted again in his company, but this time it opportunities to serve, give talks and develop talents
meant a transfer. It was a surprise that really took some were offered by living in an area with few members of the
getting used to. Daddy had to go to a training course in church.
California and Mother sold the house; and then the day
school was out, we left Albuquerque and drove to our We had a great association with the missionaries there.
new home in Midland, Texas. That was a difficult day! It Dad cut their hair and Mom fed them and mended their
seemed so strange to be moving out of our home and clothes so they would frequently come by our house.
going to a place we had never been before; and it was
ever so sad. We all cried as we left behind so many
Edith and I decided to have our own seminary so we I worked for the city in their summer recreation program,
started getting up early and studied A Marvelous Work in the parks’ program, teaching trampoline and also
And A Wonder together. One time we planned a ward teaching swimming lessons. The swimming class I
talent show; we organized it, made and sold the tickets enjoyed the most was an evening class of adult women.
and performed most of the acts. With the money, we It was a very different experience teaching women, all
bought a large, framed picture of Christ for the chapel. older than me, but they were there because they wanted
to learn, and it was fun to instruct them.
I attended Midland High School. For my extra classes I
took Home Economics, Speech and Typing. I had a While in high school, I went bowling for the first time—
horrible time trying to understand chemistry and algebra. also miniature golfing. I took a Driver’s Education class
My favorite class and extra-curricular activity was band; and got my restricted driver’s license. Daddy helped me
and my senior year I was the band secretary. I played with the actual driving practice. To help me learn to
alto clarinet. One year I played in a mixed quartet at parallel park, he put a couple of oil barrels out by the front
contest and one year I entered a twirling contest. They curb, and I backed in and out until I could successfully
were frightening but valuable experiences. Our band park. I got the restriction removed shortly after my
director was terrific and our band was known as the sixteenth birthday.
outstanding high school band in the state. We did
elaborate marching routines for football games and one Edith married, and I sang a solo at her wedding. It was
year went to Dallas to march in the Cottonbowl Parade. very frightening, and I decided at that time that I did not
While in Dallas, we saw the musical My Fair Lady which have a solo voice and that I would never sing alone
was the first stage show I had seen. again.
My teeth were quite crooked, and I wore braces for The family went to California for vacation, and we had a
several years—including a neck brace at night. They great time. We got to see ships in the harbor, visit
improved tremendously but still are not completely relatives, go to Catalina Island, Knotts’ Berry Farm,
straight. Disneyland, the Los Angeles Temple, cross the Golden
Gate Bride, eat at Fisherman’s Wharf, see the ocean and
Daddy dug out and built a bomb shelter in our back yard. many other sights. It was really a terrific trip!
It was quite a project. I usually mowed the yard but
developed some allergies so was relieved of that I had a couple of good friends my high school years.
responsibility. I often babysat—saving most of the When one of them moved, I got to go visit her for a week.
money. I didn’t have a lot of dates but did go to some of the
school dances. They were usually held in the Youth
Center which was across the street from the school. For published, but I did receive a ten dollar check in the mail
the formal dances, I would get beautiful corsages. Our for it.
ward had a Gold and Green Ball one time, and a friend
and I worked very hard at choreographing a dance to the In 1959 the Midland Chapel was dedicated by Elder
music of Autumn Leaves which we danced in the floor George Q. Morris of the Quorum of the Twelve. We all
show. Another year, I did a dance by myself for a floor felt so grateful and privileged to have an Apostle visit with
show. us; and we were also thrilled to have our chapel
Although I had several boy friends during this time, at one
time I did “go steady.” Daddy came into my bedroom and My senior year in high school, I was on the Honor Roll. I
talked to me about it and told me he didn’t really approve began making college preparations and decided on
but for me to keep my standards high. As I think back Brigham Young University. For several years I had been
about most of the boys I did date, I have bad feelings doing my own sewing—with help from Mom now and
about them and am so grateful that my testimony was then. For graduation, I made a lovely white dress.
strong enough that the Holy Ghost could help me when I
did make wrong decisions, and I could pull myself back That summer I worked for Superior Oil Co. as a
into line with the teachings of the gospel. secretary. I worked in several offices—rotating when
different ones went on vacation—so I learned new skills
I especially remember one night when I came in very late. such as the PBX and duplicating machines.
The next morning when Daddy asked me what time I got
home, I was tempted to make it a little earlier but Also that summer, I had another real testimony-building
answered the right time; and I was glad I had because he experience. A girl from school that I had only slightly
said he had been up and knew I wasn’t home any earlier. known came over one day and asked questions about
It was a good reinforcement lesson in honesty. My the church. A family they had known had become
parents really trusted me, and I can not remember a members of the church, and she really wanted to know
single instance when I was given a certain time to be more. We developed a friendship and through the
home or told where I could or couldn’t go. I was given the summer we studied the gospel together, and she was
opportunity of making those choices myself. baptized a member of the church. Her family was
opposed to her decision but did give their consent and
At a church District Conference I was given an several months later, they were also baptized.
assignment to give a ten minute talk. The mission
president asked for a copy of it which he submitted to At the end of the summer, the family drove to Utah where
The Improvement Era magazine. It wasn’t ever I would be going to school in Provo at Brigham Young
University. We located the dorm I would be living in (218 understand what I was supposed to be doing and I felt
Knight-Mangum) and drove around the beautiful campus. terribly alone so I gave up and went back to the dorm. I
I had never seen a more beautiful college campus—and I wanted to take a shower but it was a ‘common’ shower,
still feel that way. I was thrilled with the privilege I would and I wouldn’t take one when anyone else was around so
have of being a student there. We drove on up to Salt waited until everyone else had gone to bed, and then I
Lake City and did some sight-seeing there, visited with slipped down and took it in the middle of the night. In the
Uncle Verle and Aunt Joan Ann and then Uncle Leonard meantime I had a good cry and had called home for more
and Aunt Nella where I stayed for a couple of days until money.
freshman orientation began.
Gradually, I made friends, got my schedule worked out
I was so excited about my new freedom and can vividly and became absorbed in a routine schedule. I dated very
remember how independent I felt. I do not even recall little that year but after I overcame the initial adjustment, I
kissing my family good-bye when they left for home. Now was very happy and thoroughly loved the school. I was
I cry if I even think of having to say good-bye to them. finally registered in the Department of Human
Development and Family Relationships but felt that
Aunt Nella took me to school and got me settled in my Elementary Education was more practical so also took
room. The dorm was over-loaded and there were four of some education classes. In history I had a blind teacher
us in a small room. It took a great deal of sharing and and that was interesting to see how he had overcome his
adjusting, and I don’t think I did a very good job of it. Two handicap.
of the girls moved into other rooms at mid-term which
really helped. The other room-mate was Cookie Johnson. One of the things I especially enjoyed about B.Y.U. was
We became friends the first day we met and even though going to the Devotionals held weekly in the Fieldhouse. A
we were totally different from each other, we developed a General Authority would come and speak to us, and I
very close friendship. always felt uplifted and thankful for my membership in the
church after listening to these great men.
The first week of school was very traumatic for me. We
had to take tests for placement in classes, and I made a I attended Relief Society on Sunday mornings and
rather low grade on an English skills test so had to take a directed the music for Sunday School. I was also active in
daily remedial class in English. The thing I scored highest Mutual. Our Bishop was Truman Madsen. When I first
on was visual perception. Then I had to register. It was in saw him, I thought he was really funny looking, but I
the gym and there were thousands of people there, and I learned to truly love and admire him. When I went in for
was literally lost. I botched up my registration so badly an interview for my Patriarchal Blessing, he set-up an
that at the end of the day I still had conflicts, still didn’t
appointment for me to receive it from the Church harmony with the teachings of the gospel. My testimony
Patriarch, Eldred G. Smith. has been something that has developed through the
years and has continued to become stronger and deeper,
When the day came, I fasted and went up to Salt Lake. I and I do not remember a time when it has faltered or a
felt very special going into the Church Office Building and time when I ever questioned; rather, it has always been a
very privileged to receive my blessing from the Church part of me and has become more intense each year.
Patriarch. He talked to me for a short time and then gave
me a beautiful blessing. He told me that I had been given For Thanksgiving Aunt Lorraine and I drove to Aunt Joan
a special mission to perform upon this earth and that I Ann’s. While I was driving, I got my first speeding ticket. It
was to be diligent in living the commandments. He really upset me; but after I got over it, we had a nice visit.
promised me that I would be sealed to a choice I also enjoyed spending occasional week-ends with Aunt
companion and that I would enjoy the blessings of Nella. She would come down to Provo and get me, and
motherhood. I was also told that I had been blessed with we always had a good time together.
special talents and abilities and would be given more as I
assisted in advancing the work of the Lord on the earth, I joined two clubs while I was at the “Y.” The Lone Star
and as I served my family and fellowman. He really Club was made-up of students from Texas so I knew
emphasized the talents that were given to me. I was some of them and met others, but it wasn’t organized
counseled to cultivate patience, cheerfulness and very well and didn’t have too many activities. The other
consideration for others, to seek guidance in prayer and group I was in was the Kia Ora Club. I had seen them
to be diligent in searching the scriptures. I was also told perform many years before, and I fell in love with the
that I would hold positions of responsibility and trust in Maori music and dance so determined that I would
the church—especially among those of my own sex. I someday learn it and that was my opportunity. It was fun,
was promised wisdom, knowledge and understanding but and as I learned, I was able to participate in several tours
was also counseled to be diligent in teaching others. and also in some school assemblies.
These things and others mentioned in my blessing have
been a guide to me and many times have helped keep Going home for Christmas was something I especially
me going the right direction and have assured me that I anticipated—and it was so good to be home when I
do have a Heavenly Father and that he loves me and arrived there. I took the kids B.Y.U. sweatshirts, and we
cares for me and wants me to return to his presence. I really had a nice holiday together. Daddy and I discussed
cannot remember a particular event or time that I realized a better way of handling finances, and he worked out an
that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was arrangement for me to write checks on his account. It
true, but I have always felt that it was right and that I really helped me when I was in need of money. I always
should try to do the things that would keep me in tried to live within my budget, and with the money I had
saved, I was able to pay most of my expenses that first From there I drove up with the Towerys. Eileen and I
year. During the time I was home, I worked in a nice were room-mates that semester. We lived off-campus in
department sore—wrapping packages and marking a small and very old house. We got along well together
prices on merchandise. I was given a discount on my and enjoyed school. Cookie and I had heard glowing
purchases, and I spent most of what I made on lingerie— reports from some girls who had gone to the Church
in almost every color. College of Hawaii so we started talking about transferring
at the end of the semester and going there ourselves.
When I returned to school, I started writing to a
missionary I had met when I was home. After he was When I was home for Christmas, I discussed it with the
released, he came by to see me, and I was sure I was in folks. I’m sure they were hesitant about me going, but I
love. Later he sent me a bus ticket to St. Anthony, Idaho, was allowed to make the decision, and of course, I went.
and I went up for a long week-end. It was an exciting trip I had my eyes examined and had to get glasses for
but later he found another girlfriend and our love affair reading.
The trip to Hawaii was an unforgettable experience.
Our ward had an assignment to do temple baptisms at Cookie had gone home first, and we were to meet at the
the Manti Temple, and I gladly participated. The Manti airport in Los Angeles. When the time came for my flight
Temple was truly beautiful, and I was grateful to have the to leave Salt Lake, it was snowing and we were delayed
experience of going there. several hours. I finally got to Los Angeles but then that
airport was closed so we landed at Van Nuys. There was
That summer when I went home, Mom drove up, and we no way to contact Cookie, but I was told that the plane I
went back together. The car had a flat tire in the middle of was to take to Hawaii would leave from Van Nuys so I
no-where and with no one around to help, we emptied the stayed there. Much to my surprise and relief, the airlines
trunk, and I changed the tire. It was the first one I had sent a bus of passengers to Van Nuys to leave from that
ever changed but managed all right. airport and among them was Cookie. We were really
happy to see each other again.
I worked for Superior Oil again and in the evening taught
women’s swimming classes. I stayed busy all summer Our plane started to take-off but had engine trouble so
even though the friends I had in high school didn’t seem we were detained through the night. We sat in the
to be the same anymore. crowded coffee shop but at least we were together.
Finally we were on our way. It was a long trip over the
When I went back to school in the fall, I got to take my ocean. For hours all we could see were white clouds.
first airplane trip. I flew from Midland to Albuquerque. When we did arrive, we were greeted with leis of flowers
and taken to a hotel in Honolulu where we stayed for the The Polynesian people are very spiritual and humble, and
night. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves for a day and I thoroughly enjoyed my association with them. One of
then we were taken to Laie on the other side of the the boys I dated was of pure Hawaiian descent, but more
island. often, the students there were of very mixed nationalities.
We were assigned a dorm room that was divided into six A school bus went into Honolulu on Saturdays, and we
small cubicals, one for each girl—with a bathroom at one had such fun going in and shopping, sunning on Waikiki
end and a study room with desks at the other end. I had Beach or sight-seeing. Occasionally we would stay
decided that this was my semester to take exactly what overnight at the military base, and that was always
classes I wanted to take so I ended up with only a couple exciting. We also went to the beach near the school as
of required classes, three religion classes, swimming, often as we could fit it into our schedules. I never did
Polynesian music, hula dancing, band and organ. My have the opportunity to try board surfing, but I did learn to
schedule was full, I made good grades and I became body surf, and I always enjoyed swimming in the ocean.
totally involved in the school and really loved C.C.H. It was so clear and beautiful and the beaches were
One of the special things about Church College was the
feeling of closeness that was there. The Aloha In Church I played the organ for Sunday School. I
expression was used with sincerity and whenever it was attended Relief Society and my testimony was
said, the response was always returned—whether in a strengthened—especially through the religion classes I
church meeting, a classroom or across campus. was taking. I’m still not sure why I enrolled in a mission
preparation class, but as I attended that class and began
In band I was occasionally given the opportunity to direct, learning the lessons and memorizing the scriptures, the
and for the final concert, I was privileged to direct one of desire to go on a mission began and started growing. I
the numbers. That was a special occasion for me. talked to my Bishop and got a recommend to do baptisms
in the Hawaiian Temple. It is a very beautiful temple in a
At the end of the school year I was on the Honor Roll and very beautiful setting. When standing at the temple door,
at a closing assembly was given special recognition in you can look forward and see the blue ocean and lovely
two categories. For one, I was given the book, Glory of beach, and to one side you see the village of Laie and to
the Sun, and for the other I was recognized as an the other side, the Church College campus with a
outstanding student in the religion department and was background of lush green mountains. It was a special
awarded a large print Triple Combination with my name experience getting to go into that temple, and I strongly
imprinted on the cover. Of course I felt very honored. felt the desire of wanting to go someday for my
endowments and other temple ordinances.
It was difficult sometimes trying to keep myself worthy of the answer I had been waiting for, and I immediately
a temple recommend but many times the desire I had for began making preparations for entering the mission field.
those blessings helped me overcome situations that I have since learned that prayers are answered for me
could have really messed up my life. more often by the way things work out and the way
everything falls into place than by any other means.
As the desire to serve a mission became stronger, I was
more confused than ever because I did not know where I The last Sunday I was in Hawaii, all the students that had
was headed next. I knew I should probably go back to received mission calls participated in the Sacrament
B.Y.U. and I had thoroughly enjoyed attending C.C.H. but Meeting. After the meeting, I broke into tears and sobbed
felt that I shouldn’t consider it, and yet I didn’t really want for several hours. I knew the gospel was true and I was
to quit school and go to work either. The more I thought overjoyed at the privilege I was going to have of teaching
about a mission, the more that seemed to be my answer. it to others but compounded with the joy was the unhappy
However, that didn’t seem to be the answer either as I feeling I had that I was leaving C.C.H. and all my new
was only going to be twenty that spring, and the church friends. Cookie and I were also going to be separated,
requirement for lady missionaries was twenty-one years but I was so grateful for the opportunity we had of
old. I discussed these ideas with my friends, my Bishop attending school there together; and I have many happy
and the Lord. Still, I wasn’t coming to a solution. I fasted memories of that semester. If someone were to ask me if
one day and really tried to sincerely pray about it. This I would recommend going to school at C.C.H., I would
was a new kind of prayer for me as all of my other have to say no, but for me, and for that time in my life, it
decisions had seemed so simple. The next morning I got was a wonderful experience.
up before sunrise and walked out to the beach and sat
there watching the sun come up and meditated about my I was home for about two weeks. There were so many
life. No answer came, and I went back to the dorm. I things to do—preparing myself and shopping for clothes.
decided to write the folks about it and also Ralph Hill, the I had weighed the same 98 pounds for about six years,
Texas Mission President. Mom and Dad wrote back that
they would support me if I were called to serve a mission
so that was settled, but I’m sure they expected it would
be way in the future. Then I received a letter from
President Hill. He said that if I were really serious, I could
serve in the Texas Mission—that I would not go to Salt
Lake or through the mission home there and that I would
not go to the temple but that after I was set apart, I would
be considered as any of the other missionaries. That was
but while I was in Hawaii I gained to 105 pounds (which I
continued to weigh for about the next six years.)
The first two missionaries to represent the Midland
Branch both entered the mission field in the summer of
1962 and I was one of them. The Branch President asked
our family to prepare the program for Sacrament Meeting
and everyone in the family participated. It was really a
special evening. Alice led the singing and she also sang
a solo. I accompanied her on the organ and later played
a Bach prelude on the organ. Nancy and Lyman both
spoke as well as Mom, Dad and me and Randy gave the
closing prayer. I talked on the scripture,”Seek not for
riches but for wisdom…” Afterwards a fireside was held
on our back patio. The Branch presented me with a
The next day I attended a Development Meeting with the
missionaries. President Hill, of the Texas Mission,
interviewed me, and then he and Daddy set me apart as
a missionary. The following day I traveled by train to
Houston where my first assignment was to work in the
mission office as President Hill’s secretary. I worked in
the mission office for six months—the first third of my
Prior to my arrival as a member of the mission office staff,
there had been great discord among the Elders and
Sisters, and I determined that I was going to get along
with all of the staff. The end result was that I became very
good friends with all the Elders—and especially the ones
in “the home,” and that we did have harmony.
For several months there were an uneven number of that I had a special message, and I tried to do my best at
Elders and also of Sisters. On one wall of the office, there expressing it.
was a display board of pictures of all the missionaries—
organized by districts and also by companions. Since I During the time I didn’t have a companion, when I had
was in the office, I was the sister without a companion teaching appointments, I would take a young adult from
and so on the picture board, I was positioned as the one of the wards with me. The Chudleigh family was
junior companion of Elder Jespersen (or Elder “J” as he taught this way. Brother Chudleigh is now a Bishop, and
was called.) He was serving as the public relations it has been a choice experience having the friendship of
director for the mission at that time and also was without this family through the years.
It was a wonderful experience working in the mission
During my stay in Houston, I did very little proselyting, but office and living in the home. The missionaries would
I did do some teaching in the evenings. The first teaching meet together in the morning for study time, we had our
experiences I had helped me to feel the missionary spirit, meals together and in the evening, we would have a
and when baptisms resulted, the feeling of being a part of devotional, ending with singing, “Now the Day is Over”
a great work was very rewarding. During high school, my and family prayer. We truly were a family too. I felt a part
friends knew that I was “Mormon” and we occasionally of the Hill family as well as having a close relationship
talked about the Church, with some of them occasionally with the Elders I worked with.
attending meetings with me, but I had not had the
privilege of actually helping them to understand the I had been teased from time to time that I had become a
gospel—except for the experience with Jenny Grief. I did missionary to find a husband. That always made me mad
have one special experience during that time when I was because it wasn’t at all what had motivated me to
given an invitation to talk to a high school group at a become a missionary, and I was really determined to be
Protestant Church one evening. I spent hours preparing a true servant of the Lord. I think part of the reason that I
my presentation and felt I’d done quite well with the was especially teased in this way was because I was
exception of one question that I gave a crazy answer for; very tanned—having just spent the previous months in
but it was a good missionary experience for me and was Hawaii and because I was younger than most of the other
another event that helped me to know more certainly that sisters. I first met Elder “J” in the kitchen. He had been on
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was true. a tour of the mission when I arrived, and his first words to
Now that I was set-apart as a missionary, it was even me were something like, “What are you doing here? Go
easier to share the gospel and although sometimes I was back to your beach.” However, as I have stated, I was
not as open as I could have been at declaring it, I still felt determined to win the Elders over and convince them that
lady missionaries could be valuable and not always a it made me quite nervous. I know I didn’t talk long and
nuisance. after I was seated again, I thought of all kinds of things I
could have said. At the noon break, someone took our
When it was time for Elders Bates and Jespersen to go picture together, and I have appreciated having it as a
home, it was an emotional time for me. I had decided I memory of that special experience.
had a “crush” on Elder Bates—no matter how hard I tried
to blot it out of my mind. For a while I fought it, and then I On the way back to Houston that evening, we had very
talked to Elder “J” about it and finally discussed my foggy weather, and I had to drive slowly. On a couple of
feelings with President Hill. He was very understanding occasions I had to stop completely and each time Elder
and told me to exchange pictures with Elder Bates and Hunter got out of the car and cleaned the windshield with
that we could write after he had returned home and that if his handkerchief. How blessed I felt getting to enjoy that
anything were to come of it, we could find that out after I time together with one of our General Authorities. Then
had been released. I felt much better about it after that, later I received a letter from him thanking me for taking
but it was still hard to say good-bye to them as I knew I him to Beaumont.
would miss both of them very much. I cried while I was
typing their release letters and then cried some more at In January I was transferred to the Dallas area. I cried as
our devotional that evening before they left. We said I drove—partly from leaving the mission home where I felt
good-bye and then it was back to missionary work for me. secure in my responsibilities and partly from
apprehension of what was awaiting me in areas I had not
During that time the Broadway Chapel was nearing had experience in. I had been assigned a new mission
completion, and I usually attended that ward. When the car and worked with a successful sister for a couple of
chapel was to be dedicated in Beaumont, President Hill weeks until a new sister arrived that I was to train. We
and the Elders in the home were in West Texas for a taught a very special family—the Clements—and their
Zone Conference. Elder Howard W. Hunter, one of the baptism was a faith-promoting experience that I needed
apostles, was to be met at the airport and driven to the to boost my spirits and prepare me to be a senior
Beaumont area for a stake conference and the chapel companion and a full-time proselyting missionary. The
dedication. Since the sister that cooked for the new sister was eager to work, and we learned what it was
missionaries in the home and I were the only ones left, I like to go tracting in rain, cold and wind. She was very
was given the privilege of chauffeuring Elder Hunter. homesick, and we had some frustrating days but there
What an exciting thing for me! I couldn’t sleep that night I were the good ones too.
was so afraid I would be late, and we had to leave early.
During the conference, Elder Hunter asked me to speak. Daddy had a business appointment in Dallas while I was
With only a few moments to pull some thoughts together, there and we were able to meet him at the airport and
spend the evening together on our day off. It was ever so challenge too. Those two months were the most difficult
nice getting to see him at that time. of my eighteen month mission, but the last three were
delightful. I was transferred to Denton and Sister Kay was
For a while the sisters working in the Dallas-Ft. Worth my companion again. Denton was a small town with a
area were grouped into a sisters’ district, and we had a new branch—and a new chapel just nearing completion
good association together. At the beginning of the when we arrived. There were two colleges in the town
summer I was transferred to Ft. Worth. While there I had and most of our teaching was with students; and we had
two ‘outside’ visitors. My college friend, Cookie, had some very uplifting, thrilling experiences together.
married and she and her husband stopped there one
evening on their way back east. We had a nice visit and it Elder Henry D. Moyle, a General Authority, had come to
was good to see her, yet her visit helped me to realize Dallas to dedicate the new mission home and the sisters
that I still had a work to do before my mission ended. prepared and served the dinner and had an opportunity
to talk to him which we all thoroughly enjoyed.
The other visitor I had was Elder “J.” He had been
released six months earlier, and I had talked to him by At the end of my mission, we had a sisters’ conference
phone at Christmas when he had called the mission and we met together in the new home. It was a good
home, and I had received a couple of letters from him. feeling to know I had completed my mission faithfully. As
We had become good friends while working in the I look back, there were times I could have used my time
mission home so it seemed logical to me that we should more wisely and been more diligent, but I’m appreciative
visit with each other when he returned to Texas to visit of the growth that I made, of the experiences I had and
the Hills. He asked President Hill if he could come by our the things I learned and of the trust and confidence that
apartment and was told he could stop by for a short visit, President and Sister Hill had in me. During the year-and-
and that I was to call President Hill when he left. He a-half that I served, I was a part of twenty-four people
wasn’t Elder “J” anymore, but it seemed funny calling him joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—
Earl, so I dropped the Elder and just called him “J.” It the true church. Altogether I had eleven companions and
really was good to see him again, but after his visit, I served in five areas. My parents gave me constant
realized there was a different feeling between us but just encouragement as well as financial support. My
thought it was because he had been released as a understanding of the gospel became deeper, my love for
missionary and I was still serving. the Lord grew stronger and my testimony expanded. I
shall always be grateful for the opportunity I had of
For two months I was sent to Waco, Texas with an older serving my Heavenly Father as a missionary.
lady as my companion. She had been a problem sister,
and I was given the challenge to work with her. It was a
My last day in the Texas Mission was December 12, After the first of the year, I started back to B.Y.U. I rode
1963. In my final interview with President Hill, I was given the bus to Utah—with a couple of days visiting in
praise for some of my accomplishments and counsel for Albuquerque. I spent a few days with Aunt Joan and
the future. He specifically talked to me about both Elder Uncle Verle and while visiting with them, they took me to
Bates and Elder Jespersen and told me to be careful in the Logan Temple where I received my endowments on
my decisions and not to rule out the idea of Elder “J” as a January 24, 1964. It was a beautiful experience, and I will
possible marriage partner until I had given it thorough always be grateful for this special privilege and blessing.
consideration. I was then issued a temple recommend for
the receiving of my endowment ordinances—which Aunt Nella and Uncle Leonard were living in Kamas and I
thrilled me as I knew I would soon be fulfilling a dream I’d next visited with them. While I was there, Aunt Nella
had for several years. broke her leg so I stayed with Wendall until it was time for
me to register at school.
During my mission, Dad had been transferred to El Paso.
We decided to meet in Midland so they drove there and That semester I lived with the Britsch family. Their
met me. We were there for a Sunday and I was asked to daughter had been in the mission field with me. Also
give a report of my mission in Sacrament Meeting. It was living with them that semester was Bonita Honea—who
good to be among friends again, but we were soon on had also been a Texas missionary. We shared a room
our way to our new home. For my formal mission release, and were good friends. We attended our campus ward,
I visited with the stake leadership in El Paso. but coming into it in the middle of the year, neither of us
felt we were really a part of it. It seemed like a very cold
I started making plans to return to B.Y.U. for the second winter to me. I was always ‘frozen’ and hoped I would
semester term and started working in the alteration someday live where it was not so cold.
department at Penney’s to earn some money. It was a
wonderful Christmas after having spent the previous one During the time I was away from B.Y.U., some of the
away from home—which had been my first away from the requirements for elementary education had changed so I
family. The folks gave me a sewing machine which I was found I was taking two classes I hadn’t expected
delighted to have. I can remember that Randy was very —“modern” math and Spanish. I had a very difficult time
concerned about how much everything had cost. I began understanding the math but did quite well with the
getting acquainted with the Young Adults and dated language class—which was a real surprise to me. I also
Gordon Romney. Cookie and her husband were in El took piano that semester and really increased my ability
Paso for the holidays and she arranged for me to meet to play. My other classes were education classes.
I didn’t date too much that semester. Gordon Romney great building and see the General Authorities and feel of
wrote to me several times a week and then he also the special spirit that was there.
invited me to fly to Princeton for the junior-senior prom. I
was quite excited about going and started making plans. After conference we drove out to Earl’s grandparents’
When I realized that I was going to have several hours home, and I met them. (I was trying to call him by his first
between flights in Chicago, I wrote to “J” and asked if he name, but it still didn’t feel natural.) Then we visited some
could meet me at the airport for a visit. Then things got of his friends that were living in Salt Lake.
messed up. Gordy got ‘mono’ and we had to postpone
my trip. Since that meant that I wouldn’t be in Chicago, I That night we went to a movie with Dick and Bobbie and
had to write “J” and tell him that I wasn’t going. When he afterwards went to Dick’s apartment for a snack. When
got my letter, he called and asked me to go to the he took me home, Earl asked if I would go to Salt Lake
mission reunion with him the week-end of General with him again the next day, which, of course, I did.
Conference. That took the disappointment out of not
getting to go to Princeton—at least for that week-end. He Again we listened to conference on the radio on the way,
wrote that we would double-date with Dick Bates and his and then we went to his grandparents’. His grandmother
girl-friend but that was O.K. with me because Dick and I fixed us lunch and then we watched the afternoon
had dated and talked—and we knew we weren’t right for session of conference on T.V. with them. I still hadn’t met
each other and that we could still be friends. Earl’s Dad. He was serving as Stake President and had
some church business to attend to as well as the
The afternoon “J” was to arrive, I received a call from his conference sessions. We waited for him to come, and
aunt saying he and his dad had been stranded in a then he took Earl and me out to eat. We had a seafood
snowstorm and would be delayed in coming and for me dinner which is my very favorite, and I thoroughly enjoyed
to go on to the reunion. Later that night they arrived on getting acquainted with Earl’s father.
the train—they had abandoned their car as the roads
were closed. We did get to enjoy a short time at the We had enjoyed such a nice day together but we had a
reunion, and then we went out to eat. When he took me prolonged silence on the way back to Provo after
back to Provo, he asked if I would go to the afternoon something was said about Dick Bates. Earl said, “I
session of conference with him the next day—which was thought everything was over between you two,” and I said
Saturday. We drove up to Salt Lake listening to the that it was, but he wouldn’t believe me, and when I tried
morning session on the radio, and then we waited outside to talk to him, he just said it bothered him to talk when he
the Tabernacle until we were allowed to enter for the next was driving.
session. What a thrill it was to sit in the balcony of that
When we got back to Provo, we stopped at an A&W and coming, and then she told me Earl’s father was on his
got a cold Root Beer and started talking again. This time way—and just about then, he arrived. We went down to
we really talked. Then he took me home, and we were the den and talked for several hours. He really didn’t
friends again, but before I went in we were more than know me, but I guess he liked the things about me that
friends. he did know—that I had served a mission and loved the
Lord, that I had musical abilities, that I could sew, and
Earl finally opened up and told me how upset he had that I was a possible daughter-in-law. He asked me how
been to find out I liked someone well enough to fly across much I knew about Earl’s physical problems, and I told
the country to see. He said he knew it was not the him that we had talked some about them, but that I didn’t
romantic way to approach the subject but told me that he know any details—so he told me the details. He told me
loved me, and that he had prayed about me as his wife how surprised he had been when Earl told him about our
and that he had received a strong answer that it was three-day courtship, and then he told me that he and his
right. This really caught me off-guard! He hadn’t even wife had been concerned and prayed earnestly that
held my hand before that day and had never kissed me. someday Earl would meet someone who could look
He told me that he realized I would need to have time to beyond the physical and see the person inside. We
think but that he had to talk to me before he went back talked about the past, present and future, and the more I
home—and that was supposed to be the next day. He talked to him, the more I knew that Earl would be the one
decided to stay another day, and I skipped my classes. I would marry.
When I said good-bye to him that afternoon, I didn’t know
how I felt. I thought it would help to talk to Gordy, so I In hopes that I would accept it, Earl had sent his ring to
called him, but I was even more confused after our me. His dad had stopped and bought a chain so I could
conversation. I tried to pray about it but no answer came. wear it around my neck. The ring was one Earl had worn
I had always thought of Earl as a friend, but the things and was a plain sterling silver band. I took it with a
President Hill had expressed to me kept coming to mind, mixture of feelings—willing to have it and still with a little
and the more I thought of the good times we had enjoyed hesitancy. This decision was one I knew I had to make
together, and the way I had come to know and respect without help from anyone and one that was so important I
Earl, the more comfortable I felt with thinking of him as absolutely had to make the right choice. The scales were
my husband. being tipped in favor of Earl but I still didn’t have the
complete assurance I wanted.
During the flight back to Chicago, Earl told his father that
he had proposed to me. Two days later his dad flew back It was dinner time and Sister Britsch invited Brother
to Utah to come talk to me. When I came in from class, Jespersen to dinner. After we were through eating, he
Bonnie told me to get freshened up that I had a visitor told me he loved me because Earl loved me and that he
thought I was a very special girl and then he left. I have May, and he and his mother came out for a week. It was
thought of that “interview” since and have had feelings of nice to meet her, and I was glad she had come so we
gratitude for “Dad Jespersen caring enough to come and could get acquainted; and Earl and I had a wonderful
talk to me. time just being together and planning for our future.
When he left to go back to Chicago, it was hard to say
That night I wrote a last letter to Gordy. I had reached the good-bye because we knew we wouldn’t see each other
conclusion that he wasn’t the right one—even though I again until just before we were married.
wasn’t positive who was. Then I decided to fast and pray
about my future. By the end of the week I felt that I My Dad was then transferred to Denver, Colorado, and
should marry Earl, and I talked to him by phone and he was in Denver when Earl’s train went through so they
afterwards called my parents. briefly met each other. As soon as school was out, the
family moved to their new home just north of Denver.
I’m sure there were several reasons why I had to sort out Bonnie, my room mate, was going to spend the summer
my feelings and thoughts so completely—for one, our with us, and so she and I met them in Denver.
love hadn’t really had time to evolve, but we were good
friends so I felt that could be developed; for another, I I was busy the next six weeks helping Mom choose
really wanted Earl to ‘fit’ into my family and for me to be a drapes, etc. for the new house and getting ready for the
part of his and with all the miles between all of us that wedding—choosing wedding invitations, sewing, etc.
was very frustrating to perceive; for another, I was Since we had only been in Denver a few weeks, I didn’t
concerned about Earl’s health. I had no qualms about his have a bridal shower and there was no reason to have a
physical appearance but was concerned about his reception there so all of our plans were made for Utah.
physical health—such as his back problems. However,
the thing that really bothered me was that Earl was not Earl had moved to Houston and started school at the
what I had ever pictured in my mind or dreamed my University of Houston—continuing his studies in
husband would be like—in fact, he was quite opposite. architecture. Never did we think then that we would
That was the issue I really had to cope with, and I had to remain in Houston for the next twenty-nine years! He
decide whether my “dream man” was really somewhere found a garage apartment for us to live in and then when
looking for me or if those dreams were simply lofty ideals. his session of summer school was over, he flew to
Denver to get acquainted with my family and so we could
It was very difficult concentrating on school the last two be together again. A few days later we drove to Salt Lake
months of that semester, but somehow between phone to make final preparations for our wedding.
calls, letters and another visit from Earl, I made it
through. Earl was finished with his classes the first part of
Earl’s family had a nice back-yard party for us and his
parents and my parents to meet each other. We were
given some lovely presents and had a nice evening. As
should have been expected, some of the family painted
on the car and decorated it, but I was so embarrassed
with everyone looking at us as Earl was driving me back
to my aunt and uncle’s, that I started crying and Earl
stopped and washed the car before we went any further.
The morning of our wedding, Friday, July 17, 1964, Earl
came after me and we drove to the Salt Lake Temple
together. My hair had been done, and I wore a blue dress
that I had made, and I felt glorious!
It was the first temple wedding I had ever attended and
consisted of only the sealing ceremony. Since, I have
wished that we had participated in the complete temple
ceremony with all of our wedding party. I think it would
have been more of a spiritual experience, but I didn’t
know any different at that time, so to me, it was lovely.
Earl and I changed into our white temple clothes. I had
made my dress of a lacy knit, and I thought it was
beautiful. It was especially wonderful having our families
with us in that sacred place. Earl’s parents, grandparents,
aunt and uncle and my parents, grandparents, an aunt
and uncle and a few others were there, and we really felt
that it was special that we could all share that time
together. Our witnesses were Earl’s father and my father.
We were given some counsel by the temple sealer, and
then we knelt at the altar and our marriage was
solemnized for eternity—and I became Mrs. Earl Thomas
We exchanged rings—white gold bands with Florentine When we finally arrived at our little apartment, we were
etching on them, and then we all went to a hotel across happy to have the excitement over and were ready to
the street from temple square for a luncheon with all of settle down as a happily married couple. I had planned to
our relatives. Earl’s cousin had made two wedding cakes attend the University of Houston but after several
for us—so we still had a wedding cake even though we appointments, I realized I still had four years ahead of me
didn’t have a formal reception. Earl had taken care to because of the difference in the curriculums of the two
park the car where no one would find it so this time it schools so I gave up my plans of finishing.
wasn’t marked up, but we didn’t escape the rice throwing.
Earl had a part-time job designing homes, and he just
For our honeymoon we stayed in a cabin, owned by the loved what he was doing and learning. With him also
Britsch family, in the mountains near Heber, Utah. It was going to school, we decided I should get a job. That was
a perfect place for a honeymoon, and we thoroughly a trial for me. I didn’t mind working at all, but I hated
enjoyed spending a few days there. Then we drove to having to go job hunting and the interviews. I worked at a
Chicago so I could meet Earl’s family and friends there, couple of places but they didn’t work out so kept looking
and we had a wonderful time. I got to meet Earl’s sister and through an employment agency finally got a job as a
and her husband and little girl and another brother. His secretary at Methodist Hospital.
brother Roy was serving a mission in England so I didn’t
meet him until later. I only worked there for a couple of months when Earl and
I were invited to dinner at the home of some friends. The
One evening while we were there, Sister Edmunds, a girl’s father was a doctor, and he just happened to be
dear family friend (and the mother of Earl’s old girlfriend, looking for a secretary. He called me several days later
Janet) had a couples party for us in the back yard. We and asked if I would be interested in changing jobs—so I
were given some lovely gifts—and even more the next had an interview with him and subsequently turned in my
evening when Earl’s parents had an Open House for us notice at the hospital. When they found out I was leaving,
in their home. Mom “J” had made all the goodies and I was immediately offered more money, but I was glad to
done the floral arrangements and everything was lovely. be changing.
The evening that we left to drive to Houston we had I ended up working for Dr. Viehweg for about nine years
dinner with Earl’s old girlfriend and her husband. I was a —although a couple of those were only part-time. My
little nervous about that at first, but I liked her, and we responsibilities included being the receptionist, secretary,
became friends. file clerk, insurance clerk and bookkeeper plus anything
else that needed done. The job was a challenge and I
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