Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Life Story of Arthur William Elrey, Jr.


By Samuel T. Elrey (son)


Arthur William Elrey was born on March 29th 1925, in Los Angeles, CA. to Arthur William Elrey, Sr. and Jayne Adeline Thatcher.

He is survived by his sister Marietta Clark, his wife of 60 years Lyn, and four children, daughter Bilynda, also known as Lyndi, his son Samuel, daughter Martha, and Matthew, 30 grand children and 38 great grandchildren with three on the way.

When Dad and Marietta were still very young their parents divorced and left them with his maternal grandparents, Samuel Baugh Thatcher, and his wife Maude Bowen Thatcher, nicknamed Bam. Grandpa Thatcher, a native of Cache Valley, Utah, was trained as a Dentist, but was selling insurance in the Los Angeles area. He was well known for his charity, kindness and good nature. His nick name was “Good Sam”.

It was this period with Grandpa Thatcher that was most influential in Dad’s life. Grandpa Thatcher taught him the gospel and took him to church. He instilled in Dad the importance of proper dress and grooming that has stayed with him throughout his life. Dad tried his best to pass this along to his children especially us boys and our sons.

Dad seldom saw his parents growing up. Often on a Saturday morning, Dad and Marietta would go down to the streetcar stop and wait for their mother to come. They would sit patiently on the curb for hours watching the people getting off the street cars hoping to see their mom. The owners of the corner drug store saw this and would invite them in for a drink and a rest from sitting in the sun. That small kindness is remembered to this day.

From birth, Dad suffered from allergies, skin irritations, and asthma. Grandpa Thatcher did all he could to ease Dad’s suffering. While a teenager his Grandpa Thatcher moved with him out to Banning, California hoping the dry desert air would ease the difficulty breathing. They lived in a tent, then a small rented house for a summer, then returned to the house in Los Angeles.

Grandpa Thatcher, a veteran of World War I, was a devout patriot. He loved the symbols of freedom and always honored the flag. At the announcement of the attack on Pearl Harbor December 7th 1941, he wept openly knowing the horrors of war. Shortly thereafter his great heart gave out and he died.

Dad completed High School at age 17. He joined the California State Guard, an authorized militia group, and served in the Bay area. Later he went on to college. At Woodbury College he was active in student affairs and a popular leader. While on campus he didn’t like the Greek fraternities and campus rules. Radical that he was, he recruited some friends and founded the Woodbury Gryphons, a community service club. They exist to this day as a social organization.

It was a Gryphon dinner dance that got Dad and the lovely Glenalyn Marshall together. She was serving as the Young women’s secretary and had caught his eye while he served in the ward as the Assistant Explorer Advisor.

It was during this time that his Stake President and friend, Howard W. Hunter called him to be a Stake Missionary.

When the Korean conflict began, Dad joined the National Guard and was assigned as a forward observer to an Artillery company. When his unit was called up, he proposed to Lyn. She said yes and they went to be married in the St. George, Utah Temple on August 22, 1950. They honeymooned in Zion National Park.
His unit was processed en-mass and prepared to ship out while they were away.

One week later on the morning of their wedding reception Dad reported for processing. He failed the final physical (he had a heart murmur from rheumatic fever) and suddenly he had a wife and no job.

During this time he provided for the new family selling fire insurance. Mom was trained as a Dental assistant and was able to contribute.

On August 15, 1951 a daughter was born. They named her Bilynda, combining their two names [She is my mother, Lyndi].

Shortly after this event, Dad found an opportunity selling tools in Phoenix, AZ., and moved the three of them there. His father, Grandpa Art, had settled there with his wife Florene. A short 15 months later, a son was born on November 28, 1952. Dad honored his Grandfather who had done so much throughout his childhood to teach him correct principles. He named his first son Samuel Thatcher Elrey.

The Stake President in Phoenix saw the quality of Dad’s character and offered him a job. Dad went to work for Arizona Hardware Co., a branch of the O.S. Stapley Co. There he found another mentor in President Glenn Jones.

In 1953, the family moved to Tucson where Dad sold hardware and continued to serve in the church. He worked with the young men and was active in scouting. For many years he worked with the Scout council and executives and helped to build the scouting program in the Catalina Council.

At this time the church in Tucson was small. There were 4 wards and an Institute of Religion at the University of Arizona as part of the Southern Arizona Stake. The Stake headquarters were in St. David, Arizona. Dad served with Bishop Richard Martin, and was a popular young men’s advisor in the ward.
While these events were taking place, the growing church began the construction of the chapel on Linden Street. Dad was called to coordinate the labor effort and get the members on the job. This building was built by the church members. Thousands of hours were donated. I remember the men working as the building rose. Mom would take Dad lunch and I would want to climb on everything. One day I saw Brother Morris Holliday ride down from the inside of the steeple in a bucket on a rope and pulley. I wanted to ride that bucket in the worst way. To my little mind it looked like fun. I wasn’t yet three years old--it didn’t happen.

On September 24th, 1954 another daughter was born. Martha was welcomed into the family.
During this time the family lived at 2628 E. Linden street in a little apartment. With the arrival of Marti we needed more room so dad found a house up the street at 2914 E. Linden.

About that time (1955) Dad was called to be the second counselor in the bishopric. Elder Spencer W. Kimball was in Safford for a Stake Conference and Mom and Dad drove over. Dad was ordained a High Priest and set apart to be the Second Counselor in the 2nd ward Bishopric. Dad decided that he was going to dress like the Brethren, talk like them and be like them. He was 28 years old.

With a new building dedicated and a need for some changes to accommodate the growth, Dad was called by President David O. McKay to be the Bishop of the 2nd Ward in 1956.

Dad has always been a self effacing and humble man. Dad has never been one to put on airs or lord over another. In the interview he told Elder Delbert L. Stapley that he thought he could not be the Bishop. This got Elder Stapley’s full attention. He asked, “Why not?”

Dad answered, “I work for you. I only make so much, I can’t afford to be the Bishop.”

As a young counselor to Bishop Martin, Dad had seen him write checks from his personal account to cover budget shortfalls for the ward. Dad thought that it was the way it was done.

Here Elder Stapley had a teaching moment and took time to teach a principle that stayed with dad all his life. When made aware of a need, the members of the church will do the seemingly impossible with a smile. Elder Stapley explained that it is the members’ privilege to earn the blessings through their faith and sacrifice. Dad has taught that principal repeatedly throughout his life.

April 2, 1957, Matthew Thatcher Elrey was born. Again Dad honored his Grandfather, giving Matt the middle name, Thatcher. Dad was 32 years old. As boys growing up we were taught about our Great Grandfather Sam Thatcher and the kind of man he was.

On Labor Day weekend 1958 our family was vacationing in the mountains north of Payson where Dad’s father built a cabin on the East Fork of the Verde River. The Southern Arizona Stake met that weekend in St. David with Elder Stapley presiding. The boundaries of several wards were changed and the 5th ward was created. Dad was called to be the Bishop of the new ward. In his absence, Elder Stapley told the Stake, “I know Bishop Elrey and I know he will accept this call.” He had all those in the new ward stand and sustain their new Bishop in absentia.
There were no telephones in the Washington Park area at that time. Nobody knew how to get in touch with Dad. The Department of Public Safety was alerted to try to find him, but they didn’t. Upon arriving home Monday evening, Mom was collecting the mail from our neighbor Arlene Haymore. She asked if Mom was excited. Mom asked, “Excited about what?”

Arlene said, “You need to call President Brewer right away.”

That’s how Dad learned about his new ward. President Brewer told him he had a ward to staff and to get busy. Dad had to call people to staff a whole ward in one week. He called men from the High Council, Stake officers and anyone else he was inspired to call and staffed his new ward.

Always looking out for the youth, Dad did things that were just above and beyond. Knowing the value of work and the dignity that comes with it he would pay various young men to do yard work at our home, to earn money for Scout trips. The family was already on a very tight budget, but Dad was teaching these young men important values. As little a boy I followed them around and watched them work and chatted with them. I was being taught the value of work even then.

In these years Dad was always mindful of the power of example. When we were camping with the scouts, or on a father and son activity, or just as a family he made sure we always left the area cleaner than we found it. “Police up your trash, men. Don’t leave anything behind, “ he’d say, and lead the clean up. He had us pick up trash that had been left by previous campers as well as our own. He led by example.

As a young Bishop he was called upon to make some difficult and unpopular decisions. The 5th Ward met at the Binghamton Chapel on Fort Lowell & Dodge. For many years this building had been the center for the Binghamton Community. Those saints had built a community pool on the south side of the building. As the Agent Bishop responsible for the upkeep of the facilities, Dad saw the expense of the pool and the high cost to repair it. It was decided to fill in the pool and eliminate the cost. Some were upset with the change. Others saw the wisdom and the savings. There were large trees on the west side of the building that were causing problems and damage to the structures. Their removal also caused some to be upset. For a time Dad was not popular in Binghamton.

Dad was offered a promotion at work. He was transferred to the main office in Phoenix in 1962. We met for a family council and all agreed to move. While in Phoenix Dad served on the High Council in the East Phoenix Stake. It was the custom for the brethren in Phoenix to meet in shirtsleeves because of the heat. Dad never went to church without wearing his suit coat. He felt that the image of a leader was that important. While in Phoenix he volunteered with the Scout Council and sold lots of hardware. In 1965, Dr. Ira Larson, a long time friend and family Dentist, called Dad with an interesting proposition.

The Arizona Children’s Home Association was in need of an executive director. Dr. Larson thought that it was a good fit for Dad. We held another family council, and we elected to return to Tucson.

Dad found a new custom built home at 6222 E. Eastland and we moved in.

Soon after returning to Tucson, Dad was called to be the Executive Secretary to his old friend and mentor Richard Martin, now President of the Tucson Stake. While he was busy learning the new job and serving in the Stake, Dad earned a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School.

With kids entering high school and all the demands on Dad’s time, he took advantage of any minute to spend time with us. We made regular trips to visit Grandpa Art in both Phoenix and up in the mountains. In the mountains, Dad taught us more lessons about work and respect for nature. He often would comment on the beauty in this world and express his love of the outdoors. One Sunday while we were visiting Grandpa Art and Florene with our cousins, the Clarks (Dad’s sister and her family), we walked a short distance into the forest to hold a Sacrament meeting. We found a place to sit. Dad presided and Uncle George and my cousin David blessed the sacrament and our two families then shared our testimonies under the pines in the beauty of nature.

Looking back, we kids were just glad to be there in the mountains and out of the summer heat.
We did chores, played hard and learned to fish. Grandpa Art was a good teacher and had lots of patience. He taught me how to clean the trout we caught. The rule was that you cleaned the fish you caught, and then cleaned up the mess. We didn’t realize then that Dad was getting acquainted with his father who had been absent for most of his life. There soon developed a great bond of love and respect between them.

In February 1969 the Tucson East Stake building [where Grandpa’s funeral was held] was completed and the Tucson Stake was divided. The Stake offices were moved from the Norton building to this one. Dad was called to be the Tucson Stake President by President David O. McKay. He was set apart by Elder Mark E. Petersen. This allowed him to grow and develop as an administrator and spiritual leader.
The new North Stake also was headquartered here for a time. When the North Stake Center was dedicated, President Peterson moved his office to the new North Stake building.

While serving in the Stake, there were great changes and growth both at home and at work. Many general Authorities visited and presided over Stake Conferences. My parents would host them in our home.
Mom was always frantic as we prepared for a General Authority’s visit. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet them and learn from them.

The Children’s Home expanded and developed new programs to help emotionally disturbed children and unwed mothers. There were many other advancements and positive changes that were implemented. Dad refused to go into any detail when asked, saying,“I don’t want to relive all that stuff. It’s not important.”

Even so, around 1971, Dad was searching for a suitable farm plot to create a church farm to support the church welfare program. The Presiding Bishop called and wanted to know what Dad had in mind. After discussing the details, Dad was given the go ahead to sign a note for $750,000.00 for 1,100 acres of farm land with plenty of available water. The Church Farm north of Marana was purchased and remains part of the church welfare system to this day [knowing nothing about my Grandpa’s invovlement, I recorded in my journal, circa 1984, one of my favorite activities when I was in the Young Women’s Program was picking Pecans at the church farm on cool, misty mornings!] .

There were changes in Church administration at this time as well. With the growth of the world wide church Stake presidents were given more authority. In 1971 as I prepared to serve a mission for the church, Stake presidents were given authority to set apart full time missionaries prior to sending them to the Mission Home in Salt Lake City. I was blessed to be set apart as a full-time missionary by my father in January 1972.

Just prior to that event, Dad hosted Elder Theodore M. Burton of the Seventy for Stake Conference. On Saturday evening after the meetings, Elder Burton was relaxing in the living room. I had been asked to speak in my home ward and at the University ward where I had been attending. I asked Elder Burton what he thought I should say. His reply was profound. He opened his scriptures to 3 Nephi 11 and said, “I like this chapter and the message it teaches.”

We discussed it a while and I remember feeling the witness of the Holy Spirit as he shared his testimony of the risen Christ with me as I knelt by his chair. I tell you this because Dad provided us kids countless opportunities like this.

In 1977, Dad was released from the Stake Presidency [this was shortly after I came, along with my pregnant mother, my brother and twin sisters, to live with my grandparents when my parents divorced]. I asked him, “What were some of the advances in the Stake under his leadership?”

He told me that it was not important. “Don’t put that in there. It’s in the Church Almanac, you can look it up.”
He was still truly self effacing, and unwilling to talk about his accomplishments.

In early 1978 Dad had been called to go to Mesa and meet with Elder Hugh Pinnock who was presiding at a Stake Conference. In that interview Dad asked what was up. Elder Pinnock was vague, explaining that they like to keep in touch and just wanted to see how he was doing.

My brother Matt was serving his mission in the Philippines Manila Mission at the time. Mom and Dad went to meet Matt in Hawaii as he made his way home from Manila. Upon arriving at the hotel, they happened to meet the First Presidency and several General authorities in the lobby. They greeted Mom and Dad and wondered what they were doing there. It seemed a little odd.

Shortly after that chance meeting, in March 1978, Elder David B. Haight called the house and asked Dad to be the Stake Patriarch. He went to Salt Lake and was ordained to the office of Patriarch by Bruce R. McConkie [I remember this meeting with Elder McConkie when I was 6 years old. I shook his hand—it was HUGE—and thought he reminded me of Orville Redenbacher]. In that blessing Elder McConkie blessed him to prosper. From that time all his financial worries faded away. Mom and Dad always had enough to meet their needs.

The growing Church required more world wide leadership and the office of Regional Representative was created to expand the influence of the General Authorities and facilitate the training and administrative functions needed throughout the Church. Dad was called to preside over the Mesa and Tempe Regions and was active in the development of the church. Under the direction of various Apostles and members of the Quorum of Seventy, Dad assisted in and presided over the creation of and division of many Stakes. For example, Dad organized the Sierra Vista Stake.

There were times when he would spend all day Saturday and Sunday morning in Stake meetings and interviews, then drive home dead tired and find he had three or four Patriarchal blessings to pronounce that evening. As a testimony to the inspiration and revelation in this process, even though exhausted he would give each candidate a unique and personal blessing. Mom acted as scribe in these days and would type the blessings. She was often moved by the sweet promises pronounced in them. She also noticed the uniqueness and individuality of each blessing.

In one Stake conference in Mesa with Elder McConkie, on Saturday afternoon, after interviews and the administrative chores were done, they were relaxing between meetings. Elder McConkie leaned over and said, “Why don’t you take this next one?”, meaning why don’t you spend the bulk of 90 minutes training the local priesthood leaders? After the meeting started Elder McConkie went down and sat in the congregation.
Can you imagine? Afterward Elder McConkie said, “You did well.”

In 1981 Dad was reassigned to the Safford & Tucson Regions and continued to teach principles of leadership to those Saints. Three and a half years later (1985) he was released as a Regional Representative. He was 60 years old. He continued to serve as a Patriarch in the Tucson East Stake.

Dad has enjoyed meeting the candidates and giving them blessings. He has had many profound spiritual experiences as he served as Patriarch some that he shared with me bear repeating.

When we came as a family for our son Bill’s blessing, we felt that it was special to receive a blessing from his Grandfather. Dad took Bill into the office and spent some time interviewing him in preparation for the blessing. He invited the family in and prepared the tape recorders, tested them to be sure they were recording. He silenced the phone and proceeded to pronounce the blessing. When it was finished, Dad said, “ Let’s see how we did.”

He rewound the tapes and played them back and there was no sound. Without any concern Dad said, “I guess we missed something, let’s do it again.”

He reset the recorders and placed his hands on Bill’s head and pronounced the same blessing almost word for word. The recorders both worked as intended. I can’t recall what was missed. But I know that each Patriarchal blessing is a personal revelation given through the gift and power of God.

After 17 years of service at the Children’s Home, Dad retired and began to work in real estate development with partners. He also developed and sold other businesses.

In 1986 Mom and Dad elected to serve a mission. They put in their papers and were called to serve in the Nigeria, Lagos Mission in West Africa. Mom being a dedicated homebody cried at the thought of going to Africa. Dad was up for the challenge.

They reported to the Provo M.T.C. and were trained to carry the gospel message to Nigeria. Once on the ground in Nigeria they had to confront the widespread corruption and bureaucratic resistance. In Port Harcourt they were questioned and denied entry due to a trumped up visa problem. They were made to report to the jail each morning and stand in a small hallway with no facilities in the tropical heat all day. This went on for over a week until word got to other mission leaders. The local legal council for the church got involved and in less than a day there was no longer a problem with their visas.

Nigeria was wild and tribal. Often the village chief would see an economic advantage by joining the church and order the entire village to also join. He would then begin collecting and keeping tithes and offerings.
Mom and Dad were not assigned to proselyte. They were training the leadership of the districts and branches in Southern Nigeria. This required that they travel long distances through the jungle on unmaintained dirt roads that were dusty in the dry season and swampy deep mud in the rainy season. They would always time their trips so they could be home in Aba before dark. There is no safe haven for a white couple out on the road after dark.

On one trip to an outlying branch a group of heavily armed men stepped out of the bush pointing automatic weapons at the engine and Mom and Dad. Their leader demanded a toll. Dad refused to pay a toll. Even at gun point he was unwilling to violate his principles. Mom was terrified as he faced them down. They made their demands for money and Dad said, “No.”

After several tense moments, a voice was heard to say this is not the right man. The robbers faded back into the bush and Mom and Dad continued on their way. Later it was learned that President Robert Sackley, the Mission President, drove the same color, make and model car and was under death threats by criminals involved in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Inc., which was a counterfeit organization taking money from people that didn’t know any better.

In July of 1987 the Mission was divided and the Aba Nigeria Mission was formed. Dad was called to be the president. Mom and Dad loved the humble people of Nigeria and learned much from them.

One day as they were going to visit an outlying branch with the District President, they were headed for a particular village. As they drew near, the District President became increasingly agitated and nervous. From the back seat Mom asked if he were all right. He replied, “You’re going to __ village,” naming the particular village.

Dad said,”Yes we pass through here every week.”
The district President replied “You must never go there. These people are cannibals, and they prize white meat above all other. Never go there!” He was very afraid as they drove through the village and could hardly sit still.

Now Dad, having been warned, had to take an alternate route to get to the branches in the east. This diversion added hours to the trip, but they were no one’s dinner.

In the normal course of life they had to put up with sudden power and water outages, lawlessness, and the lack of infrastructure. They became very frugal and pragmatic. Mom caught rain water for laundry they used oil lamps for light when the power was off.

In the fall of 1988, Mom began to feel ill. She took her Malaria pills and other vitamins and supplements but slowly got worse. They went to London for training with the Area Presidency in early November. Mom was too sick to attend the meetings and rested in the hotel. Upon returning to Port Harcourt, Mom was too sick to go home. Dad called another missionary couple and they gave Mom a blessing in the airport. They then made arrangements to return to London on the next flight out.

Too weak to walk and burning with fever Mom was assisted up the stairs and seated next to a window. She was in and out of consciousness and very ill. The flight attendants would ask if she was alright and Dad would say it was just the heat, she would be fine. They didn’t want to draw attention to themselves, nor did they want to get kicked off the plane for carrying a tropical disease. [I remember, shortly before my own mission, watching the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona with Grandma. Everytime they showed an aerial view of the Spanish coast or of Barcelona, she would shudder and say, “I remember that view from the window of the plane when I was trying not to die!”] When the pilots were on approach to London’s Heathrow Airport, the controller advised them that the ambulance was standing by. They responded that they had no need for an ambulance. The tower asked if Lyn Elrey was on board and explained that arrangements had been made.

After 10 days in the hospital and another 10 days in a hotel Mom was strong enough to come home.
She had contracted Cerebral Malaria and was slowly being killed by the parasite in her blood. There happened to be a tropical disease specialist visiting the hospital when she arrived. He knew just what to do to save her life. Mom was told that it would be years before she had normal blood values.

From November 1988 to April 1989 Mom rested and got stronger to the point where they were ready to go again. They had not been released and lived the mission rules while Mom got well. Dad was called to preside over the Oklahoma Tulsa Mission and they reported to the M.T.C. in June of 1989 for training [the week of my graduation from high school]. Here is an example of the power of faith to be healed, and the power of the Priesthood.

Dad really got busy in Oklahoma. The Mission covered parts of Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Texas. Here again Dad was leading young men and women. He taught them to be devoted servants of the Lord by his example and the precepts of the gospel. During this time he met a young Stake President named David Bednar serving in Arkansas. They became friends and when passing through Tulsa the Bednar family stayed overnight in the Mission Home. This was a great opportunity for their young sons to sleep in missionary beds. President Bednar was always a gracious guest.

Dad met the challenges presented by trying to lead 200 young people to do the Lord’s work. He never spoke about how many baptisms were done during his presidency. He was always (in every situation) focused on people, not numbers.
While in Tulsa, the mission was divided. Here Dad saw an opportunity to give the new President of the Oklahoma City Mission a leg up. He put many of his best Elders and sisters in the areas that were going to be in the new mission. Everywhere he served there was growth. He has always left things better than he found them.

They returned to Tucson in July 1991 [I was living at Frankenhaus in Provo and went to Salt Lake City to meet them when they were released]. They bought a home and began to act like retired people. Dad told us they were going to stay home now. They even got a dog. [Aw, Daisy Dog! I left on my mission from this house on Jasmine, in the Bonanza Ward—I spent the summer of 1992 having my own little mission training experience, living with President & Sister Elrey. Grandpa made me study the Missionary Guide everyday, which I did happily, excited to have a leg up in the field. Imagine my disappoinment when I learned I would be expected to read a section of that book every single day of my mission! ;)] They were just settled in December 1992, when Elder H. Burke Petersen called to ask what Dad was doing. Remembering the interview with Elder Pinnock years ago Dad knew there was a new opportunity afoot.

Elder Petersen explained that there was an urgent need for a Director at the Nauvoo and Carthage, Illinois Visitor Centers. Normally these changes are done on July 1st. Dad asked, “ How soon?”

Elder Petersen replied, “Yesterday.”

After prayerfully considering the opportunity, they put their new house on the market and held a yard sale.
The house sold in three weeks and they were again in the M.T.C. in February1993.

Dad has said that the call to Nauvoo was the Lord’s way of rewarding them for their efforts in Nigeria. It was a wonderful experience to be there. Dad once again was called upon to make some unpopular decisions. He had to remind some of the couple missionaries that they were serving a mission. That meant no more P-day golf and shopping trips to the surrounding areas
.
There had been a history of strife and misunderstanding between members of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ, and the Church. After Dad and the Patriarch Evangelist Don Albrough got acquainted, they developed a mutual respect and an abiding friendship. This opened the way for the Sesquicentennial Commemoration of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith. Some of the sites that were owned by the Community of Christ were made available for the General Authorities to visit. Elder Ballard, a descendant of Hyrum Smith placed a wreath at the grave site of Joseph and Hyrum.

Upon returning home in the spring of 1996, Dad was reactivated as the Patriarch of the East Stake. He has served in that capacity until his illness made it impossible. Dad has given 701 patriarchal blessings since returning home and being re-activated. He had done at least that many prior to serving the missions [I was #333 in 1984—such a privilege to receive my blessing from my Grampy]. Over the years Dad has born strong testimony of the reality of revelation as applied to the Patriarchal Blessings, and the roll they play in the gathering of Israel.

Dad shared the following story with me awhile back. There was a young Hispanic teen that presented for his blessing. He was with his cousin. Dad pronounced the blessing and when he was finished, the youth asked if the lineage was correct. Dad had proclaimed the lineage to be Judah. He said, “We’re Mexicans, shouldn’t it be Manasseh?”

Then the cousin said, “Grandma was Jewish, remember?”

To which the youth responded, “Oh yeah, I forgot.” Dad had no way of knowing any of that.


For the last several years Mom and Dad lived quietly and traveled to visit friends and family. On Saturday, March 27th, two days before his 85th birthday, Mom called to say Dad wasn’t well and I should come to the house. I arrived and went in to check on Dad. He was in bed very weak and not coherent. He had not eaten for several days and was dehydrated. Matt arrived and we called the paramedics to assess him. They were able to use their equipment and make a proper determination. Dad was taken to the hospital and admitted.

He had been bleeding internally for about 5 weeks and because it didn’t hurt he thought it was no big deal.
He was stabilized and diagnosed with B-cell Lymphoma in his stomach. After consulting with Mom and the doctors, he elected to have Chemotherapy.

He had progressed to the point that he could do it as an outpatient. When he was released from the hospital, the nursing staff hugged and kissed him and expressed love for him and Mom. You see, even during this ordeal, he was cheerful and kind and looking after the welfare of others.

As the drugs did their work, Dad fought through the effects and was committed to see it through. He was always glad to see us and took time to express his abiding love for the Savior and share his testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel. As he went through each dose of Chemo he got weaker. At various times he was hospitalized for complications of the treatment. Ha had 17 blood transfusions throughout this ordeal.

While visiting him in the hospital, he looked me in the eye and confided, “This is hell.” All I could do was offer encouragement, but inside I was praying for him.

As word of his illness spread there were many that came to visit and offer support. Mom kept a list each day of the calls and visits. We as a family express our thanks to all those who have offered prayers and support, visited, called and sent cards and letters.

My sister Marti was able to stay with Dad as he deteriorated and fought the effects of the treatments. She cared for Mom and Dad and took care of her own family at the same time.

On August 21, 2010, Mom and Dad celebrated their 60th wedding Anniversary. A family dinner celebration was held at the Linden Chapel which Dad had helped to build some 55 years ago. This had been a goal Dad set for himself, to make it to their 60th Anniversary.

On Sunday, August 22nd (their actual anniversary), Dad was dressed in a white shirt and tie to receive the Sacrament at home. After the priesthood holders had gone, he told Mom he wanted to go to bed. He took off his tie, but couldn’t undo the buttons on his shirt. Mom helped him to bed and let him sleep. Dad began to decline rapidly and it became clear that time was short.

On Thursday evening September 2nd, Mom was waiting for a visit from the Stake Presidency. Marti wwas gone, so Matt and I were there with her (Marti and Ralph had flown to North Carolina to celebrate their son Kevin’s graduation from the Army Physician Assistant School). As we waited for the Presidency, We chatted and looked in on Dad from time to time. He was sleeping peacefully.

The Stake Presidency arrived about 7:40 and we chatted with them for a while. President Kern offered a sweet prayer of comfort and peace. Mom was leading them back to look in on Dad one last time when she discovered that he had gone to eternity.

We miss our Father, Grandfather, Great-Grandfather, devoted husband, brother, leader, Saint, Friend. Indeed we may say he lived his favorite scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 90:24: “ Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good, if ye walk uprightly and remember the covenant wherewith ye have covenanted one with another.” We are comforted by our sweet memories and we rejoice in the testimony he shared all his life. Our Savior lives and loves us, and we will be resurrected—well and whole—and reunited one day.

4 comments:

Lisa Oslin said...

Jamie, he did a great job! We had the best grandpa ever....so very thoughtful of others! I missed you guys! I love you!

Stephanie :) said...

I always have loved your grampy since I met him and your grandma just before my mission. I really enjoyed reading his life history and learning more about him. Thanks for sharing!

Aimless said...

Having read that, i'm humbled to know he is my grandfather. Thank you.

-Matt

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get a hold of some family information about Art. My grandfather has asked me to locate some information. I found this amazing blog and thought that maybe you could help me get in touch with the family. My email address is adrianne_kelley@yahoo.com. Thank You!

FAMILY LETTER 11.19.17

Dear Loved Ones,                                                                                                                          ...