By Clive Perry Ririe
I must rely on the word of others that I was born on April 4, 1927.
I remember, however, the day I was baptized. The precise date will appear
elsewhere but some details of our trip to Rigby accompanied by Eva Stitt
and her son Bob are remembered. Mother drove in our '34 Ford and just
as we pulled into Rigby we had a flat tire. I thought that since I was
old enough for baptism, I was equal to the task of jacking up a car and
changing a tire but Mother thought otherwise and Bob and I were instructed
to remain quietly in the car until the job was completed and we continued
on to the tabernacle where Bob and I were immersed in the font in the
basement. We were confirmed the next day.
Several important events fell on August 6. First in 1945 when Hiroshima
disappeared from the Earth. The few days following were the last of WW
II. In my maturity, I can finally admit to myself that I received the
news with a certain level of ambiguity. I was surely happy the killing
and destruction were over but a little wistful that the dreams and ambitions
of my young life were now unachievable. Since the outbreak of hostilities
in '41 when I was only fourteen, I had dreamed of distinguishing myself
in some way as a warrior; of becoming a hero. I, in fact, had not thought
of anything in my life beyond the war and what part I may play in it.
Now that was all gone and I had only gotten so far as to begin learning
how to operate the electronic gear for detecting and destroying enemy
On the day the Jap surrender was announced I
was on a PCS somewhere out of sight of land and we were doing runs
on a submarine that was designed
to give us actual shipboard experience directing depth charge firing.
I think we actually dropped cans and our success (or lack of it) was
noted by the sub crew. When the war ended, the sub skipper was smart
enough to return to port and let his crew go ashore to destroy San Diego
with their reveling. Our Captain, on the other hand, was made of sterner
stuff so we remained at sea. With no sub to chase, we strung our fishing
lines and were very successful. We caught about fifty albacore, a breed
of tuna that was so good that even our Navy cook couldn't make it taste
bad. The fishing was actually pretty fair training (not that it was needed
now that the war had ended) but it provided experience in the use of
an electronic device known to me as the Bendix. This device consisted
of a series of mechanical connections that converted information about
the ship's movement on the ocean to a "bug" that moved about
under a large piece of opaque paper so that by marking the route of the "bug" on
the paper we got an accurate map of our movements. At the same time we
marked our intersection with schools of albacore the same way we would
have mapped the movement of an enemy submarine. The use of this sophisticated
(for the time) equipment made it quite easy to predict where the school
of fish would be and to cross back and forth through it; each time hooking
a fish or two or three. We learned very quickly bow to utilize an implement
of war for a peaceful purpose.
A pair of my friends who were on a different ship had an unusual experience.
They also had abandoned useful pursuits for fishing but as they were
hauling an albacore up to the deck with a large gaff hook, a huge shark
struck and cleanly removed the posterior portion of the fish. Before
the fishermen gained their composure, the shark struck again; this time
impaling itself on the gaff. Its momentum wrested the gaff from the grasp
of the fishing crew but the shark was very firmly hooked so it simply
pulled the gaff hook out to the end of its anchor line allowing the men
to team up and haul shark, albacore and gaff up the fantail onto the
deck. The shark turned out to be about ten feet long and weighed several
hundred pounds; a catch worth shouting about.
I had decided to join the Navy barely six months earlier. The final
impetus is lost to memory but late one night Bob Stitt and I planned
our immediate future and the next morning withdrew from Ricks College
contacted recruiters and signed up to be combat air crewman, ie gunners
on Navy dive bombers. Enlistments for pilot training had been suspended
because I suppose it was assumed enough were already in training to fill
foreseeable needs. Air gunner was an acceptable second choice and we
knew it would be exciting and would allow us to become heroes.
Bob and I, joined by Grant Howard, who like Bob and I had finished High
School a full year before attaining draft age were ordered to Seattle
for final testing (physical and mental) preliminary to going in to active
duty. The three of us sat on a bench in the ante room of a Doctor's office
when the Doctor walked briskly by, looking us over as he walked. He pointed
to Grant and brusquely beckoned him into the examining room. Less than
a minute later, Grant came out and almost tearfully reported that he'd
been washed out before he even started. The examiner had told him he
had a deviated nasal septum and could not qualify to fly. He was immediately
sworn in as a Navy recruit and sent home to await the call to active
duty. Bob and I passed the very intensive physical, including perfect
vision and went on to a battery of mental tests.
At the conclusion of each of several sections
of the test, the Petty Officer reported to us that we had both passed.
This same routine continued
until the part on Morse code. We, of course weren't expected to know
the code but we were given i, n and t enough times that we knew those
three letters; dot dot for I, dash dot for N and dash for T. These three
codes were then played to us in varying order and at incrementally increasing
speed. After that part as we discussed what might be the outcome, Bob
was pretty sure he had done well and I, as I had been on each previous
segment was doubtful. To our surprise, the Petty Officer breezed into
the room and announced: "Stitt, you failed it, Ririe, you passed.” We
both protested loudly (I louder than Bob). "That can't be!" I
said, "surely if one of us passed it was Stitt," whereupon
the tester immediately changed his mind reversing the results. Bob, because
he was brilliant, went on to serve his entire Navy time at a College
in Missouri where in about a year and a half he completed enough classes
to complete a bachelor's degree and then was able to go to graduate school
at University of Utah on the GI Bill of Rights and complete a PhD. I
went into active duty the following March and was stationed or ported
in San Diego for my entire military career. I've often contemplated the
difference it might have made had I simply kept my mouth shut. Since
the code part was the final segment of the test, I might have had a Navy
career in College or possibly have been an air gunner. Confidence, or
the lack of it, makes a difference!
My navy career was mostly boring, particularly the final year of it.
The war had ended and I couldn't think of a reason why I shouldn't have
been immediately discharged but I was not. I kept on with a training
regime as if the hostilities hadn't ended. I found the schools interesting
and challenging and they would have been meaningful if it had come a
year earlier when the war was still on. Because I did well in Sonar Operator
school, I was selected to go to an electronics training school where
I found I could compete favorably with others, some of whom were very
sharp people. Our class in Sonar Maintenance school was about twenty.
Most of us were recruits like me but it included three or four officers
and at least one young man who had voluntarily washed out of officer
training. It was a pretty intellectual group. Nearly all of them were
older than I was and certainly had had much more of worldly and scholastic
I have had almost no contact with any of the others who went through
those schools with me but I remember a few of the fellows. Foremost among
them was my church buddy, Newell B. Cutler, whose middle initial was
the same as that of Harold B. Lee, later a President of the church, and
a cousin to Cutler's dad. I've seen Cutler a few times since Navy days
and I met his dad and his brother. His brother later became a classmate
at BYU. Cutler, I learned, became a dentist and practiced in the San
Francisco area. There was a kid named Price who I asked one day if he
was a Jew. Price was offended and retorted by asking if me if I would
admit it if I was a Jew. I, of course, replied that I would and that
I'd probably be proud of it. I had not the least inkling of the prejudice
against Jews so my inquiry to my friend was not intended to deride him
in any way. I also remember a couple of highly intelligent boys named
Riddle and Marshall. Because our names followed each other in alphabetical
order. Riddle and I were lab partners. We helped each other create radio
receivers out of a pile of condensers, resistors, capacitors, transformers,
etc. Riddle has since become a medical doctor and had a lifelong practice
in his hometown in Michigan. (I looked him up on the internet and called
him a few weeks ago.) We had two instructors who were great guys. Antonio
(Erkie) Erqiuaga taught electronic theory and Callis taught practical
or operational. They were both high level petty officers but they treated
all of us as equals and we had a good time learning.
I guess the highlight of my Navy experience was a two week training
cruise on the USS Skate, the submarine that was later destroyed in the
Bikini atom bomb test. Actually a submarine cruise is about as exciting
as watching submarine races but it was novel and I have met very few
people who have experienced it so it makes for good conversation. My
classmates and I spent nearly all our time in the forward torpedo room
where we bunked on thin pads laid over the torpedoes. I really can't
remember doing anything useful on the entire cruise. We were supposed
to be learning about a new kind of sonar equipment that could detect
mines on the surface or just under the surface of the water and that
expertise was to have been spent aboard a small ship clearing mines in
the Gulf of Alaska. Unrelated to our mission on the sub, there was an
exercise with the captured German cruiser, Prince Eugene (orgin) in which
the cruiser fired at least one hedgehog that hit Skate's hull just outside
where I was laying over the forward torpedoes. It just made a thud but
if it had been a live charge, I suppose I wouldn't have lived to tell
As we boarded the sub, the boats yoeman made
up a roster which included names and home addresses and names of those
to be notified in case of
disaster. I was about the last one to be listed and the petty officer
was behind schedule and the skipper was urging haste (in Navy parlance, "chewing
his a..") so when he asked my name and I said Ririe, Clive Perry
and I corrected him for writing "Riley" he got a little testy
and then when he wrote Ryre and I had to correct him again he stopped
and gave me a lecture about how I was holding up the departure and the
Captain wasn't happy (he was p....d off!). I could tell I hadn't endeared
myself to the yoeman. We pressed on and he wrote Clyde and I objected
and he changed it to Glide and I again protested, "v as in victory." He
famed and swore some more then he wrote Terry and I said no "Perry" p
as in Peter then he recorded my middle name as Peter. Trying to be calm
I said "No my middle name is Perry." This time he got it right
and repeated to me "Ririe, Clive Perry" and I agreed and thanked
him and we went on without serious incident to naming my father as the
one to be notified. He then asked: "and your father's address?” I
started to reply, "Ririe, Id...." but he fiercely interrupted
me mid-word with, "No! G-dam you not your name again, your home
address!" I know not what excuse he gave the skipper for the hold-up
in completing the pre-sailing data but the boat and the yoeman and I
survived the incident but I wasn't sure I was going to while the storm
was raging. He had never heard of a sailor having the same surname as
the town he called home.
After completing the Sonar Maintenance school, the Navy didn't have
anything else to do with me so I was assigned permanently to the crew
of one of the training ships, the PCS 1444. I didn't mind the duty but
I never overcame seasickness. Every time we left port I got sick and
stayed sick until we tied up again.
I was completely useless as a seafarer but while in port I got a streak
of ambition one day and decided to help the deck crew paint the side
of the ship. I didn't have to stoop to such lowly work because by that
time I had become a petty officer but I was tired of doing nothing and
I decided to make the seamen look bad by working hard and showing them
up for the dolts they all were. As soon as I started slapping paint,
all the rest of the crew disappeared. I worked on alone and probably
spilled more paint in the drink than on the ship but I finished one whole
side of the ship in a few hours. The crew had taken all day to paint
about a tenth as much. Nobody was impressed. Only I knew of my spectacular
performance but it made me feel good to show how much poor quality painting
a farm kid could do when he really went to work.
Navy days taught me to appreciate home. I was almost unbearably homesick
and the only relief was in reading the Book of Mormon, I think mother
and dad were probably surprised that I always went in to town to church
every Sunday when I was allowed to leave my base. The other relief was
in my close association with other church members, namely N.B. Cutler,
Gerald Lind and Martin Cox. Having those good boys as my compatriots
was an answer to my prayers.
Popular movies of the day suggested that young
men, when exposed to the real dangers of war, become humble; even prayerful
Very early in my experience that fable was exploded. Everybody used the
most vile and vulgar language available. I heard no words I hadn't heard
before but it shocked me to learn that otherwise respectable young men
had no compunction about profanity and vulgarity. I asked another sailor
one day if he didn't believe in Jesus Christ and he was insulted that
I should infer that he might not so I then asked why he was so blatant
about profaning his name and he said very casually, "Oh, it doesn't
mean anything. That's the way everybody talks." That being the prevailing
attitude, I was a little astonished one day when my base commander, Captain
Caufield came on the intercom and complained about the foul language.
He said he had brought his wife to the movie theater the previous evening
and she was insulted to hear a sailor referring to the sex life of a
canine in the most vulgar terms. He quoted an arcane navy regulation
about proper language and everyone got a good belly laugh about his admonition
to clean up our language.
I had a few dates with a girl I met at church and she wanted me to take
her to the base movies. I couldn't even tell her why I didn't want her
to be in that environment. I was sure she wouldn't have appreciated the
base language any more than the Captain's lady did and I didn't know
how she might have reacted to the descriptions of the leading ladies
in navy parlance and there was also the matter of GI balloons that I
might have had to explain to a proper Mormon girl.
I had to travel in a troop car all the distance from San Diego to Bremerton,
Washington to be discharged. I'd hate to do it again but youth and anticipation
of better things to come made it bearable, even enjoyable. It was hot
and very dirty as we went through the San Joaquin valley. I had never
experienced temperatures in excess of 120 degrees F before but the smoke
that blew in through the open windows bothered me less than it did others
because it reminded me of dust and the dry farm to which I would soon
return. The climb up out of the valley was memorable because we could
see the engine and leading cars on switchbacks just above us and wondered
if the old steam locomotive was going to be equal to the task as it spun
wheels and then as the engineer throttled back regained traction and
pulled the heavy load up the steep mountain. That train ride ate up more
that 48 hours and got us to Bremerton late on Saturday so we had to lay
over until Monday morning to be processed out of the Navy. I had Saturday
evening and Sunday to kill in Seattle but for reasons I no longer remember,
I had no money. On the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle I fell into conversation
with another sailor who when he learned of my predicament loaned me ten
dollars which I fully intended to repay but somehow I neglected to get
his address so I still owe some sailor ten bucks. It has bothered me
all my life. Bob Stitt was stationed in the Seattle area so we got together
at the Queen Ann ward. On August 6 I was finally discharged. I became
a nineteen year old veteran of the greatest conflict in human history
and it had only cost me 17 months of my life. As the years have passed
I have become more and more proud of my short military stint. Although
I never saw any bullets flying nor men dying, I did volunteer out of
pure and unselfish principle. I probably would never have been drafted
if I had simply asked for one deferment but to do so never entered my
thoughts. Both of my brothers and many cousins were serving and I wanted
to share that experience.
I am part of a truly great generation. Eleven million of us served in
the armed forces of the United States and we fought a war that barely
reached our homeland, yet we offered our lives to maintain freedom in
the world. I made myself available and would have done whatever I was
asked to do in that noble cause.
On completion of my military service, I along with many other young
Mormon Elders, became a missionary. I am told that currently a percentage
in excess often fail to complete their missions after accepting the call.
Not one of those with whom I was associated failed to qualify for an
honorable release. My sons and daughters and now my grandsons have complained
that they have had companions who didn't want to work. Some of my companions
were more dedicated, I suppose, than others but none of us failed to
get up almost every morning and go out and do the proselytizing work
to which we were assigned. Most of my contemporaries in the missionary
service were, like me, veterans of the late great war and maybe that
tempered us so that the rigors of missionary service didn't seem difficult.
I had a unique mission president. He thought the experience of an old-fashioned
street meeting was necessary to obtaining and keeping the true spirit
of the work. Not all of us followed his instructions to walk out onto
a street corner, sing a hymn and then start to preach, but I did and
as President Brown asserted, it did make me stronger. I conquered the
fear of men and stood forth to the world and told the story of the restoration.
Never did we have anyone stop and listen and then ask for more information
but I was consoled by the thought that someone might witness the spectacle
and be favorably impressed and some time later learn more.
One street meeting stands out in my memory. A very hot day in Russell,
Kansas, Elder Richard Black and I attracted a little attention. We started
inauspiciously by trying to sing and that was a disaster. We both broke
up laughing and had to desert the corner. We gathered strength and returned
and as Elder Black was speaking, a young woman walked by us clad only
in her underwear. Cars stopped to gawk and a collision ensued. A crowd
gathered and we kept on talking in the hope that someone would pay attention
to us and our message, but I don't think anyone did. The competition
was far too compelling.
President Brown also asked us to go out into the farm areas and ask
people to give us food and shelter. Not all of my compatriots would agree,
but I thought that was a rich experience. We found that farm people were
hospitable and kind for the most part and we slept in haystacks and barns
only a few times. I got hungry enough a couple of times to make me very
humble and I found out that after a day or more of fasting, the hunger
In Kansas wheat country, in the 1940s everything
stopped for the harvest in July. Many small towns converted their only
paved streets to wheat
storage and people walked by the wheat stacks to get to the stores on
main street. President Brown gave us permission to stop and stay with
folks if they wanted us to help in the harvest. To me, that was almost
equal to being given a vacation to go home. We settled in with a family
named Steinle near the small town of Bunker Hill a few miles east of
Russell. These folks were of German origin and the older members of the
family still spoke German more fluently than they did English and their
English usage (even of the younger ones) was heavily influenced by German.
For example, they might say, "cross the bridge over" instead
of "cross over the bridge." Elder Black was working with Bro.
Steinle one day when a very dirty dusty canvas fell on him precipitating
a flow of curse words which he quickly stanched, using German cuss words
instead out of respect to his listener. As we finished the harvest and
left them, Brother Steinle told us this was the only time he had gone
through an entire wheat harvest without having to swear at his hired
help. We took that as an extreme compliment.
Five years, or more after my mission when I was a student at BYU, a
recently returned missionary looked me up to tell me that part of the
Steinle family had been baptized. Thirty or more years later, I stopped
at the old Steinle farmstead in Kansas and talked to a grandson of Sister
Steinle's who unhappily didn't seem to know anything about his grandmother's
association with the Church.
During our labors "without purse or scrip" President
Brown once told us we had a right to ask the Lord to soften hearts
Lord would oblige us. One day his prophecy came true quite literally
for my companion and me. Again I was with Elder Black and as we approached
a farmstead by way of a long private lane, I silently prayed as the President
had suggested that the Lord would intervene for us and soften hearts
so we could have lodging and opportunity to leave our message. The day
was stormy in a way I'd never experienced before. As we came close to
the sheds on the farm we sensed, though we were not competent to read
the signs of the sky, that the farmer was preparing for an approaching
disaster. He moved hurriedly to put his new John Deere tractor in the
shed and we saw him making last-minute adjustments around his outbuildings.
This should have been enough to spook us a little but it didn't. We greeted
the farmer between his frantic motions in our customary manner and to
our surprise, he didn't offer the usual objections, politely dismissing
us. Instead he warned us of the impending storm damage and invited us
to go inside his shed to wait it out. We watched him secure against the
storm, still not aware that a serious weather event was about to overtake.
As we stood in his shed with the door open, we noticed large hailstones
hitting the ground and bouncing up five or six feet into the air. The
size of the stones increased and we stood marveling that they were as
large as an egg, then baseball size and finally larger than an official
soft ball. By then the noise of missiles hitting the tin roof that sheltered
us was so loud and persistent that we could no longer converse. We got
inside a truck that was parked in the shed and closed doors and windows
and the din was still too great to allow conversation. It was so hot
that even those huge ice balls quickly melted. The storm let up after
about half an hour. We then offered the farmer our help in cleaning up
in the storm's wake. The man had been made humble. After we made a few
repairs on his roof, he graciously invited us to stay for the night.
I cannot remember their names but they were sufficiently humbled that
they wanted to hear what a pair of Mormon missionaries had to say.
They fed us well, allowed us to take a shower and gave us a comfortable
bed for the night.
The storm was much more severe than I'd ever experienced before. In
the next few days we were invited to several chicken dinners where we
ate some of the casualties. Many farm buildings had roofs destroyed and
any auto or tractor that was not sheltered had suffered multiple exterior
dents. All metal roofs like the one that sheltered us were destroyed.
Car and house windows were shattered and a UP passenger train lost more
than a hundred windows. Even some cattle were killed. I'm not sure the
storm was sent specifically to soften hearts for our benefit but it certainly
had that effect on a fair number of the folks we met in the following
People look askance at me when I relate having seen hailstones the size
of a healthy grapefruit but I certainly did witness that natural disaster
and but for the hospitality of a Kansas farmer we might have been seriously
injured. A couple of children were caught out in it but they were Kansas-smart
enough to realize they would be injured so they hugged a tree and were
I was a bit let down when we moved back to the
routine of hours and hours of tracting in the small western Kansas
cities but before long,
I was transferred to Oklahoma to the "Lamanite District." I
found the Indians uninterested and had to conclude that the time of those
Israelites had not yet arrived. We tried in many ways to reach our Indian
brethren. One day Elder Evans and I fell in with a group who were setting
up a tent for a powwow that was to be held that night. As we worked along
with a few young bucks tying down the perimeter of a large tent, we suddenly
found ourselves all alone. All the Indians had slipped away leaving us
to finish the job they had allowed us to help them with.
Maybe the most memorable days of that winter came in January or February
when Elder Evans and I ran out of money. We had spent all of Elder Evans'
money and the mail in Idaho had been disrupted by heavy snow and drifting.
The Idaho winter was so severe that no one could move. Schools were suspended
and the train and other modern conveyances were unable to move so Mother
was not able to mail a check to me. We went without food for a few days
except for what we had on hand which was sugar and canned milk and postum.
We were about to go to the only member in Watonga and beg when money
finally arrived from home. Dad had weathered the storm with his four-wheel-drive
truck and had gone to Idaho Falls where a few things (the mail included)
were still moving.
On a Saturday morning early in March of 1949 Elder Evans and I picked
up our mail at the post office in Watonga and I was somewhat surprised
to be told my term of missionary service was completed. I don't recall
all the details but somehow, I hooked up with an Elder Williams who owned
a '35 Ford and had been released the same day so we drove together to
Salt Lake City. We hadn't gone far when the mechanical brakes (which
he had relined for the journey) were completely worn out. As we approached
the largest and busiest intersection in Denver I was driving. I applied
the brakes and nothing happened. We just went right through a five-way
in a heavy downpour without even slowing down. We were fortunate that
other cars were better equipped and drivers willingly relinquished their
right-of-way so as to avoid colliding with an old Ford with OK license.
Elder Williams and I both thought we were competent to control our conveyance
without the aid of brakes so we journeyed on through heavy snowfall as
we ascended Rabbit Ear pass and hairy twists and turns on declines on
mountainous Utah roads. Elder Williams was a little fellow so he had
no trouble sleeping in the back seat while I did almost all the driving.
It was a great adventure but even when I was young I had no desire to
Modern missionaries do not have the privilege, as I did, to report their
missions to a general authority. I walked casually into the church office
building and asked to see Elder Spencer W. Kimball. I don't remember
having to wait at all and I was granted an interview and given an honorable
After a long night on a greyhound bus I arrived in Idaho Falls midmorning.
I spent about thirty-five cents on a long-distance call home and within
minutes was picked up at the bus station by Mother and Elaine. Dad had
already gone to town to sell or buy cattle. We stopped at the auction
ring and I went inside and found Dad sitting by Lawrence Summers. They
were concentrating on the cattle transactions so I sneaked up behind
Dad and rather childishly surprised him. No one had expected me to be
released for another few weeks even though my missionary service had
already exceeded two years by about four months.
After more than a year in farm country of Kansas and Oklahoma, I had
firmly set my mind on farming as my life's work so I was pleased that
Dad bought the Milo farm in anticipation of my buying it from him. About
a year after my return from Oklahoma I married Beth (Apri1 21, 1950)
and we settled down for life near the bank of Willow Creek, firmly determined
never to move. In the three seasons we farmed there, I made more mistakes
than most young farmers of the day and in addition, suffered devastating
floods two different years.
Despite a promising beginning and a determination to live my life out
in the ward of Beth's beginning, where her father had been the Bishop
at the time of his death, we lost all sense of stability only a little
more than two years later.
In the first fifty years of our marriage we moved nineteen times: to
Stevensville, Montana in the fall of 1952; to Ririe in '55 then to Milo
the same year and later to Orem, Utah; thence to two locations in Provo
and then back to Milo in '58 in the spring as I finished at BYU; to Nampa
in the spring of '59 where we resided less than a year before moving
to Meridian; from Meridian to Wilder very early in '60; before the end
of '60 to Boise where I had a position with the Bureau of Reclamation
and again we thought we were settled, but not so because I soon quit
my easy government job and launched an entirely new career as a securities
salesman at which I was not successful; spent one winter working in Las
Vegas living with Wayne and Barbara after which, in the summer of 1963
I started a second job with the Bureau of Reclamation in Fresno, California;
by the autumn of '68 I had burned my bridges behind me by once more quitting
a reliable and easy government job so we moved back to Idaho and lived
in Beth's mother's house in Idaho Falls from '70 until '71 when we rented
a house in Roberts; from Roberts back to another rented house in Idaho
Falls and then in the spring of 1975 into a new mobile home on Jeffco
Farms again assuming we were permanently settled; by the spring of '77,
my occupation having terminated along with my partnership with my brothers
in Jeffco, we moved the mobile home to Roberts where we lived happily
until August 6, 1987, the significant date (41 years exactly from the
date of my Navy discharge) on which life took a very serious turn for
the worse in the form of a severe stroke suffered by Beth; when she recovered
sufficiently to leave hospitals we moved to an apartment in the Bonneville
Hotel in Idaho Falls; in the fall of '92 we bought and moved into our
present house @ 2868 E, 657 N in the village of Roberts.
I have frequently mused that every time I was faced with a major decision,
I chose wrong. Mature reflection persuades a different conclusion. In
the truly important matters, I chose well.
The day the war ended, I decided my next major move would be to volunteer
to serve a mission. That proved to be soul-satisfying and probably the
most comforting single item of my life. Three years later, I decided
to marry Beth and to follow the advice of President Killpack, who performed
the ceremony, to have as many children as we could. We brought into the
world and raised five daughters and two sons. They have all brought us
joy. Both sons and three of our daughters have filled missions. Two daughters
and one son have married and produced a total of fifteen grandchildren.
Both daughters were married in the temple and Dean has recently baptized
his wife, Tracy and they will soon be qualified to be sealed in the temple.
All our sons and daughters have performed very well in the world's work.
Loren struggled for a while but finally returned to school to extend
his training beyond his BA from BYU and finished the regimen at Idaho
State University that qualified him to practice Pharmacy. He received
the most prestigious awards as he graduated from ISU, the most notable
of which was for having the highest cumulative grade point average in
his class. He now makes me very proud when I am able to break through
his native modestness to pontificate on the fine points of his professional
acumen. I have always found him completely informed when I've quizzed
him about anyone of the many nostrums that have been prescribed for me.
Glenna was truly amazing. She could type accurately at a rate beyond
most peoples' speaking speed and do it very accurately. She served the
hearing-impaired in one of the wards in which she lived by typing the
proceedings of meetings and making the transcripts available to Saints
who were unable to hear. That mechanical competence was the least of
her capability. She worked as a medical transcriber and developed scientific
vocabulary far beyond that of most of her employers and fellow workers.
She moonlighted as an instructor at a technical college for a time and
her competence with the language, the extent of her biological vocabulary,
was extolled by other instructors and administrators at the institution
as well as by her students. She completely mastered the Swedish language
and was host and sponsor to several young Swedish church members who
came to Utah for college training and to work. Sadly, she was plagued
by health problems through much of her adult life and succumbed to cancer
at age thirty-eight.
Dean has been good at everything he has attempted. He was a fair high
school athlete and could have been a good student. In the world's work
he has been successful at every job he has had and has become a highly
proficient automobile salesman and sales manager. After completing a
successful and laudable mission, he tried college for a while but found
his niche in selling and was exceedingly fortunate in having chosen Tracy.
They have accumulated wealth and more importantly have three beautiful
children and are raising them very well in an exceptionally orderly environment.
Dean is partly responsible but the genius of his wife is probably a bigger
Karen was a joy from the day of her birth. She was the fifth of our
offspring and by the time we got her, we had learned a little about how
to appreciate a baby. She was bright and beautiful and graduated from
BYU in proper life sequence, having taken a couple of years out to fill
a mission to Spain. She was teaching elementary school in Lincoln when
she consented to marry Arn. She has borne four sons and has held some
teaching positions along with raising her family. I was made particularly
proud of my daughter when I, by chance, met one of her young Spanish-speaking
pupils. When the little girl learned I was Karen's father, she darted
across the room and hugged and kissed me and told me how she loved Miss
Ririe because she was the only one of her teachers who had been able
to explain things to her in Spanish. I was and remain proud of Karen.
When Becky (Rebecca) was an infant, I noticed that she was almost always
happy. She deviated from cheery behavior only when something definable
was wrong. We moved from Boise to Fresno when she was still a baby and
she had measles or chicken pox on the trip. She couldn't sleep nor rest
while we traversed the hot roadway across the Nevada desert. We stopped
and let her rest on a blanket in the shade of a tree in one small town
(Lovelock) but as soon as we put her back in the car she awakened and
fussed almost all the rest of the journey and for the next six months
or so, each time we put her in the car she cried. I've never been able
to completely forgive myself for putting her through such misery. She
has grown to be thoughtful, beautiful and capable. When she was a young
teen-ager, I noticed her as she approached me from down the hall of the
church. I could tell something was wrong with her because she wasn't
participating in the conversation of her girl friends. I thought she
might have been feeling sorry for herself because her friends were excluding
her, but when she saw me, she collapsed into my arms and sobbed. When
I finally got her to compose her feelings and talk to me, I learned that
her friends had been gossiping about another young friend who had gotten
pregnant out of wedlock. The other girls thought it was probably their
religious duty to tell the Bishop about their friend's sin. Becky simply
cried in a show of adult sympathy. I proudly thought at that moment that
I had succeeded in teaching my daughter true Christian charity.
Bunny (Verna Beth) was brilliant from the start.
She started to count almost as soon as she could walk or say any words.
One day I remember
her climbing the stairs counting: one, two, three, four, five, yellow,
six, green, seven, red. By red she had reached the top of the stairway.
From that auspicious beginning at less than two, she progressed through
college always excelling scholastically; finally graduating from BYU
law school. I never tire of telling her how proud I am to have a practitioner
of the "learned profession" in my family.
I suppose our sons and daughters made some mistakes along the way but
they stand as the Testament of the rightness of the most far-reaching
decision of my life; that to marry their mother.
Lee Anne is written about last because she was our firstborn and has
performed uniquely. She is the mother of ten children, two of whom died
as infants. Her eight living children are the pride of her life and mine
too. I never expected as she was growing up in my home that she was capable
of organizing and operating a family's life so outstandingly. Most everyone
notices how aptly all her children have learned to accommodate each other
and non-family persons with whom they associate. I think it was mostly
her ingenuity and ambition that got Ed through school to a PhD attainment
and to qualify as a professional psychologist. They managed very well
even when they had very little to get along with. Her children are all
superbly adjusted and loveable and have wholesome, righteous values.
It's hard for me to think how our firstborn could have accomplished more
in the world's work or as a righteous daughter of Zion.
On some truly important matters, I chose well but I must admit that
I could have done much better in the world's work.
I was not thinking very well when I decided I didn't need to go to college
after my mission. I should have followed the advice of my mission President
and immediately enrolled at Ricks or Utah State and stayed with it until
graduation. I could have done so very easily because my military service
had earned me very nearly enough paid college to have completed a degree.
When I finally did get back to college, I was fairly certain I wasn't
smart enough to work and carry a difficult enough class load to conquer
chemistry or engineering or any other physical science, so I chose to
become an Agricultural Economist, thinking that the degree was paramount
and any discipline would open the door to a challenging and rewarding
career. I also didn't think it was important to achieve a high grade
point average, again the degree itself was top priority. Getting the
degree was easy but has turned out to be much less rewarding than I supposed.
When I finished college, I came face to face with the realization that
there wasn't much in the world's work that my cherished degree placed
me in a position to get. I, therefore accepted an appointment as a Warehouse
Examiner with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That position was offered
because I scored very well on the Civil Service Entrance Examination
and that along with my status as a veteran placed me high on the selection
I failed to appreciate that I had an easy and fairly interesting job
and instead dwelt on the fact that it wasn't the least bit difficult
and I thought I should have employment that made better use of my voluble
knowledge and great ability. Arrogance defeated me. Less than a year
after starting the job I came to think I was not doing anything constructive
and that illusion was reinforced by several job experiences: one day
I went into a Bean Warehouse and completed all the assigned work in about
two minutes whereupon the Warehouse manager taunted me by telling me
I had probably done a whole day's government work in that brief walk-through
of his facility. As I cogitated, I admitted to myself that I had actually
done an entire week's government work. Later or earlier, I can't remember
which, I found one serious case of noncompliance. A bean dealer in Twin
Falls had sold a lot of beans that was covered by a warehouse receipt
and had not submitted the money to the owner. The receipt was still current
and the dealer had spent the money. His excuse was that his application
for an SBA (a government agency) loan had been unduly delayed and he
had been forced to appropriate the money. I was satisfied that the dealer
had no intention to steal anything but he was in a state of noncompliance
and I was obligated to report the matter. I was disappointed that the
whole matter was treated lightly and the dealer suffered no consequence
for his improper action. Why, thought I, should the government pay me
to discover fraud if nothing was to be done about it.
Next, I became the manager of Nampa Elevator, a wheat receiver and livestock
feed outlet of Colorado Milling and Elevator Co. I soon learned that
the measly salary was better than most employees of the company and they
considered it a journeyman wage and didn't consider raises until after
ten years or so of service. My disillusionment lead to a much worse situation,
that of managing a dairy farm which turned out to be a subsidiary position
where I was expected to trot to the tune of the dairy's herdsman. I didn't
really mind the hard work but it was painfully apparent that the job
had no future. I immediately started shopping around for a government
job because I had come to see some advantage of holding a civil service
post. Again my rating as an entering civil servant and recent college
graduate worked for me and after a summer of selling fertilizer for Adrian
Feed Company, I accepted an appointment as a Repayment Specialist with
the Bureau of Reclamation in Boise. This in the autumn of 1960 in my
thirty-fourth year of life.
My next serious misjudgment was committed in the spring of 1962 when
after two and a half years with Bureau of Reclamation, my arrogance again
overtook me. We were not really making ends meet and certainly didn't
think we were making any financial progress so when I became aware that
one could make big money selling financial instruments, I resigned my
secure job and struck out to get rich selling life insurance and mutual
funds. I was sure I was well suited because I passed the licensing tests
with notably high scores. On the securities test, I answered ninety-six
out of a hundred questions correctly. A passing score was seventy. Being
smart, however, was not a guarantee of success. With no financial reserve
and at best a two month lag between earning a commission and receiving
it, I was forced to fall back on an enterprise I had employed part-time
while working for the Bureau. I put in very long days prospecting for
lawn spraying and fertilizing jobs. With fairly hard work and a little
ingenuity, I managed to make a living and dig out of some of the financial
difficulty previous misjudgments had caused.
Lawn work was seasonal and a little unreliable. How I could have thought
it was substantial enough to be a practical enterprise seems like a very
bad dream in retrospect but I thought, at the time, I could make it work.
In the summer of 1963, I started the longest-lasting employment I had
experienced. I managed to bear a five-year stint in the Fresno Field
Division of the Bureau of Reclamation. This time I had real enthusiasm
for the work for a couple of years but later had to conclude that there
was no way I was ever going to do anything really useful. I worked effectively
at discovering violations of the Bureau's water delivery rules and at
first my superiors praised me for it but eventually the political powers,
the money interests, prevailed and I was told that the important part
of my responsibility was to accommodate not regulate.
Leaving that government job was the last in a series of occupational
mistakes. I should have been smart enough to go along and get along rationalizing
that is the way of the world but again my arrogance took and I concluded
I was smart enough and ambitious enough to make my way independently
doing work that was productive and besides that, I wasn't really happy
living in California. I longed for the rigors of life in eastern Idaho.
In the fall of 1970 after another unsuccessful effort to get rich in
the securities and insurance business, we moved back to Idaho and I went
to work for Earl Hunter managing his fertilizer and pesticide business.
I managed to move up to being first a field salesman and then a unit
manager for Simplot Soil Builders. I liked that job and was modestly
successful but it led to the great jump of developing Jeffco Farms.
In 1973, I discovered desert land that could be obtained via Desert
Land Entry. Brother Jim and I along with my fellow worker at Simplot,
Ronnie Berrett filed for a section and a half. Jim soon discussed our
filing with Wayne and his partner and we lined up another three sections
of developable desert ground. Wayne and his Las Vegas associates set
up limited partnerships and we bought land, drilled wells and installed
irrigation systems. Later we brought Max in and he took Ronnie Berret's
desert entry. We thought we would be the most scientific advanced farming
operation in eastern Idaho when we brought Dave and his agronomic and
soil science expertise into our combine to join Max, our expert on farm
machinery; Wayne's partner, Dave VanWagoner, who we thought could set
up our accounting; Wayne who devised the limited partnerships by which
we raised the money; Jim the attorney whom we thought would always keep
us out of trouble
And me with no discernable skill.
I, at least, noted the possibility of the deficiency that finally took
us down: center pivot irrigation systems applied water at a rate far
in excess of the intake capacity of our soils. They were especially inefficient
when their mechanical problems were factored in. I finally concluded
that if we hadn't experienced so many deficiencies in the way they operated,
we might have by using special techniques of land preparation, we might
have overcome the intake deficiency problem. I reasoned (and as others
experience has confirmed) that if we could increase the land surface
by punching holes in the ground, we might have improved penetration.
It didn't do much good, however to improve water penetration when we
couldn't even get the systems to operate without mechanical break down.
The end of this sad episode in my life is that I finally convinced the
partners that our irrigation systems doomed us to failure with the result
that the circles were dismantled and sold and a hand line system installed
and my reward was that I was eliminated from the combination in the fall
I have since forgiven my brothers allowing that they had other stresses
that led to their recognition of my deficiencies. Other considerations
are far more important than those that might have kept me estranged from
THE SEVEN-YEAR ITCH
Perhaps this remembrance shouldn't be included
under the general head of "dates" because I'm not sure I
remember the year but it was certainly one of the prime experiences
of my young life. It happened
the winter of 1937/'38, I think. I was in the sixth or seventh grade
and everyone in our community got the itch. Bob Stitt was more inventive
than most and I noticed him frequently probing his back with a ruler
and I soon copied and got a measure of relief, albeit, temporary and
small, nearly inconsequential. Bob's mother, Eva sat in our kitchen one
afternoon that winter when Mother, having exhausted all cures known to
her, confided that our family was afflicted and nothing seemed to help.
To our surprise, Eva laughed and admitted her family also suffered. Finally,
everybody admitted their homes had been invaded by the silent disrupter
and a community meeting was called in which the village sage, Bill Johnson,
explained the nature of the malady and imparted his wisdom as to the
remedy. Accordingly, in our house several tubs of water were heated on
the kitchen stove. Max, Dave and I brushed each other raw with course
bristles and then applied a foul-smelling salve allover our bodies. After
the skin-scouring and bathing in water as hot as we could endure, we
went to bed in sanitized bedding. Almost miraculously the itch was gone
and did not return because we had broken the cycle by discarding or thoroughly
cleaning all infected clothing. What a blessed relief! I went back to
dreaming of owning a large ranch stocked with cattle that tended themselves
and produced nothing but wealth. There might have been a super-productive
wheat farm too but while the itch gripped me, my only dream had been
of discovering some way to turn my outer skin in side out so I could
get at those little creatures that forced me to scratch constantly.
14 May 2000
As we were leaving their house, Lee Anne called Dean's house and learned
that Dean had been in a violent car accident in Nevada. He was comatose
due to serious brain injury. Tracy was, at the time of Lee Anne's call,
leaving for the airport and a flight to Reno where Dean was being treated
at Washoe Medical Center. From Idaho we could do little more than pray
and hope but we contacted Wayne's son Randy who helped us contact Priesthood
holders in Reno who went to the hospital that night and gave Dean a blessing.
I drove to Reno the following days. I didn't hurry because I feared that
I would learn nothing hopeful. On arrival, my fears were confirmed. He
was being kept alive artificially; responded little to stimuli. It appeared
almost hopeless, that if he did survive he would be profoundly diminished
both mentally and physically.
About the same time I arrived on the scene, Loren and Karen got there
from California. Tracy was accompanied by her parents and one of her
sisters and some old friends of her parents. I'm afraid I wasn't much
help to Tracy but she didn't need help. She exhibited a strength that
I had not previously seen in her and she was genuinely hopeful. Tracy
told me that, in addition to the Elders I had asked to administer to
Dean, another pair of priesthood holders had answered the request of
Dean's Elders quorum president and had also sent brethren to give him
priesthood blessings. Tracy's confidence lifted me as she told me of
a special fast of members of their Utah ward and that several ward members
had attended a special meeting as they broke their fast and prayed for
Dean's recovery. I, of course, knew that the Lord could heal Dean but
I can't say that I had great assurance that He would.
I stayed in Reno for a few days as did Karen and Loren and we spent
time around Dean's hospital bed watching all the indicators, thinking
we could see some slight response but it still looked nearly hopeless.
I wondered aloud to Loren if perhaps Dean was experiencing what the younger
Alma did during the time he was comatose after the Lord dramatically
called him to repentance.
The Doctors, pronounced Dean stable but warned against optimism, emphasizing
that we should not expect early improvement that he could remain comatose
for several more weeks. Accordingly, I decided on Saturday, May 20, to
return home for a few days, promising Tracy I would be back in Reno the
following week and would stay with Dean while she went home to Utah and
her children for a few days.
Before I left, I decided that Loren and I should give Dean a priesthood
blessing, notwithstanding his having received previous administrations.
This was more Karen's idea than mine. I had reasoned that it was in the
Lord's hands and that He didn't need to be reminded, by means of another
priesthood blessing, of our desire that Dean should recover. I think
Loren was even more reluctant. Neither of us could be sure we were worthy
to exercise our Priesthood but we decided to do it anyway. I was anxious
that Tracy's folks not have any reason to think we were doing anything
that needed to be kept secret from them so we asked them to join us.
I chose to be voice and Loren stood next to me. Tom, Tracy's stepfather
and Phyllis, her mother stood on the opposite side of the bed and Tracy
stood at the foot. We bowed in reverence, Loren's hands and mine on Dean's
head and I began to deliver the blessing but I was seriously flustered
by another voice speaking words that were mostly inaudible to me, that
is I couldn't understand what was being spoken. I paused and the murmuring
continued and it dawned on me that Tom was calling on the Lord in his
own way and so I went on with the blessing but I had completely lost
the words I had previously thought to say. I think I was left with no
alternative but to say what I was prompted to say. I promised Dean that
he would have power to overcome the effects of his injuries and be restored
to complete competence to fulfill his mission as a husband and father.
I don't think those were the words I had rehearsed in my mind before
the blessing began. I take no credit to myself but it does appear that
the words that came from my mouth were prophetic. Dean has recovered
to the extent that he is now able to take his rightful place as provider
and leader in his family and he has had to do it largely by his own efforts.
The Lord gave him the power but he's had to do a great deal of physical
recovering and regaining mental ability by his own effort.
After a few days at home I went back to Reno and stayed from Friday
through the following Wednesday by which time the medical professionals
were predicting that Dean could be moved to Salt Lake in a couple of
weeks. Their forecast proved a little pessimistic. He was flown to Utah
on June 9, only about ten days later, still comatose. He has since had
a miraculous recovery. He's shown great courage and tenacity in fighting
to regain. More importantly, he has repented and rededicated his life
as did Alma. I think he was harrowed up in his soul as he lay nearly
lifeless in Nevada.
Tracy has been a great lesson to me. We recognized her from the beginning
of their marriage as unusual (outstanding). We probably didn't hide our
disappointment very well when Dean chose to marry out of the temple to
a nonmember but almost as soon as they were married, it was apparent
that Dean had been very fortunate to have chosen such rare quality. That
Tracy was a product of a good home environment showed through clearly.
She had lived among Mormons during much of her youth and probably had
been made to feel like an outsider at times, but had no noticeable antagonism.
As we became acquainted with her parents, we sensed in them, none of
the cynicism that often is associated with devout believers in other
theologies who live among us and witness our hypocritical behavior. I
felt confident that Tracy would investigate with an open mind just as
soon as Dean decided to devote himself to the cause which he knew to
As we watched their children we came to know
they were being taught well and I think Tracy was the one who set the
example and established
the regimen in their family life. One time when they were visiting our
ward during testimony meeting, Megan whispered to me as one of the young
children was bearing his testimony, "Grandpa, I always say my prayers." I
was sure that Dean could not resist that sweet spirit and remain lukewarm
as he had been. True to my inkling, he finally recognized he wasn't giving
his children all they deserved, that they needed the blessings that come
through family participation in righteous home activities and church
programs. I think Tracy would have decided to be baptized even if Dean
hadn't heeded the call to repentance but I'm grateful it happened as
it did with him coming along and claiming his role as the head, the priesthood
leader of his family.
5 February 2001
On this significant date I'm ten days from a major heart and artery
operation. I've been told my carotid arteries, basilar artery and coronary
arteries are seriously impeded. The coronary blockage cannot be safely
treated in any way other than open heart surgery. One surgeon declined
to perform the operation after learning of the basilar blockage because,
he said, a drop in blood pressure, a risk associated with open heart
surgery, would cause a fatal stroke. The basilar supplies the blood to
the medulla which controls heart beat and respiration. Artificial means
could extend life but all possibilities of motion would be irretrievably
lost. Heart specialists and surgeons in San Francisco have been consulted
and I'm scheduled for personal visits on the 12th of this month. Surgery
may be performed on the 15th.
I cannot say that I'm calm in the face of peril. I wish I could be sure
my repentance has been sufficient to entitle me to remission of my sins.
I think it has been. No other question resides in me.
I have no doubt about the reality of the Savior's gift of forgiveness.
My assurance of the truthfulness of the Gospel is born of personal revelation.
I have not done as well as I should have but I've never done anything
that caused the light of testimony to be extinguished. Because I know
I have unconditional love for my sons and daughters, I don't doubt that
Heavenly Father loves me and He wishes to bless me with eternal life.
I think I have repented acceptably and that He will not be stopped from
blessing me. I love Him and am grateful for the supernal gift of His
My belief, not born of extensive gospel study of the matter, is that
after death, earthly remains are quite insignificant; that all the reverence
accorded the dead body does nothing for the spirit of the man who vacated
it. Proper burial can do nothing more than bring a measure of comfort
to those who remain alive. Certainly those whose bodies are not buried
in a hallowed spot are no less eligible for eternal rewards. Therefore,
I think that if I should not survive my surgery, I would prefer that
my remains be disposed of in the least costly manner allowed by law.
If that means incineration, I can think of no reason to avoid doing that.
Funerals serve a useful purpose. Recounting a man's positive attribute
and reaffirming his faith, tends to inspire those who loved him to aspire
to better things, to resolve to overcome weaknesses. To that end, I hope
that a memorial service might be held. Funerals, in my opinion, should
emphasize the Gospel more than memorializing the life of the deceased.
I hope those who participate in a memorial of my life will teach the
pure Gospel of Christ. Perhaps feelings might be tender so that the verities
of true religion might be confirmed in the hearts of those I love most,
namely my sons and daughters and their spouses and my grandsons and granddaughters.
Vocal music has been an important part of my
mortal life. In recent years, I've thrilled at the accomplishments
musical of my grandchildren.
Mother often said she would be pleased if her funeral consisted entirely
of music and when she died I was tempted to remind Dad that she had expressed
that desire. I refrained, however, because it occurred to me that the
funeral wasn't being held for Mother's consolation, that the feelings
of the rest of the family were paramount. In that vein, I defer my wishes
to those who remain. But, I plan to attend that memorial and I think
it would please me and add inspiration if Julia and one of her brothers
would sing, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul" and if Julia and any
appropriate combination of her brothers, sisters and cousins would perform "I
Need Thee Every Hour" and "Oh, My Father."
I expect that a memorial for me would be attended mostly by the members
of our extended family: cousins, nieces, nephews, brothers and sisters
along with my immediate family. The time restraints caused by the need
to dispose of remains would not prevail so maybe a delay would be appropriate
but I think it would please me and accommodate others if the memorial
could be held in the Ririe chapel. It wouldn't be an official meeting
of the Roberts 2nd ward so it wouldn't need to be conducted by one of
our Bishopric. Suggesting that son-in-law Ed conduct the meeting is not
an indication of lack of confidence or love of those who preside in my
Ward. My aim is to relieve them of a burden.
Only a few days after Mother died, I attended the funeral of the mother
of my brother-in-law, Dick Murdock. Elder Clifford Young, one of the
speakers said his idea of a good send-off would be to have loved ones
gather informally and exchange emotions and thoughts as they felt. I'd
like my family to hear counsel from my former Bishop and longtime friend,
DelRay Holm and then from others as may seem appropriate to my daughters
and sons, but nothing should be sung or spoken unless it affirms the
Gospel of Jesus Christ as restored to earth by the Prophet Joseph Smith.
A funeral should not present the truths of the Gospel in an objective
way. It should clearly be a declaration of eternal truths presented without
a hint of apology.
If possible, prelude and postlude music should be the well-known hymns
played by cousin Delaina Ririe Stromberg.
My legacy is my family. I love each one and look forward with anticipation
to the day of our reunion.
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