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Life Story of James E. Ririe
By James Edmond Ririe

I WAS BORN OF GOODLY PARENTS

I was born December 8, 1899. I have always supposed it was a cold, windy day announcing that winter was near at hand, when my father went for Grandma Lovell, then for Grandma Coles as she was called by many who were welcomed into the world. She being the nearest to an attending physician. As soon as I was old enough and mother strong enough, I was taken to Fast Meeting where I received an Elder’s blessing and a name. My father was the Elder who blessed me. Just 11 months later my father accepted a call from the Church to spend at least 2 years on a mission to England. This mission lasted 27 months. Uncle Ed Lovell with his wife, Aunt Jessie Cole Lovell lived on the farm and took care of the farming during my father’s absence. All my life I loved Uncle Ed. After 35 years, and after I was married and had three wonderful sons of my own, I sat with Uncle Ed two nights before he passed away and listened to his testimony of the Gospel. Uncle Ed had been on a mission to the Southern States where the people of that country were very bitter toward the Mormons. In those days the Elders traveled without purse or script, depending on the hospitality of the people for their sustenance. Uncle Ed said he was in a very bitter community and he had no stamps or the money to buy them. He prayed to the Lord to provide the way that he could get the same so he could write to his widowed mother. My brother, Joseph, at home, awoke from his sleep crying. He refused to be comforted until father assured him that he would send Uncle Ed some money in the morning. Uncle Ed then related the time when my father was working on the Great Feeder headgate which was to be used for irrigation. Father, riding Old Cap, a large white horse, went out in the river to remove a large rock which had moved from the dam. The water was deeper than was expected and father’s boots filled with water making it very hard for the horse to pull father, who was holding onto the horse. The horse, father, and all were being carried by the current toward the headgate. The men who were working there could see father when he let go of the horse and went down into the water. They rushed down the stream below the feeder headgate to watch for his body, thinking it would be impossible for a man to go through the gates with the force of the stream without being bumped against something and killed. When they looked at the headgate and saw father climbing up the abutment of the headgate with the crow-bar which he had been using to move the rock still in his hand, they all felt that his life had surely been spared.

By these experiences and many similar ones from my father, mother, and from Grandmother Lovell, who carefully lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ, thus teaching the same by precept and example, I say with all my heart, I WAS BORN OF GOODLY PARENTS, who taught me in the ways of the Lord, and to have faith in Him.

I was baptized in the Eagle Rock Canal just south of the rock home in the spring of 1909, by my father. I was confirmed member of the Church by Ed Brown of Shelton, in the Shelton Ward. Bishop John Shelton Howard was Bishop. Shortly after this time the old Shelton Ward was divided and from the old Rudy Ward and Shelton Ward, the Perry Ward was created with Howard Streeper as the new Bishop. Brother Streeper moved to Utah about 1911 or 1912 and father was chosen Bishop. From that time until father died in 1919, I was the Bishop’s son. The most outstanding thing I remember about this was one night in Priesthood meeting when Lott Bush and I were making a noise. Father walked down from where he was sitting took me by the ear with one hand and Lott by the ear with the other hand and marched us to the front and sat me on one side and he and Lott on the other. I swore I would never go to Priesthood Meeting again. Father said he would rather I stay home, than disturb everyone else. This promise I kept and didn’t go until I was 19 years old, and after father died. Bishop Chandler asked me about being advanced in the Priesthood. I was then a deacon. I never held the office of a Teacher because of my age I was ordained a Priest. In order after that I was ordained an Elder.

I had many rich and beautiful experiences while growing up. I loved horses and father had a lot of them. First I remember how I used to ride horses with their harnesses on. One day a beautiful white colt was born and father said I could have him. I named the colt, Snowball. I petted him so much that he became very gentle. One day someone said the colt was old enough to be broke and I felt that was my job. I jumped from a fence onto the colt’s back. The colt turned in a good position and began to buck. Although I had a good hold on his mane, he soon loosened me and I went head first into the hay stack, but was not hurt. I always wanted to use the wildest horses on the farm and had many run-aways. I remember when Leo Garrett was working for father and we were mowing hay. I was so smart I always had to have a real good buggy whip to keep the horses in step. This day we had just finished cutting a field of hay and it looked like a real place for a horse race. I was driving a pair of half broke colts so I challenged Leo. He was driving a black driving team that were used to running. He lined up at the end of the hay field. I gave the colts a crack with the whip. The horses got away from me and demolished the mowing machine, plus three or four gates. Neither Leo or I ever told father what caused the run-away, but I am sure he guessed, in spite of my story.

Father died when I was 19 years old. The last I ever heard from my father was in answer to a letter I had written to him announcing or rather asking his advice about getting married to a girl with whom I had been keeping company for sometime. He said among other things, marriage is one of the three most important steps in life. First Birth, second Marriage, third Death. I have learned to appreciate this, and I didn’t marry the girl I had asked him about. I did marry Verna, whom my father year before had predicted to Uncle Abraham Woolsey, who came to our home ward teaching that I would someday marry Verna Perry. I guess he had noticed whenever we went any place, we managed to be together even though we didn’t go together.

I was married to Verna Fannie Perry in January 12, 1921. I was ordained a Seventy and went on a short term mission in 1929 and 1930 to the Eastern States. Verna had the responsibility of taking care of our three sons, David, Max, and Clive. They were all sick with measles and Clive had pneumonia while I was gone, but Verna never complained.

When I was asked to go on my mission, I told Joseph about it, but I didn’t think I would g. I had horses, pigs, and cows to take care of and I felt I would rather help someone else to go. Joseph said, “You must go, I will feed your horses and see that things are taken care of.” This he did, and I will always be thankful that I went on my mission.

In 1936 Uncle George Lovell, Aunt Harriett, Verna and I all went to Salt Lake to April Conference. While we were there, Bishop Moss met Uncle George and me and told us that President Hart had just had a heart attack and was dead. I felt so sick I didn’t feel like going to conference. I knew then that I was going to be asked to serve as Bishop. I just felt I couldn’t do it, then the promise of my Patriarchal Blessing came to my remembrance. In it I was promised that I would, with the help of the Lord, be made equal to any task that was placed upon me. I served as Bishop of the Ririe Ward until 1943 when I was released and chosen as first counselor to President George Christensen of the Rigby Stake. In 1944 the Stake was divided and I was chosen as President of the East Rigby Stake. I chose Leonard Graham and H. Stanley Lee as my counselors, with Brother Ervin Beazer as Stake Clerk. This, like being Superintendent of Sunday School, Bishop, Counselor in Stake Presidency, was a most wonderful and rewarding experience.

I served as Senator for three sessions in the Idaho State Legislature, as school board member for 8 years, as director in Ririe Grain Growers for 10 years, and as President of Ririe Producers Co-op for 6 years.

In 1952 we sold all we had in Ririe and moved to Stevensville, Montana. I was chosen as a Counselor in the District Presidency there. I believe this was just as enjoyable as anything I had ever done. I always love the sweet spirit of people with whom I have worked in the Church.

When we changed from horses to tractors it seemed like the end of everything to me, but in a couple of years I got used to it and liked the way we could get our work done.

After moving to Montana we lived very close together as a family and things were looking good for us. I had been asked by the Mission President to do all I could to hurry the construction of the Missoula Church House as they wanted to organize a new Stake as soon as it was completed. To do this we had agreed to ask the branches outside Missoula to donate some labor. I, with two other brothers of the Stevensville Branch and my son, Wayne, went to Missoula to work on the church. Wayne had just returned from his mission. It was January 22, 1955. While working I blacked out and fell from the top of the Church House. I was in the hospital in Missoula for 4 months. The doctor said when I left there it would be at least eight years before I would be well again. After this everywhere I went Verna went with me for the next two years. On the 29th of March 1957 she was driving the pick-up and had an accident or a heart attack which caused the accident, and was killed. I felt that everything was gone and wished that I could die.

I suffered for many years with a broken diaphragm after my accident and thought that nothing could be done. I was finally operated on by Dr. Rigby from Los Angeles, with Dr. Tall of Rigby and Dr. Reese of Idaho Falls assisting. This operation was successful and brought relief from much suffering.

I was married to Thelma Hansen Clinger, whose husband died about one year before Verna. This marriage has brought many wonderful experiences.

Verna and I had eight children. Seven are still living. They are David, Max Henry, Clive Perry, Carma, Wayne J., James A., and Verna Elaine. Ann died when she was just three days old.

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