Summer of Bereavement

My summer diversions came crashing to a halt last week with the start of school, which means that I am back to work now.  Throughout this past summer I have spent one day a week at the BYU Family History center.  Downstairs in the Harold B. Lee Library is a cozy little genealogy center full of rows and rows of microfilms.  Several hundred of these microfilms contain the old newspapers from small towns in Utah.  Since my ancestors are all Utah Pioneers (literally), and since many of them settled these small towns, I have been able to find mention of them in their hometown newspapers!

In particular, I have been searching for obituaries.  Yes, I know that I could go to Utah Digital Newspapers and let them help me find obituaries.  That is a great website; however, there is something very satisfying about the hunt through the pages of a little newspaper to find your ancestor’s name.  And there is so much more to see!  In that day, the deaths in town were front page news and that is where I have found all my obituaries… alongside whatever other meaningful activities were taking place in that town.  This is how I came across the tragedy that befell the Gowers family of Nephi, Utah during the summer of 1921.

Gowers, Clyde Earl

Gowers, Deltha Bowles

I am not related directly to the Gowers family, but have an indirect connection through my great-great auntie Deltha.  Those that have followed my blog may remember my three-part series on the life of Deltha and her tragic end.  (Here is part one, part two and part three.)  For a quick refresher, Deltha Bowles (at right) married Clyde Gowers (at left) and then both were killed three years later in an automobile crash during June 1921.  I found Clyde’s & Deltha’s double obituary on the front page of the town newspaper in Nephi.  “All Nephi mourned” for them and their parents were left to raise their two sons.

Gowers, AJ and Family

*Photo above says it was taken in 1921.  Must have been taken just after the death of Clyde & Deltha since Clyde is not included in this picture with his siblings and father.  However, Clyde’s & Deltha’s two sons (Don & Jay) are included in this picture.  Left to Right Seated: Elmer, AlfredJr, Don (lap), Ronald, AlfredSr and Mont.  Left to Right Back: Jay (baby), Eva, Clarence, Bernell, Eugene and Laura.

Gowers, Nello Ray

Then, as I continued to scroll through the weekly newspapers that followed, I was saddened to see that the Gowers lost another son, Ray, just two months later.  His body was shipped home from France where he had been killed in the world war.  The Gowers were forced to hold another funeral that summer in August 1921 and again the town rallied around them, this time with full military honors for their son Ray Gowers (at left).  Subsequently, imagine my shock to find that only one month later in September 1921, the Gowers’ 15-yr-old son Elmer died from complications due to an appendicitis attack.  The town newspaper announced the funeral for Elmer Gowers saying, “Mr. and Mrs. Gowers have the heartfelt sympathy of the people of this city in their latest bereavement, as it is felt that the present summer has been filled with sorrow and trouble for them.”

Gowers, Elmer Irving

Check out this news article describing the interesting ‘health crusade’ to honor Elmer Gowers (at right) and the manifestation of love from the entire town for the Gowers family in their multiple losses over the summer of 1921.  The town newspaper said, “Every available seat in the North ward meeting house was occupied Sunday afternoon at the funeral services of Elmer Gowers, while a large number were unable to get inside of the building, all of which bore silent testimony of the sympathy that was felt for the parents and family of the young man in their latest bereavement.”

I was a Pioneer, once

Pioneer Trek Pix1a

For one week, during the summer of 1980, I had a very small glimpse of what it means to be a Pioneer.  We pulled handcarts a total of about 12-miles through the canyon near Springville during that week, with most of the travel occuring on the first day and late into that night.  At one point, we stopped and prayed for a good place to camp.  Some people were crying and we were all very sleepy and worn out.  I remember sitting there with my friend and I asked her if she could stand up and dance… then I did it.  Even with blisters on my feet, I felt that I could still find enough energy in my spirit to overcome the physical exhaustion.  I guess I had to prove it to myself.

The next morning we pushed our carts another mile and then camped there for the rest of the week.  We cooked and cleaned and played and danced.  We had the opportunity to wash our hair in a very cold spigot one day, and then danced up a dust storm that night.  This news article gives a good outline of our itinerary.  It mentions that I was the only one to hit the target with a shot gun.  I was just very lucky!  The target was an older watch attached to a tree.  I aimed… then closed my eyes… and pulled the trigger.  The “leader” (from BYU) was shocked that I had hit it.  Then, he gave me the metal ring around the watch because that is what I hit.

Pioneer Trek Pix2a
This pioneering experience was 35-years ago and before “trekking” had become as popular as it seems to be now.  The most important thing I learned was something about myself… that I could, if I would, tap into a source of inner strength to get me through tough times.  I think the source of that kind of strength is the Light of Christ.  I want to have that kind of inner strength to help myself and others.  My great-grandmothers had that type of strength.  As mothers, they traveled with their families to ‘Zion’ with the Willie & Martin Handcart companies.  My heart is turning to my Pioneer ancestors… See Malachi 4:6

Tribute to Jane Haynes James

Tribute to Mary Penfold Goble

The Original Chain Letter?

News- Scary PrayerI ran across this news article recently and had to share!  I was looking up obituaries in my hometown newspaper, The Times News of Nephi, Utah.  Actually, the paper was called the Juab County Times from 1909 – 1917.  This fun article was on the front page of that newspaper for February 10, 1911.  Who knew “chain letters” had been around that long?!

I had just found the marriage announcement for my great-grandparents, Leo & Bertha Bowles, in the November 18, 1910 issue.  I then continued to scroll through the microfilm just to see what was “front page” news in Nephi after their marriage.  I don’t know if Bertha was one of those “frightened” women, but she almost certainly saw this article in the newspaper ;-)

I love how the editor shares the exact wording, grammar and spelling of this letter that “originated from some ignoramus crank!”  Can these letters ever really be traced to their original source?!  I did a little bit of googling and found one article, The Curious History of Chain Letters, that suggests these types of letters have been around since as early as 1888.

Who is John Kelsey Erikson?

Newborn John“Baby John,” as he is known in our family, was my nephew.  He was born to my sister and brother-in-law, Shellie and Bill.  Today is the 17th anniversary of his death.  He was born 3-months premature and only lived 8-months.  The best description of John’s short life was given in this Eulogy by his father during the funeral.

John only weighed 1-lb 5-oz at birth.  My family was living in California and my sister’s family was living in Utah.  I never saw John alive.  My husband did see John while on a business trip to Utah.  He said you could put a wedding ring over John’s hand and all the way up his arm to the shoulder.

Tubed JohnJohn spent almost his entire life in the hospital, with the exception of two stroller rides.  When he was finally able to go home to his family, he lived there only one week before passing.  It’s almost as if he was hanging on to life for just that chance to live with his family for one brief, happy week.

Despite his health challenges, he did have a happy life… and was definitely well-loved.  He seemed to adore his older brother, James.  Elder James Erikson is currently serving an LDS mission in Ecuador.  If John were still alive, he would likely be preparing for his own mission before his 18th birthday in October.

JohnJamesI first saw Baby John in person the night before his funeral.  I helped my sister dress him for burial and held him for the first time.  I was astonished by my sister’s strength when she stood to bear testimony at the end of the funeral.  She said she knew she would have the opportunity to see John again and raise him as his mother.  When she said that, I also knew it was true!  Her tears were due to sadness for the long separation ahead.

John is buried at Vine Bluff Cemetery in Nephi, Utah.  Gone, but not forgotten.

Funeral Program (inside)             Funeral Program (outside)            Obituaries

Headstone- Erikson, John K

For Time and ALL Eternity

Dean-Lorrie, 1985This is where we stood, outside the Salt Lake Temple, just after we were sealed there 30-years ago today.  Sometimes it seems like it just happened yesterday.  Most of the time, it seems like we have always been together.  I guess that is good since we have covenanted to always be together. (Here is the newspaper article of our wedding announcement.)

Today, Dean and I sat in the Oquirrh Mountain Utah Temple and I reflected on the example of Eve.  I’m trying to understand her more inasmuch as I believe she can be symbolic of all women.  I won’t pretend to understand all that happened inside the Garden of Eden, but today I felt that the problem was mainly that Adam and Eve didn’t counsel together about partaking the fruit.  Maybe Adam didn’t even think to discuss it with Eve?  Maybe Eve thought there was no use discussing it with Adam?  We don’t know everything that happened although I do believe Eve gave it a lot of thought before partaking… it’s just that in this thing Eve did not appear to be united with Adam.  Assuming they both needed to partake of the fruit in order to have children, maybe they should have discussed it more or counseled together better about the matter?  I hope I don’t sound overly judgmental towards Adam and Eve.  I revere them… and I’m trying to understand them.  I can only imagine the joy Adam and Eve must have felt about the plan of redemption.  Thank heavens for Jesus Christ, our Savior.

I can just see satan trying to separate Adam and Eve.  Isn’t that what he strives to do with married couples today?  He strives to destroy families.  I think it is interesting that satan appears to approach Adam and Eve separately.  She had been taught that eating the fruit would make her die and satan deceives her about that.  When did she realize that eating the fruit had separated her from Adam?  Did satan think that Adam would refuse to accept the fruit from Eve?  When Eve approaches Adam she seems to be aware that they will be separated.  When Adam admits to God that he ate the fruit, he seems to be aware that Eve should remain with him.  I just think the Adam and Eve history is interesting and symbolical of what we have in the world today.  Satan strives to separate men and women and destroy their ability to establish families.  I want to be mindful of that in my own marriage to Dean and beware of the challenges that may tempt us to separate or at least to destroy our unity.

*Resources: Bible/ Genesis chpt.2; Book of Mormon/ 2 Nephi chpt.2; Pearl of Great Price/ Moses chpt.4

Reading it again for the ??th time!

I just finished reading the Book of Mormon again.  It is true!  Many years ago, when my daughters were very young, we finally finished reading that book together as a family for their first time.  The next day we started over again.  My oldest daughter said, “Hey, we already read this book!”  We subsequently read it over and over again as a family and I have read it on my own too many times to count.

Joseph Smith said: “I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.”  Another prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, said: “Is there not something deep in our hearts that longs to draw nearer to God? …If so, then the Book of Mormon will help us do so more than any other book.”  I do have that longing and the Book of Mormon has fulfilled that expectation.

I love the scriptures, including the Old and New Testaments.  Something else President Benson said rings true to me, “The Book of Mormon offers so much that broadens our understandings of the doctrines of salvation.  Without it, much of what is taught in other scriptures would not be nearly so plain and precious.”  The Book of Mormon and other revealed scripture provide explanations to me for “vague” doctrines in the Bible.  For example: the ‘falling away’ mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the ‘stick of Judah and of Joseph’ mentioned in Ezekiel 37:16, and  ‘baptism for the dead’ mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:29.

Additionally, that concept about being the “keystone of our religion” is serious business.  Everything in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hinges on the truthfulness of that book.  Either God speaks to prophets again on the earth or He doesn’t.  Was the original church of Jesus Christ restored to the earth or not?  The only way to know for sure is to sincerely read that book and ask God in prayer.  If that book is true, then all the doctrines we profess are true as well.

Most importantly, the Book of Mormon is a witness of Jesus Christ!!  The teachings of ancient prophets in the Book of Mormon helped those that listened/ obeyed to overcome their sins and expose the doctrines of the devil so that the people could follow God.  It can do the same for us today.  President Benson said: “We should know the Book of Mormon better than any other book.  Not only should we know what history and faith-promoting stories it contains, but we should understand its teachings.  If we really do our homework and approach the Book of Mormon doctrinally, we can expose the errors and find the truths to combat many of the current false theories and philosophies of men.”

I don’t believe you can dismiss the Book of Mormon and then accept any other “practices” in the Mormon church.  You cannot say the Book of Mormon is false and bad, but all the Priesthood ordinances that take place in temples or within our families are true and good.  Last quote from President Benson: “I have noted within the Church a difference in discernment, insight, conviction, and spirit between those who know and love the Book of Mormon and those who do not.  That book is a great sifter.”

The 2nd Best Mission

Dean Call Envelope Dean Mission CallDean served in the Thailand Bangkok mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from July 1980 to July 1982.  I must say this mission is the second best mission in the church ;-)  We attended many mission reunions with Dean’s mission president, Clyde T. Lowe.  Even in his old age, when memory was beginning to fade, this mission president attended those reunions.  I believe it was the longest running mission reunion of its era until his death in 2008 at age 92-years.  At these reunions, we would eat Thai food and then just sit and let President Lowe ramble on about missions and life and give counsel.  He was a beloved man and mission president.  This is a picture of all the missionaries during Dean’s time, standing in front of the chapel in Bangkok.  Dean is standing in the second row from the back, fourth missionary from the right.

Thailand Missionaries

Below is an earlier picture taken of Dean’s MTC group of Elders during July/Aug 1980.  At the time, there was a photo center in the University Mall that took ‘old timey’ photos.  Back row from L: Greg Hansen, Greg Peterson, John Green, Dean Crandall, James Ockey and Sterling Larson.  Front row from L: Richard Burton, Bill Beneke, Darryl Bond and David Haberkorn.

Thai MTC Group

Me & Dean & James Stewart

Jimmy Stewart Program

I love old movies.  Even when Dean and I were married, almost 30-years-ago, Jimmy Stewart was considered an “older” actor.  He was still very famous and I had seen several of his old movies.  On February 1st, 1985, we sat with Jimmy Stewart and his wife to watch one of those movies.  OK… he was seated up front and we were near the back of the de Jong Concert Hall on BYU Campus.  But we were breathing the same air as he was!

This was on the same day that Dean gave me my engagement ring.  We had gotten engaged about one month before.  Dean surprised me by purchasing a pearl ring and hiding it in my apartment.  When I arrived home from class, my roommates were grinning with anticipation as I started looking for my ring with the “treasure hunt” notes that Dean had created.  What a romantic dude, but I was so self-conscious about it!  Now, with a ring on my finger, I guess we were officially going to get married :-)

Jimmy Stewart was being honored in Utah for his wonderful life.  The Brigham Young University, the City of Provo and the State of Utah had proclaimed “Jimmy Stewart” week from Jan. 28th to Feb. 1st, 1985.  Jimmy Stewart was a beloved actor who also had a distinguished military career.  Miraculously, he had chosen to give his memoirs to BYU and Dean and I had tickets to the event!  After a brief introduction and then comments from Mr. Stewart, we found that we were going to watch his favorite of his movies… “It’s a Wonderful Life.”  The lights dimmed and we watched it on 35mm film… what a fabulous experience!  Now, even after almost 30-years, we still keep our tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas Eve… preferably the black & white version.

 

Finding Deano

Can you spot Dean in the group pictures below?

Dean 1stGradeFirst Grade: 1967-68… Dean is at left in the third row from top!

.

Dean 4thGradeFourth Grade: 1970-71… Dean is second from right on top row!

.

Dean 6thGradeSixth Grade: 1972-73… Dean is at center in top row!

.

HolidayInn TeamLittle League/ Minors… Dean is in back with the Superman glasses ;-)

.

Teleprompter TeamLittle League/ Majors… Dean is in back, love those glasses!

.

Dean Mish KidsThailand Bangkok Mission: 1980-82… Can you find Dean?!

Yes… Thirty Times!

Dean+Lorrie1Thirty years ago today… at noon… a man named Dean asked me to change my name.  Because I was scared, and even though I knew what he was really asking, I said “Change my name to what?”  This forced him to spell it out.  He said “Lorrie, I’m asking you to marry me!”  How did we suddenly get to this point?!

Dean and I had been dating and hanging out and basically spending almost every day together for 3 months, but I hadn’t seriously thought of marriage and had only recently (the week before) realized that I “loved” this dude.  Yes, I enjoyed kissing him… a lot.  And, it was flattering to have someone want to hold my hand and put his arm around me, but marriage means making babies together and, basically, spending the rest of eternity together!  In that one moment, I realized the direction we had been heading and it scared me.  Was I really someone he could love forever?

Besides, I was making other plans.  I was planning to change my major to Chinese.  I was making plans to go to China to teach English.  I guess I thought we would write and continue our friendship, etc.  I just didn’t have marriage on my immediate horizon.  Before he popped the question, I had been talking and laughing and telling lots of stories; he was uncharacteristically quiet or serious and I had a strange premonition about what was about to happen.  After he popped the question, our roles reversed.  I suddenly clammed up and he did all the talking.  I don’t really know what he said with the exception of one thing, he said I didn’t have to answer right away.  We returned to my house, said good-bye to my parents and left to drive back to Provo.  He listened to the radio as he drove.  I just sat and thought about the possibility of marriage and what it would mean for me.

Dean dropped me off at my apartment in Provo and reminded me that he would see me later that night for another event.  I already had the car door open, but I said “OK” and then headed straight to my apartment.  I walked in the front door and noticed no one else was home.  I walked straight to my bed and knelt down and said, “Heavenly Father: Dean has asked me to marry him and I’m going to say yes… is that OK?”  I had a sudden warm feeling in my heart that that was exactly what I should do.  It is strange to think about it now, because all of my eternity hinged on that warm feeling.

Later, when Dean picked me up, I said “Do you remember that question you asked me today?”  Of course he did!  I said, “The answer is yes, but we can’t tell anybody yet… we need to wait a couple of weeks.”  I still needed time to think and get used to the idea, and I wanted to have the opportunity to back out if needed.  I can’t imagine how hurtful that was for him, except that he was probably scared as well.  Every New Year’s Day for thirty years, Dean has made it a point to ask me if I would say yes again.  I confess that some years I’ve made him wait while I ponder the eternities and what I’ve gotten myself into.  However other years, such as today, the answer is an immediate and resounding YES!

 

Previous Older Entries

duplogosmall
FamilySearch Indexing Indexer Badge
mayflower
DAR_Logo
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: