I pray the Spirit will be with me today as I give this talk. I have had a lot of thoughts about Father’s Day because my father passed away on May 23 about a month ago. My son Dan was married June 13 about a week ago. So I have been thinking a lot about families and our duties in our families and about the sacred covenants we make that are given to us to help us be with our families forever.
First I would like to say a few things about the Proclamation on the Family. I am grateful for this document and the guidance it gives us. Paragraphs 6 and 7 tell us about our family responsibilities as parents. As I read them please pay careful attention to the duties of fathers. ………
"Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.
The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed." (Proclamation on the Family paragraphs 6 and 7)
Did you notice the sentence “By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families”?
When Angel Moroni first appeared to Joseph Smith he quoted many verses of scripture. Two verses in Malachi chapter 3 were quoted like this: “Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.”
I submit to you that these scriptures and the advice given in the Proclamation on the Family are very basic to our observance of Father’s Day. They are the foundation of all the nice things our fathers do for us and the love we have in our homes and our hope of being together forever. They apply to new couples just starting their eternal marriages like Dan and Kim and also to me, my parents and brothers and sisters who are just getting used to the separation from my father being in the Spirit World.
I really enjoyed the talk that Brother Jim Richards gave on Mother’s Day. I was truly inspired to hear him talk about his mother and all the wonderful things she did for her family and the great love she had for her children. I hope you will forgive me for being personal and talking about my father. I believe he is an excellent example of the advice given in the Proclamation and in the scriptures in Malachi. But I will not be making the connections in my talk. I hope that you can figure these things out for yourself.
My father’s name is Elden Grant Hurst. I read once in a baby name book that Elden means “patriarch of a large family” and that is true for him. Both of my parents had blessings before they were married that they would be blessed with a large family. They have ten children, five boys and five girls. I am the oldest child. He was a great father partly because of choices he made before I was ever born. He was born in May 1922. He had his 87th birthday six days before he died. It is a difficult task to condense 87 years of accomplishment into a few minutes. I am grateful that my father wrote his personal history and kept a Book of Remembrance. He was born in Lynndyl, Utah in Millard county. At that time it was a railroad town. Now it is a lot smaller and in fact, is on a list called “Ghost Towns of Utah.”
He was the eighth child of his parents. His parents grew up and started their family in the Mormon colonies in Mexico. They left Mexico in 1911 and moved to Utah because of a Mexican Revolution. His family lived on a dairy and sold milk, cream and butter to the railroad workers and other families in Lynndyl.
When Dad was one and one-half years old his mother died. Both of his grandmothers came to help take care of the family at different times. Then two years later his father remarried.
Dad learned to be a good worker from a young age. He was helping his Grandmother Romney gather eggs and bring in firewood when he was very young. He started milking cows when he was three years old and he would help deliver the milk in Lynndyl. The older children would go to school and he would drive the milk buggy home.
He had his tonsils out when he was four years old. The doctor came to his house and did the operation on the kitchen table.
Dad went to first grade in Lynndyl. Then his family moved to Payson and bought a farm at West Mountain.
When Dad was in the second grade he and his brother Miles got spinal meningitis. They were very very sick and the whole family was quarantined. Through the power of the priesthood and the faith and prayers of their family, their lives were saved.
Dad was a scout and earned his tenderfoot and second class rank advancements. Because he felt the scout program was good to help young boys, he later served as scoutmaster in the Yale Ward and had an outstanding troop. Four of his sons are Eagle Scouts and one is a Star Scout.
Dad was an excellent student in high school. He played the clarinet in the band and was able to go on a band trip to San Francisco. He was active in Future Farmers of America and in public speaking contests. In chemistry he received the highest score on the state test. He was on a typing team and placed third in region. He was selected to speak at high school commencement. Dad also spoke at seminary graduation and his talk, “What is Man?” is included in his personal history.
When Dad was growing up it was the time of the Great Depression. His family always had to work very hard to earn a living. They believed in being self reliant and would not participate in the public works programs that President Franklin Roosevelt started.
Dad won a scholarship to attend Utah State Agricultural College, now Utah State University, in Logan, Utah. He worked to pay expenses by milking cows and doing janitorial work.
He met his wife Joy Rollins at a get-acquainted dance at the Logan Institute of Religion. She was also a freshman.
They had a birthday party for her on December 6, 1941. It was a Saturday night. The next morning they heard on the radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed by the Japanese.
Because of World War II, Dad enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He attended boot camp at San Diego, radio school at Madison, Wisconsin, Aviation Radio School in Memphis, Tennessee, Gunnery School in Purcell, Oklahoma. He then completed flight training to be a rear gunner on a dive bomber near Jacksonville, Florida. Because of his long legs, it was difficult to get in and out of the gunning turret. He spent time at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay and then boarded a ship at New Orleans and sailed to Hawaii. He had become very proficient in Morse Code and while he was on this ship he became bored so he went to the radio center and translated the college football scores from Morse code and then posted them on a bulletin board. Immediately the officers wanted to know who had done that and he found himself working in the radio center for the rest of the trip. When he got to Hawaii instead of being a rear gunner on a dive bomber he was a supervisor in a radio station in Pearl Harbor. They would decipher the messages from Morse code and then rush them to the Navajo code talkers to be translated so the military could use them.
Next he was sent to the Dearborn Michigan Naval Training Station. While there he wrote to my Mom and asked her to marry him. They had been writing to each other since he had enlisted. Since all the letters were censored for security reasons, they had developed a secret code in their writing so he was able to tell her where he was and other secret messages. You can ask my mother what the secret code was.
My Mom got on a bus all by herself and traveled several days to get to Detroit. Dad and Mom were married by George Romney, his cousin and president of the Detroit Branch of the LDS Church. Today there is a temple in Detroit, and if it had been there then I am sure they would have been married in the temple. They were sealed in the Logan Temple after the war ended.
In August 1945 he was sent to Corpus Christi, Texas. The war ended that same month and he was sent to San Jose, California to be discharged. Whenever I hear someone refer to “the Greatest Generation” who helped win World War II, I remember that my parents were part of it. Actually my mother dropped out of college during the war also and went to work at the Arsenal in Ogden.
While in the Navy Dad says he found it easy to live LDS Church standards. He met many people who respected a person who could live their standards. He did not remember being ridiculed for living the Word of Wisdom. He always attended LDS church services whenever he could and usually met someone who was related to him. He has over 400 first cousins.
After the war, Dad went back to Utah State University and graduated with a degree in vocational agriculture. He was the only one in his family to graduate from college.
Dad took a job teaching vocational agriculture, farm mechanics and industrial arts at Hinckley High School in Millard County. The school closed in 1953 and then he taught science, biology and math at Delta Junior High and Delta High School. During the summers he worked for Union Pacific Railroad and as a park ranger at Lehman’s Cave National Monument. He attended summer school in Iowa , in Kentucky and in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. I really missed him the summers he was in Iowa and Kentucky. One day I had an argument with my mother and decided to run away from home and walk to Iowa to be with my Dad. I was gone about an hour mostly sitting by a ditch and thinking and then I decided to give up walking to Iowa. When I got home my mother had forgotten all about the argument.
The whole family with seven children went to Tennessee with him. I have fond memories of this summer. We went on a great road trip in our red Rambler station wagon to get there. My Dad asked us all if there was anywhere we would especially like to visit and he tried to work it into the itinerary. One of my brothers wanted to go to Kings Peak the tallest mountain in Utah and my Dad got him to settle for Dinosaur National Monument instead. I wanted to visit Washington D.C. I remember all of us standing in front of the White House looking at it and trying to decide what else we were going to visit in our nation’s capitol in one day. A tour guide approached us and I think my Dad made a great decision to accept his services. Soon we were seated in a limousine and we were able to visit the Jefferson Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, the Smithsonian, the Capitol Building and Arlington National Cemetery where we saw the changing of the guard at the tombs of the unknown soldiers.
When we got to Murfreesboro, Tennessee we discovered that the nearest branch of the church was in Nashville 40 miles away. We went to Nashville for Sunday School and then in the evening went to sacrament meeting at Smyrna Air Force Base which was closer. They didn’t have anyone to play the piano for either meeting and I had had a few years of piano lessons, so my parents volunteered me. Then they tried to rent a piano so I could practice. I needed lots and lots of practice. They actually had to buy a piano and resell it at the end of the summer.
After we got back from Tennessee my Dad attended an academic year institute at the University of Utah and received his master’s degree in August 1961. You can see that he was very interested in his personal development and increasing his skills so he could provide for his family.
He started teaching at Olympus High School in Granite School District and taught there until he retired. He taught at Mill Hollow summer camp. He also taught a summer biology class. The class was six weeks long and was six hours a day. Most of the time was spent on field trips. The teachers would lecture while everyone was on the bus.
He was a devoted teacher and really cared about his students. When our son David went on a mission to Brazil Ron and I and my parents went to pick him up and travelled around Brazil for a few weeks. One day when we had been on a bus ride for about 500 miles I asked Dad how he liked the country. He commented that it was a beautiful country but it made him sad to see “all the bright young minds going to waste because of the lack of education and opportunities.”
My Dad always had part time jobs in addition to teaching. He worked for Engh Floral and Garden Center and he took tickets at the Olympus High School games. He supported my brothers and one sister on missions with a family project of delivering newspapers on a double route. Two of my brothers served missions in Japan. I had never even thought of this, but at my Dad’s funeral my brother pointed out that my Dad had seen the death and destruction caused by the enemy Japanese when the damaged ships came back to Pearl Harbor during the war and yet years later he got up at 3:00 am to drive his sons to deliver newspapers so that people in Japan could have the opportunity to receive the gospel. I do not remember hearing anything from my Dad describing the graphic detail of the horrors of the war or any indication that he had any prejudices against Japanese people, or any other race for that matter. So this is an example of something I learned from my father that I did not even realize at the time.
Dad has done a lot of genealogy research. He and Mom have made two trips to England for genealogical research besides serving a mission in England. He has left us with several wonderful books about our ancestors. He worked in the name extraction program for 31 years.
Dad has been blessed to hold many positions of responsibility in the church and completed all assignments faithfully. He has also supported my Mom in her church assignments.
Dad honored his priesthood and I received blessings from him on many occasions which are even more precious to me now that he is gone. I am also grateful that my husband Ron honors his priesthood and can give priesthood blessings. I witnessed him giving Daniel a father’s blessing before we went to the temple for Daniel’s wedding and the next day he gave a blessing to Elizabeth before she left to go to San Antonio Texas for her summer internship. I love priesthood blessings.
My Dad helped all of his children with our school work and encouraged us in 4-H, scouting, music lessons, athletic activities and other activities. He was always proud to see us excel. He has worked hard to support his family and to educate us and supported five children on full-time missions. We have all graduated from college. I remember him telling me on several occasions: “My daughter can do anything!”
I remember my Dad listening to me read when I was in grade school. He would sit by me and sing along when I was learning to play the hymns on the piano. He would coach me whenever I had to give a talk. I remember him helping me memorize the sacrament gem for Junior Sunday School. It was “How great the wisdom and the love that filled the courts on high. And sent the Savior from above to suffer, bleed and die.”
I would like to close with this paragraph from his personal history titled: What counsel would you give this generation for living successfully?
Eat properly, live morally, rely on the word of our modern prophets and stay out of debt. Concentrate on your own personal development, rather than on the accumulation of physical or materialistic things. Remember the two great commandments: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. (Luke 10:27).
I am thankful for fathers, for my father, for Ron, my children’s father, and for all fathers. There are many great fathers in this ward. You are awesome. You are heroes. We love you. You are essential. Please keep up the good work.
I want to bear my testimony that I know God lives. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and I am so grateful for His example and atoning sacrifice for us. I am thankful that the gospel has been restored and we are able to make sacred covenants which make it possible for us to be forever families. In the name of Jesus Christ Amen.