My father’s name was LeRoy. It was supposed to be Lee Roy, but they mashed it together on the birth certificate and his parents never bothered to correct it. So he didn’t have a middle name.
He grew up on an Idaho farm and served in the Air Force during the Korean War. He published a couple of articles in the Ensign (although I can’t find them on lds.org; maybe they’ve been banished); in one of them he tells a story of how he had forgot to feed the cows, and so when he sat down for dinner his mother didn’t feed him, and the lesson he learned from that.
I was born in Logan because he was doing a master’s at Utah State at the time. He then went on to get his doctorate at Colorado State College in Greeley (now the University of North Colorado), so I did first grade and several subsequent summers in Greeley. He got a job as a professor of education at Northern Illinois University, so I grew up in DeKalb, Illinois.
I got married in the Provo temple on 15 August 1980. My parents were not in attendance. My dad was having a fight with the bishop over tithing and couldn’t get a temple recommend. (As I understand it, he insisted on reading “interest” literally, and just tithing that. As a child of the Depression he had saved a lot and I later learned that he was one of the highest tithe payers in the ward, but the bishop wouldn’t give him a recommend. My dad could be very stubborn that way.)
We had a small open house in Provo and then drove home to DeKalb for our reception. My best friend let us spend the night in his mobile home. At some point during the night the phone rings. I answered the phone, and it was for me. That was weird, since hardly anyone knew we were staying there. It was a nurse at the hospital; a woman I knew, since I had worked at that hospital before my mission. She told me I needed to come, and refused to tell me why.
The hospital was just a couple of blocks from the mobile home, and as I was led into a little room off of the emergency room there was my mother. My father was dead. He had been returning with colleagues from a teaching engagement and died of a heart attack. It was the night before my wedding reception.
The reception was one of those cheap Mormon affairs in the church, although this was in the old congregational church the branch had purchased long ago, so it was a beautiful old building with stone and stained glass windows. It was a very somber affair, and would be followed not too many days later by a funeral.
In about another year I’ll be the same age my father was when he died. My 21-year old son Grant is already the same age I was when my father died. Neither of my children ever had the chance to meet him.
There are probably a lot of factors as to why I’m a faithful believer today, but I’m sure my father’s influence is near the top of the list. His faith was like a rock (much stronger than my kind of tenuous variety), but in an old fashioned western Mormon sort of way. He somehow was able to separate out the Gospel from the very fallible and imperfect human beings we find at church. I was raised with attitudes about as far from fundamnentalist as it is possible to be and still be a believer, and as my own intellectual interests in Mormonism have grown, that upbringing has been a godsend.
(Sorry for the morbidity of this post, but my daughter’s kitty, Playful, died the other night. We had him for 19 years, so it was a traumatic thing and death is on my mind.)
Anyway, tell us about your fathers as we celebrate yet another Father’s Day. I am genuinely interested to read your stories about your dads.