On the Sweetness of Mormon (Studies) Life

We just heard the news that historian Ronald Walker has passed away after a long illness. Later this week, we’ll post a proper tribute to his life’s work and his wonderful contributions to our understanding of our shared faith. But today, I’m crying because his daughter is my friend and lives down the street from me, and his grandson was in my Primary class. And through my tears, I’m glad for all the ways Mormonism makes the world small enough for us to know each other, to have a right sense of the scale of things–we are all small, and we all matter infinitely.


  1. One of the great ones. Truly.

  2. J. Stapley says:

    Amen, Kristine.

  3. Thanks, Kristine. We’ll miss him.

  4. Ron had a great deal of influence over many, many people in the Mormon history community, and that influence extends even further through his writings. He will be missed.

  5. One of the great ones. RIP Ron Walker.

  6. Sad news. One of the best historians, and one of the very best writers in the field of Mormon History.

  7. One of the masters of the craft and one of the field’s greatest gentlemen. His legacy is immense, both scholarly and personally.

    For those interested, I wrote up about his academic career here: http://juvenileinstructor.org/ronald-w-walker/

  8. Mary Bradford says:

    Ron Walker was a friend of mine and a fine historian–He will be missed!

  9. Patrick Mason says:

    Ron Walker was one of the outstanding historians that brought us to where we are today in Mormon history/studies. I think he is really one of the unsung heroes of Mormon intellectual life from the past 40 years. Often overshadowed by some of his contemporaries, Ron was one of our very best historical writers. During one summer in grad school I worked for Ron while he was writing the Mountain Meadows book, and I’ve always counted him as one of my most important professional mentors. His generosity, graciousness, and deep humanity allowed him to approach the past — and especially the people in the past — with both candor and charity. He told me how he literally had nightmares recounting the horrors of what happened at Mountain Meadows. It was never a detached academic endeavor for him — it was wrestling with the worst of our inhumanity, and the struggle to find meaning and reconciliation. We would all do well to follow the “admonition of Ron” in our grapplings with church history.

    Go back and (re-)read “Massacre at Mountain Meadows” or “Wayward Saints” for a model of how it’s supposed to be done.

    All that, and he was simply a great, great guy. A true gentleman. Rest in peace, my friend. And prayers of consolation and condolence for his family.

  10. the other Marie says:

    Several years ago, right around the time the MMM book was published, I asked him to speak to a little student LDS history group that I was part of. He graciously agreed to do so. I remember him saying that he was weary of the topic, that researching it had hurt his heart, and that he was looking forward to moving on and researching less painful topics. As Patrick mentioned, I was impressed to see that history was not merely academic for him.

  11. Terry H says:

    In the great unfinished biographies, his Heber J. Grant was never permitted. He was a historian who could TELL A STORY. I enjoyed everything he wrote and he will be missed.

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