(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
Elder Rudd was a very able recorder of the events he participated in or witnessed and he also had a great memory. He prepared several autobiographical or life history-type manuscripts, filled with his experiences. He had them printed and distributed to his extended family and friends as widely as possible. His motivation for doing so was to strengthen the faith of others. He wanted to uplift and bless as many people as possible, and sharing the edifying events of his life was one way he sought to do it. Those who read the blog posts in this series will quickly see what I mean and just how remarkable many events in his life were.
Most modern readers won’t recognize most of the general authorities named in the blogs; they were of past generations not much known today. Very few people he named still live.
When we talk about Elder Glen L. Rudd (formerly of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy), we eventually find ourselves talking about Elder Matthew Cowley as well (in the Quorum of the Twelve 1945-53). He was Elder Rudd’s mission president and a great influence in his life. Therefore, many of these accounts speak of that great and unusual mission president and apostle of the Lord. But these experiences are not what most Latter-day Saints would normally envision from what they see in church manuals and hear in general conference talks. This was an earlier day and, in my opinion, Elder Cowley was probably more like unto one of the three Nephites than any other Latter-day Saint of the 1900s.
Elder Cowley was not sanctimonious; quite the reverse. Said Elder Rudd: “President Cowley had an interesting way of telling jokes and stories. During the course of the day, he told us stories in which the end was always unusual and maybe not very proper in Sunday School. Of course, they were nothing vulgar, but a little different than what people were used to.” Readers will find this entire series a little different than what people are used to. I suppose maybe some of this material could not be posted on the Church’s website, though I would argue that in a perfect world, where people were less judgmental, it should be. But we do not live in a perfect world and you never know who will be offended at something slightly less than proper.
Having given some forewarning that some of this material is not quite what many are used to, know also that most of it is uplifting, edifying, faith-affirming, and testimony-building. Elder Rudd’s experiences just naturally uplift and strengthen readers/hearers. People who listened to or read him, or Elder Cowley for that matter, always came away feeling better and happier and more full of love for God and their neighbor. (An address by Elder Cowley titled, “Miracles,” given at BYU, is still considered one of the most famous and powerful ever given in the Church; I only duplicate a little of it in one of these blogs.)
I first met Elder Rudd sometime around the year 2000. I was working in the Church Office Building in Salt Lake, in an area that commonly had visitors from throughout the building. A biography of Elder Bruce R. McConkie that I had written had just been published, and it might have been sitting on my desk where all could see (fancy that….). Elder Rudd walked past my desk and saw it, and being an old friend of Elder McConkie’s, he wanted to know about it. We were soon deep in conversation about this wonderful apostle.
This became the beginning of my friendship with Elder Rudd, who I occasionally visited in his office in the Welfare Department, and who sometimes visited me at my desk. One day, Elder Joseph C. Muren, an emeritus general authority (now deceased), and Elder Rudd, also emeritus then, bumped into each other at my desk and started chatting. These wonderful men had quite a conversation and a good laugh, and Elder Muren went on his way. After he left, Elder Rudd turned to me and said, “You know it drives me crazy but I sometimes can’t tell whether he is joking or not.” I had never been in a situation where two general authorities were ribbing each other and having a good laugh next to my desk, so it was a new experience for me. Both of these men were sunny friendly personalities and church employees loved them. By that time Elder Rudd was more of a figurehead for the Welfare Department, with little real responsibilities, but he was always a delight to be around. I never talked to him but that when I left I felt uplifted and happier. He was a joy to visit with, even when I asked him sensitive questions.
He read all of my books (up to and including the Lorenzo Snow and Orson F. Whitney biographies) and often commented about them or complimented me on them. He was a voracious reader of good church doctrine and history books. He loved latter-day saint biography that portrayed the spiritual qualities and commitments of their subjects. He did not care much for the garbage that the liberal academics produced. He wanted the truth told in the context of the Restored gospel, not the biased negativity and skepticism of semi or non-believing academics trying and failing to write competently about men who spent their lives communing with and serving God.
I sometimes talked to Elder Rudd about writing projects I was thinking about pursuing, and he offered me his help, though I rarely took him up on it. He gave me permission to use talks he had given about Elder Cowley in my book Faith to Heal and be Healed. His chapter in this book granted a sampling of his material wider circulation than it normally would have received; I trust it strengthened someone’s faith.
The sources for the excerpts of his writings used herein are selected from his own substantial autobiographical writings. As much as he wanted to disseminate and distribute his recorded doings and memories, relatively few people will possess copies of them or will have read them. Therefore, there are no references or citations given. He worked mostly in the days before the internet and knew little of it. His secretary even did his email correspondence for him. He printed and gave what he could afford to friends and associates of whom he had many. I wonder how many of these actually knew what fine material they had, or read it. If they did not they missed out, as most readers of these posts will surely acknowledge. And Elder Rudd was no Paul Dunn; he did not exaggerate; nor did Elder Cowley. They told stories in an interesting way but did not embellish. This is how Brother Rudd phrased it: “President Cowley was a great story teller. Everything that happened to him was interesting. He could take any little event and make it into a fine story. However he never exaggerated. He just told excellent details about every wonderful thing that happened, and everything in his life was exciting.” Elder Rudd was the same way; such also explains why this blog series is so captivating.
Most people do not know that both President Monson and President Nelson wrote their own life histories—Brother Nelson in 1979 before he became an apostle, and President Monson in 1985. Both of these autobiographies are very rare and contain vastly superior content to that found in their formally authorized and commercially published autobiographies. The material in them wasn’t censored and edited for a general church audience. Instead, they contain the unedited/censored versions of the wonderful events to that point in their lives. Elder Rudd’s reminiscences are like unto theirs in the sense of not being censored, even though he does write about even difficult situations and events with positive optimism. He saw the good in everyone.
In 1988 Elder Rudd was assigned by the First Presidency to give a devotional address to BYU students and faculty. The talk was to be written before delivery. Elder Rudd drew from his experiences with Elder Matthew Cowley to give an address he titled, “Keeping the Gospel Simple.” In it he shared his mission president’s teachings that the gospel was simply beautiful and beautifully simple. Most of what Elder Cowley taught the Latter-day Saints was about faith, repentance, and prayer.
After reading that talk, and others like it given by Elder Rudd, I noted that a BYU professor, James E. Faulconer, wrote a book (really a series of books) called, The Book of Mormon Made Harder. A series of books meant to make understanding the scriptures harder!? Then more recently I saw in the Church News a quotation from an interview with President M. Russell Ballard: “During the interview, President Ballard said he is a great advocate of keeping it simple. ‘Simplicity is powerful,’ he said. ‘Complexity is dangerous. I think Lucifer is the master of complexity and the Lord is the master of simplicity. The gospel is simple and it is simply beautiful.’” President Joseph Fielding Smith agreed: “The gospel is simple. There is nothing difficult about it. There are mysteries, no doubt. We do not need to bother about the mysteries, but the simple things pertaining to our salvation and exaltation we can understand.” Brothers Cowley, Rudd, Smith, and Ballard are in agreement that we should not seek to complicate that which is simple and make the gospel harder. Of course there are the mysteries, but even they can be simple to those who seek to understand them the right way, by the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit.
What some (who think they are wise and learned) don’t seem to understand is that because so much of the Book of Mormon is an abridgement, much of the so-called “scholarship” being published is really only guesswork based on an incomplete text. (Some at BYU, especially at the terribly miss-named “Neal A. Maxwell Institute,” seem to delight in complicating and confusing things and thereby drawing attention to themselves as a light to the Church.) All of the things missing in our Book of Mormon were written in the other piles of plates held under the stewardship of the Nephite kings, and when we get those translated in the Millennium we will know what really went on; same with the sealed portion.
Elders Cowley and Rudd were involved with hundreds of miracles, some of them shared in these blogs; their way of thinking about the gospel evidently brought them mighty faith to work righteousness and thereby glorify God.
Yet even the mighty power of faith remains subject to God’s will. As readers may note, Elder Rudd was plagued throughout his life with migraine headaches. I read the below comment in one of his personal histories and asked him about Elder Cowley blessing him. He replied that not only had Elder Cowley administered to him more than once for his headaches, but so also had Presidents Lee and Kimball, and a few other apostles—all to no effect. He wrote:
Not long after Brother Cowley became a member of the Twelve, he was assigned to attend a stake conference in Berkeley, California. He insisted that I go with him on that trip. He didn’t tell me that he had contacted a member of the stake presidency, who was an outstanding medical doctor, to give me a thorough medical examination. This wonderful doctor, Dr. Emery Ranker, was a convert to the Church and was recognized as one of the great doctors in the Bay area.
I spent more than two hours being examined by Dr. Ranker. He wanted to see if he could solve the migraine headache problem. It was one of the best exams I have ever had, but the headaches stayed on. Incidentally, Elder Cowley, through the holy priesthood, blessed hundreds and hundreds of people who were made well. On occasion, he blessed me, but with little result. I guess I did not have the faith to be healed.
However, while traveling with President Harold B. Lee on one occasion, he told me he thought he knew why I had headaches. He said that it was the Lord’s way of keeping me under control and subduing me a little bit. He said that if I didn’t have these headaches, I may not be much good to the Church. So they’ve had a good effect on me.
Personally, on this particular issue, I disagree with Elder Rudd and agree with President Lee. (The fact is that Elder Cowley knew Bishop Rudd was a man of great faith and that is why he used him as a companion when he went to bless people.) It would seem the headaches were Brother Rudd’s figurative thorn in the flesh. As he concluded late in his life, “The headaches have slowed me down, but never stopped me from living a vigorous life, full of activity.”
Elder Rudd died four years ago (2016). His funeral was attended by a few members of the Quorum of the Twelve and President Thomas S. Monson. President Monson gave a lovely tribute to his beloved friend of some 70 years, but was in declining mental and physical health at the time and struggled somewhat in his remarks (he repeated some memories twice—but if the prophet wants to speak at my funeral he is more than welcome even if he repeats himself). A large stake center was jammed to the back of the overflow (gym floor) with his friends, family, ward members, and work associates.
I think Elder Rudd would want people to be able to enjoy perusing these choice accounts that he spent so much time and effort recording and preserving. For example, of one particular healing miracle he performed, Brother Rudd wrote, “I want to share this testimony that men, even young men, who hold the priesthood, and are living correctly, will receive direction from the Spirit and will have the assurance that the Lord will ratify the promised blessing.” If these experiences are not shared and read and pondered, they won’t do anybody any good and will be largely lost to history. That would be a tragedy, especially in our day when the internet can provide these kinds of select gems to large audiences instantly. Elder Rudd wanted them to do some good. He wanted to bless and lift people. He wanted to strengthen their faith. These personal accounts sometimes do that in an unusual (and un-“correlated”) way; a way a little bit different than what most people are used to in Sunday School. But they still do it and do it well.
I realize that by sharing Brother Rudd’s life experiences on blogs/the internet, that they are also, by default, made available to critics who will ridicule and mock them. This is the oppositional work of those who inhabit the great and spacious building that represents the pride, vanity, and foolishness of the world. Yet we (the Church and its members) do not permit the mockery and opposition of enemies of the Church to hinder the work of the Lord. It would seem the Lord wants His people to use technology to spread His message; hence the huge presence the Church maintains on the internet with its many websites. In other words, the Church’s enemies—“Satan’s spokespeople” as President Nelson called them—mock and ridicule it for what it posts online as much as they can. President Nelson’s message to us to use social media to promote gratitude and other powerful spiritual messages also charts our course.
There were a few things in Elder Rudd’s writings that were too sacred for me to include in this series. Sometimes it is hard to know where to draw the line in sharing sacred things publicly because the Brethren themselves have tended to move that line around a little over the decades. So I used the best judgment I could.
Those interested in hearing Elder Rudd himself tell more about his life and teach the gospel are encouraged to visit the following links. The first installment of this blog series then follows:
These are superb speeches, especially those that have video/audio. One can get a special feeling for this tremendous individual and his love for God, the gospel, and his fellowmen/women.
Now that I have introduced this massive blog series (that does contain a little unavoidable repetition) I begin with the first and perhaps the strangest installment.
Remarkable Experiences in the Life of Elder Glen L. Rudd #1
(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
[Editorial Note: The below account is not really all that faith-promoting—as are most of the other items that will be posted in this forthcoming very lengthy series. (I couldn’t resist including a few just for fun.) However, Elder Rudd indicated it is one of the most crazy, exciting, and unforgettable experiences of his life, so he included it with the other more uplifting personal experiences in his autobiographical writings. Since it happened in the mid-forties, I assume all participants are now dead and gone, so that no embarrassment comes from sharing it. I know no more about the story than what is given here:]
My brother and I used to be in the poultry business. We had a small plant where we killed and processed turkeys and chickens for sale. It was quite a place. On Saturday morning, December 31, 1944, we had an experience that none of us will ever forget.
People were coming in to pick up their holiday turkeys and chickens. I was in the processing area cleaning up. I had on a pair of boots and an apron and was hosing down the floor. I had cleaned all the knives and cleavers and they were laying on the table.
My brother Sam was in the office working. Between the office and processing room was an opening where we could call back and forth to one another.
Friday evening we had a terrible storm and the slushy roads were not plowed. During the night the slush froze solid. The next day, driving a car was difficult. It was just a plain cold, miserable winter day.
About noon, as I was finishing the cleaning, Sam hollered, "Come quick! Hurry! Drop everything!" I turned off the hose and ran to the front door, which was on Main Street [of Salt Lake City], to see what was going on. Sam pointed up the street. There, standing in the middle of the street a hundred yards away was a large woman—totally bare, no clothes on at all, none whatsoever! And it was a bitter cold winter day. We all stood there just looking.
Our uncle, George Margetts, was in the shop that day. For many years, Uncle George had been the chief usher in the [Salt Lake] Tabernacle and he had served as a special police officer. He was now eighty-five years old, and still a special police officer. He wore a badge inside his coat. He had come down to get a chicken. Uncle George was a funny old guy with a great sense of humor. But on this occasion, Uncle George just stood there also, not believing what he was seeing.
Suddenly, a little lady, a neighbor of the large woman, ran out to help her and to get her off the street. At that very moment a car came up Main Street and when the driver saw a woman, without any clothes on, in the middle of the street, he hit his brakes and the car slid across the street, over the sidewalk, and into a billboard. The man got out of the car and just stared at the sight up the road.
The smaller lady was trying desperately to hold on to the larger woman. We couldn't make out what she was saying, but we imagined it was something like, "Let's get back into the house." The disturbed woman started beating up on the smaller woman, who began running down the street, screaming like a chased pig. She was scared to death. The big woman was hit ting her and as they were coming down the street the smaller woman was just one step ahead. When she saw our building, and us standing there, she made a beeline for our front door. As she came in, Sam grabbed her and pulled her into the office and slammed the door shut.
As the other woman rushed by, Uncle George whipped open his coat and showed her his badge and said, "You can't run around like that!" The woman hauled off and hit Uncle George and then turned and started after me. I managed to dash back into the processing room and she came right in after me; kicking and hitting me vigorously. For the next ten minutes it was all I could do to dodge her. She was hitting me and yelling at me, and madder than a wet hen (no pun intended). At that moment the phone rang and Sam answered it. It was my missionary buddy, Dick Lambert. He asked, "What's Glen doing?" Sam replied, "You'll never guess in a million years. You'd better get down here quick. Glen is wrestling with a woman who doesn't have any clothes on!" Dick was located in Sugarhouse and he broke all records getting down to Main Street to see what was happening.
Meanwhile, the woman just kept hitting me. I said to her, "Cut it out now or I'm going to have to hit you back." I didn't know what else to do. I didn't know where to hit her or what. All of a sudden she spied the knives and meat cleavers. I quickly jumped in front of the table and kept saying to her, "I'm going to hit you, I'm going to hit you, if you don't quit!" Finally, I decided the only thing I could do was knock her down. So I raised my trusty right arm (I'm a great fighter, you know!), and when she came in real close I swung with all the power I had, but I missed her by inches. I then swung across with my left fist and caught her on the end of the chin, and she went down like a ton of bricks. I then jumped on top of her and grabbed her wrists.
Now here I am, in my boots and apron, straddling and trying to control a large, wild woman on a cold wet floor of a poultry shop. The poor soul was fighting and cussing and
yelling at me, and I am trying to hold onto her wrists. My arms were beginning to ache.
Sam had called the police by now and Dick Lambert had also arrived. Dick came in to give me support: "Come on Rudd! Hold on Rudd!" And here I am going through this terrible ordeal.
A policeman had come into the shop but wouldn't come through the swinging doors to the back room. He said, "I can't go in there! You can't touch a woman who doesn't have any clothes on." So he went over to the county hospital, which was located just two blocks away, to get a policewoman. I had been holding this woman down for thirty minutes or so—all the while she was fighting me. My arms and back were aching terribly, and not one soul would help me.
Sam went back to waiting on customers. Uncle George was helping Sam take in the money and giving out the turkeys—all the time enjoying what was happening in the back. But no one would come through the swinging doors. By now there were two police cars outside and I guess the customers were wondering what was going on.
When the policewoman got there poor old "Graceful Gracie" (a name we called her) was starting to wear out. Finally, she just kind of wilted and gave up. They wrapped her in blankets and got her out into the police car. They took her over to the hospital. Uncle George said, "I'm eighty-five years old and I've never seen anything like this in my whole life." When I struggled up off the floor, I was weak and my arms were aching.
When I went home that afternoon, my wife wondered what had happened to me. She asked, "Are you okay?" It was an hour or two before I could tell her the story. I really couldn't believe it had happened. That evening, all my missionary buddies and I got together and I told them the story. They couldn't believe it either. This was one of the most unusual experiences of my life.