(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
While serving as a bishop, I went to the temple to be a witness for a young couple who had been raised in my ward. I had known them a good many years and was delighted to give them their temple recommends and to attend the temple with them. Neither of their parents were able to go and so it was a great privilege for me to go with them.
Elder John A. Widtsoe of the Council of the Twelve had agreed to perform the marriage. After speaking to the young couple he began the sealing ceremony. Almost immediately I recognized that he had left out an important part of the ceremony. I looked around the room and no one else seem to have noticed the error. I wondered what would happen if I stopped him. I did it anyway. He turned to me and said, "Bishop, have I made a mistake?" and I said, "Yes, I think you left out part of the ceremony." He immediately apologized and said, I will start over. After, he thanked me for being brave enough to interrupt him. I am grateful and so were the couple.
One day in 1952, Brother Cowley called me and asked if I would be willing to drive him and Elder John A. Widtsoe to Delta, Utah. They had been assigned to reorganize the stake presidency and neither of them felt like driving. I arranged my affairs and drove them down on Saturday morning. We had a lovely ride. I had met Brother Widtsoe a few times and knew him to be a delightful person, but I did not realize what a fine sense of humor he had.
While they were busy during the day, I worked on some things I had brought. When it was time for the Saturday evening priesthood leadership meeting, Brother Widtsoe announced to the large gathering that I would be the speaker of the evening inasmuch as he and Brother Cowley still had work to do and had not completed their assignment. He told them he had been waiting for hours to hear me speak and was now delighted to listen. But as I stood up, he promptly excused himself and he and Brother Cowley left the room—to laughter of everyone.
Since I had been asked to talk on welfare work I spoke to the priesthood brethren on that subject.
After the meeting, Brother Cowley went to stay with an old missionary friend and Brother Widtsoe and I checked into a motel. I stayed with Brother Widtsoe because he was getting older and needed help.
The next morning, Brother Widtsoe brought out a large peach which someone had given to him the previous day. He had taken good care of it so he could eat it for his breakfast. When he spoke in the Sunday morning session, he announced to everyone that he had a lovely breakfast. He also told how he and I were related. He said he wanted to explain it in detail. He told the congregation that his mother and my mother had both dried their clothes under the same sun; therefore we were related.
When conference was over and all the work finished, we left for home. Brother Cowley had been given a box full of sandwiches, fruit, and some cupcakes with two or three different flavors of frosting. Brother Cowley sat in the back seat. When we had eaten our individual lunches, he handed Brother Widtsoe a chocolate flavored cupcake—which he seemed to thoroughly enjoy. After a while Brother Widtsoe said, "If you brethren won't tell my wife, I'd like another chocolate cupcake." That was a wonderful experience, with two wonderful Apostles. [Editorial Note: Elder Widstoe’s wife was known to be a little strict on issues relating to the word of wisdom and had even written a book on the subject. Chocolate was one of those items she did not approve of, so whenever Elder Widstoe could get chocolate and sugar without incurring her displeasure, he relished it.]
[Further comment on the above:] Early in 1947 Elder Matthew Cowley asked me to drive him to Delta, Utah for the weekend. I said, “President, I‘m too busy with my ward and other things, I just can‘t do it. I just can‘t get away.” Then he said to me, “I‘ve been assigned to reorganize the stake down in Delta with Elder John A. Widstoe, who is about 80 years of age. The two of us need someone to drive us.” I said, “President, I wish I could, but I‘ve got all kinds of things I have to do. You know I‘m a bishop don‘t you?”
He said, “I understand that.” Then he stopped and said, “By the way, Bishop, how many apostles does it take to ask you to take them on a little trip to Delta, Utah and back?”
I looked at him and we laughed, and I said, “Okay, I‘ll take you.” So I drove them down and was with them all day Saturday and until after midnight on Sunday night when I finally got them back home. It was a great experience. Six years later, Brother Widstoe died. Seven years later, Brother Cowley died.
I think about this magnificent experience when I was with two great apostles who were both marvelous men, and how I thought I was too busy to do it. I really wasn‘t too busy and when I took time to do what they wanted me to do; I received a great blessing because of it. Brother Widstoe and I had a lot to do with each other from then on. It was one of those great experiences that I almost missed.
Matthew Cowley and I were in Evanston, Wyoming, at a café, and there was a slot machine there. I had a quarter. I went over by the machine and got my quarter out. He came over by me and asked, “What are you doing.” I said, “I’m just getting rid of the quarter.” I pulled the slot machine and nothing happened. He reached into his pocket and said, “Here’s a quarter. Play this one for me. I’m not allowed to do it.” So I did that. Same result.
One time, he and Brother Widstoe were assigned to go to Elko, Nevada, for a stake conference. When they got there they were put in a fancy hotel with a casino where there was all kinds of gambling. They had to walk through the casino in order to get to their rooms.
There were hundreds of people gambling on all different things. Brother Widstoe was very interested in everything that was going on, so after they got in their rooms they went back. He said to Brother Cowley, “I’ve never seen anything like this! What are these people doing here?” So Brother Cowley explained that they were playing Black Jack and that it was a card game. He said, “Tell me what they do.” So Brother Cowley explained to him all about it. Then he turned to ask, “What are they doing over here?” Brother Cowley said, “They are rolling dice and are gambling on those dice.” He said, “Tell me how they do that?” So Brother Cowley explained all of that. Then, Brother Widstoe saw a roulette wheel and went over by it. Everybody was putting money down by the roulette wheel and Brother Widstoe said, “What in the world are they doing here?” So, Brother Cowley explained to him all about that.
Brother Cowley told me that they went all over the casino and he explained all he knew about the various games. He said to me, “Brother Widstoe was in an environment he had never been in before, but he expected that I knew everything and he was pretty right.” He said, “I thought to myself, how in the world does he think I know all of these things!”