(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
Brother Rudd Works with Various Brethren (Part 1)
[Editorial Note: The below excerpts from Elder Rudd’s autobiographical writings share interesting experiences he had working with various general authorities. Perhaps they would not be found in a formal correlated church manual, but they do provide a glimpse of the realities of the long, hard, and inspired work done by the Brethren in their ministries. While some of them may raise an eyebrow or give pause to ponder or wonder, they can also be very faith-promoting and refreshing.]
wonderful men were decided upon, anyone of whom could be a stake president.
Because one of the four was my brother-in-law, he suggested that since we were
down to four names, he would excuse me and finish the interviewing without my
input. This showed how kind and thoughtful he was. He made the attempt to make
certain that no one could criticize me if my brother-in-law should be chosen as
president. Incidentally, he was.
On Sunday morning after all of the preliminaries were over, Elder Hunter stood at the pulpit to release the former stake president and his counselors and to present the new stake presidency. However, as he began to speak, a small baby began to cry. This baby was sitting on its mothers lap not more than ten feet from the pulpit. It became very annoying for everyone. As Elder Hunter attempted to present the names of the brethren, the baby cried louder and louder. Everyone seemed to be uneasy. Brother Hunter stopped a time or two. No one on the stand or in the audience made a move to help the mother remove the child and she, I think, was determined to stay and hear what was going to happen. The problem was that no one else could hear. I began to signal to someone to help this mother. No one moved until President Hunter finally had to quit. He turned and said to those on the stand: "I can't possibly carry on with that baby screaming like she is. Will you have someone help the mother remove the baby from the room? It was an unfortunate circumstance. Brother Hunter just couldn't talk above the noise. In a kind and nice way he waited until the mother was escorted out of the chapel and went on with his work. I saw in him again, a very kind spirit, but also a desire that everyone in the building would know what was happening during a very important reorganization that affected all of them. Over the years, I had never known President Howard W. Hunter to be anything but a kind, understanding, loveable individual.
Elder Romney was the most rigid and difficult man at first until I had been with him on two trips and realized that he had built a solid wall around himself and was hard to get to but when he and I finally got on good terms, he turned out to be one of the easiest of all the Brethren for me to talk to.
He outlived all the other welfare men ([J. Reuben] Clark, Henry D. Moyle, Harold B. Lee), and probably gave more talks about welfare than any other man in the Church. I had the opportunity of traveling with him on several occasions where he loved to have me speak so he could follow me and continue on talking about welfare.
Years later, not long before he died, when he was in his late eighties, he said to me, "Glen, you and I are the only two old welfare men left." I had been with him for so many years that I think he thought I was as old as he was, but he was more than 21 years older than I was.
Elder Romney was a remarkable man—much greater than most people thought. He and Elder Lee knew the Book of Mormon better than anyone. President Romney told me his door was always open and I could come at any time to visit him. Toward the last years of his life I would visit with him often and get him to tell me stories about his youth and the great leaders of the Church he knew. He lived to be 90 years old; however, the last two years were difficult for him. The last time I went to his home to visit, he was unable to talk, but he knew who I was and gave me a good handshake and made a great effort to speak.
During the month of June , I went to visit President and Sister Romney and sat in their kitchen and talked. This was the day after President Kimball and his Counselors announced that the priesthood would be given to all worthy males. I was anxious to see how President Romney felt about the unusual announcement. He was especially pleased and said, "According to the Doctrine and Covenants, every man should have the ability to speak for the Lord. For the first time in the history of the world, every man can now speak in the name of the Lord for all men can hold the priesthood." He was delighted.
I traveled with Elder Marion G. Romney to the Kansas City stake conference on 29-30 June 1957. While enjoying lunch with some of the leading brethren, Elder Romney asked one of the high counselors to tell about his life. The brother stated that he and another member of the high council were formerly members of the Reorganized Church.
Brother Romney asked, “Do the leaders of the Reorganized Church know that their church is not true, or are they men who are deceived and honestly believe that they are right? Do they believe in the leaders of that church to be honest, honorable men?”
The general opinion of most of those present was that the general membership of the Reorganized Church are just as honorable and fine as our people are; however, they believe the leaders know better, but because of their positions and the desire to retain them, they won‘t admit the truth to their people.
Brother Romney told us of a visit many years ago that President Joseph F. Smith of our Church had with President Joseph Smith, the son of the Prophet Joseph and head of the Reorganized Church at that time. These men were first cousins who were on very friendly terms. During the course of their conversation, Joseph, the son of the prophet, said to President Joseph F. Smith, “One of us is wrong, and I wish I knew which one it is.”
President Joseph F. Smith said to him, “I know which of us is wrong, and it is no mystery to me.” Actually, this is the difference between the two churches.
Someone else remarked that a Brother [Oscar W.] McConkie [Sr.] from Moab had become very friendly with Israel Smith, the current president of the Reorganized Church. On his last visit before returning home, Brother McConkie was reported to have said to Israel Smith, “Why don‘t you admit that you are wrong and let your people know the truth?” Israel Smith replied, “If I do that, I would make my father out a liar.”
Thomas S. Monson was traveling on committee assignments at the same time I was. I was on two committees, and he was on two other committees. We did not travel together, but frequently spent time together.
He then became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Our first assignment together was up to Edmonton, Canada, with Harold B. Lee. All three of us were from the old Pioneer Stake and had known each other for a good number of years. It was marvelous to hear Elder Lee give Elder Monson a lot of pointers and information. Tom and I shared a bedroom that night and did not get a lot of sleep because we were talking so much. I was amazed at how calm and under control Tom really was. He had only been in the Twelve a week, but I had a feeling that he was completely at ease and very calm.
One time, I attended a stake conference with him at BYU, and we had a lovely time. We took Gooch Parahi, my Maori friend from New Zealand, with us to the conference. Tom knew Gooch and called him to speak to the student body. Gooch told the students he remembered me as a young missionary and said, "Elder Rudd had the hardest muscles of any elder that had ever labored in that country. They were hard ... hard to find." Everyone laughed, including Elder Monson.
I went with Elder Monson to the Davis North Stake to reorganize the stake. At this reorganization, I observed how closely he followed the spirit of the Lord in choosing a patriarch.
Over the years, President Monson has grown tremendously in his ability to handle Church problems. Now (2002), of course, he is in the First Presidency and involved heavily in every problem and item that comes before the Brethren.
We no longer meet and talk very often, but do have the chance once in a while. We still carry on as friends of more than 50 years.
In April 1973, President Monson and I were at the Davis North Stake conference in Syracuse to take care of their reorganization. The stake president had asked me to not give them another patriarch as they already had two and he felt they did not need any more. I explained I had nothing to do with that. How ever, when the fourth man came in to the interview with Elder Monson and me, Elder Monson shook his hands and asked him to go home and get his wife. When we were alone, Elder Monson turned to me and said, "As that man came through that door, I heard a voice say, 'Make him a patriarch.' So when he comes back we will interview him and do that." The stake president was a little distressed, but Elder Monson was very firm to follow the instructions.
In May 1971, I had the great privilege of being with Elder Stapley while we reorganized the San Luis Stake presidency during their stake conference. This was a very unusual experience. According to my notes, I interviewed 60 men on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Elder Stapley allowed me to do a lot of things I had never done before and used me extensively. He made the decision to call a member of the high council, Robert Garris, as the new stake president. After President Garris was called, he chose two bishops to be his counselors. Elder Stapley gave me the assignment to select the new bishops and to interview every man on the high council. On Sunday morning, Elder Stapley set apart the stake president, and then at his request I set apart both of the counselors and 14 other men to fill vacancies in the high council and as clerks. It was a full and vigorous day, and we worked to the very last minute when we finally had to get in the car and drive to Denver for our flight home.
One week later, I was with Elder Ezra Taft Benson, and our assignment was to reorganize the Fort Collins Colorado Stake. When Elder Benson first talked to me, he said, "Who do you want to have as the new stake president?" I said, "Well, there are several good men." He said, "No, I want to know who you think should be the stake president." He was very direct in telling me to let him know who it ought to be.
With a little urging, I finally said, "Well, there is one man who is outstanding by the name of Tyler Wooley." Elder Benson asked me to tell him all I could about Brother Wooley, which I did. When we arrived at Fort Collins early on Saturday morning, Elder Benson said the first thing he wanted to do was interview Tyler Wooley so the retiring stake president introduced them, and within five minutes Elder Benson had called Brother Wooley to be the stake president.
He then said to me, "Tell all the other brethren to go home." I had a difficult time right then because we had invited about 35 men from all over the northern part of Colorado to come and meet with Elder Benson and be interviewed. Elder Benson said to me, "I know who the president ought to be, and I do not need to spend any more time." I said, "Brother Benson, these men want to meet you. 'They want to talk to you." I had a very difficult time getting him to agree. He finally said, "Well, let me just shake hands with them. Introduce them to me, and we won't spend much time."
The first brother who came in for an interview was an old farmer. He and Elder Benson got to talking, and it was 20 minutes before I could break that interview up and get back to all the other brethren who had been waiting since early in the morning.
President Tyler Wooley chose two new counselors, and I interviewed them along with Elder Benson. We had everything taken care of within a short while.