(Compiled by Dennis B. Horne)
In April 1957 while visiting a stake conference in Santa Rosa, California, with Elder Harold B. Lee, the stake president announced the opening hymn and that a Brother Bybee would offer the opening prayer. As Brother Bybee passed us, Elder Lee nudged me and said, "That man baptized me." I said, "What did you say?" and he repeated, "That man baptized me." At that moment Brother Bybee began to pray and when he was through, I turned to Brother Lee and said, "You said he baptized you" and Brother Lee said, "Yes, why?" I asked, "Well, you can remember that?" and he answered, "Certainly, it was only fifty years ago. Anyone can remember something fifty years ago."
I don't know the accomplishments or wealth accumulated by Brother Bybee, but I doubt if he ever did a single act as important and far reaching as performing that single baptism in a little pond on an Idaho farm for an eight year old boy who one day would become the Prophet of the Lord.
One night I was in the home of Elder and Sister Harold B. Lee. He had been home from work just long enough to change his shirt and tie and put on a sport shirt. In a few moments there was a knock on the door and it was Otto Hunger, one of Brother Lee's old bishops from Pioneer Stake. Brother Hunger worked for me at Welfare Square at the time and was a wonderful convert from Germany. He was quite sick and asked if Brother Lee could give him a blessing. Brother Lee agreed that he and I would give Brother Hunger the blessing. He excused himself and went into the bedroom and put on his white shirt, tie, and coat. We then administered to Otto.
After Brother Hunger left, I said to Brother Lee, "I need to leave now, but tell me why you changed your clothes." He told me that he never exercised the priesthood until he was at his absolute best. If he was somewhere where he didn't have an opportunity to put on a shirt, tie and coat, he would do whatever he could. As long as he was able, he would never feel right if he didn't dress and prepare himself in the very best manner. This was a fine lesson of honoring the priesthood. [Editorial Note: President Hinckley followed that same practice of putting on a white shirt and tie (and coat if available) before giving a priesthood blessing.]
I had the opportunity to go back east with Elder Harold B. Lee on different occasions. One time, as we were driving in New York City, he suggested that the elders who were transporting us stop the car and let me out to walk for a while and then pick me up in an hour or two. I thought it was a good idea because I knew Brother Lee was going to a meeting. I said, "Why don't you just let me off here." Brother Lee immediately said, "Oh no, not here—just keep going." He had noticed that we were in a part of the city filled with cheap vaudeville theaters. There were signs everywhere, "Topless," "Girls Dancing;" all sorts of things. Brother Lee told the driver to stop in a better part of the city, which he did.
On one afternoon, when we had nothing to do for a while, Brother Lee asked, "What would you like to do?" I was aware that there was a baseball game on so I replied, "How about going to Yankee Stadium and see the Yankees play." Brother Lee responded immediately, "That's a good idea, let's go. And let's take the mission president with us." The mission president was happy to be invited, and then asked if we would be willing to let an older missionary brother go with us.
The four of us rode on the subway out to Yankee Stadium. As we approached the gate, Brother Lee handed me twenty dollars and told me to buy the tickets. I quickly moved in front of the mission president so that he wouldn't feel he had to buy the tickets. When I did, he grabbed me by the arm and pulled me back. I tried again, with the same result. I noticed that each time the mission president pulled me back, he pushed the missionary brother ahead of him. I couldn't figure out what was happening. When we got to the ticket booth, the mission president made sure the missionary was in front to buy the tickets for all of us.
As we went into the stadium, I whispered to the president, "I was supposed to buy those tickets." He said, "I know, but this brother has lots of money and he needs the experience." I gave Brother Lee's money back to him.
We enjoyed a nice baseball game. Yogi Berra hit a home run. We were sitting right next to the dugout and could talk to the ball players and hear them talking throughout the entire game. It was a nice experience.
On another occasion, I went with Brother Lee to Washington, D.C. and had the opportunity of going to Mount Vernon in a limousine with J. Willard Marriott, the wealthy hotel magnate and former stake president. It was nice to sit in the back seat of a chauffeur-driven limousine with Brother Lee and Brother Marriott and enjoy a fascinating conversation with them.
We also went to the Pentagon and met the Secretary of Defense. Brother Lee was trying to get more chaplains for our servicemen. One thing about being with Brother Lee, there was always something interesting going on.
One Friday evening, a week or so after I had been called to be a mission president, I was at the home of Elder Harold B. Lee. We were in the basement unloading several cases of canned goods that I had purchased for him for his year’s supply. As we were putting the cans on the shelf he said to me, "Glen, I hope you are an educated man." I replied, "I hope so too." He continued, "Do you know what an educated man is?" And I answered, "I think I know what Brother Lee says an educated man is." He asked, "What is that?" I replied, Brother Lee says, 'An educated man is one who can accept change without being too distressed or upset.'" He said, "That is right." I then asked, "Now what do you mean Brother Lee?" He responded, "I don't know." I said, "Why would you ask me that question unless there is going to be some change in my life?" He said, "I can't tell you." I said, "Brother Lee, I've been called to be a mission president, I'm going to the Alaska Canadian Mission." He said, "I just hope you are an educated man." He wouldn't say any more.
When I went home I commented to Marva, "There is going to be some change made. Maybe we are not going on a mission. Maybe the Brethren have decided to keep me here for some reason." I worried all day Saturday and Sunday.
Monday morning, as I was preparing to go to work, the phone rang and it was President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency. He asked if Marva and I could come to his office that morning. We arrived as soon as possible. He said to me, "We need to make a change. Would you be upset if we changed your mission call." I replied that I had not expressed any special desire to go anywhere and I would be glad to go wherever the Brethren felt I should go. He briefly explained that because of problems, not related to us in any way, he was canceling the call to the Alaska Canadian Mission and informed us that we were being called to the Florida Mission. This was the answer to our prayers. We were mentally getting ready to go to Vancouver, British Columbia to work in that mission, but I had secretly had a great desire to go to Florida. There were only twenty-five new mission presidents that year and I had looked over the list of all the places and my first choice had been Florida and the second choice Hawaii because they were warm. I have difficulty living where it is cool. I don't know all of the details of the change, but Marva and I with six of our eight children spent the next three years in the wonderful Florida Mission.
While serving as president of the Florida Mission I received a telephone call from a spokesman for four men with a considerable amount of money to see if I would be willing to join with them in a large, new poultry-processing plant venture when I returned home. These men were in the feed business and were anxious to branch out a little bit. The proposition was that they would build a bigger feed plant, establish a hatchery, and after the chickens were raised, process and market them. They offered me the position of general manager with a salary greater than I had ever had before. I told the representative that I had one year left to complete my mission call and would not think about it until I was released.
When I returned home from the mission, I was fifty years of age. I went back to work at Welfare Square. I was approached again by these men. The salary they offered me was excellent and all of the opportunity for ownership was good, but I was reluctant to commit myself.
Because Elder Harold B. Lee had been a close friend and associate over the years, and the one who got me into welfare work, I called to see if I could talk to him and get his advice. He invited me to come up.
Brother Lee had to go over to the temple to talk to missionaries ready to go out into the field. The two of us went over together and I listened to him as he answered the missionaries' questions. After he finished, the two of us went to the fourth floor, where the General Authorities hold their Thursday meetings. We sat in one of the rooms and talked. He asked about my problem and I told him about the business opportunity. I said, "You know I am fifty years old, if I am ever going to make any money, or get back into the world of business, it has to be now. If I don't do it now, I will never have another opportunity. I asked him what he thought I should do.
Characteristically he refused to tell me what to do. He asked me questions such as: "Don't we treat you well?" "Aren't you happy?" I assured him that I had the best job in the world, but that I had a large family and we were approaching a time when it would be more and more expensive as our children grew closer to college age. Instead of telling me what to do, he kept asking questions until I realized that what he was really telling me was that he didn't want me to leave. He was not about to say it in so many words. Finally I said, Brother Lee, let's not talk any more. I think I know the answer. I think I'll stay with the Church welfare program and forget about the poultry business entirely. He immediately accepted that and we left the temple.
What I didn't know was that very morning a letter had been mailed to me calling me to be a regional representative of the Twelve. Had I gone to the new business I probably would not have had time to serve as a regional representative and quite likely in some of the other great callings that have come to me since then. I am grateful for Brother Lee steering me in the right direction, and I am glad he helped me make the right decision.
Elder Harold B. Lee took me a lot of places and was just about the most interesting man to travel with. He was always teaching. I enjoyed going to New York with him because he knew New York City better than he did Salt Lake, could get anywhere on the subways, and was always good at doing a little extra sightseeing. Even though he was always busy, Elder Lee had the ability to take time to enjoy the nice things.
Once in 1957 we were on our way to Columbia, South Carolina, but stopped in Roanoke, Virginia, to visit with our old friend Henry Smith, the mission president and former Pioneer Stake president. Elder Lee and I had one full day of nothing but relaxation seeing the beautiful country.
When we arrived in South Carolina we were shocked with the segregation still going on. This was the first time I ever saw the situation of the African American people and how they were treated by the white people. Even Elder Lee with all his experience had a hard time believing how segregated the people really were.
Elder Lee had bad migraine headaches like I did so when we were together there was always at least one bad headache and sometimes two. He could always tell when I had a bad headache, and I could easily tell with him.
On one occasion we went to Richland, Washington, by airplane on a Saturday. When we arrived, our baggage had been lost, so we were without our medicine, books, and clothes. On Sunday we had to wear the clothes we had been wearing the day before which was actually all right, but we did need to borrow a few things from President Thompson, the stake president. We both had to use his razor, and as we were leaving, I said to President Thompson, "I sure appreciate all you have done for us, and I want you to know that after I used your toothbrush this morning I washed it out good so you won't have to worry about that." I thought he and his wife would both faint. Elder Lee stopped cold for about ten seconds and then realized that I was Glen Rudd and he caught on in a hurry. When we left he said, "Even though you told him you did not use his toothbrush, I'll bet he never uses it again."
On one assignment, I went with Elder Lee to Weiser, Idaho, where he told me I would have the privilege of reorganizing the stake. I was a member of the General Welfare Committee and therefore had no authority to do what he told me to. I said I would help him, but he insisted that I was to reorganize the stake along with him. He finally convinced me that he had approval from the First Presidency to use me in that capacity so I was his partner in reorganizing the presidency. We each interviewed, and then he had me write down three names of men who I felt could be the stake president. At the end, he and I had the same three men to choose from. He then made me cross off one name I had written down so that we were down to the last two. He then had me cross off one more. I handed him my paper, and he said, "That's right. We've chosen the right man." He would not let me ask him any questions during our interviews or be influenced in anyway and insisted that I get close enough to the Lord to get the inspiration that he was to get. After we agreed, he said, "Glen, do you know when you first decided on this bishop to be the stake president?" And I said," I remember the exact minute," and I told him.
He replied, "At that very moment, I also was told who to call."
The bishop was called to be the stake president, and he chose as his counselors the two other men we had rated highest. Elder Lee was a great teacher and really went out of his way to teach me how to help reorganize a stake. That was a very unusual assignment, and I learned a fine lesson—I could and should do whatever one of the Apostles tells me to do.
During the years 1954-1966, while working at Welfare Square, Brother Lee was very much aware of the fact that I was not paid a large salary. This bothered him somewhat, but he didn't correct it.
However, when the time approached for Marva and me to have two sons in the mission field at the same time, Brother Lee insisted that he be a part of our missionary effort. He contacted me and told me that he knew my two sons as good as he knew any two boys in the Church and reminded me he had never had a son of his own. He told me that his wife and he had talked it over and had set aside enough money to keep one of my sons on his mission. After a short discussion, we agreed that we would go 50/50 on the financial expenses of the missions of the two boys. He also agreed that I could tell the boys that our great friend, Brother Lee, was helping to keep them in the mission field. However, he did not want this advertised.
Every month, I received a check faithfully, always asking if he could do more. When our oldest son returned home, there was still a few months before the younger one would come home and Brother Lee wanted to take over 100%, but I won that debate and the opportunity he had of keeping a missionary out came to an end.
Our son, Lee was named after him, and Matthew, after Matthew Cowley. Brother Lee knew all of our children and watched over Marva and me like a second father. He had performed our marriage in the temple and had remembered quite distinctly the promises given to us on that occasion. It seemed that he felt it was his responsibility to keep me moving in the right direction at all times. He was extremely pleased when I left the world of business to work at Welfare Square. He was also thrilled when I became a bishop and mission president and when I was called to be a Regional Representative. I doubt if any young person in the Church ever got the teaching and training Brother Lee constantly gave to me from when I was a boy up until his death.
President Romney said many times that Brother Lee was more than a prophet, he was a seer. I 100% agree with him. As I write this in my 85th year, after having met thousands of incredible people in and out of the Church, I think it well to say that in my entire life, I have not known a greater man than Harold B. Lee.
Elder Harold B. Lee and I were assigned to attend the Richland stake conference in July of 1957. We stayed in the home of President Thompson and had separate bedrooms.
On the way up, the airline lost our bags, and so I didn't have the medicine that I was living on. I was having terrible migraine headaches. I had one pill and l debated whether I should take it before I went to bed or save it for Sunday morning. Saturday had been a busy day. I did not take the pill; however, about 4:00 a.m. I woke with a viscous headache. I took my single pill and I tried not to wake anyone, but it didn't get any better. After about an hour of intense pain I got dressed and went out the front door. I fixed the door so I could easily get back in. Then I went across the road where there was a big beautiful park.
It was cold, even though it was summertime. I began to run to get my blood going and see if I could do anything to stop the headache. I kept falling down. I bet I fell six or eight times and I would get up and run, then fall again. I finally found a bench and sat there for a while. The pain kept coming - it was a real dandy. Finally, I decided I had better go back and get ready for church because we had an eight o'clock Sunday morning meeting. During these early hours, however, I didn't feel like I was going to live that long.
All of the houses in that whole area were owned by General Electric and they all looked the same. I knew where we had stayed, so I went back to the house only to discover that something had happened and the door was locked! I couldn't get back in. I went back to the park for a little while to run and then came back, but I still couldn't get in. I went to the front bedroom window where Brother Lee was sleeping and 1knocked yelling, "Brother Lee, Brother Lee." I pounded on that window three or four times. Brother Lee didn't answer. I assumed he must be up.
l went back across the street and took a little while until I decided to go back. When I went back, I realized I had been knocking on the window of the wrong house and l finally discovered President Thompson's house and the door was just like I had left it. I went in and got cleaned up, best as I could. I got dressed, and borrowed President Thompson's razor so I could shave.
When it was time to leave, that's when I thanked him for using his toothbrush (which of course I didn't use—I just got by without it with a little finger brushing).
What an experience J had! (I could have been arrested for drunken behavior, disturbing the peace, and attempting to break into a strange home!) I thought I was going to die, however, fifty years have gone by and I'm still alive, still kicking, still aching and paining, but having a wonderful time!
Last Tuesday at noontime I decided to quit work for the day. It was my son's sixteenth birthday. I called home during the lunch hour and said, "Charlie, I would like you to dress up, put on your best clothes, just like you do when you go to church." He was tending his little brother, David, who was seven. I said, "Clean David up and comb his hair. I think I will take you up to meet the President of the Church on your birthday." He laughed and thought that was a
pretty good joke, but I took them in to see Harold B. Lee, the President of the Church.
I had the boys sit outside on the chairs and I was invited in to meet with President Lee. I said, "Brother Lee, I will just be a minute.'' He said, “No you won't, you sit down in that chair. We can talk for a while." So for the next ten or fifteen minutes Brother Lee talked to me about some rather personal and intimate feelings and things that were going through his mind at this time. He told me of the decisions that had been made the last few days prior to Tuesday and we talked about some things that we had talked about on several trips when we had been traveling together. It was special to be with President Lee.
I told President Lee my sons were outside and would like to meet him. President Lee said to bring them in, so I opened up Brother Lee's door and the two boys came in. Charlie came in with David behind him. President Lee gave them a big hug and talked with them. Then he opened his billfold and gave them a dollar and then we left. Charlie said, "Dad, I'll never spend that dollar as long as I live!" He said he would frame it and put it away.
When we got home, my wife was doing the ironing and she ironed the two dollar bills to get the wrinkles out of them. These two young boys had resolved that those dollar bills would be in their possession as long as they lived because they had been given to them that day by the prophet of the Lord. (Glen L. Rudd, July 16, 1972)
About one week after Harold B. Lee became President of the Church, I had a feeling I should visit with him, inasmuch as we had been so close over the years. I called Frances [M. Gibbons], his secretary, and asked if he would have some time for a short visit. I could hear her ask President Lee if I could come over. He invited me to come right then. I went to his office, and after congratulating him and visiting a few minutes I said, "I was positive that you would choose President Tanner as your counselor." Everyone else felt the same way. "I was more positive that you would not serve as President of the Church without Marion G. Romney as your counselor." Most people of the Church did not know what I knew.
Prior to the announcement of the counselors everyone enjoys the speculation of who they may be. I heard many names mentioned. I knew that one would have to be President Romney. I didn't enter into any debates, but I told Brother Lee I could have made a fair amount of money. I said, "I could have picked up five dollars here or there because I was positive and the others were speculating. He looked at me and said, "I hope you didn't make too much money!" Of course, I hadn't gambled at all. I just wanted him to know how pleased I was that he could now work side-by-side with President Romney. They were great friends for many years. Especially after the two of them were made General Authorities on the same day in April of 1941. That was the day Brother Lee became an Apostle and Brother Romney became the first person called as an Assistant to the Council of the Twelve.
Now after these many years since my visit with Brother Lee, I am not so sure it was very bright for me to tell the President of the Church that I could have made a little money gambling. His good sense of humor did let me know that he appreciated my feelings and my courage in telling him about the speculation that went on.
On Sunday, Harold B. Lee, our stake president, brought to our morning meeting President Heber J. Grant. I remember well seeing President Lee with a pair of high-top boots, with his pants tucked inside. President Grant was dressed similarly. It was wonderful to see the Lord's Prophet standing in the center of a large group of Latter-day Saint boys and men and bearing his testimony. I have never forgotten what he looked like on that occasion. It was a very special occasion for all the boys of Pioneer Stake. I am sure I am not the only boy who thrilled at the words and presence of the President of the Church.
Brother Rudd was given a lot of great experiences. I am grateful he shared many of them. Thanks for sharing these memories he had on your site.ReplyDelete