I first knew him as Brother, then Bishop, then President.

Mostly, though, I knew him as Bishop. He interviewed me to receive the Aaronic Priesthood, become a Teacher, and become a Priest. He counseled with me while I navigated the tumultuous waters of puberty and adolescence. I remember him from a June afternoon playing baseball at Sunnyside park. He was pitching: “Ed, you his this ball over the fence just one more time and you might be looking at going back to being a Deacon.”

He is a bit lanky, like a scarecrow, with auburn hair, always finely combed. While orthodox in his approach to Mormonism, he wears clothes that skirt the edges of the Utah norm: a baby blue seersucker suit, for instance, with a red and white striped bow tie. He walks with a bit of a lilt, his tall shoulders stooping in a fashion reminding me of my image of Abe Lincoln. Like Abe, too, his face is creased and sallow from years of bearing the concerns of the masses.

When I was 14, he ran for the Utah senate. I attended the state convention where he vied for his party’s nomination. I heard him rouse the crowd with his speech–there amidst the elephants, popcorn, and lawn-signs–and then sighed because I knew, as I then reasoned, that he didn’t have enough money to win; darned millionares own the senate, he just didn’t have a chance.

But the Lord moves in mysterious ways and, after losing, he became my Bishop and then my Stake President before finally accepting a job in Washington D.C. as head of the President’s task force to enforce laws against pornography.

About a week ago, though, his father died and he returned to my–and his–home ward for Sunday services.

My dad and I were running late, we pulled in just in time for the beginning of the meetings but, before I could get out of my car, I noticed my old Bishop lumbering lightly up the sidewalk, then the stairs, then into the door of the church. His walk was slow because every few feet brought an embrace, a delighted face, or, so far as I could see, a vocal expression of joy at his return. He had to stoop a bit to return the hugs and, though he was out of earshot, in my mind I could hear him returning the greetings in his soft, beleaguered-sounding voice. A smile spread across his weary face, visible even from the parking lot.

I watched the reunions and thought:

How beuatiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth.

Published in: on August 22, 2006 at 7:30 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You bought a pleasent memories of the Bishop of my childhood was not “lanky, like a scarecrow, with auburn hair” though his hair was “always finely combed” beneath his black fedora. Unfashionable even in the early ’70s.
    But a wonderful man who even now touches my heart with those soft memories this post has envoked.

    many thanks

  2. What a lovely tribute!

    With great fondness I recall two early bishops–the first two I remember–in Orem, Utah.

    Bishop Ringger, who was the bishop from when I was four until after I was baptized (and later the President of the Swiss temple), with his thick accent and his twinkling eyes, was always so kind and friendly. Next was Bishop Howell, who walked with a cane due to childhood polio, who was always warm and interested in what you were doing. His wife was (is) still one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.

    What a difference these people can make in our lives.


  3. Bob and Alison–

    True, isn’t it wonderful how men who serve quietly touch our lives in such wonderful ways? I hope they know how much they mean to us (better said, I hope we tell them).

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