LeRay Sant Howell -- Life History, written 4-10-77
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
LeRay Sant Howell — Life History
Salt Lake City, Utah
I was born on Wednesday, September 14, 1910, the son of Elmer Vernon Howell and Edith May Sant, at Clifton, Franklin County, Idaho. I was the third child and also the third son in a family of three boys. My oldest brother Arthur died in his first year of life. My brother Ferne was born on January 19, 1909. I was born at home in the three room house one mile south of the Clifton Store. My mother had health problems and was told by the doctor that after Ferne’s birth she couldn't have any more children. So I was a bonus.
My grandfather Thomas Anderson Howell blessed me and gave me my name on Sunday, December 11, 1910. My father was the ward clerk and wrote out the “Certificate of Blessing” in his own handwriting. He wrote “S” for my middle name and the church records in Salt Lake City from the Clifton Ward show my middle name as “S”. Several subsequent certificates show my middle name as SANT. For this reason I have not been sure what my correct middle name is. Erastus G. Farmer was the bishop when I was blessed.
I was baptized in Hessespond south of our home about a mile, on Thursday, July 3, 1919, by Thomas Sant an Elder and was confirmed on Sunday, July 6, 1919, by Ransom C. Vanleuvan. Samuel M. Lee was bishop. Orson Kofold was the clerk. He wrote my name as Leray [capital ‘A’ above the lowercase ‘a’] Sant Howell.
I can’t find the certificate but my biographical sketch shows I was ordained a deacon on Sunday, October 1, 1922, by Bishop Samuel M. Lee. I was ordained a Teacher on Sunday, November 29, 1925, by Hyrum D. Jensen, the second counselor in the Oneida Stake Presidency. Wm. Parley Howell, my uncle, was the ward clerk.
My father ordained me a Priest on Tuesday, September 17, 1929. Maybe this was on Tuesday as I probably left for college before the next Sunday.
I had the childhood diseases of chicken pox, mumps, measles, etc. Many times I fell off of horses as a boy. It was a long way to the ground. We had a cow pony named “Cap”. He was really good on following a steer. The neighbors “Vrehwigs” got a new multiple shot 22 rifle and gave us their single shot 22 rifle. I would hunt jackrabbits in the sagebrush hills one-half mile from the house and above the canal. I got a lot of them but only after they had stopped. I shot lots of squirrels with the gun, a bean flipper and a window blind loop over the hole. Squirrel ate our crops and dug holes that took irrigation water. It was a matter of who ate the food we raised. I helped father (we called him papa) kill and dress beef and pigs. We used the derrick pole to lift the body of the beef to skin and clean. We would scald the pigs and put them in a sloping barrel of hot water so we could scrape off the hair. We would kill in the Fall and hang quarters of meat on the North (shady side of the house). If we killed in hot weather (we had no refrigerator and seldom had ice) we would sell to the neighbors all the meat that wouldn’t keep fresh for three or four days.
One spring, dad suggested I plant and tend some watermelons. I did this for two summers. Stealing watermelons was considered a sport that boys indulged in. No one was very critical of any boys stealing melons, but in two years I didn’t get even one ripe melon to eat. I surely learned the lesson, “Thou shalt not steal”. No way did I want to have someone else as disappointed as I was to do all the work to plant, weed, water and cultivate a crop just to have it stolen.
Mother was an excellent cook. After school I sometimes couldn’t find anything for a snack, but she would come up with a good dinner. She used plenty of salt and pepper and made things taste good. We had a cellar behind the house but with a stairway from the pantry which was behind the big kitchen. We kept milk on the dirt floor to keep it cool and fresh. When there was a thunderstorm it would warm the milk and it became clabber. I didn’t like sour milk and Yogart reminds me of sour milk. We had a big stallion that father kept in the barn. He was struck by lightening and killed during a thunderstorm. The barn had one board burned off at this time. One job I hated was driving a cow to the block bull through the center of town, especially on a Sunday.
I got to watch the birth of little pigs, lambs, dogs, calves and once a colt. It got so natural that I figured I wouldn’t be uneasy if I were needed, in the absence of a doctor, to help with the birth of a new baby.
Dad would buy five Succors (fish) in Preston after they had been seined out of the Bear River. Mother cooked and seasoned them so well that I always liked fish. Once dad got a Trout out of the alfalfa patch while irrigating. It had come out of the Twin Lake and right through our headgate. This was a special treat. Grandfather Howell was an excellent fisherman when he was younger. My father, his brother Parley and Bishop James W. Davis played for dances. Parley could play by ear on the organ or piano any time after hearing it once. My Uncle Bert (A.A.) Sant had musical ability. I never inherited that or the ability to do carpenter work well. My hands just weren’t handy.
Once I fell off a horse and he stepped on my ankle in two or three places. It was bruised and sore for months. One time dad was breaking a colt. We ran him into the barn. Dad yelled for me to go to the barn door and keep him in the barn. I got to the door as he was racing back out. He jumped over me, hitting my forehead with a front hoof. I fell on the ground on my back. I still remember seeing the horse above me moving his feet on all sides of me so he wouldn’t step on me. He missed me but I was stunned from his hoof hitting my head.
Our family went to all church meetings regularly. Mother was slow getting ready to go anywhere. One Sunday as we arrived for Sacrament Meeting they were singing the opening song. Father just turned the sleigh around and we went home. Ferne and I were delighted and mother was embarrassed and angry. Our parents hardly said a word but it never happened again.
Leslie Howell, son of Nen (Henry Jr.) Howell, was our scoutmaster. Just before I was 17 we (Ferne and I) became Eagle Scouts - some of the first in Idaho. There was a Court of Honor in the Preston Opera House. We were up on the Stage. They made a big fuss over us. I remember the 50 mile bike ride in one day from Clifton to around Downey and back. The road was wet and water flipped onto my pantlegs. It was a tiring, weary and dreary day. When I did my lifesaving I “rescued” Mr. Kearn, one of the stake scout leaders. I was sure glad he could hold his breath because I had him underwater part of the time.
We would go up the canyon west of Clifton for pine poles for fences, maple logs for fence posts in our meadow and maple trees for firewood. I often cut my foot - usually the left one. I cut it so many times that my left foot would get cold in the winter, before the right foot got cold. Several times dad would take me to the doctor in Preston to have stitches taken. He also took me to Preston for the eye examination, to the dentist, and once I stayed for two weeks with William Henderson in Preston while I went to the Chiropractor. I don’t recall what the problem was but I remember not being well all the time and getting so tired working on the farm that I was often too tired to enjoy the Saturday night dance. We used to get a dance with a dozen girls saving only the first, last and one or two other dances for our date. It was the best way to get your arm around another guys girl and flirt a little. Often I had so much fun that some fellows were jealous and didn’t want me to dance with their girl. One night a guy challenged me to go out and fight. I had him about to give up when he hit me in the stomach and I lost the fight.
One Spring day our schoolteacher took the class on a May Day picnic up the mountain. Coe Howell, Orrin’s second son, said to me and William Noel Howell - Uncle Parley’s son -, “Let’s go off by ourselves.” We did and all the time kept saying, “I wonder what the class is doing now?” We missed the fun of being with the group and the teacher. I never did that again.
When I was 20 I became scoutmaster. I should have been 21 but there were no others as well qualified, as I was an Eagle Scout. I took the scouts to the hot springs at Downey to pass their swimming test, on overnight hikes to pass cooking, camping and 14 mile hikes. I emphasized advancement and I had excellent success. If a boy couldn’t eat his own cooking he couldn’t pass the test until another meal.
I taught a 16 year old Sunday School class when I was 20. I got outside material to supplement the lesson. The students liked the class and Leslie Howell, from the Sunday School presidency, was very complimentary about my teaching. He was a master teacher and made a living at it.
While in High School and later in the M.I.A., I played in several stage shows. I had the leading part and got the girl. Once I played opposite the lady school teacher and once Phyllis Henderson Howell (Merrill’s wife) was my leading lady. We were real flirts and had a good time. We got lots of compliments on our acting so well on the stage.
In 1928 I graduated from high school and gave the Valedictory speech. The six other class members were Sadie Sant, Allen Ostergaar, Carl Viehwig, Verda Larsen, Coe Howell and maybe Winona Sant, Sadie’s sister. I went to college in Logan that September, Ferne and I batched in a two room apartment at 549 East, 4th North. We rented from Nicki Power of New Zealand. He lived with his wife, a son and two daughters. He taught us how to play chess. We practiced so much we could beat him and he wouldn’t play anymore. Nicki knew George Henderson when he was on his mission in New Zealand. I worked on the farm the summer of 1929 and went back to school and boarded at Perry Howell’s home in Logan. Coe and Noel were my roommates. Later I moved to my fraternity house. My clothes, tuition, books, board and room cost $550 that year. Father let Ferne go back the next two years and I stayed out to help dad and keep the costs down to one in college at a time. When dad took me and Ferne to Logan in the Fall of 1928, he got back home after dark and had to change to work clothes and get milk cans and drive two and one-half miles to the dairy farm. He gathered up the cows after dark, put them in stations and milked all nine of them alone. Besides the work he was alone without his boys. He never did that again. As I look back I think I was a lot like [living – need permission to publish] (after I got past 17 years of age). I volunteered to stay and help dad while Ferne went back to college for his third year in 1930. Dad and I got along well. I idolized him, listened to his stories and kept him talking. I showed real interest and learned a lot from him. He was a good psychologist in a practical way. He could tell me what people would do in different situations. I learned to understand relationships between things and people. I learned to analyze people and situations. When problems arose later in life I wasn’t as upset as other people because I had anticipated what would happen. It was interesting to me to read father’s missionary journal and find that after he got two years of college he couldn’t go the third year (I guess because of finances), but by November 1902 he left on his mission.
While I was out of college I dated Roxie Anderson and her sister also Carrie Nanlewood’s daughter who married Mr. Talbot. She asked me and Harold B. Lee to administer to her but she died a few days later. She was a very pretty girl. I enjoyed her company but wasn’t in love with her.
The real thrill was to meet Mary Perry at the Persianna Dance Hall in Preston. She was very pretty and danced like a dream. I liked her right away. We dated the summer of 1931. She was a senior in high school and played the saxophone beautifully. In the Fall of 1932 she went to college and got one year. We dated regularly but had our ups and downs. Mary still won’t believe I spent as many hours studying as I did. My regular schedule was to be to class at 8: A.M. and out by noon. Then I got a cup of buttermilk and sometimes an ice cream cone for lunch, then study till dinner and then more study until midnight when I promptly went to bed.
I graduated in June 1934 from the USAC at Logan, Utah, with a B.S. Degree in Economics with a minor in Business Administration. I also had a high school teaching certificate for Utah. Father and mother, Ferne and Eda, David Thomas and Eunice, Mary and her parents were there to see me graduate. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Wallace gave the talk to the graduates seated on the east side of the stadium. There were no jobs. The depression was about at its bottom so I went to summer school in Rexburg and worked part time at the grocery store for about $35.00 per month. It seemed almost as hard work as the farm so I guess I just wasn’t born with a strong physique. Father told me that he had been quite sick for a while before I was conceived, and knowing that mother’s health was poor I shouldn’t expect to have any more energy than I had. Father and Ferne called me “lazy” because I didn’t want to do what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it. Part of this was my lack of energy and part of it was my disposition to want to do things my way when I wanted to do them. Perry Lee inherited a good part of my disposition in that respect and he mentioned the trouble it gave him on his mission. When I got a desk job I found I could stay at it for up to 20 hours at a stretch when it became necessary.
Stewart Mason owned the grocery store. Paul Sant was teaching in the high school in Rexburg and we boarded and roomed together at the Mason home. Mason went broke and on the last day handed me $75 out of the till to go up the street and pay a bill he owed. This gave me an idea of what might happen to cash when a company goes broke. Broulim bought the store and I worked for him. He moved me to Rigby about January 1935. About April I left with Elmer Brossard (who had been my roommate at his brother’s home in Rigby) for the state of Washington as salesman for the Union Knitting Mills in Logan. He borrowed money from me on our bus trip to Washington and wasn’t sober all the way. After he had borrowed well over $100 I got him to write a letter to the person who was paying him $30 a month on his home and have them send the money to me. He got fired before I got paid back. He still owes me $100. I wouldn’t lend him any more money but would pay his meals when he was with me, pay his share of the hotel bill and bus fare to the next town. I would move to sober him up. When he had money he would buy liquor for his casual acquaintances. When he ran out of money they would keep him in drinks. He would sell to prostitutes and take part of the down payment in trade. In all the time together I never took a drink or sold to a prostitute. One day I made friends with the gatekeeper to the Bremerton Navy Yard. When I left him I walked right in. He was so surprised that he called after me, “Don’t tell anyone which gate you came in). I got in to see the head nurse at the hospital and she helped me sell hundreds of dollars worth of knit dresses to her
nurses. I netted $150.00 for the afternoon’s work. The head nurse said she would take me home. I said she didn’t need to. She said you couldn’t get out of the gate. So I let her take me to my hotel.
I came home in June and had a little difficulty with Mary. She had planned on going back to school that fall and had written me off her list. Besides, she had pneumonia and took several weeks to get over it. Eda talked to me about the costs of being married and said we could make it financially. I agreed and started talking marriage to Mary. After about a week she agreed and we were married in the Logan Temple on July 23, 1935. We got a 1932 Chevrolet Coupe (father loaned me the money for the down payment). I got the loan from Fred Pingree who later was my Elder’s Quorum teacher and president. I followed him in these positions as he got promoted.
The depression was so bad that most people couldn’t find enough money to buy knit dresses. Also the unions were strong and often on strike. So in the fall of 1935 we came to Clifton and stayed with my parents and helped harvest the beet crop and of course help with the chores. Then we stayed with Mary’s folks while I studied the correspondence course I had started in January, 1932. Twice during the winter I came to Salt Lake and looked for work with CPA firms but they couldn’t afford any extra help. Then about March 1936 I got a job with Mendenhall Auto parts. I worked in Salt Lake for two weeks of training before going to the Logan office to work. I kept the perpetual inventory and the other books and waited on customers at the counter. The manager Tonie Haynie didn’t want a college graduate but there were plenty of us around and Mendenhall insisted on hiring college graduates. Tonie ignored me, didn’t help me, criticized any mistakes I made and gradually persuaded the owner that I wasn’t mechanically minded. Neither was the other guy they kept but he wasn’t smart enough to be a threat to Tonie. I got fired in September 1936 and went back to Salt Lake to look for work.
Perry Lee had been born in the Preston hospital on May 14, 1936. Mary took him and stayed with her parents in Preston. I couldn’t find a job so I registered at the LDS Business College as a student. They said they could offer me full help if I was a student. President Fox gave me an I.Q. test. He was so impressed with my high score that he hired me to teach two of the four classes at night school on Monday and Thursday nights from about 6:45 to 9:30 P.M. Then so many students were registering at the school that Heber C. Kimball got President Fox to have me help him with some of his classes. They kept giving me more classes until I was teaching full time at the night school (typing) and teaching six of the seven classes that made a full schedule for daytime. At that time the employment secretary sent me out to Sun Photo to interview to be their accountant. They offered me the job and I counseled with Pres. Fox on whether to accept it. Actually, I didn’t want the job. The company was in the red and had a lot of bad debts for me to collect. Mr. Kimball chided Mrs. Leaver, the employment secretary for sending his assistant out on another job when he needed me so much. Pres. Fox offered me a nine month contract at $125 a month. I accepted. Immediately two lady teachers who had been there part time for a longer period (Alien Russon - now the Russon at the U. of U. Business School and since retired) and Edna Clawson, were unhappy that I got full time work instead of them. They barely tolerated me for a long time.
I rented an apartment at 435 East 1st South in what is now the Rigby (formerly Wells) apartments. We were in the basement and Warren and LaVeta lived down the hall. The Perry’s brought Mary and Perry Lee down and we were a family again. I had missed my wife and missed watching Perry Lee grow up so much that I thought this was a terrible world. We could live better on $65 a month than I had ever lived in Clifton that we bought a 1937 Ford 2-door car. It was new except it was driven out from the factory. It cost $700 and we were mobile. We would drive home nearly every week end. We looked at all the new house building projects in the valley and Perry Lee stood up between us. We became as attached to him as any couple with their first child. We moved to 230 East 3rd South to the apartments just east of the Firestone garage and later to 764 4th Avenue. Here in 1938 we were in the 21st Ward with George Reynolds as bishop. He had me teach the Teacher’s quorum. That meant giving up week end fishing with Uncle Jesse Sant and the ZCMI bakery crew. We fished on the Provo River and rented a shack over Saturday night.
In September 1937, Pres. Fox came to me as we were starting the fall term. He said I could go to Employment Security for a few months to get their Merit System started at a $50 a month increase in pay. I took it. Ray Adams, the Employment Security Administrator, had gotten President Fox to promise to send him a teacher when he needed him. At noon they called and wanted him to start that afternoon. Pres. Fox said the lady he planned on sending was in California on two weeks vacation. Ray Adams said he had to have a man. All the other men made $250 a month except David Jensen who couldn’t handle the job. So they sent me at $175 a month. This was real money. Ray Adams was pleased with my experience in accounting, shorthand, typing and other business subjects and my high school teaching certificate. Things were starting to jell for us. By December 1937, the job was over and I got hired as a Field Advisor with Employment Security at $165 a month. On May 1, 1938, Pres. Fox hired me back at the Business College at $2000 a year.
We got my mother and father to come to Salt Lake City. Father later sold his farm. He was released as bishop and at 56 years of age he became a carpenter and had more spending money than ever before in his life. They lived with us while we built the duplex at 703 10th Avenue. In October 1938, we all moved into the first floor apartment and rented the second floor for $75 a month. I bought the furniture as dad had used all his available money to build the duplex.
I was the teacher in the Elder’s quorum. I had been ordained an Elder on Sunday, Feb. 28, 1932, by David G. Eames of the Oneida Stake Presidency. Then I was president of the Elder's quorum. This was in the Salt Lake East Ensign Ward.
In August 1941, we moved into our new home we built at 374 10th Avenue. B. F. Hovick was the contractor. We had five children with Colleen being the baby. Ronald had been born after 60 hours of labor for Mary. She had such a hard time that she was beside herself when she found she was pregnant again with what turned out to be the twins - Rex and Reta. She was afraid she couldn’t live through another pregnancy. Before Ronald was born the doctor told me he could save either the baby or the mother but probably not both. I told him to save the mother and Dr. Jack saved both of them. Four months after the twins were born Mary was pregnant again with Colleen. She worried some more until on our vacation Pres. Wood at the Cardston Temple gave her a blessing and told her she would be all right. She stopped worrying and got along very well. Pres. Wood told her things he couldn’t have known except by inspiration as we had never seen him before that day. He had taken us on a tour of the temple and then over to his home for a cold drink, where we met his lovely wife who couldn’t hear. I had never before met a person who impressed me so favorably in three hours.
In October 1940, I worked part-time at $100 a month for the Merit System and in January 1941 I worked full time. I still taught full time at the business college. Pres. Fox wanted to avoid any criticism for hiring a man who had another job so he put me in charge of the night school. This meant I came 15 to 30 minutes earlier to night school and stayed 30 minutes after classes were over to balance the cash and close the office besides teaching all four night classes. I was making over $5000 a year for two years and often worked until after 1:00 and 2:00 A.M. My school schedule was over at 2:30 P.M. and I went right to the Merit Office at 19 West Temple. It sure was handy. After having listened to 90 typewriters all day (I was then in charge of the typewriting department) I would go to the office, shut the door, and tell my secretary to hold all calls and no interviews. After about 15 minutes I would relax and take telephone calls and keep the door open to anyone who came to see me. One night I came home about 1:00 A.M. from work. I was so far along on a cold that I expected to not be able to get up the next morning. I knelt down and prayed. I told the Lord what a work load I had and how important it was that I stay well. After prayer I went right to sleep and in the morning I was completely well and fully rested.
In 1942, my job as Merit System Supervisor was opened for Open-Competitive Recruitment. This meant that to keep the job I would have to compete with all comers and be in the top three names on the register and then be appointed by the Merit Counsel to keep the job which, with overtime, was paying $300 a month. Twenty-six persons applied. Three had PhD degrees and years of experience. My years were less than two in the job. On the written exam I was far ahead of the scores of the next higher applicants. I got one of the highest interview scores. Actually, the Board asked me questions I had anticipated and had studied up on. It surprised them that I had this technical knowledge. LeRoy Simmon, Mr. Noel and Mrs. Porter were on the interview board. My rating on education and experience in which the examiner - Dr. George Pierson - gave credit for 15 years - most examiners give credit for only the last ten years - left me with a much lower score than the older applicants. But I ranked number three and got the job. In November 1942 I gave up teaching at the business college and of course lost some of my income. But with one income I was able to pay more than $100 extra some months on our house mortgage and got it paid off by November 1946.
I was called to be a Seventy and was ordained by Samuel O. Bennion on Friday, May 1, 1942. Then I was called as a stake missionary and served from December 6, 1942 to January 5, 1944, when I was called to the Bishopric in the West Ensign Ward of Ensign Stake. I was set apart on February 2, 1944, by Apostle Harold B. Lee. We found a vacant room in the basement of the chapel on 9th Avenue and “D” Street. There were just the two of us there. He also ordained me a High Priest.
Our bishopric was released in February 1946 because of Bishop Walter J. Eldredge’s heart trouble. Shortly thereafter the first counselor, Milton W. Cutler, became the Stake MIA Superintendent with me as first assistant and George I. Cannon as the second assistant. George is now a regional representative. But he and I got excellent training from Supt. Cutler who was an able and enthusiastic administrator as well as a great spiritual and Godlike man. We served five years until 1951. It was a real privilege. We accomplished much for the young people. In 1951 I became first assistant to Willard Rogers in the Stake Sunday School. John was the second assistant. I served in this position until we moved out of the Stake in October 1951.
We traded our new home for a bigger one at 73 “L” Street. The Castletons’ traded us straight across as their salesman told them it would be easier to sell our ten year old house than their 50 year old house. On March 22, 1977, we took the $150.00 earnest money to sell our home for $59,000, to Thomas and Dorothy Callister. Tom has been in our bishopric and is now on our Salt Lake Emigration Stake High Council.
In my work we gradually added more agencies to the Merit System until in 1963 Governor Clyde implemented a two paragraph amendment to the Finance Commission Law to bring most of the state agencies under the Merit System. I was moved to the Capitol as Assistant Personnel Director, Merit System Director and Executive Officer of the Highway Patrol Civil Service Commission. For the next two years I worked a 70 hour week and had all pay raises held up as my salary was nearly double that of my boss, Elmer P. Hunsaker, the State Personnel Director. He lost his political job to Edward T. Himstreet when Calvin L. Rampton became governor. After a few months James Shepherd resigned when he was placed under my supervision and I then actually administered the State Personnel program and supervised the staff until about July of 1974. At that time Mr. Himstreet started getting ready for my retirement which got postponed until December 1975. My salary more than doubled in the last 13 years of my nearly 36 year career. I was often called Mr. Merit. And as Dr. G. Homer Durham said it, “you are the true father and chief developer of the State Merit System, indeed of all the benefits toward a splendid career service that has blossomed in the State of Utah.”
During the last five years of my state service, the director of State Retirement set up a deferred income program which allowed me to build an untaxed cash fund to supplement my retirement. So far I have not used it but reinvested some of it. At least that is the net effect. Mine and Mary’s social security, plus my State Retirement, gives us more money now than we spend each month. This means my patriarchal blessing has been fulfilled. It says, “...the Lord will sustain you and you will never want...you may have what you need of this world’s goods...you shall prosper in the land....”
In the 1970's my biography was placed in Who’s Who in the West, edited by Marquis and also in Who’s Who in the United States.
In November 1956, after five years as a Sunday School teacher and Ward Aaronic Priesthood advisor, I was called under Pres. Wilburn West to be a member of the Stake High Council. I was set apart in Stoker’s home by Apostle Henry D. Moyle.
On Sunday, February 11, 1962, I was called to be second counselor in the Salt Lake Emigration Stake Presidency. L. Brent Goates was the new president. Gerald L. Ericksen was the first counselor. Elder LeGrande Richards presided. I think he set me apart. On Sunday, Nov. 10, 1963, I became first counselor to the new president Gerald L. Ericksen. Ralph O. Bradley was second counselor. We were set apart by Apostle Richard L. Evans.
The work in the stake presidency was a fulfillment of my patriarchal blessing in which I was counseled to keep the faith, live righteously, etc. and, “the Lord will be your friend and your companion and you will receive honors ways beyond what you may imagine. At the time of this call I was the first in the Sant, Howell, Treasure or Henderson families (that I know of) to have as high a church calling as being in a Stake Presidency. Since that time two cousins have been Stake Presidents, Noel Howell’s son and one of them was also a mission president - Merlin Sant. I greatly enjoyed this service for 11 1/2 years when the whole stake presidency was released after serving together for 10 years on Sunday, August 19, 1973. Apostle Howard Hunter released us. He did a perfect job - every courtesy and consideration was given to us. On Saturday night the Stake Leaders gave us a party. Pres. Harold B. Lee and wife Joan were there. During these 11 1/2 years we met with many general authorities. Several were in our home including Pres. Lee. I gave talks at most Stake Conferences and received favorable comments from many people. Three times President Ericksen was away from Stake Conferences and I conducted the Sunday meetings in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square. Things always went well and Pres. Ericksen expressed his congratulations and appreciation both verbally and in writing. It was an inspiring 11 1/2 years.
On January 3, 1976, Mary and I left for Pamona California where we picked up our new Lazy Days 19 1/2 foot mini-motor home. We traveled to Florida, Blue Ridge Mountains, Pennsylvania and home via Arkansas and Oklahoma, arriving the middle of May 1976. We traveled later in Utah, Banff, Jasper, Frazer River, Washington, Oregon, California and home by September 7, 1976. On January 5, 1977, we left for St. George, Las Vegas where we camped on the strip, Death Valley, Colorado River below the Parker Dam, Mesa, Yuma, San Diego, Carpenteria and home March 6, 1977.
[Retyped from a photocopy held by RayDean Howell Hill. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are retained as they appear in the photocopy.]
History of LeRay S. Howell -- Church Activities (9-16-80)
Contributor: BarbaraLeishman Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
History of LeRay S. Howell
Father and mother attended church regularly and took Ferne and me with them. Sunday School was from 10:30 a.m. to noon. Sacrament meeting was from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. There was no air conditioning and in the summer the doors and windows would all be open. Even then it was almost unbearable for me. Once dad said I didn’t have to go but I was so young I was afraid to stay home alone so I went. At 11 years of age I watched Ferne pass the sacrament. I looked forward to being a deacon. I studied how the sacrament was passed so that the first time I did it I was a little nervous but I did OK. I was president of the Deacon’s and Teacher’s quorums. At 20 I taught a Sunday School class. Leslie Howell said I brought in interesting ideas outside the manual and was an excellent teacher. Before I was 21, I was an Eagle Scout (16 years of age) and the Scoutmaster. I took the scouts to Downata, up the canyon, and down on Deep Creek. We camped overnight and passed tests for advancement.
My Biographical Sketch shows the details of my church activities.
We moved to Salt Lake City in September 1936. I worked Saturday mornings (from 3:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.) at the ZCMI wholesale bakery for my Uncle Jesse Sant. In the summers we would go up on the Provo River to fish and slept at the “Shady Rest” campground where we rented a cabin. We got up early on Sunday morning before daylight and fished again. I usually got two or three fish on each trip. They were about 13 to 20 inches long. We got home in time to go to Sacrament meeting in the evening in the 21st Ward. In 1938 Bishop Reynolds asked me to be the advisor to the Teacher’s quorum. I accepted and gave up the weekend fishing trips.
In October 1939 we moved from our rented house at 764 4th Avenue (where Apostle Whitney had lived) to dad’s new duplex at 703 10th Avenue. We were in the Ensign Ward where I again became a Teacher’s advisor. I had Kay Aldous and Richard Madsen, son of Alex and brother of Truman. Richard was the first one I helped who went on a mission.
In February 1944 I was called to be second counselor to Bishop Walter J. Eldredge. Milton Cutler was first counselor. I followed Mr. Billeter in this position. I got a minister’s exemption from the Army draft which relieved Mary very much. I wouldn’t have been drafted anyway as they wanted men younger than me. This was an enjoyable assignment. President Grant had been very friendly to me. I had usually born my testimony in sacrament meetings. He would be the last one to bear his testimony and usually made special mention of something I had said. Elder Harold B. Lee was sent to our ward on a Tuesday evening to ordain me a High Priest and set me apart as the second counselor. I don’t recall who else was there but we did it in a classroom downstairs in the chapel on 9th Ave. and “D” Street. I have always been proud of my line of Priesthood Authority through Pres. Lee. His father had ordained me a deacon. I served for two years. Edwin Q. Cannon was the stake president. Bishop Eldredge had some shortness of breath and heart trouble. His oldest son had asked if they were going to leave him there until he died. Edwin Judd (Ted’s dad) had been a counselor to Pres. Cannon and had been released through a misunderstanding with Pres. J. Reuben Clark over some handling of church funds or property through the Utah State Savings and Trust Bank where Judd was an officer. Milton Cutler could have made an excellent bishop but it appears he never got considered, as Pres. Cannon wanted to make up to Judd for his disappointment. At least that’s the way it looked to me. The change in the bishopric wasn’t mentioned to either of us counselors. We first heard it Saturday night in the ward conference. Milton must have shown some surprise because about 9:30 that night Waldo Anderson, who was second counselor in the stake presidency, came to visit me and Mary. He said he had just come from Cutlers. He said that the stake presidency had expected Bishop Eldredge to tell his counselors of his and our releases and the bishop had expected the stake president to tell us. It took us a few weeks to settle down and forget the hurt this had brought. About a month later, Milton Cutler became the Superintendant of the Stake MIA and called me to be first assistant and George Ivins Cannon to be second assistant. We had a very successful and happy five years together. Milt was a great leader. He had been on the Stake MIA Board about 20 years. We would have an opening fall social at Pres. Grant’s cabin up Emigration Canyon and made this a lot of fun. Many of the future ward and stake leaders worked with us. I was in charge of scouting and got some top leaders who made us one of the top stakes in the church in scouting.
Josephine Nichols was the second Y.W. President. She was very dominant and hard to out talk. One time she wanted to plan one extra meeting in our schedule. Milt got me aside and said, “Let it go,” it will be easier to cancel it than to keep it out of the schedule. I agreed and it went in but got cancelled at Josephine’s suggestion when it became obvious that it wouldn’t fit in. George Cannon was a delight to work with and his wife Isabel (Hales) was special. Ruth Cutler worked in well and Mary also enjoyed this leadership group. Right after our release I was called to be first assistant to Willard Rogers, the new Sunday School Superintendent of the Ensign Stake. This was a short assignment as the Castleton’s offered to trade us houses and we moved to Emigration Stake. G. Homer Durham was on the High Council and asked me if I was going to put my roots deep in Emigration Stake. I didn’t think it could compare with the Ensign Stake where I had so much enjoyed ward and stake work. I taught the adult Sunday School class (a choice assignment) for five years and also served on the ward Aaronic Priesthood Committee. Bishop Ipsen was so confident in me that I noticed he would take my advice over that of his first counselor H. Lynn Vowles. Afterward, Lynn would get it reversed so I avoided giving advice that Lynn didn’t approve.
In the fall of 1956 Wilburn West, bishop of Federal Heights Ward became the new stake president. He brought his second counselor L. Brent Goates in as his first counselor and Walter Horne as second counselor. His first counselor in the bishopric, Dr. Paul D. Keller, became a high counselor. At the next stake conference (quarterly then) I and Kenny Stoker and Hale Seeley were added to the high council in that order. This was starting to fulfill my patriarchal blessing given shortly after I was put in the West Ensign Bishopric. “Never fail to heed the direction of those who preside over you. If you will do this you shall prosper in the land, the Lord will be your friend and your companion and you will receive honors way beyond what you may imagine.” This makes me think back (I was single and at home) to the age of about 23. I had no income other than what spending money father gave me. I was aware of how poor we were and how little of this worlds goods we had at our disposal. In a silent prayer I told my Heavenly Father that if he would help me to make a respectable living I would surely return a tithing to him. He did bless me and I always paid a full tithing. Now we have been sustained by the Lord and we have never wanted. The insurance man who got us to get a lawyer to set up an up-to-date Will and Trust found we didn’t have a big enough estate to have to pay taxes at our death but said it was a modest estate. But to me the very special blessing was helping us raise a large family of nine children, sending them to college and on missions and seeing they had lovely wedding parties after their marriages in the temple. Even if inflation should wipe out our “modest estate,” all the really important things have been accomplished.
Before receiving my patriarchal blessing, I studied up on life insurance, following a college class I had had, and purchased a $10,000.00 policy from Metropolitan Life. No salesman sold me. I bought it myself. I dropped it after my blessing said, “I bless you – that you may live to a good old age.”
The honors I received which were way beyond what I may imagine, came when Pres. West was to be released from the stake presidency to become a Mission President. As a high counselor, I was interviewed with about 35 others by our visiting general authorities, Elder LeGrand Richards and Elder [blank]. I had heard how little time was given to these interviews and so decided I would have to anticipate what the questions would be and have ready answers if my recommendations were to be heard. I guessed right on the questions and recommended the first counselor L. Brent Goates to be the new stake president. Later Pres. Goates told me that Elder Richards said I knew who I wanted for stake president and why. He said the others weren’t sure of anything. I remember Dr. Paul Keller said he was in and out before he got to make much of a contribution. Elder Wayman said he didn’t have enough time to make up his mind. Several others made similar comments. Mary and I had a feeling I would be called into the stake presidency. At 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning the phone rang. Though Mary usually jumped out of bed to answer the telephone, she didn’t move as she thought it would be for me. It was Pres. Goates saying the load had fallen on him and he wanted me to be his second counselor and would I meet him at Elder LeGrand Richard’s office at 47 East South Temple in about 15 or 20 minutes. I took a shower and was the first one there and got to talk with Elder Richards for a few minutes before Pres. Goates and then Pres. Gerald Ericksen arrived. I had expected to see Pres. Horne. Elder Richards and Pres. Goates brought up some names for new high council members from the 21st Ward. I disagreed on at least one and Elder Richards said seeing we weren’t unanimous we should postpone the one on whom we disagreed. (Six months later Pres. Goates brought up the same name after getting my reluctant approval, and half of the high council objected to the person. Pres. Goates then dropped it and never mentioned this name again.) I spoke favorably of Rulon Ipsen as Stake Patriarch saying he was a humble man whom the Lord could speak through. No other comments were made and Rulon was sustained a Stake Patriarch. Later Pres. Goates said he had read some of Patriarch Ipsen’s blessings which he said were beautiful and very spiritual blessings. It is the Stake President’s responsibility to read patriarchal blessings given by patriarchs in his stake. We were invited to Pres. West’s home for lunch between morning and afternoon sessions of stake conference. Pres. West said I was his choice for a new member of the stake presidency – that he had thought of me as his third counselor. We went together to institute and seminary teacher’s conferences. I had a chance to give him consolation and advice when he was having trouble in getting the Federal Heights ward building started and in some excommunications. We were close. He is a great man. I felt I was in fast company with Brent and Jerry in the Stake Presidency. I would go to Sunday morning meetings from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. or later and then spend four hours Sunday afternoon going over my notes. After six months I got more confidence and felt I was able to carry my part of the load. I had been called the “work-horse” of the high council – some weeks (at the weekly meeting) reporting as many as three reorganizations of Elder’s quorums. When I had an assignment I immediately went to work on it and usually got my man or sister to accept the appointment. One thing I slipped up on. Our high councilman on MIA didn’t follow through immediately and we lost our Young Women’s presidency before I found out how he “didn’t” work. But we got Ethna Reed as the new President and things went along great under her leadership.
Pres. Goates used to take Pres. Lee to the airport for his conferences and often told us confidences and stories Pres. Lee had related. Also we went to Pres. Lee’s office for him to set apart new bishoprics. This was a great spiritual contact that I treasured. Pres. Ericksen continued this as long as Pres. Lee was in the quorum of the twelve. When he came into the first presidency we lost this contact.
After about 18 months Pres. Goates got called to the present equivalent of Regional Representatives and Pres. Ericksen became the new president. Elder Richard L. Evans was our visitor. He set up interviews ten days ahead of conference and didn’t call Jerry until the Friday night before stake conference. We were at the Lion House for the dinner of the Stake Presidency and the High Council and clerks and our wives. I was in charge of the program and got a little sentimental as I told them how much I had enjoyed working with them. I thought we were all to be released the same as when I was released from the bishopric – no notice or anything. Then Saturday morning Jerry called from his office and asked me to be his first counselor. At first he didn’t tell me he was the new stake president and I joked with him until he became serious. He asked me to come downtown to his office and discussed several names for the second counselor. I guess he and Pres. Goates recognized more than I thought at the time that I had some personnel experience that could be valuable. He made me feel that I was helping to pick the second counselor the same as Milton Cutler did when we picked George I. Cannon to work with us in the Ensign Stake MIA Superintendency. During the 11-1/2 years I served in the stake presidency I felt as if a bright cloud of spiritual guidance was hovering over me and helping me with the work I was doing. It was like having a guardian angel watching over you. I was very seldom late for a meeting. I was enthusiastically diligent in the work. One week day I was to attend the 21st Ward Primary Conference at 4:00 p.m. It was February, clear and cold. The water pipe in the front lawn had frozen and was leaking water. I was off work and dug up the pipe, found what I needed and went downtown to Ketchum’s and got it. While there I noticed a new part I had never seen before. Back home while working on the pipes something broke and I needed the new part. There wasn’t time to go downtown again and get to the meeting. I was on my knees looking into the hole. I was very serious and knew I needed help to figure out some way to put the pipes together without the new part. I uttered a short prayer. While praying I heard a motor vehicle go by and stop. When I opened my eyes I saw a V.W. bus with the name of a plumbing company printed on its side. The driver stopped and came over. He looked in the hole and said I needed – and he named the new part I didn’t have. He went to his bus and got it and charged me the same price I would have paid at Ketchum’s. He left. I put it in and got to my meeting on time. In a similar situation I was looking in a pile of dirt for a small part I needed to finish a job. Though I looked and looked I couldn’t find it. Then I prayed and when I opened my eyes, there it was right in front of me.
I enjoyed stake work. We got to have almost all of the general authorities visit our stake conferences. Three times Pres. Ericksen had to be out of town and I conducted the conferences – twice at the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and once in Federal Heights ward where Dilworth Young was the visiting authority. I had a type agenda with multiple copies. He wanted songs about the Savior instead of “marching songs” our stake chorister had picked. I said we would change them to any songs he suggested. He ended up leaving them as they were. I invited him to lunch between meetings on Sunday and he said he wanted Rex Williams also to come. They were both widowers at that time. Mary was with Ron and Phyllis for their new baby so Mary Lou and Judy got dinner ready and had Rex’s wife Jean come down and turn on the gas oven at the right time. It was an excellent dinner, just what he ordered as he has a sensitive stomach. After we got started eating I explained where Mary was and then he wondered if the girls missed conference to get his dinner. I assured him they were there and he was pleased. He had Rex Williams and David Lawrence McKay speak in the conference. We got along just fine. I did what I thought Pres. Ericksen would have done and things went well. I talked about King David and his son Absolom for my conference talk. When our stake presidency was approaching ten years under Pres. Ericksen, Pres. Ezra Taft Benson was our conference visitor. He was very humble, yet very, very able. He avoided criticizing anyone and yet talked to us privately about many people including Pres. Nixon. Pres. Lee was the last speaker in the conference and told of Pres. Benson’s call to go to Europe after World War II. The doctor had told the first presidency that if the two older brethren they planned to send went they would come home in wooden boxes. No one wanted to go. Elder Lee said he had had some experience in welfare and expected the call. But Elder Benson had a babe in arms and was the only one who would have to make a sacrifice to go – so he “Benson” was called. The next morning I got a call from Pres. Benson. He said Pres. Ericksen was out of town already and could I get a tape of Pres. Lee’s talk. By noon I had it but it was not loud enough. Then Pres. Benson found that a tape was made right at the Assembly Hall.
At the next conference we were all released. Elder Howard W. Hunter was our visitor. He did a perfect job of releasing us with dignity, a proper amount of praise, and installing the new presidency enthusiastically.
History of LeRay S. Howell
The depression of the 1930s made it impossible for me to go on a mission but I got one year on a stake mission before I was called into the bishopric. It was then a delight to be called with my beloved wife Mary to the Los Angeles, California, mission and be assigned to work in the Temple Visitor’s Center. Pres. Kimball said these retired people who just retired into a camper should go on missions. So we told the bishop we were available in December 1976. We got our call in March 1977 to go into the Mission Home on October 8, 1977. We were released and came home on April 3, 1979, with honorable releases.
[Retyped from a photocopy held by RayDean Howell Hill. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation are retained as they appear in the photocopy.]