Memories of Ray Gammon by Ray Eugene Gammon
Contributor: CRPike Created: 1 year ago Updated: 1 year ago
Memories of Ray Gammon
By Ray Eugene Gammon, his eldest child
Ray Gammon was born in Vineyard, Utah, on March 24, 1906, in a home located next to Utah Lake west of the Geneva Steel cooling pond. His father, Harry Gammon, left his home in London, England and arrived in Utah in the early 1890's. His mother, Olena Larsen, was born in Denmark and came to Utah in the early 1870's. In March, 1933, he and Pauline Sumsion were married in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was born and raised in nearby Lakeview, Utah. They are the parents of seven children: Ray Eugene Gammon, Harry Keola Gammon, Marie G. Ashton, “J” Rulon Gammon, Myrna G. Gilbert, Annetta G. Hiatt, and Ralene G. Brough. Gene, Rulon, and Myrna were born in Vineyard. Harry and Marie were born in Lakeview, and Annetta and Ralene were born in American Fork.
Church service was a most important part of his life. He served a mission in the Hawaiian Islands from 1930 to 1932, and talked fondly of his experiences. As far back as I can remember he was involved in Church service. He was called to serve on the high council of the Sharon Stake not too long after I was born. He was released from the high council in 1945 to serve as a counselor to Bishop Walter R. Holdaway of the Vineyard Ward. Next, he served as a counselor to Bishop J. Taylor Allen. In 1952, he was called as bishop of the Vineyard Ward and served in that capacity for more than six years. During his service as bishop, several members were brought back into full activity in the Church. He served on high councils of the Orem West and West Sharon Stakes. His genuine love and concern for others made him a special person in the lives of many people. He bore a fervent testimony and his voice sometimes was filled with emotion as he talked about the Savior. His great desire was that his children would marry in the temple, and be faithful members of the Church, and that all who wished to do so could fulfill missions.
As I was growing up, Dad mentioned many times how he looked forward to doing temple work in the Salt Lake Temple after he retired. The Provo Temple was dedicated in February 1972, which gave him an opportunity to fulfill his desire to serve in the temple. He began working in the Provo Temple from its outset and continued working there until he was released in 1986. During his service there, he worked at the Recommend Desk, and was in charge of the lockers and keys. In addition to working at the temple three days per week, he did vicarious work for the dead. Working at the temple brought great satisfaction and joy to him.
Farming has always been an integral part of his life. At the death of his uncle, Jack Larsen, he purchased the Larsen farm and home located at the west end of what is now called Gammon Road, and established a thriving dairy farm, and received the Utah Dairy Farmer of the Year award in 1958.
One of his outstanding traits was the importance he placed upon his word of honor, as illustrated in the following incident. I remember that a man came to the farm one day to purchase a bull calf. We had no use for bull calves in our dairy operation. Dad told this man he could have the calf for $5.00. The man said he would pay for the calf when he returned later to pick it up. Meanwhile another man came who said that he desperately needed a calf. Dad and I happened to be at the calf pen. He said he would give Dad $10.00 for the bull calf. Dad told him that we did not have any calves for sale at the time. After the man left, I mentioned to Dad that he could have made an extra $5.00 if he had let that man have the calf. Dad told me that “a man’s word is his bond” and that once you have said you will do something, that you must keep it no matter what.
His honesty and integrity were impeccable. Whenever he needed to cover feed costs or other farm needs, all he had to do was telephone Junius West at the Bank of Pleasant Grove, and the money was placed in his checking account. Any documents needing to be signed could be done when he happened to be in Pleasant Grove. He could be trusted.
He was equally at home driving a team of horses or operating a large tractor or other piece of equipment. He particularly prided himself in planting corn, onions, sugar beets or other row crops in the straightest rows possible. Those rows of corn, onions or sugar beets were as straight as an arrow! It made the cultivating of those crops much easier, and the irrigation water ran down the furrows without any difficulty. He knew the value of crop rotation, and would point out examples of poor crop rotation while we were traveling in Utah Valley. He was one of the first farmers in the valley to line his irrigation ditches with concrete thereby conserving water.
Rendering help to others even when his own farm demanded his attention was another of Dad’s traits. He would take his equipment and assist his neighbors. He loved to help them and he never expected them to do anything in return. He was offended if they offered him money or anything else. On many occasions he took his farm equipment and worked on the Church Welfare farm, even when his crops were in need of immediate attention, such as harvesting the hay or grain. He showed by his example that the Church was important and its needs were placed ahead of the needs of the farm.
Dad was quite a basketball player. He loved the game. He built a basketball backboard, and placed it in the hay barn so that basketball could be played even in the winter time. One of his favorite games was challenging another person to a game of 21. Three points was given for each basket made from the “long” position (20 or more feet from the basket), and one point for any basket made from the “short” position (which could be shot from any place). Two people played. Each had a basketball, and upon a start signal would shoot the “long” shot, and then a “short” shot, and return to the “long” shot area to shoot again, followed by a “short” shot. Dad would usually win because he was such a good long ball shooter. He had played on a L.D.S. missionary team, which beat the University of Hawaii.
Dad loved farming, but retired in 1968, whereupon he and mother accepted an LDS mission call to serve in Nauvoo, Illinois. During his service, first, as a guide, and later as a counselor in the mission presidency, he met people from many parts of the land as well as from foreign countries and enjoyed telling them about the Nauvoo era. Although direct proselyting was not permitted, he generated interest in the Church and obtained many referrals for the fulltime missionaries. Upon their return in 1971, they lived in Orem, Utah. Dad returned often to the farm to assist Rulon, who has operated it since 1968.
Dad loved to work with the hammer and saw to make things. He learned carpentry work while working in Salt Lake City in the late 1930's. After his return from Nauvoo, he frequently came to our home, and worked on our unfinished basement. He did the design for the basement, and most of the carpentry work. He made a workshop out of half of the garage at his home in Orem. He especially enjoyed making little hardwood chairs for his grandchildren and for others. When he wasn’t working at the temple, he could be found in his little workshop.
Christmas time was a special event for his family. On Christmas Eve, he and Mom invited all the family (children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren) to their home. Gifts were exchanged, goodies were served, and fun times were had by all. At the Christmas Eve gathering in 1987, Dad complained of back pain, and was later taken to the hospital. The doctors planned to do back surgery, but the pre-op physical showed that his lymph nodes were enlarged and a biopsy revealed that he had lymphoma, a type of cancer. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation and other treatment. Although he was in great pain, he never complained. In October, 1988, he attended the Harry Gammon family reunion. He spoke to all in attendance about his parents and his growing up in Vineyard. He never mentioned anything about his pain and suffering. He continued to be active, visiting family, and was present at the birthday party honoring Mom on the occasion of her birthday on December 10, held at Rulon’s home. At that time he was just able to sip liquids and could not tolerate regular food, which would make him nauseated. Yet he did not complain. He planned to attend the missionary farewells of two of his grandchildren on December 18, but he died early that morning at his home in Orem, Utah.