D. Arthur Haycock: Aide to Four Prophets
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“D. Arthur Haycock: Aide to Four Prophets,” Ensign, Aug. 1984, 23

D. Arthur Haycock:

Aide to Four Prophets

In September 1938, a dark-haired twenty-two-year-old climbed the front steps of the five-story building at 47 East South Temple Street in Salt Lake City that is the Church headquarters. It was his first day of work in the Church’s Financial Department.

D. Arthur Haycock, his hair now gray, still reports to work each morning in the same office building. He works across the hall from where he did that first day, in a large office filled with paintings, sculptures, photographs and other mementos of his association with President Spencer W. Kimball, for whom he serves as personal secretary.

He has, in fact, been closely acquainted with half of the men who have been President of the Church. He has been personal secretary to four of them. While ill health recently has kept President Kimball from coming to the office each day, Brother Haycock has gone to him, making two or three trips per day to the President’s apartment in the adjacent Hotel Utah.

“When I started as President Kimball’s secretary, it didn’t take me long to find out that we didn’t stop for lunch,” Brother Haycock says from behind a desk with a tower of unopened letters before him. “There isn’t much time to rest.”

There never has been time to rest for Arthur Haycock. “I have been blessed with the privilege of working all my life,” he comments, recalling the junior high school and high school days when he did not attend dances or football games after school because he was busy delivering newspapers in his Salt Lake City neighborhood.

He learned to work early during a Childhood he almost didn’t survive.

The family lived in several different Utah and Idaho cities or towns while Brother Haycock was growing up; his father, David Haycock, was a barber, and his family had to go with him where there was work. Arthur had been born in Farmington, Utah. When he was three, the family moved to Bancroft, Idaho.

One day, Brother Haycock recalls, he had been “helping” his uncle overhaul a vehicle (“I was the supervisor,” he says, chuckling) and Arthur had spilled gasoline and oil on his clothing. The following day, he and some other boys were seated on the ground striking some matches one of them had supplied. Arthur struck one and accidentally dropped it onto his petroleum-saturated overalls. “I went up like a torch.” His mother and uncle heard his screams, came running, and smothered the flames, but not before Arthur was badly burned.

The burns were worst on his right leg; and though the burned tissue healed quickly, the scars locked his knee in a bent position. Each day for weeks the doctor and his mother and father stretched the bent knee a bit more, wedging a splint between his armpit and his ankle, until the leg was straight. During the six months it was being cured, Brother Haycock remembers, “my father carried me around on a pillow.”

Not long after young Arthur was back on his own two feet, he nearly died again. Running to carry out an errand, he was crossing a plank bridge over a canal. He tripped and fell headfirst into a large hole in the bridge, where his shoulders became wedged with his head under water. Fortunately, he was rescued by a watchful mother before he drowned.

In 1922, when he was five, his father was called on a two-year mission. His mother, Lily, took her three children to the small pioneer farming community of Herriman, in the southwest part of the Salt Lake Valley, where she was born. Those two years were very hard. “We existed,” he recalls, by doing any kind of work they could find—herding cows, cutting wood, picking up potatoes from the fields, cutting seed potatoes, and hauling hay. It was the beginning of his lifelong habit of hard work.

When his father returned, the family moved to Firth, Idaho, where, at age eight, David Arthur Haycock became a baptized member of the Church in the waters of an irrigation canal.

Five years later, the family moved back to Salt Lake City, where Brother Haycock joined the ROTC program and finished high school. After graduating from South High School, he enlisted in the Civilian Conservation Corps and went away to live in a CCC camp—at Fort Douglas, in the northeast part of Salt Lake City.

It was during his high school years in Salt Lake City that Brother Haycock began his association with two men who would later become leaders in the Church. A young man named Harold B. Lee was his seminary teacher. The stake president who interviewed him for his mission was Bryant S. Hinckley, father of another young man near Arthur Haycock’s own age, Gordon B. Hinckley.

It was in his seminary class that he came to know Maurine McClellan, a member of his ward. She waited for him when he went on a mission to Hawaii at age eighteen. When he returned they were married on 6 May 1938.

Elder Haycock watched as General Authorities and Church employees visited the mission on Church assignments. While he served as mission secretary in Hawaii, he was particularly impressed with the work of Joseph Anderson, secretary to the First Presidency, who came in 1935 with President Heber J. Grant and President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., to organize the first stake in Hawaii. Elder Haycock decided then that he wanted to work for the Church when he returned to Salt Lake City, but it took persistence to achieve his goal. “When I came back, I came to the Church Administration Building every Monday at noon for several months to apply for a job. They finally hired me.”

It was the same year LeGrand Richards was called as presiding bishop. Young Gordon B. Hinckley was already working in the same building.

“After applying for that job, I’ve never applied for another,” Brother Haycock says. “I’ve just gone where the Church leaders asked me to go, and I try to do what they ask me to do.”

During World War II, his work was interrupted by a two-year stint at labor on the railroad when the Church, in a contribution to the war effort, sent some of its married male employees to work there. After the war he returned to Church employment which kept him in the eye of Church leaders and allowed him the opportunity to get to know them. President Heber J. Grant, he recalls, was “a great financier, a fearless man,” who brought the Church safely through the Great Depression of the 1930s.

When George Albert Smith became President of the Church in 1945 on President Grant’s death, Brother Haycock was asked to be his personal secretary. Since 1923, Brother Anderson, the secretary to the First Presidency, had doubled as secretary to the President of the Church, a position in which he had begun serving in 1922. But the President’s increasing workload required additional help. When Brother Haycock became secretary to President Smith, Brother Anderson remained as secretary to the First Presidency, a position he held until 1972.

Although the demands of Brother Haycock’s work have meant sacrifices for the family at times, “the association with the prophets and other General Authorities was a wonderful experience for the children,” Sister Haycock says. President George Albert Smith often invited the Haycock children to his home. Once, when he acquired some Siamese kittens, Sister Haycock recalls, “he asked my husband to bring the children up one afternoon, and he presented them with a basket with a ribbon on it. Inside was one of the kittens.”

Working with the prophets, Brother Haycock learned for himself what great men they are. “Not only are they diligent, dedicated, and loyal to the Church, they are also thoughtful and concerned; they don’t get so caught up in things that they forget others,” Brother Haycock says. “They take time to talk to people.

“President George Albert Smith was so gentle and kind, so Christlike. I saw how President Smith would lift burdens from others’ shoulders and put them on his own. If ever there was a man who could spread the balm of Gilead, it was George Albert Smith.

“He was a friend to everybody. His ‘hope to see you again,’ was no casual parting remark; President Smith would follow up on it. He made lifetime friends out of them for the Church.”

Brother Haycock explains that the Church’s present good relationship with the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the result of friendships cultivated by President Smith throughout his life. The Church president also took great pains to reach out to the Lamanites.

President Smith was a man with a fine sense of humor. “The day before he died, I stepped up to his bed and said, ‘President Smith, you look tired. Would you like to lie on your other side? I’ll help you turn over.’ He looked up at me and forced a little smile and said, with a twinkle in his eye, ‘Arthur, as long as I’m telling the truth, I don’t care which side I lie on.’”

They were good friends. Brother Haycock stood by President Smith’s bed and held his hand when he died on his eighty-first birthday, 4 April 1951.

Under President David O. McKay, Brother Haycock worked for a time as assistant secretary to the First Presidency. Then, when President Ezra Taft Benson was asked to serve as United States Secretary of Agriculture in the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Brother Haycock went to Washington as his administrative assistant. After two years there, he was called to preside over his old mission in Hawaii.

In him, the missionaries saw an example of both service and dedication. Frequently he has said, “I’d rather be a servant in the Lord’s house than rule a kingdom.” Once he told his missionaries: “The secret of success is dedicated hours of faithful service in the work of the Master. Remember that this is the work of the Lord and that he who is engaged in it receives the Lord’s pay, and He is the best paymaster in the world.”

When he was released as president of the Hawaii Mission, Brother Haycock received job offers from major corporations offering him large salaries. But Nathan Winters, a missionary under Brother Haycock, and President Kimball’s bishop, says Brother Haycock told him, “I’ll go back to work for the Church. Think of the company I’ll keep.”

He returned to Salt Lake City to become executive secretary to the Missionary Committee. He worked under its chairman, Elder Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve. Other members of the committee were Elders Gordon B. Hinckley and Boyd K. Packer, who had not yet been called as members of the Twelve. It was an era of great growth and expansion in the Church under President McKay, and there was much to do. Brother Haycock had frequent opportunity to work closely with the President, a “tall, handsome, charismatic man” whose commanding presence was felt whenever he entered a room.

“And then one morning I got a call at five minutes to eight from President Lee, who said, ‘Get a notebook and come to the temple, you’re the new secretary to the Twelve.’”

Brother Haycock served in that position until President McKay died, when he was called again to be the secretary to the President of the Church.

“President Joseph Fielding Smith was like the rock of Gibraltar,” Brother Haycock says. “But people didn’t understand him. He was perceived as being very strict.” President Smith had been Church historian, was well-versed in the scriptures, and gave remarkable gospel sermons in his public talks. But he was a very shy man whose warm personality often did not come through in public. “He had a tremendous sense of humor. He was gentle and kind. You knew if you walked in his footsteps, you would not deviate from the gospel.” Brother Haycock worked very closely with him, particularly after President Smith’s wife, Jesse Evans Smith, died. He would pick the President up every morning at the home of President Smith’s daughter Amelia, drive him to work, and take him home in the evening.

President Smith didn’t care to be in the limelight or to have his picture taken; consequently, he was not comfortable with the press or the press with him. But he loved little children, and one memorable picture of him shows the ninety-five-year-old prophet hugging a little girl who darted under ropes restraining general conference crowds and held up her arms to him.

“He was the end of an era. He bridged the beginning of the Church and the present,” Brother Haycock notes. When President Smith died in 1972, the Church lost a link with its pioneer past. His father, President Joseph F. Smith, had been the son of Hyrum Smith, martyred brother of the Prophet Joseph.

Brother Haycock was asked to stay on as personal secretary to President Harold B. Lee. “I don’t think there was anybody in the Church, really, except the Prophet Joseph, who had a better understanding of Church government,” Brother Haycock comments. He points out that many of the Church programs in use today are results of President Lee’s work on projects and committees, or as President of the Twelve and of the Church.

He was a man of “deep and abiding faith” who, when people would remark that “the veil was very thin,” would sometimes say that “there was no veil.”

“He was fearless in his conduct of Church affairs,” Brother Haycock adds.

President Lee had not been feeling well and was very tired in late December of 1973, so the day after Christmas Brother Haycock took him to the hospital, at his doctor’s suggestion, for his annual physical examination. Sister Lee had just gone home for the evening and Brother Haycock was alone with him when President Lee became restless and spoke to him, wanting to get up. Concerned, Brother Haycock convinced him to lie down, then called the nurse and doctor. Within the space of a few seconds, the President’s face became white, covered with perspiration. The doctor uttered a curt “Cardiac arrest!” and began massaging his patient’s chest while the emergency team was summoned.

Brother Haycock called Sister Lee back to the hospital, along with President Marion G. Romney, Second Counselor to President Lee, and President Spencer W. Kimball of the Council of the Twelve. (President N. Eldon Tanner, First Counselor to President Lee, had to be contacted in Arizona, where he was visiting for the Christmas holidays.)

Doctors worked on President Lee “heroically” for an hour, Brother Haycock says. President Kimball arrived at the hospital and “asked President Romney, ‘What would you like me to do?’ President Romney said, ‘Well, I think all we can do is pray and wait.’ And when the doctor finally came, about nine o’ clock, and said, ‘We’ve done all we can do. President Lee is gone,’ then President Romney immediately turned to President Kimball and said, ‘President Kimball, what would you like me to do?’ That simply and that quietly, the leadership of the Church changed hands.”

President Spencer W. Kimball, who had never wanted the position, who had prayed fervently that the younger Harold B. Lee might live on, nevertheless took on the role of Church President with “absolute, utter, complete, and total dedication,” Brother Haycock recalls.

At his elbow as personal secretary, Arthur Haycock saw firsthand how President Kimball undertook to lengthen his own stride. Years earlier, when he had undergone surgery for cancer of the throat, President Kimball “made a pact with the Lord” that he would serve every hour of every day if he survived and kept his voice, Brother Haycock said.

He still has “that indomitable spirit and great desire.” President Kimball’s accomplishments as leader of the Church are well-documented. There have been great strides in temple building, in missionary work, and in witnessing to the world that Jesus is the Christ and that his gospel has been restored. Among the motivations for those strides are the prophet’s “great love for people everywhere,” Brother Haycock says.

“President Kimball has taught us to lengthen our strides, to ‘do it.’ Working with him, I have caught a glimpse of what our mission as a church is. He urges people on, but in a kindly way.”

And what of Arthur Haycock? He has, through the years, found time to serve as a ward clerk, stake clerk, high councilor, bishop, mission president, Regional Representative, and, currently, stake patriarch. Meanwhile, his career of service to Church Presidents has been concurrent with the growth of the organization.

“I’ve seen it go from 124 stakes to nearly 1,500; from 750,000 members to over 5,000,000.”

Have his work commitments weighed heavily on his family?

“He’s been away from home a great deal. But I don’t believe we’re any the worse for that because of the blessings to us from what he was doing,” comments his wife Maurine. “It has been a tremendous life for us.

“I feel our life has been enriched by the great men with whom he has worked,” she comments, adding that it has been a privilege for her and the children to know Church leaders through his position.

“We’ve learned to have a great respect for the Church leaders,” says the Haycocks’ daughter, Lynette (Mrs. Don) Dowdle of Orem, Utah. She notes that the fine qualities he has seen in the great men with whom he has worked have rubbed off on her father, and he has taught them to his family. His philosophy is “the Lord first, others second, and myself last.” Whether people have needed help, or simply needed a listening ear, Brother Haycock has tried to help.

“I had a friend in junior high school who couldn’t afford lunch,” Sister Dowdle recalls. “Years later I found out Father went in and paid for her lunch for the rest of the year.” His daughters were familiar with his kindness to them, but he did things for others quietly, without calling attention to his acts. “Often, I don’t think that Mother even knew.”

The Haycocks have four daughters, all married in the temple—Marilyn (Mrs. Dee) Morrison of Bountiful, Utah; Judith Ann (Mrs. Carl) Buchanan of Farmington, Utah; Sister Dowdle; and Cheryl (Mrs. Bryce) McEuen, also of Orem, Utah and fifteen grandchildren. The fact that all his children live close by affords him the opportunity of “spoiling the grandchildren,” Sister Dowdle says.

In addition to working with six of the Church’s twelve Presidents, Brother Haycock estimates he has worked with “hundreds” of General Authorities, often having been the first one to congratulate them after their call. “I don’t know of anyone in the Church who’s had a greater opportunity than my husband has,” his wife comments.

“I’d rather have the respect and love of these men, and their appreciation,” than that of kings, rulers or other influential men of the earth, Brother Haycock comments.

“It hardly seems possible that so much time has gone by,” he muses, thinking back on the young man who climbed the steps of the Church Administration Building nearly forty-six years ago. “I realize that I’m just an ordinary fellow,” he says. “I learned how to type and take shorthand in high school, and those have been my skills. I’ve had to get up early, and work hard, and stay up late to try to make up.”

But the sacrifice and work have been worth the blessings gained, he reflects. “What little I have or have been able to do—well, the blessings far outweigh anything I’ve done.”

“All I can say is, whatever I am, I owe to these wonderful brethren and the Lord, and a wonderful wife and family. I try to live worthy of their trust.”

  • Jack Walsh, the father of one child, is a counselor in the Wills Point Branch, Dallas Texas East Stake.

Photograph by Eldon Linschoten

Brother Haycock has served as President Kimball’s personal secretary since December 1973.

Elder Ezra Taft Benson (bottom, fourth from left) as Secretary of Agriculture with members of his staff. D. Arthur Haycock (top left) was his administrative assistant.

D. Arthur Haycock walking with President Joseph Fielding Smith in front of the Beehive House.

Arthur Haycock and his wife, Maurine, with President Harold B. Lee and his wife, Freda.

Brother and Sister Haycock enjoy spending time with their grandchildren.