“A Kind and Loving Father,” Ensign, Dec. 1985, 37
Let me describe some personal experiences with my father that illustrate some of his great qualities and values. I learned very early in my life about Dad’s belief in working hard by helping him dig ditches, hoe weeds, plant gardens, trap gophers, clean corrals, and feed cows. Dad shared these wonderful work experiences with me and the other children just as he has shared with each of us in the Church the challenging work of building the Lord’s kingdom.
I have had many experiences throughout my life that illustrate Dad’s great love for others. When I was a lad, I was expected to milk our cows morning and night. Sometimes the family would go in the late afternoon to the hot springs for a family swim and picnic. We would then drive home quite late, with the cows still not milked. I often pretended to fall asleep just before we arrived home. Dad would then show his compassion for a young son, letting me get away with my pretense, by picking me up, carrying me to my bed, and then going to milk the cows for me. What a kind, loving father!
A few years ago, Dad sent to me a letter given to him by a Church member. It was a letter I had written to that person when I was a missionary in New England many years before and that person was an investigator. Dad had written on the bottom of the letter the word wonderful. How touched I was that my father would take an opportunity to express pride in something I had done.
Dad never stopped encouraging his own family to become better people. He has never given up on us, and we love him for it. In like manner, he has followed the same approach of encouraging all Church members to become better people, and they also have loved him for it.
My brother Ed and I recall the time when we were moving from Arizona to Utah after Dad had been called to the Quorum of the Twelve. We were dreading the prospect of moving from our beloved Arizona to the unknown, dreary wastelands of Utah and Salt Lake City. And we were complaining a lot about it. As we drove over the border into Utah, Dad said to us, “Boys, we are moving to Utah. From now on, Utah has the prettiest scenery, the nicest people, and the best climate. It is going to be our home.” What good advice that was from a wise man. Dad truly believed that the places in which we live can be made beautiful by the people who live there and by their attitudes. I appreciate what Dad taught. It has enabled me to live in the seven best states in America: Arizona, Utah, Michigan, New York, Kentucky, New Jersey, and now Connecticut.
I loved Dad’s wonderful sense of humor, often used to teach us indirectly not to take ourselves too seriously—like the story he told about himself when he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve. Many friends came into his office to congratulate him. One of his old farmer friends came in and said, “Well, Spencer, so you’re going to Salt Lake to be one of the Twelve, are you?”
Dad said, “I guess so, Evans.”
And the farmer said, “Well, it’s sure that the Lord must have called you. Nobody else would have thought of you.”
I believe it would be hard for anyone to talk very much about Dad and his life without weaving in that wonderful lady, Camilla, who was a vital contributor every step of his way, providing a great example of support and encouragement to her husband as well as to her family and to so many others.
There are so many good things that one might say about Dad, but most of them have already been said more eloquently by the life he lived over the past ninety years. May I express on behalf of the family our deep appreciation for the kindnesses and attention given to Mother and all of us during this difficult period.
In conclusion, let me say that Dad’s life provides powerful lessons to all of us: his ability to meet challenges one at a time, progressing one step at a time as he tried to become more like his Savior; his ability to feel and express his sincere love for others; his total commitment to service whenever called; his great leadership to his family and the Church.
I respect him and love him as a wonderful father and honor him for the role he filled for so many years as our prophet. May we remember Spencer W. Kimball by rededicating ourselves to becoming better people, better family members, and better servants of our Savior is my prayer, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.