Cornmans’ Request
July 1988

“Cornmans’ Request,” Ensign, July 1988, 57

Cornmans’ Request

During the Great Depression, my father, Owen M. Jensen, served a mission in what was then the Eastern States Mission. Through the years, he spoke only occasionally about his mission, so we were surprised when he shared with us an experience he had had with Joseph and Irene Cornman.

A few years ago, my father received a visitation in the middle of the night from two spiritual beings whom he recognized as the Cornmans, a couple he had taught while on his mission. He had spent a lot of time working with them, but they had never been baptized.

Dad says that he was wide awake and was not at all frightened as they conversed. The Cornmans looked the same as he had remembered them fifty years ago. They told him that they had now fully embraced the gospel but could progress no further until their temple ordinance work was done. Would he do it?

Mother awoke and found Father sitting on the bed, thumbing through his missionary journal. He soon found that Joseph and Irene had lived in Towson, Maryland.

Mother and Dad went to Salt Lake City, where they tried in vain to research the Cornmans. For the next year and a half, every effort proved futile. A Maryland genealogist whom Mother and Dad hired reported that the Cornmans had moved from Towson in 1944 and she could trace them no further. The search seemed at a dead end.

About this time, my parents traveled east to meet their grandson, who was finishing his mission. They met him in New York, then traveled to Washington, D.C. On their way, they made a point of going through Towson, Maryland.

What Dad had remembered as a town of five thousand people had become a sprawling city of eighty-four thousand. Mother said she felt a warm feeling come over her as they drove into the Towson area. She felt as if someone was urging her onward.

Dad easily found the old Cornman home, but the present occupants knew nothing of the Cornmans. My parents split up and went door-to-door, asking people if they knew anyone who might remember the Cornmans.

They were eventually referred to Isabel Justice, who was in a local nursing home. Miss Justice, a sharp nonagenarian, remembered the Cornmans well. In fact, she had recently received a letter from their daughter, Ruth, who lived in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

Ruth remembered Dad as a missionary, and she invited my parents to visit her. As they talked, she asked, “Why are you so interested in my parents?”

Father recounted all that had taken place, including the visitation from her parents and their request to him. He told her they had fully embraced the gospel of Jesus Christ and desired to be sealed to their family for eternity.

Ruth provided what information she could remember right then, and told them she would have exact dates by the next morning. The following day, Dad and Mother got all the information necessary to complete the temple work for Joseph and Irene Cornman.

The experience increased the testimony of our whole family, not only of the continuing progress made in the spirit world and the importance of temple work, but of the eternal effects of our earthly missionary efforts.

  • Linda J. Eames works in real estate and serves as a Sunday School teacher in the Rexburg (Idaho) Nineteenth Ward.

Illustrated by Mark Buehner