“President Hunter Returns for Pasadena Stake Reunion,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 73–74
President Hunter Returns for Pasadena Stake Reunion
President Howard W. Hunter spent a weekend presiding over the semiannual stake conference of the Pasadena California Stake, where he served as stake president from 1950 to 1959.
“I have returned to the place and the people I learned to love with all of my heart and soul,” President Hunter remarked during his stake conference address. “As I have accepted the responsibility which has now come to me, how thankful I have been for the years of training and apprenticeship which the Lord provided in this place.”
The October 15–16 stake conference commemorated the stake’s fifty-eighth anniversary. In addition to President Hunter, who was the fourth of nine presidents to serve in that stake, four other former presidents were in attendance: Richard S. Summerhays (1959–63); James C. Ellsworth (1963–71); Elder Cree-L Kofford (1971–77), now serving in the Seventy; and Orlin C. Munns (1977–86), now serving as Oakland Temple president. Bruce G. McGregor is the current stake president.
“I am delighted to be here this evening with Sister Hunter to share this special stake conference,” President Hunter remarked. “It has been wonderful to see so many whom we have known through the years. My heart is full as I contemplate the events in my life which occurred in the Pasadena area with you, my brothers and sisters. …
“Hopefully this conference will be a time of reunion for each of us and also a time of spiritual rededication, using the events of the past as a catalyst for even greater things in the future.”
With the chapel and cultural hall filled, hundreds of others were accommodated in classrooms, where they watched the conference on closed-circuit television.
It was in the Pasadena stake that Howard W. Hunter was first called as a bishop. After serving as bishop of the El Sereno Ward, he served as a high councilor until, in 1950, he was called as stake president. He was serving in that capacity when he was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1959.
Following the Saturday evening adult session, President Hunter and his wife, Inis, greeted hundreds of members in a receiving line for more than an hour. Many no longer live in the stake and had traveled some distance to attend the activities. One young boy who was celebrating his thirteenth birthday stated, “All I want for my birthday is to shake the hand of the prophet.”
Past and present stake members greeted the other former stake presidents in attendance as well. Members also browsed through scrapbooks, photograph albums, and displays that were set up in the meetinghouse.
The entire weekend represented an outpouring of love and an expression of the bonds of the gospel. The rare experience of having the President of the Church preside at a conference in his former home stake left a warm glow among all who were there.
Another highlight of the conference and stake anniversary was the publication of the history of the stake, How Firm a Foundation: The Story of the Pasadena Stake, a 200-page book written by Susan Kamei Leung.
On the April day in 1936 when the Pasadena Stake was created from the division of the Hollywood Stake, President David O. McKay said, “No one can tell how far reaching this division may be” (quoted in How Firm a Foundation, Pasadena: Pasadena California Stake, 1994, p. 6). These words have become prophetic indeed. Many other stakes have been created from the original boundaries of this California stake, and numerous Church programs—such as Deseret Industries, home teaching, and early-morning seminary—are outgrowths, in part, of early Pasadena stake endeavors. Yet the greatest legacy of the stake has been its people.