Friend to Friend

“Friend to Friend,” Friend, Aug. 1987, 6

Friend to Friend

Elder Royden G. Derrick

“In 1836 when my great-grandmother Derrick, who lived in Keynsham, England, was fifty-six years old,” Elder Royden G. Derrick related, “she called my grandfather to her bedside and said, ‘Zach, my son, do not affiliate yourself with any church with which you are now acquainted, but when missionaries come from America preaching two by two on the street corners and in the halls of the city and teaching of a living prophet and a restored church, join that church because that will be the true church of God.’ This was one year before the first Mormon missionaries arrived in Liverpool, England, to bring the news of the restored gospel to the old world. In 1848 two associates from the Bristol Iron Works, where grandfather Derrick worked, invited him to hear some Mormon missionaries from America. He recognized their message to be what his mother had told him to look for. He joined the Church and in 1851 immigrated to America and crossed the plains to the Great Salt Lake Basin. I was the youngest of my father’s children and my father was the youngest of his father’s children, so I never knew Grandfather Derrick, but he had a profound influence on my life. I have grown to love and admire him.”

Before Elder Derrick was called to be a General Authority, he operated a steel fabricating plant that he had started by saving twenty-five dollars a month from a meager wage. “After I had started in the business, I discovered that my grandfather had served two apprenticeships, the first for seven years to become a mechanic and the second for seven years to become a foundryman. He was well prepared to make a meaningful contribution to his newly found church. He later built the first iron stove to be manufactured in the state of Utah. Much to my surprise I found that he was in the same type of business in which I had become engaged.”

Elder Derrick’s father worked for ZCMI for thirty-five years as a crockery specialist, which required that he travel almost continuously throughout Utah, Idaho, and southwestern Wyoming. He was more often than not away from home for three months at a time. “Although we didn’t see a lot of him,” Elder Derrick said, “he set a tone of spirituality in our home. He retired in January of 1937, and I started on the road as a traveling salesman the following month. I met many of the people with whom he was acquainted. Every one of them spoke so highly of him that I began to realize that my father was a man of great integrity, a trait not usually found in traveling salesmen, or drummers, as they were called then.

My mother’s parents lived next door to us while I was young. They came from England and Scotland and had also joined the Church and crossed the plains. My mother also set a tone of love and spirituality in our home. I remember one occasion when we had used all our credit at the grocery store. In those days you bought groceries on credit. We had also used up all of the food that Mother had bottled the previous fall. I noticed an expression of great concern on her face as she looked at the empty shelves and the empty flour bin. I followed her upstairs and saw her go into her bedroom and kneel in prayer. Later that afternoon one of my cousins came to our house with several boxes of bread. He had been driving up Fifth East Street when the back door of a bread truck flew open and some boxes of bread fell out in front of his car. By the time he got his car stopped and had surveyed the situation, the bread truck had disappeared. He put the boxes of bread into his car and then drove to our home, which was a short distance away. He knew nothing about our need, but there is no doubt in my mind that the bread was a direct answer to my mother’s prayer.

“All I remember about my baptism is that it felt good. That feeling has stayed with me; it still feels good. I was baptized in the Tabernacle on Temple Square by my oldest brother because Father was on the road.

The hardest thing that I had to face as a boy was shyness. It was very difficult for me to recite in class. One day while studying the Bible, I read the words of the Savior that ‘all things are possible to him that believeth’ (Mark 9:23) and then the words of the Apostle Paul, ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (Philip. 4:13). I suddenly realized that a person can do whatever he makes up his mind to do. This gave me both confidence and commitment.

I believe that youngsters should read,” Elder Derrick said, “because reading gives a person a broader viewpoint of life and the world around him. Particularly, we should read the scriptures every day and come to understand the prophets of God. Doing so will pay greater dividends in our lives than almost anything else we can do. It will help us to become better people, more obedient and more committed to principles taught by the Savior, which result in a life of integrity and moral purity.”