At their births, many children keep their parents awake into the late evening, well past a normal bedtime. They have no respect for schedules or the demands of parenthood. With bloodshot eyes and tired bodies, parents often welcome their offspring into the world.
Unlike other children, Richard Evan Black decided to time his birth like a morning business meeting. Promptly at 9:00 a.m. on the first day of the month in a round, even-numbered year, December 1, 1940, Richard saw the light of day for the first time in mortality. He was born at his parent’s home, 221 Wasatch Street, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Richard was the fourth, and, ultimately, a middle child of the nine children of Evan George Black and Thalia Baird Black. Preceding him in birth were his older siblings, Eva Black (born July 7, 1932), Peter Dale Black (born May 13, 1934), and Beverly Black (born November 3, 1936). Other siblings born later were twins, Karen and George King Black (born October 22, 1945), Thalia Ann Black (born November 8, 1956), and Susan Rebecca Black, an adopted daughter (born February 1, 1952).
Richard’s brothers and sisters were reportedly excited to see him. His sisters, Eva and Beverly, were ecstatic; but his brother Pete had a more memorable reaction. When Pete was told he had a new baby brother, his response was, “Are you sure it’s a boy? How can you tell?”
Pete’s excitement continued to the next day, when he was discovered washing out diapers in the bathroom, getting himself not merely a little wet during the process.
A month after Richard’s birth, his father blessed him and gave him a name at the Salt Lake Fourth Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At Richard’s birth, the family lived at 221 Wasatch Street in Salt Lake City. Richard was not sure where his dad worked when he was born. He speculated that his dad worked at Kennecott or at the Railroad, or as a dry cleaning employee. Evan listed his occupation as “dry cleaner” on Richard’s birth certificate.
At some point, either before or shortly after Richard’s birth, Evan began running his own dry cleaning shop at 9th South and Main Street. Richard remembers that his Mother talked about keeping the cleaning shop open on Monday evenings. Sears, located one block from the shop, was open on Monday nights, and Thalia thought that perhaps they might get some business from the Sears crowd if the shop was open.
When Richard was three, the family moved to 3250 West 3100 South in Granger, Utah. While they were living in Granger, Evan was forced to move the cleaning shop. Evan only owned the cleaning shop building and equipment. He rented the land. The owner of the land decided to sell, and Evan needed to find a new location for his building and equipment.
Evan poured a concrete pad in front of the family’s Granger home, and then set about moving the shop to the pad. Richard remembered going with his dad to watch as the movers began lifting the building for transport. Because Evan had left the equipment inside the shop, too much weight was pushing down on the floor, and, as the building was being lifted, the floor dropped out.
Eventually, Evan successfully completed the move. The dry cleaning shop had a steam radiator and boiler, and Richard remembered that his father was always digging trenches for the pipes.
During approximately the same time period as the move to Granger, Richard was missing and presumed lost somewhere. He could not be found. The family searched everywhere. They even called the police. Finally, Eva found him asleep behind a door.
Not long after that, Richard decided he wanted to sleep on the back porch. He went to the porch and tried to fashion a bed for himself. Something scared him, so he went to his safe spot behind the door. During the night his parents could not remember seeing him in bed, so they began a search for him, and found him once again asleep behind the door.
An Italian farming family named Montrone lived down a long lane behind the house in Granger. Richard considered them to be good people. Evan sometimes traded for dry cleaning services, and Richard remembered his father trading a $4.00 dry cleaning job for cabbage grown by farmer Montrone. At the time, cabbage sold for one cent per pound, so the family received four hundred pounds of cabbage. Evan and Thalia stored the cabbage in a root cellar all winter long. They ate cooked cabbage, coleslaw, shredded cabbage, cabbage with canned pineapple, and cabbage in every other form imaginable.
Moving the cleaning shop to Granger was not a wise business decision, and the business failed, leaving Evan to support his family through other means. Evan sold part of his property and the cleaning shop to a neighbor living immediately East of the shop. The neighbor dismantled the shop and moved it one wall at a time, and by that process built himself a house. The neighbor dug a basement by hand and put an addition on the house. The modified house containing the walls of the dry cleaning shop still stands today.
Another of the family’s failed business ventures was a chicken-raising enterprise. The family purchased baby chicks and tried to raise them. Many of the babies were killed by rats that infested the chicken coop. When Evan sold the cleaning shop to the neighbor, he included a large chicken coop with the sale.
To make ends meet, Evan worked at various jobs. He worked for Kennecott and also for the Railroad located at Roper Yard on about 800 West and 2100 South. When the family car broke down and they didn’t have enough money to fix it, Evan asked his Brother, Woody, if he could borrow an extra car. Wood’s wife objected, so Evan walked back and forth between work and home every day, a distance of nearly eight and half miles each way.
Sometimes, one of Evan’s friends, George Gray, would pretend he wanted to stop by Evan’s house to see Evan’s rabbits. He would offer to pick Evan up from work on his way to Evan’s house. As Evan’s shift at the railroad ended at 11:00 p.m., it should have been obvious to all concerned that George was a fine fellow and a Good Samaritan; but he had no real interest in making repeated trips to Evan’s house to see rabbits.
In Granger, the family attended church at 3500 South and 3200 West. They would often walk many miles to go places. However, on Sundays they usually drove the car to church. Richard attended the Granger First Ward of the North Jordan Stake. He went to Monroe Elementary School. At the time, the building housing the elementary school was also the facility used by the junior high school.
Richards remembered a man named Les Craig who owned a garage in the area and sold illegal fireworks to the neighborhood kids (Richard would not admit or deny that he made any purchases from Mr. Craig).
Camp Kearns was an army base located west of their home in Granger. After World War II ended, the base began to close. Richard recalled many occasions when soldiers who had been mustered out were found along the road, beaten and robbed.
In Granger, the family did not have a lot of clothing. They would rinse out their clothing in the morning and put them on the oven to dry, so they could be worn again. Richard would put his shoes on in the morning while he was waiting for his socks to finish drying. He often left for school without remembering to retrieve his socks. His mother threatened to embarrass him by taking his socks to school if he kept forgetting to wear them.
Following his eighth birthday, Richard was baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, on February 3, 1949 in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. He was confirmed a member of the Church on February 13, 1949 in the Pioneer Fourth Ward. His father performed both ordinances. The Sunday before his confirmation, Richard remembered going to church in a blinding snowstorm. The Bishop had the sacrament blessed and passed, and then sent everyone home because of the weather.
Richard’s oldest sister, Eva, worked in Salt Lake when Richard was in the fifth grade and the family still lived in Granger. She rode to work on the Tooele Stage Bus that traveled along 3500 South. One night, Eva missed the bus and could not get home from work. She called to tell her parents she was staying with a friend.
Richard’s mother, Thalia, decided then that the family had to move to Salt Lake so Eva wouldn’t be stranded again.
Thalia, as usual, got her way; and the family rented a house at 1185 Windsor Street, in Salt Lake City. Evan sold the house in Granger on payments, but the buyer couldn’t make the payments, and Evan had to take the house back. Eventually it was sold to an attorney.
While living on Windsor Street, Richard and his family attended the Princeton Ward in the Park Stake, and Richard attended Emerson Elementary School. Richard remembered the area fondly, and described it as a nice neighborhood.
Richard recalled one hectic morning before school when he was asked to feed the rabbits or chickens, or gather eggs. He was in a hurry and wasn’t wearing a shirt. Rather than dressing first, he put on his coat and headed outside to perform his task.
After finishing his chore, he rode the school bus to school, only to discover his bare torso when he removed his coat inside the schoolhouse. He said he ran the entire mile home, and then back to school again, after covering his naked embarrassment.
Also in the Windsor Street neighborhood, Richard enjoyed spending time at Liberty Park. He remembered going to the drug store to buy “Wild Indians.” In those days, the drug stores had soda fountains. Soft drinks were made by putting flavored syrup in a glass, and then filling the glass with carbonated water. A “Wild Indian” was made by using a mixture of all of the syrup flavorings.
While living on Windsor Street, Richard’s father, and sometimes his mother, worked at a dry cleaning shop at 11th East and 17th South in Sugarhouse.
When Richard was about twelve, he and his family moved again, this time to within the boundaries of the Millcreek First Ward. He played with the Ward softball team, and his father was the team coach.
Richard’s parents often skipped church services. Richard speculated that perhaps they didn’t attend because they felt embarrassed by their poverty and the poor condition of their Sunday clothing; however, they made sure they sent Richard to church.
On his first Sunday in the Millcreek First Ward, when his parents sent him to Priesthood meeting alone, he walked around the block several times, rather than go to church, because he did not know anyone, and was too embarrassed to go to church by himself. His desire to attend church soon changed, though, when he discovered the Bishop’s cute daughter, Linda, who was in his church class.
Richard was enamored with Linda, and soon began attending church regularly, opting to put aside any embarrassment or reluctance in favor of pursuing the fairer sex. He had perfect attendance at church for four or five years after that.
As a teenager, Richard remembers hanging out with Linda often. He found her to be a positive influence, perhaps preventing him from going down the wrong path as an adolescent. Linda’s mother once suggested to Richard’s mother that perhaps they should do something about the relationship. Thalia disagreed, and said that she thought it was good for Richard and Linda to spent time together.
Despite Linda’s influence (or perhaps because of it), Richard was a member of a “notorious” group known as the “malt shop gang.” One of the most insidious activities of this crew of miscreants was the faddish wearing of pink shirts, black pants, trench coats and argyle socks.
Linda and her family eventually moved to Idaho, and Richard lost contact with her for a time; but one day, Richard’s mother asked him to go to Idaho to get potatoes, because, according to her, Idaho potatoes were better than other potatoes. She also asked him to buy some wheat from Linda’s parents while he was in Idaho.
When Richard stopped to make his wheat purchase, he also visited with Linda, and they renewed their friendship. They started corresponding, and Richard found himself traveling to Idaho regularly to visit and date Linda.
At one point he asked her to go steady with him, and she agreed. However, that arrangement soon proved unworkable because of the geographic distance between them. They drifted apart again. Eventually, each of them married other people; but later in life they would find each other again.
Richard recalled that his years in school, especially high school, were easy. He coasted along, hardly bothering to open a book. Despite a relaxed approach to his studies, he managed to finish high school with a solid “B” average.
His main interests in high school were mechanics and wood working. He was never active in sports or clubs because he worked during most of his high school years at his father’s dry cleaning shop. As a senior, he appeared only twice in the high school yearbook. Other than his senior picture, he was shown in a group photograph with members of the high school student government.
While still in high school, Richard joined the National Guard. He would attend Guard meeting every Monday evening and one Sunday each month. After graduation from Granite High School in 1959, Richard was sent to Ford Ord, California for six months of basic training. Richard described the experience as more “harassment” than training.
His company was activated during the Berlin Crisis, and he spent ten months in the northwestern United States, including Tacoma and Seattle, Washington.
Because of his interest and experience in auto mechanics, Richard spent some of his military service time working as a mechanic. He was awarded a rifle sharpshooter designation. He was also a section leader.
After being honorably discharged from military service, Richard began working as an auto mechanic. He worked at Floyd Neff’s garage. As fate would have it, a mechanical error in an automobile would soon change his world forever.
While stationed in Washington State during his military service, Richard’s sister, Karen, arranged for her friend, Glenda Joyce Memmott, to write to Richard.
At the end of his military service, Richard dated Glenda, but Richard believed she was not interested in him, and gave up trying to contact her. He invited her to go to Lagoon (a Utah amusement park), but she refused because she had other plans.
About ten days after Glenda rejected his invitation, Glenda was driving her parents’ car. As she told the story, the car horn was broken and would honk unexpectedly whenever the driver turned the steering wheel.
Glenda, with her mother as a passenger and witness, was driving the car on Penney Avenue at 5th East in Salt Lake City. Richard claimed that they were going straight at the time. Richard was driving a Jeep in front of her. Although she was not turning, the car horn honked. Glenda later claimed that the horn honked on its own because she was turning; but Glenda’s mother later told Richard that Glenda had honked the horn at him because she thought he was Richard Green from Delta.
Whether through divine intervention, mechanical failure, or mistaken identity, the prospect that Glenda was still interested in him gave Richard courage, and he pursued her romantically until she consented to marry him.
On March 1, 1963, the happy couple married each other for time and all eternity in the Logan, Utah Temple. On their honeymoon they traveled by car, toured national parks and sites in Southern Utah and Arizona, drove to California to visit amusement parks, and toured temples in all three states.
After their marriage, they first rented, and then began purchasing a home at 573 East 3982 South (Delno Drive), in Murray, Utah.
The agreed purchase price for the home was about $11,500.00, and Richard and Glenda made payments to the prior owner of about eighty dollars per month.
To cover expenses and pay the house payment, Richard worked at various low-paying jobs—driving cement truck, repairing automobiles, watering lawns, and running a dry cleaning route. His meager income was hardly sufficient for him to make the monthly payments on the house and provide for his family, which would grow upon the birth of their oldest son, Guy Lamoyne Black, on February 23, 1964.
To supplement his income, Richard began selling baby furniture for a company that required him to sign a note for five thousand dollars as a condition to selling its products. The increased debt, coupled with his inability to sell much furniture, resulted in his bankruptcy.
After the birth of his second child (Laura Black, born November 5, 1965), Richard was still having difficulty finding a permanent income. He also did not have health insurance for his growing family. He found some work with his brother, Pete, remodeling a home. When they finished the job, Richard received wages of about two hundred dollars. The Stake was holding a fund raiser, and sold tickets to a movie at one hundred dollars per ticket. Richard and Glenda gulped, but bought two tickets with Richard’s pay from the remodeling job.
The following Monday morning, a Granite School District school bus drivers’ supervisor offered Richard a job driving school bus. Although the job was part time, it gave the family insurance benefits and allowed Richard to do mechanical work part-time as well. Glenda later said, “At that point in our lives it was just the thing which we needed and are positive it was a blessing which came after we exercised our faith by paying the money even though we didn’t know where our next money was coming from.”
Soon after their marriage, because neither of them had served a mission, Richard and Glenda wanted to be stake missionaries. They served a stake mission. Next, they served in positions on the Stake Sunday School Board. The Sunday School President, Bob Schofield, taught them that when they ran out of material to cover, it was time to close the meeting. President C. Mark Wright set them apart, and promised that most of their posterity would be priesthood holders.
During his adult life, Richard was always active in church service. In addition to the stake mission, he has served in at least the following callings: Stake Sunday School Board; Seventies Group Leader; Teacher’s Quorum Advisor; Priest’s Quorum Advisor; Ward Clerk; First Counselor in the Millcreek First Ward Bishopric; Assistant Stake Clerk; Alternate High Councilman; High Councilman; First Counselor in a Singles Branch; President of a Singles Branch; Stake Young Men’s President; Branch President of the Middletown, Connecticut Branch; Bishop of the Middletown, Connecticut Ward; First and Second Counselor in the Hartford, Connecticut Stake Presidency; and President of the Hartford, Connecticut Stake.
Richard was called to be a Seventies Welfare Representative and Seventies Group leader in September, 1963. Antoine R. Ivins ordained him a seventy on September 4, 1963. He was in charge of the youth missionary committee. Later he served as Teacher’s Quorum Advisor.
In early 1967, Richard and Glenda purchased a second-hand desk and stored it in their dining room. One Saturday, Richard felt an unexplained urgency to prepare space for the desk. The next day he was called as the ward clerk. For this calling he was ordained a high priest by C. Mark Wright on February 8, 1967.
Soon, Richard and Glenda added two more children to their growing family: Alvin Dale Black (born November 13, 1967) and Wesley Earl Black (born July 17, 1969).
On June 22, 1969, Richard was released as Ward Clerk and sustained as First Counselor to Bishop Roy Leon Vance. Brent Nielsen was called as second counselor. He was set apart at the church office building by Hartman Rector Jr. on July 1, 1969. Richard received a blessing promising him a large family. He was blessed that he need not worry about money, as he would have sufficient for his needs. He was admonished to search the scriptures, learning the ways of God. He was told that he would be an instrument in bringing greater activity to the youth of the ward.
Richard recounted that he felt obligated to be a good example to the members of his Ward. He said, “I decided that if I was going to lead people I must be a proper example and better my own life. After much consideration, I decided to use my G.I. Education Bill to go to the L.D.S Business College in the field of computers.
“For twenty-one months I went to school carrying a pretty heavy load. I drove school bus, worked as a computer operator part time (later worked full time) but always put my duties to the church assignment first. If ever there arose a conflict between school and church meetings, I always attended to church duties. This schedule was not always pleasant or easy. We had four children and were expecting our fifth [Pamela Black, born July 13, 1971] when I graduated from L.D.S. Business College in June, 1971. I was able to graduate with a 3.75 grade point average and was given permission to waive one class which was needed, in order to graduate in the twenty-one month period, rather than wait another semester for that one class.
“I know that my ability to do this was greatly improved by the blessings of the Lord because I was willing to place the Lord’s work first. I also know that the employment I obtained at Beneficial Life Insurance Company one year before I graduated was a blessing from God.
“One day while glancing at the ‘help wanted’ columns I came across their ad. Not really believing that I would get the job with just eight or nine months of schooling and very little experience, I applied just for the practice for when I needed to obtain a job. To my great surprise, I was offered the job over the other sixty applicants. I know without any doubt that the Lord had a hand in these things.”
Richard was released from the Bishopric August 14, 1973. During the following week he spent time with the family and worked around the house, but felt at a great loss with no church calling.
The following Sunday, he and Glenda we were both called into the Stake President’s office, where President Clegg issued a call to Richard to be an assistant stake clerk in charge of statistics. He was also asked to assist Brother Dave Ashby in his calling as executive secretary, as Brother Ashby’s work often called him out of town. These two positions kept Richard busy, and filled the void he was feeling.
During his studies at LDS Business College, Richard enrolled in at least one English class, and was required to write several short papers. Two of his retyped homework assignments follow (with his teacher’s corrections included, but not identified).
Richard E. Black
September 26, 1969
I’M HAPPY JUST BEING ME
The experiences of my early childhood were full of joy and happiness. I still remember the many things we enjoyed doing as a family. Planting a garden in early spring, gathering eggs from the old hen house, listening to a bedtime story, hunting for Easter eggs, and decorating the Christmas tree are a few of the things we enjoyed doing.
As I look back over my lifetime, I feel that I have truly been blessed. I have never known want or despair, and although my parents have had very meager means, I’ve had about anything I ever really wanted or needed.
School for me was full of fun times and happiness. High School, however, was in my opinion wasted because it didn’t present a challenge to my life. I was too interested in girls, work, and having a good time to really get the grades of which I was capable. Although I never received a D or F on my grades, I was capable of doing much better than I did.
After graduation, I joined the National Guard and spent six months at Fort Ord, California. I returned home to work with my father in the dry-cleaning business and in a service station. The Berlin crisis found me in the army again, this time in Fort Lewis, Washington. While there, I was able to travel over most of the beautiful Northwestern United States and Western Canada.
I returned home and found my true love who happened to be waiting for a missionary at the time. Through gentle persuasion, I convinced her that we should be united for an eternity. The last seven years have been full of joy and happiness for both of us. We have four bouncy, happy, healthy, lively children; and although at times we may call them names, we love them dearly.
We have had many wonderful callings in the religion to which we attest, for which we are most grateful.
If I could trade my life for anyone else’s or if I could trade places with any one person, I wouldn’t. You see, I’m happy just being me.
Richard E. Black
October 5, 1969
I CAN’T HEAR YOU
One of the greatest faults that has ever cursed mankind is procrastination. In my opinion, many wars have been waged, many hearts broken, many fortunes lost, and many marriages ruined because of procrastination.
The time to accomplish things in life, and progress toward your goals is now. It is time to make amends for anything you’ve done wrong. Tomorrow that “mole hill” misunderstanding will grow into a mountain. The time to accomplish anything is today. Never put off until tomorrow what you should do today.
I feel I’m an expert on the subject of procrastination, but most people just tell me they can’t hear what I say because what I don’t do pounds so loudly in their ears. I can’t understand why people say that about me. It has taken me only ten years to finally get around to going back to school
In 1979, I interviewed my father as part of a writing assignment for a high school English class. Dad told me at that time that some of his character traits included: procrastination, being content with life as it is at present, being independent, and becoming overly involved.
At that time he also disclosed that he had great respect for L. Tom Perry, Henry Bogard, Earl Wright, and Thomas Monson, all leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
He also claimed to be a man of few words; but some of the following are statements I heard him make:
“Man is that he might have joy. Joy and pleasure are complete opposites. Pleasure is only a passing moment in our lives. Joy is eternal.”
“I think all exceptions in the English language should be thrown out. There is only one problem with this type of philosophy. How would all the English teachers earn a living?”
“Today’s youth are brighter, more dedicated, and more willing to lead.”
“It wasn’t Christmas unless I had currant jelly from my grandmother.”
After Richard obtained employment at Beneficial Life, he worked there for more than eight years. He was given small promotions, but never much of a pay increase, eventually becoming a systems manager, but still struggling financially as his family continued to grow.
In 1972, Richard became very ill with severe pain in his lungs and chest. Richard’s physician, Dr. Beals, initially suspected tuberculosis. Richard went to Cottonwood Hospital for testing in the evening, after meeting with his doctor. However, Richard was unable to satisfactorily complete the first set of tests, so he was told to return for a second set of tests the following day.
Richard and Glenda were in a state of shock when they contemplated the possibility of Richard having tuberculosis. He said, “[A]s we began to contemplating the ramifications it would have on our lives we were horrified.
“That night Glenda and I both felt that with faith, prayer, and fasting, this could be overcome. We fasted and prayed and the next morning my father and brother, Pete, administered to me and gave me a blessing.
“Upon receiving the results of the second set of tests, they proved negative. We were greatly relieved. The pains continued, but gradually lessened. We were able to get away from the pressures we were under for a short time by staying at Bishop Burt’s cabin. This rest seemed to help and the pain was nearly completely gone after this.”
In 1973, Richard and Glenda welcomed their sixth child, Kimberlee Black, born July 31, 1973.
On March 16, 1974, Richard and Glenda were asked to meet with Stake President Clegg. He issued a call to Richard to serve as an alternate high councilman. Glenda was called to serve as Stake Cultural Refinement Leader. They were both sustained the following day at Stake Conference. Richard was set apart March 31, by Pres. Alfred H. Bennion. Glenda was set apart April 11, 1974, by President James R. Clegg.
As an alternate high councilman, Richard was given frequent speaking assignments, providing him more opportunities to study the scriptures. During the summer of 1974, Glenda and Richard started a family scripture-reading contest and also instituted family councils.
Richard was ready to do whatever he was asked by his ecclesiastical leaders, even if he and his family were required to make sacrifices beyond what most people would accept or endure. He trusted that his obedience would be rewarded in the end, even if short-term deprivation was the price of obedience.
Richard told of an experience regarding obedience to requests from Church leader and payment of offerings that impacted him in the summer of 1974:
“[W]e were quite strapped financially and decided to refinance our home so we could finish the addition and pay bills. In talking with Mr. Conner [their landlord/home loan lender, and neighbor] about it he felt that we should not do that because of the high interest rate.
“About this time Bishop Hutchings called us in and asked us to donate an extra fifty dollars to the depleted ward budget. We did not know where fifty dollars was coming from, but we paid it anyway. We even discussed it with the children and those who had money volunteered to pay what they could. The next Sunday we took the money to the Bishop as a family.
“Shortly after this Mr. Conner caught Glenda outside and said that he would like to talk with both of us when we had the time.
“His proposal was to purchase a cow for us, let us use his pasture and milk the cow. He also offered to let us pay only the interest on the home for a year to help us get over the financial slump we were in.
“We eventually bought the cow, rented a second one from Mr. Conner, rented his pasture, and used part of it for a garden. We milked these cows for a little over three years; then Mr. Conner sold his pasture to a developer to build duplexes.
“This experience provided us with temporal and spiritual blessings. We were better able to supply food for our growing family. Our children learned better the value of work, and we believe it had the effect of bringing us closer together as a family. Our children learned and grew from the time they [spent] with their dad each day. This was yet another witness to us that faith precedes the miracle.”
At the September Stake Conference of 1974, Richard was released as an alternate high councilman and sustained as a high councilman. Sunday, November 3, 1974, the family witnessed him being set apart by President Lamont Anderson.
In February, 1975, Richard, with Glenda’s assistance, made preparations for a prospective missionary seminar. They sent invitations to all the eligible persons in the Stake. On Friday, February 21st, in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, they had a very spiritual evening. They felt that quite a number of young people, as well as older couples, were encouraged to serve missions.
On their 12th wedding anniversary, Richard and Glenda planned to dine out. That afternoon they received a phone call asking them to be in President Clegg’s office that evening. Stopping there on our way to dinner, they discovered that a singles branch was being organized. Richard was called as First Counselor to President Donald Hottinger.
As a high councilman, one of Richard’s areas of responsibility was care of the onions at the stake farm. Richard and his family spent many evenings at the farm, weeding the onion fields. As Richard and Glenda were leaving Pres. Clegg’s office after being called to serve in the singles branch, Glenda jokingly mentioned that with the new calling Richard would no longer have to worry about weeding onions. She should have kept her mouth closed, because the first assignment given to the branch at the stake farm just happened to be the onions.
For the next two weeks, Richard spent most of his spare time helping prepare office space and getting things ready so that when the announcement was made he would be ready to begin. Sunday, March 16, 1975, at Stake Conference, Richard was released as a high councilman. That evening, at a special sacrament meeting, the Millcreek Seventh Branch was organized and the presidency sustained.
On Wednesday, March 19th, at the LDS Church Office Building, Richard and Glenda visited briefly with Elder James E. Faust before he set apart the Branch Presidency. Elder Faust told Richard that he was to be a counselor and to give counsel even though he felt it might not be accepted.
Also in 1975, Richard’s family grew some more with the birth of their seventh child, Patrick Ryan Black, on September 27, 1975.
Due to the growth of his family, Richard took an interest in the quality of their education; and, in 1976, he ran for and won elected office on the Granite School District school board. He later became vice-president of the school board.
Just prior to the January, 1977 School Board meeting, President Clegg called and wanted to see both Richard and Glenda. An appointment was made for 9:30 that evening. Richard left the School Board meeting early to make the appointment. President Clegg issued a call from President Spencer W. Kimball for Richard to serve as Branch President of the new Millcreek Tenth Singles Branch. It was a very exciting evening.
On Sunday, January 23, 1977, Richard was released as First Counselor in the Millcreek Seventh Singles Branch and sustained as Branch President of the Millcreek Tenth Singles Branch. Richard chose Craig Paxman and Ken McDougall as his counselors. Quite a few members of Richard and Glenda’s extended families were able to attend.
After Sacrament meeting, President Clegg set Richard apart as Branch President. He was promised the power of discernment in being able to tell when a problem existed and take care of it while it was still small. Richard had felt the need for such discernment while still in the Seventh Branch. He was promised the blessing of whatever his family needed. It was a very happy and joyful experience.
As his family expanded, Richard remodeled his Delno Drive home. Sometime prior to 1970, he had converted the garage into a master bedroom and moved the driveway to the west side of the house.
Even after the master bedroom conversion, the family was squeezed into three bedrooms: A bedroom for him and Glenda, a bedroom for the boys, and a bedroom for the girls. As new children were born, Richard had built in bunk beds until he finally ran out of space to put more children.
In response to the pressure of a growing family and finite bedroom space, Richard began adding an addition to back of his home using materials he could obtain for free or at a low cost. Most of the lumber for the project was obtained by stripping used wood from old buildings in Salt Lake. The entire family joined the project. Even his children helped remove nails from the used lumber. The project was a work in progress for five years; but when it was finished the family had a new family room and three new bedrooms.
On October 11, 1977, Richard and Glenda welcomed the birth of their eighth child, Jeffrey Scott Black.
In the spring of 1978, Richard was offered a job by Vantage Computer Systems, located in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Richard and Glenda felt the family should move. He resigned from the School Board and was released as Singles Branch President. That summer the family moved to a home on Overbrook Drive in East Hartford, Connecticut, where they lived for three years.
Initially, Richard’s new job at Vantage required him to install computer systems on insurance company computers. After two years installing computer systems, he started working in the sales department, selling new computer systems to insurance companies.
His employment required that he travel frequently throughout the United States. With his busy travel schedule and demanding church obligations, the time available to spend with his large family was limited.
While the family was living in East Hartford, their ninth child, Oliver Wade Black, was born on December 9, 1980. He was their only child born in Connecticut.
During the summer of 1981, the family moved again, this time to a larger home with more land at 3 Grace Lane, Portland, Connecticut (the address was later changed to 16 Grace Lane). In Portland, Richard and Glenda were part of the Church’s Middletown Branch.
In 1982, Richard suffered a crisis of faith. In describing the crisis, he said, “Just before Christmas of 1982, I had some serious times when I was very discouraged and concerned not knowing really where I was spiritually. I was kind of depressed, things weren’t going very well, and perhaps at times I doubted my testimony. I was feeling lousy about things in general.”
His discouragement was worsened by his son, Guy, who came home from BYU for Christmas break in 1982. He, too, was struggling with his own doubts about the Church and about serving a mission. Richard and Guy drove around together, discussing their individual questions and concerns.
Eventually, the doubts were resolved. Eight months later, in August of 1983, Richard was called to serve as President of the Middletown Branch; Guy went on a mission to Monterrey, Mexico shortly thereafter.
Looking back on that difficult time in his life, Richard later said, “I was sure that Satan knew of that call and was sure that Satan tried to put things in my life to keep me from being worthy to accept the call some eight months later. I also know that Satan knew of Guy’s situation, and this has strengthened my testimony that God lives and that we are involved in the work of the Lord.”
The night before Richard was called as Branch President, the Stake Presidency and High Council had a social at the Stake President’s business, McKinley Advertising. Richard said, “I had already been called to meet with the Stake Presidency the next day with Glenda. Although Glenda and I kidded with each other about who the call was really for, I knew that the call was for me and that I was to be Branch President. I didn’t want to believe it.
As I stood there and the Stake President indicated that through the evening they would call upon some to bear their testimonies, I knew that I would be one of those that would be called upon to bear my testimony that night. I’ve always appreciated those special experiences where the spirit dictates to me what’s to occur in my life and I always want that spirit to be with me as much as possible.”
As Branch President, Richard had many experiences that increased his faith in repentance and the atonement of Jesus Christ. He interviewed a man and his wife who were having difficulties. He later described the interview and its results. “During the interview,” he said, “one of them told me of some problems which had occurred in their life. As I sat in counsel with them, I told them that the Lord loved them in spite of what had occurred in their lives, and that we needed to have them go through a high council court in order that they might be able to repent fully. I told them that after the repentance process they would be able to return to the temple and ultimately return to their Father in Heaven. The experience of taking them to the high council court, testifying in their behalf and watching the process of the court was a great experience. It was interesting that even though the transgression was quite severe, this fine couple was given the opportunity to repent in a very short period of time. It was exciting to watch them grow as they solved the problems that were in their lives and were able to get a temple recommend that they might be able to return to the temple.
“The night of the court, I had another couple who came to see me who had a like problem, and in this case the problem was handled through a Bishop’s court. The Bishop’s court was the first one which I had presided over, and again it was exciting to see the manifestation of the will of the Lord in directing the lives of this fine couple. I just recently wrote a temple recommend for this couple also to be sealed in the temple, after they had repented and taken care of the problems in their lives.
“It seems that for a small branch we had a lot of problems . . . . I have spent many hours in counseling two couples in particular who have had some marital problems. One of the things which seems to be common in marital problems is that the couple stops communicating. In both cases the couples had separate checking accounts and kept their money separate rather than pooling all of their money into one source. It was also very evident that instead of building one another up that they would pick at one another. Instead of complimenting they would be very critical of what the other was doing. I think it’s important in our lives that we help lift and build one another rather than complain and criticize.”
During his first year as Branch President, Richard conducted two funerals and two weddings. He worked toward getting the Scouting program functioning in the Branch, and successfully paid the Branch’s 1984 Budget and Maintenance assessment for the entire year by the end of January, 1984, the first time in the history of the Stake that a unit had paid its assessment so quickly.
When the Branch was originally organized it did not have its own chapel. It met at various locations that did not truly meet its needs. During the time Richard was Branch President, he presided over the construction of a chapel for the Branch.
Some members of the community were opposed to the construction. A lawsuit was filed that temporarily delayed the construction process. Richard noted that “[o]ne of the people at the hearing made the comment that it appeared like it was easier to get a package store (liquor store) approved in the Town of Cromwell than it was to get permission to build a chapel.”
One of the first things the Branch did was conduct an open house for members of the community. Even though the branch didn’t yet have its own building, the open house was successful. Thirty non-members attended.
During June of 1983, Richard and Glenda spent a week together on vacation in San Diego, California. They enjoyed the beach, went shopping, and visited Tijuana, Mexico. They enjoyed bargaining with the natives. They flew first class because they had free tickets accumulated from Richard’s frequent flyer miles at work. The First Class passenger cabin was nearly empty, so the stewardess had little to do. When they were ready to land, the flight attendant presented Richard and Glenda with a bottle of champagne and remarked that they were the easiest people she had ever attended. They tried to explain that they did not drink alcohol, but the flight attendant insisted that take the bottle and give it to a friend. The bottle sat on the top shelf of their closet for five months. They were finally able to give it away to members of Portland’s volunteer fire department, who cleaned chimneys free of charge, but accept donations. When the fire department cleaned Richard’s chimney, they received a donation of ten dollars and bottle of champagne (which the firemen gladly accepted).
Also during the summer of 1983, the family stayed in a cabin next to Dexter Pond in Wayne, Maine. Toward the end of the summer, the family spent a relaxing week in a cottage by the beach in Nags Head, North Carolina.
Richard and Glenda traveled with Guy to Utah in April, 1984, to see him off at the Missionary Training Center. While they were in Utah, they helped Richard’s parents finish a bathroom. Richard enjoyed being able to serve his parents.
Richard’s work changed in 1984. He was terminated from Vantage Computer Systems and took a new job at Pallm, a company located in Indianapolis, Indiana. Even though his new employer was based in Indiana, Richard was allowed to set up a one-man office in Portland, Connecticut. His new job required a great deal of travel.
Richard and Glenda had not yet sold their home in Murray, Utah. They finally finished paying off that home in 1984.
Richard was so busy with work and church that he sometimes felt like he was not dedicating enough time to his family. He commented in 1984 that it had been a hectic year: “With all the things going and the many different hats we wear it seems that very few things get completed and we’re always trying to play catch-up. I have been concerned about that and the impact that my being so busy has on the family. I have attempted to spend quality time with the family. I want everyone to know that I love my family dearly; that the Lord truly blessed Glenda and me when he sent us such fine children. We love and appreciate them. I suppose that in a lot of respects I’m the richest man on earth because we do have such a fine family. Particularly, I’m thankful for my good wife, for the love and support which she gives me, for her beauty, her devotion, her patience, and her understanding.”
During January, 1985, Richard’s father, Evan, had some heart problems. Richard went to Utah to spend some time with his father. Glenda’s mother broke a vertebra in her back in March. Glenda spent time with her mother in April, and helped her sister, Inga Mae, care for their mother.
Because of his concerns over his father’s declining health, Richard purchased his father’s dry cleaning shop and spent three weeks in Utah with Glenda and his family that summer, fixing up his parent’s house. While there, they also enjoyed spending time with their brothers and sisters, and nieces and nephews. They spent time at the sand dunes near Delta, and spent a relaxing day of fun on the water at Yuba Lake.
Also in 1985, Richard began investing in Real Estate with extra commission money he earned from sales he made at work. Richard and Glenda bought a small six-room home in Connecticut. Before they left for Utah, they fixed it up and rented it. They also converted their home in Utah to a duplex in 1985. Glenda’s sister, Alice Memmott Adams, assisted them in hiring contractors to effect the conversion.
Richard and Glenda’s oldest daughter, Laura, was married on November 27, 1985 in the Salt Lake Temple. The year ended on a happy note with Laura’s new beginning.
But as 1985 closed with a new life for Laura, 1986 was destined to be a year of mournful endings for Richard and his family. On January 7, 1986, Glenda’s mother, Lillie Ingaborg Jensen Memmott, died. Richard conducted the gravesite service in Oasis, Utah. He said it gave him “an opportunity to honor a very special person in my life who has had a great influence on my life.”
While in Utah for Lillie’s funeral, Richard and Glenda spent a pleasant evening with Richard’s parents. They did not realize it at the time, but that visit would be the last time Glenda saw his mother alive. Just a week later his mother, Thalia Baird Black, was taken to the hospital with a ruptured appendix.
When Richard learned of the news, he rushed back to Utah to be with his mother. He recounts the experience of his mother’s death: “I was prepared to see Mom suffer, but I was not prepared to see her suffer as much as she did. I shall always remember the evenings that I had the opportunity to sit by her bedside and hold her hand and talk with her.
“She always asked me about Dad, Ann, and especially Melissa [her young granddaughter who had been abandoned to Thalia by Thalia’s adopted daughter, Susan]. One night she asked me, ‘What will happen to Melissa?’ I told her that if she wanted us to, Glenda and I would take care of her. She asked if Glenda agreed to that. When I told her that it was Glenda’s idea, she said that would be fine. After that time she never again expressed concern about Melissa’s welfare.
“I had the great privilege of giving Mom a priesthood blessing, perhaps the last priesthood blessing that she received in her mortal life. I remember that the Lord blessed her that the pain and suffering would soon end. He also told her that she had lived a good life and had taught her children as she should. The Lord further told her that she was loved by her family and that they would always look up to her for the sacrifices she made for us.
“I have thought about Mom on many occasions and will never forget the experiences and the emotions that we shared during that time. I believe I gained a greater appreciation for my brothers and sisters during that time. That experience reaffirmed my belief that there is nothing more important than the family and that the family relationship is destined to last throughout eternity. I am very appreciative of the sacrifice of my brothers and sisters who live in Salt Lake for their many hours spent in helping Mom and Dad when we could not be there.
“Just before Mom passed away, Dad was standing at her bedside holding Mom’s hand. We knew that Mom’s time on the earth could probably be measured in minutes. As Dad had been standing for some time, I was concerned that the stress might be too much for him; so I suggested that he sit down for a few minutes. He said, ‘Mom would stand by me if I were in her place, and I will stand by her.’ With that great declaration of love and support to the end, I looked at Mom and noticed a tear in the corner of her eye. I believe she knew what was going on and was appreciative of the support of her good husband.”
After promising to take care of Melissa, Richard was concerned about Melissa’s reaction to him, as she was a shy child. He was worried whether she would go with him on a plane to Connecticut. He said that the next morning he “discovered that our Father in Heaven knew of my desires to help Melissa and Mom, and approved of the arrangement. It seems that Melissa almost immediately became my buddy. We went to the store together and bought groceries; and whenever I went anywhere, she was willing to go along for the ride.
“Often when Dad was dressing her she would bring her clothes to me to put them on. When Glenda came to attend the funeral, Melissa quickly bonded with Glenda and was soon calling her Mommy. She nicknamed me ‘Unc,’ which was my name for some time. She has been a blessing in our lives and sometimes a great challenge. She had a lot of brothers and sisters who love her and play with her often. She has lost most of her shyness and loves to go to church, attend primary, and visit and play with friends.”
During the summer of 1986, Richard’s father went to Connecticut in May and also in July and August. During Evan’s visits, Richard and his father were able to visit the gravesite of an ancestor in Lebanon, Connecticut who lived during the Civil War. Glenda helped Evan organize his genealogy books. About those visits, Richard commented that “[i]t seems like the spirit of Elijah is ever present in searching for the genealogy of my family. We have felt on occasions that Mom may be assisting in the work. Glenda has found and compiled literally hundreds of ancestors that we were not aware of until now. We found that there are many of our ancestors that were instrumental in founding and settling various areas throughout New England, and especially Connecticut.”
While his father was visiting in July, Richard was able to take his father, and his sister, Ann, to see the Hill Cumorah Pageant in upstate New York. While living in Connecticut, Richard and Glenda spent many summers with their children in the Palmyra area, working as cast members in the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Each summer they camped in tents at a local campground, while dressed like missionaries in their suits and dresses. They would spend their days studying the gospel in study groups with other cast members and practicing their parts in the show. On the nights of the show, before their performance, they and the other cast members would wander through the gathering audience, talking about the gospel and offering to have missionaries deliver Books of Mormon to interested investigators. Richard played various roles in the pageant, including the parts of King Benjamin and the prophet, Mormon.
Glenda’s sister, Alice, whose husband died in March, 1986, spent several weeks that summer with Glenda and Richard in Connecticut. Richard described Glenda’s relationship with Alice during those weeks as like “a couple of teenage sisters.”
In April, Richard and Glenda traveled to Monterrey, Mexico to pick up their son, Guy, from his mission. In describing the blessings he had received from having a son on a mission, Richard said that he and Glenda had been “blessed beyond our wildest imaginations.” He said that “[i]t was particularly a great experience to visit in Mexico and see how some of the Mexican people live. I shall never forget visiting in the homes of some of the members and seeing how they struggle keeping the commandments of the gospel and how the gospel has blessed their lives.
“One of the homes we visited obviously had a leak in the roof as they hung an old plastic table cloth over the sink area so that the rain would not get them wet. The sister in the home talked about how things had gone right since they had joined the church and how they were looking forward to moving into a new house.
“We rode the buses that the natives rode and ate the food (sometimes) they ate. On one occasion as we were going through one of the markets, Guy bought some heavily spiced meat that was already cooked. It tasted pretty good. Glenda said she liked it; however when she discovered she was eating cow intestines, she immediately said she was full!
“On the trip to Mexico, Glenda and I were able to spend part of a day in Galveston at the beach. The Mexican people are friendly and are generally happy with what they have. On one occasion we visited a family of six that lived in a two-room cement house. They insisted on buying soda pop for us, and probably spent 25-50% of a day’s wages on the soda. We were lucky we didn’t have any bad effects because of the food or the water, mainly because we were very careful what we drank.”
Richard faced changes in his employment during 1986. His employer asked him to start a new company division to sell products to smaller companies throughout the United States. He was also asked to move to the Company’s headquarters in Indianapolis. Richard did his best to meet his employer’s requests, but soon discovered that the small company market was too limited to be economically viable. He recommended that his division be eliminated, despite the possibility that he would lose his job. He also began making plans for moving his family to Indiana, while simultaneously debating whether the Lord wanted him to move.
As Richard would learn shortly, the Lord wanted him to stay put. He had other plans for Richard. In May, 1987, the Middletown Branch had grown to the point that it was made a ward. Richard was called and ordained Bishop of the new ward.
Also in 1987, Richard’s son Alvin began a mission to Okayama, Japan. Guy became engaged, and later married Sara Maria Elena Sousa on August 8th in the Washington D.C. Temple. Richard and Glenda became grandparents for the first time on March 15th when their daughter Laura gave birth to Amy Marie Gordon. Richard had a business trip to Los Angeles, but he drove for an hour so he could see his first granddaughter for just a few brief moments before he had to drive to airport and catch his flight.
Richard later expressed his sentiments at become a grandfather. He said, “The joy of becoming grandparents and seeing your children start their own lives on the right paths has really been a great blessing . . . . All of the struggles and stress have been repaid many times over by the blessings of being part of this great family.”
The joys of being a grandparent continued in 1988, when Richard’s first grandson and namesake, Richard Allen Black, was born to Guy and Maria Elena Black on June 13, 1988 in Provo, Utah. Laura and Steve Gordon also gave notice that year they were expecting Richard’s third grandchild. Meanwhile, Richard’s son, Wesley, started a mission to Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The missions and grandchildren continued to come in a steady stream. Jeffrey served a mission in Japan; and Pamela and Kimberlee both served missions in California. Grandchildren, too many to name here, continued to arrive with every-increasing frequency. One by one, his children married and started their own families.
In January, 1988, Richard’s employer was acquired by another company from Zurich, Switzerland and then merged with a competing company. Richard was skeptical about the company’s long-term prospects.
In January, 1989, Richard and Glenda and two of their daughters, Pamela and Kimberlee, traveled to Japan to pick up Alvin from his mission. After flying fifteen hours, they arrived in Japan. They then spent two hours traveling to a train station. Their train from Okayama was leaving at 7:08, and they arrived at the train station at 6:55. Once inside the train station they realized they were in trouble. The train station was huge and they had no idea where to go to catch their train. As they looked around trying to decide what to do, suddenly a young lady from Virginia happened along, and they asked her where to go.
When the lady learned of their dilemma and the narrow time window in which to reach the train, she said, “Follow me, and we better walk faster.” For the next five minutes they walked and ran, following her up and around, in and out, until they arrive at the train, just in time to hop onboard before the train left. It was the last train of the evening.
They traveled for another four hours on the high speed train, arriving at about 11:30 p.m. local time. Their map showed that their hotel was only a few blocks from the station, so they decided to walk.
After they had walked five blocks without seeing the hotel, they stopped a Japanese man and asked for directions. He looked at their map and told them to follow him. He led them, as they carried their bags, nearly all the way back to the train station. Then he stopped to ask someone else for directions. He then turned around went back in the direction they had started. Finally, they found the hotel at 12:30 a.m., over twenty-nine hours after they started. The following day, when they saw Alvin, Alvin’s first comment was “Boy, you guys are sure pale.”
In Japan, they visited with members and slept in a Tatami room on mats and futons. Glenda, caught up in the moment, as she was prone to do, suggested to Richard that they should build a Tatami room of their own. Richard, with his practical common sense, thought it would be unnecessary and expensive.
They visited shrines on the Island of Myajima, bought trinkets, and toured a castle in Himeji. Glenda and Pamela ran into a man in a store who said “Good morning” in very good English. When Glenda and Pam responded, the man began to speak unintelligibly and motioned to Glenda to come closer.
Glenda recounted, “He motioned like he wanted us to lock our little fingers, so we did, just to be polite. Finally after about five minutes we just walked away. By this time, Richard, Alvin, and Kimberlee were nowhere to be seen. We could hear the man following us; and we just kept walking, hoping we would come across the rest of our group. He was yelling something at us, and we just kept walking, rather frightened.
“Finally, he caught up with us and handed me a Japanese bill. Then he left. It appeared that we had dropped the money and he was giving it to us. When I finally came to myself and we found the rest of the group, we discovered that he had given us 10,000 yen, which was about $85.00 U.S. money. I didn’t have any bills that large on me, but by then the man was nowhere to be seen.
“Later, as I was thinking on what happened, I began to wonder what it meant to interlock little fingers, so I asked Alvin. He said it meant that we promised to do something. I don’t know what we promised to do, but he must have been paying us for what we promised to do . . . . What an experience.”
Later that year, the family took a trip to Disneyworld and spent Thanksgiving at a cabin in Vermont.
In 1990, Richard lost his father, Evan. Evan had gone to the hospital for food poisoning. He had eaten some bad tuna. After he had been in the hospital for several weeks, he was recovering well, and was about ready to be released when he was hit with a heart attack. He never recovered consciousness, and died September, 29, 1990.
Richard made three trips back and forth between Utah and Connecticut to be with his father before the death. His brother, Pete, called him one evening and said that he thought Evan wanted Richard to give him a blessing. Richard flew out the next day and gave his father a priesthood blessing; probably the last one Evan received while on earth. Richard did not recall anything he said, nor did he recall the Spirit being especially strong. However, those in the room told Richard that they felt the Spirit. That was the last time Richard saw his father alive.
During that trip to Utah, the family considered whether to turn off the life support system that was artificially keeping Evan alive. Evan’s doctor indicated that before deciding whether to turn off life support, it was probably prudent to conduct a dialysis procedure, as Evan had retained a great deal of fluid.
Richard had to return to Connecticut, so he left the matter in the hands of his brothers and sisters in Utah. A few days after the dialysis, the family in Utah decided the time had come to disconnect life support. But, before the doctor could turn off the machines, Evan’s blood pressure began to drop on its own, and Evan passed away a few minutes later.
Richard and Glenda traveled back to Utah for the funeral. Richard spoke at the funeral, but on the way to the funeral he still did not know what he would say. He recalled that his talk was very short, and that he said something to the effect that they could not do anything at that point to help Dad except to live their lives in such as way as to be able to live with him and Mom in the eternities. Pete’s boss, who was at the service, told Pete that of all the talks given, Richard’s talk was the Gettysburg Address.
Earlier that same year, Richard began serving as Second Counselor to President Douglas McKinaly in the Hartford, Connecticut Stake. When President McKinlay was about to be released, Richard and Glenda both felt that Richard was going to be the next stake president. Instead, Richard was called to be First Counselor to President Michael Dudley.
Six years later, when Richard was actually called to be Stake President he was able to compare the difference between his feelings when he had been mistaken, and his feelings when he correctly perceived what the Spirit was trying to tell him. It was a great learning experience for him in understanding the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Also in 1991, Richard changed employers. He quit working for Pallm (or Capsco-Pallm as it was called by then), and went to work for DST, Inc., which, ironically, was the parent company of Vantage, the company that originally hired him to move to Connecticut.
In November, 1991, Richard underwent minor surgery to remove a cyst growing in the palate of his mouth. During the pre-operation physical, his blood pressure and cholesterol were high. He was also found to have diabetes.
As a result of the diabetes, Richard was instructed to carefully control his sugar intake. It was challenging for him to find sugar-free foods, and manage his sugar intake appropriately. He found that certain foods turned to sugar rather quickly and caused him headaches. At times it was discouraging for him to follow the prescribed diet. In later years, he began to experience many of the common symptoms of gradually worsening diabetes, including numbness in his extremities and gradual loss of his eyesight.
Richard and Glenda both became licensed as real estate agents in 1993. They continued their real estate activities, buying, repairing, renting, and selling homes and condos. In July, they looked at a lot on Job’s Pond, and considered purchasing that property. In 1993, Glenda ran for Portland’s school board, and Richard ran as a candidate for Portland’s board of selectmen. They participated in forums and tried to make their views known, but they lost the November election. Later, in 1995, Glenda was appointed to the school board to fill a vacancy, and she served on the school board for about eight months.
In November, 1993, Richard and Glenda purchased the property they had been eyeing on Job’s Pond. They cleared part of the land, built a shed for storage, and began making plans to build a house on the property. They eventually built a beautiful home overlooking the Pond.
During all of his years of working in Connecticut, Richard had a difficult travel schedule, continually flying from place to place, making sales calls. His grueling schedule continued in 1994. His calling as First Counselor in the Stake Presidency also kept him busy. Because President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the construction of a new temple, to be built in the Hartford area, Richard spent time looking for a temple site.
Richard and Glenda thought they had found a perfect site within their own ward boundaries. President Hinckley went to Connecticut to view the site; but President Hinckley felt that it might be more appropriate to look for a site in Avon or Farmington, where Wilford Woodruff was born and raised. After exhausting possible sites in Avon or Farmington, President Hinckley left indicating that he would probably recommend two sites in the Middletown area for a new temple. But, in the end two temples were built in New York and Boston, instead of one temple in Connecticut. Richard later participated in the Boston Temple groundbreaking ceremony, and also was able to be an integral part of the open house and dedication of the new temple.
Richard and Glenda spent Christmas, 1995 in Utah, and then spent time in California with Kimberlee in 1996. After they returned, Richard was on his way to an early-morning Stake Presidency meeting on a cold winter day. As he walked on the driveway, he slipped on the ice. The accident caused a bad break of one of his tibia, resulting in surgery and placement of a pin and screws in the leg. As a result of the injury, Richard spent several months at home, unable to walk or work. Apparently, Richard did not handle the injury well and he and Glenda went through a difficult time. Glenda later said, of that event, “This was a very trying time and brought forth emotions and feelings neither of us thought were there.” But Richard bounced back from the injury, and he and Glenda worked through their feelings.
In 1996, Richard was called as President of the Hartford, Connecticut, Stake. Elder Robert E. Wells set him apart on November 10, 1996.
For more than nine years, Richard served faithfully as stake president. He presided over tremendous spiritual growth in the stake. His testimony grew as he experienced the Lord’s promptings in making callings and decisions on behalf of the Stake, sometimes despite his own judgments to the contrary. When, in later retrospect, he discovered that the Lord was right, and he saw the reasons for the callings and decisions, he could only affirm that putting his trust in the Lord was always the right conclusion. He found that he often failed if he merely relied on his own common-sense views.
During his time as Stake President, he was privileged to welcome many General Authorities into his home. He remembered the time Elder Dallin Oaks visited the Stake, and spent the night under his roof.
He also remembered taking Elder Boyd K. Packer to Olive Garden for Dinner. He recalled that Elder Packer’s bodyguard gave strict instructions regarding Elder Packer’s dietary preferences. Richard picked a restaurant that he thought would meet the standards. After looking at the menu, he thought he had made a mistake in his restaurant choice. Elder Packer, though, did not express any dissatisfaction; but instead ordered seconds.
In May, 2003, Richard’s daughter, Kimberlee married Jose Antonio Chapital in the Louisville, Kentucky Temple. Most of the family traveled to Kentucky to witness the ceremony. One evening, Richard and his family walked from their hotel to a riverside restaurant. During the walk, Richard mentioned that he was cold. As it was a pleasant evening, and not at all cold, some in the family thought his comment odd. Upon returning to her room, Guy’s wife, Maria Elena, who had worked as a cardiac nurse for many years, mentioned that Richard’s behavior and comments seemed consistent with her observations of many cardiac patients. She suggested that Richard visit a cardiologist. After the trip, Richard took Maria Elena’s advice. His cardiologist discovered an arterial blockage that required stent placements to avoid a heart attack. Fortunately, the problem was corrected early enough, and Richard has been doing well.
In early 2005, Richard knew that his term as Stake President was drawing to an end. When Richard summarized his experiences as stake president, he said, “During the time that I served as stake president, I was privileged to participate in many ordinations and setting people apart for their callings. I set apart over one hundred missionaries, ordained about thirty bishops, ordained a new patriarch, restored the blessings of a person who had been readmitted into the Church after disciplinary action, and set apart two new counselors in the Stake Presidency.
“In addition, I had the privilege of shaking hands with the entire First Presidency. I had President Monson preside at one of my Stake Conferences. I was the host stake president for a regional conference. I sat on the stand at two special firesides, one in Massachusetts and the other one in Madison Square Gardens in New York. Both of the firesides were presided over by President Hinckley. I also had Boyd K. Packer preside at another stake conference. I had the privilege of having Elder Oaks and his wife stay in our home. I met with many of the Twelve Apostles in Stake Presidents’ training sessions. I truly learned that the Lord is in charge.”
As the expected date for his release from the stake presidency drew near, he and Glenda looked forward to “golden years” of retirement together. They had plans to travel and serve as senior missionaries.
Then their world came crashing down around them. Glenda was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer called Mixed Mulerian Tumor (MMT). Because the cancer was in a late stage and had already spread to other organs when it was discovered, statistically it was very unlikely that Glenda would survive five years.
The doctors surgically removed as much of the cancer as possible, and Glenda almost died before she recovered. But she did recover, at least for a while.
Richard was released as Stake President and began to dedicate himself and his time to Glenda. Richard and Glenda steeled themselves for a protracted war against Glenda’s illness.
After a series of chemotherapy sessions and other procedures, it appeared that the cancer had been knocked down. Glenda and Richard spent as much time as possible going places and doing things together and with family. Whenever Richard traveled, Glenda would be at his side.
Together they went to the Memmott family reunion just about four weeks after the initial cancer was found. What a great experience that was to have her there with her family, even though she was in the middle of chemotherapy.
After the cancer seemed like it was in remission, the doctor told Richard and Glenda that the cancer would return eventually. The only question was how much time Glenda had before it would reassert itself. Glenda asked the doctor what her chances of survival were. He told her that they were less then five percent that she would live five years. Glenda had hope and faith that she would beat the odds.
But then the despair returned when the cancer reappeared and began growing with a vengeance. Richard and Glenda struggled through a roller coaster of emotions, as they dealt with their grief and with the realization of Glenda’s approaching death.
As the end neared, Richard was overcome with emotions at times. Yet he tried to make the best of the situation, and was always optimistic and hopeful whenever he was around Glenda; although privately he was often despondent, and more realistic about her fate.
When Glenda asked him for priesthood blessings, Richard obliged her, but felt frustrated and inadequate because of his inability to heal her. He wondered whether he could have exercised greater faith on her behalf. He had served his Father in Heaven faithfully for many years. Was it too much to ask that God spare his wife for a few more years of happiness together? He asked himself whether he was to blame for her death. He questioned why he and Glenda were being punished. But in the end, he came to the understanding that the Lord still loved him. He learned to trust in the Lord, although it was hard.
Glenda, too, sometimes wondered why she couldn’t be healed. In an isolated moment of delirium, she once unfairly and uncharacteristically accused Richard of being responsible for not being able to cure her. If she had been fully coherent, she would not have made such an accusation, as it was not her nature to blame others for her difficulties. But, Richard could not help but feel guilty for her fate, in the face of such circumstances.
Because Glenda and Richard chose hospice care for Glenda’s last few weeks of life, Richard was burdened with caring for Glenda and witnessing her gradual deterioration at home. He was her nurse as well as her husband. Fortunately, Glenda’s daughters and daughter-in-law, Stacey, stepped in and shouldered a large portion of the burden of Glenda’s daily needs during the last few weeks.
Nevertheless, Glenda’s last days on earth were one of Richard’s most trying times. Glenda often expressed concern to her children and her bishop about Richard’s suffering. She was fearful that without their love and support he would follow her to the grave too soon. Glenda’s death was perhaps the greatest challenge Richard had faced to that point. He was truly humbled by the experience.
The evening before Glenda’s death, Richard was miserable. He did not know what to do for her. He had not slept well for many days. He had been awake all night, every night, by her side. He wanted her be released from the bondage of life, but he was uncertain whether a priesthood blessing doing so was an appropriate course of action.
In his familiar role as patriarch, he gathered his children around him in the middle of the night in his living room. The family counseled together. The spirit bore witness that Glenda would be taken in due time without any intervention by the family. The Lord’s ways and times were not the family’s ways and times. Heavenly Father has his own schedule and purposes. A spirit of unity swept over the room as the family all concurred with the spirit’s witness. They jointly recalled a sweet reminder of the Savior’s reproach to his disciples in Gethsemane when he asked them if they could not watch with him one hour. Glenda was experiencing her own Gethsemane and Golgotha. Her husband and children were mere witnesses of her passing. Could they not be patient and watch with her until her appointed time?
When Glenda finally passed the following afternoon, a wave of relief passed over the family. The anticipation of death and the observation of Glenda’s anguish was such an overwhelmingly heavy and oppressing burden, that the release of death was a welcome experience.
For Richard, the initial release was followed by the shock of the finality of her absence, and then by prolonged loneliness. For the next few months, Richard made many trips to Utah to visit Glenda’s grave. He spent many days and nights thinking back to his life with Glenda, lost at times in his solitariness. He longed for companionship.
About a year has passed since Glenda’s death. Richard has largely recovered from his grief, and moved forward with his life. He has dedicated himself to continuing his work as Director of the Godfrey Library in Middletown, Connecticut. He was called to serve as Ward Mission Leader, being responsible for assisting as many as ten missionaries at once. He was also called to serve as a temple ordinance worker. He travels to the Boston Temple at least once a month for an early morning shift. The trip extracts its toll on his body, but the spiritual experiences he enjoys while serving in the Temple are magnificent.
Richard has also become reconnected to an old friend from high school. He does not believe that his renewed friendship is coincidental or accidental. In the process of regaining his friend, much of his loneliness has dissipated, and he has felt the assurance that Glenda approves of the connection.
Richard’s children have been cautious and sometimes confused at the possibility Richard will remarry. Some of them are still working through their own grief at Glenda’s death, and have found it difficult to accept a replacement for their mother. But with time, Richard feels that the children will learn to appreciate the unique talents and qualities of his new companion, despite the fact that she will never replace Glenda.
The future looks much brighter now. Richard’s sense of loss has been replaced with the anticipation of a future filled with new experiences and more opportunities for him to grow and serve. He has many years of productive life ahead of him, as he and his family help each other through whatever new challenges they must face.