Saturday, November 28, 2015

Farewell, Sister Olene Walker

Olene Walker, wife, mother, grandmother, friend to kings, presidents, rulers, magistrates, the downtrodden and children, and a longtime member of the B7 Ward passed quietly into eternity on Saturday, November 28, 2015 in Salt Lake City with her family by her side.  

Known to most of us as “the oldest Primary president in the church,” Sister Walker also made history when she was sworn in as the 15th – and first woman - Governor of the state of Utah in 2003 just shortly before her 73rd birthday.  After her time in the state house, she and Myron served in New York City as Public Affairs Missionaries, unofficially assigned to the United Nations “where we built relationships and strengthened the image of the church among world leaders.  If issues came up – such as visas being denied, concerns relating to the sale of property for construction of church buildings, or allowing missionaries into countries, we knew people we could call and talk to about the problem.”  Although their specific assignment was diplomacy, when it became known she was a former Utah governor, she was often invited to speak in various venues.

In Sister Walker’s political background she was eight years in the state legislature, including a term as Majority Whip; and, ten years as Lieutenant Governor.  During her career, she founded and directed the Salt Lake Education Foundation.  She also served as Director of the Utah Division of Community Development; chaired the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, the Utah State Housing Coordinating Committee, the Governor’s Commission on Child Care; chaired the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors; and served as president of the National Association of Secretaries of State – the first Lieutenant Governor ever to serve as president of that organization. Her leadership as chair of the Utah Healthcare Reform Task Force led to the establishment of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for affordable health care for children.  She also chaired the Workforce Task Force resulting in the development of the Department of Workforce Services and was known throughout the state as a strong advocate for literacy and education.

She earned her bachelors degree from Brigham Young University, a masters degree from Stanford University and at the age of fifty-one, Olene completed her Ph.D. at the University of Utah, while also serving as a state legislator. Two of her children, a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law graduated the same day.

Olene Smith, the 2nd of five Smith children, was born in November 1930 in Ogden.  She married Myron Walker and together they have seven children and twenty-five grandchildren.

Among her Bloomington neighbors, Linda Sappington recalls running into her shopping one evening at a local grocery store.  “Olene, where is your security detail,” her neighbor asked.  “Why do I need security?  I’m always safe in St. George,” she responded with her characteristic good-natured smile.  “Besides, no one recognizes me here.”

Linda Lowe shared, “Olene was much loved and respected. I first met her when she was Lt. Governor.  She often filled in for Governor Leavitt at our Shakespeare events.  She was such a strong voice for arts, education and especially for programs that increased the well-being of women and children. She was a great lady in my book!”

Late in life, Olene Walker was called by Bishop John Goldhardt to serve as the B7 Ward's Primary president, despite her own concerns about her age and her inability to sing. States Shar Simkins who served as one of her counselors, "She was an amazing woman! She loved serving the children and had genuine affection for every one of them; and, she always made those of us who worked in the Primary feel special, too.  She would feed us something incredible on her fine china and silver at our Primary meetings reminding us things are to be used ... not put on display in a china cabinet.   When the children would get irreverent she would point at her watch and challenge them, ‘let's see if we can beat the world record for children being quiet and still.’  To my surprise it always worked and the children would immediately quiet down.  She was very classy, very intelligent, very giving, and I am a better person to have known her!!”

Whether we knew her as a neighbor or a dignitary in the State of Utah and the world, no one can deny she was indeed a classy lady who made the world a better place.  Governor Walker or Sister Walker, you will be missed!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Farewell, Sister Flora Steed

Our gentle, kind-hearted, petite and stylish Flora Mae Maughan Steed, age 89, left this world behind on November 16, 2015, in St. George. She was born in Richfield to Angus Marion and Susie Maughan.  Flora attended school in Richfield, UT through her junior year but graduated from Millard High School in Fillmore.

She earned a degree in Education and Home Economics from the University of Utah, then at age 21, she married her devoted eternal companion Robert Hansen Steed in the Salt Lake Temple.

She had the opportunity to live in several states because of her husband’s profession. Throughout her lifetime, she and Bob also enjoyed traveling and experiencing several international cultures.

In addition to time spent with her family, including three children, 12 grandchildren and 20 “greats,” Sister Flora enjoyed reading, cooking and entertaining.

Although in the last years of her life, she did not know the members of the Bloomington 7th Ward nor did her health allow her to participate beyond attendance at Sacrament meeting, she always smiled as people stopped to greet her and there is no doubt she “left this earth with her testimony burning brightly.”

Sister Flora Steed will be missed by those of us who knew and loved her.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Brother Bob and their family at this difficult time.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Young Women Show They Are Anchored in Christ

Calling the Young Women’s Program “inspired” President Jill Fraser introduced the theme for the YW in Excellence Program on Wednesday, November 11, 2015 noting, “by coming to Church each week, attending Young Women’s, doing what we have been asked to do, the Lord sees we are ‘anchored in Christ’ and, as such, knows He can count on us!”

As each girl attached a link to the anchor she shared a quote from a Church leader relating to being Anchored in Christ, then introduced herself and her interests and hobbies on display.  B7 Young Women are involved in and excited about poetry, music, reading, painting and drawing, volleyball, softball, dance, cello, quilting, musical theater, marathoning, puzzles, sewing, pottery making basketball, drill team and the scriptures.

Bishop Mike Bair expressed his love for the girls and spoke of the four pillars to show “you are anchored to Christ” which he said are “prayer, scripture study, worship – especially at weekly Sacrament meeting – and service to one another.  Also, remember to be a good example of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those around you and remember to do these little things which will bring you big rewards.”

The Young Women and their leaders, accompanied by Debb Johnston on the guitar, closed this beautiful meeting with “Someone He Can Count On.”

B7 Ward's young women are Martha Bown, Sally Fraser, Jillian Thomas, Sage Wilkes, Melissa Larson, Tecia Clem, Iris Zeidner, Caroline Smith, Cara Bair, Tavia Clem, Monica Melendez, Alicia Melendez, Erica Evans, Grace Bown, Aspen Bair, Brianna Rucci, Hadley Forsyth and Tiana Schall.  Thanks also to those called to assist the young women obtain their goals including President Jill Fraser, 1st Counselor Lori Bair, 2nd Counselor Vanda Lawson, Secretary Nancy Anderson, Laurel Advisor Debb Johnston, Mia Maid Advisor Trudy Oviatt and Beehive Advisor Joy Alldredge. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Welcome, Clem Family

Talking about her family’s move to the B7 Ward, after 13 years in Mesquite, NV, brings tears to Peggy Clem’s eyes, not so much because of the life she left behind but more because of the reason for the move.  

Since June 8, 2011, her husband Dennis Clem has been in and out of hospitals, including Dixie Regional Medical Center following a near-fatal automobile accident involving a semi-truck.
The drive from Mesquite to St. George is only 70-miles round-trip, but eventually the family made the decision to move across the Utah/Nevada border to be closer to the hospital and to Peggy’s mother.  In St. George, the family’s quest for permanent housing, she states, involved moving “from ward, to ward, to ward” looking for a house they could afford and which could accommodate not only Dennis but their four teenagers, including 17-year-old Tyler, 15-year-old Tavia, 13-year-old Tecia (who her mom describes as a “supersized 5-year-old” because of her disabilities), and 11-year-old Traci, on whose 8th birthday, the accident - which would change the family’s lives forever - occurred. 
In early 2015, the Clem’s found, purchased and modified their home in the B7 Ward, which Peggy describes as having “good bones and a good structure” and where Dennis and the kids can be comfortable and happy. 

Peggy, a lifelong member of the Church, a graduate of Dixie High School, and a stay-at-home mom, has served mostly in Primary.  Dennis, a graduate of Virgin Valley High School, last worked for Auto Zone in Mesquite.  Both say, the accident – as traumatic as it was – has helped them better appreciate the importance of family, with whom they enjoy reading, listening to mystery books, watching football and movies, doing crafts and “lots and lots of cooking together.”