Monday, December 23, 2013


Thursday of last week I received a call from Orson Jr., asking me to say a few words about his dad at the funeral on Saturday.  After the funeral, Aunt Leslie asked me to give her a copy of my talk about Uncle Orson.  I suggested I post it so she could print it out as she desired.  Here is the written version (which is somewhat different than the spoken version) of what I gave on Saturday.  I can't remember the additions that came out so you can imagine what you want between the lines.

Good morning, brothers and sisters, I appreciate this time I have to say a few words about the life of one of my favorite people in the world.  Orson Whitmer has been a part of my life for all the days I can remember.  His influence flows through many of the habits and experiences I have had and will be with me for the rest of eternity.  He has been my friend and my mentor for much of my life.

I am the eldest child Uncle Orson’s eldest brother Rex – Orson was only 14 years old when I was born.  My first memories of hm were when he was getting ready to go on his mission to the Eastern States.  It was an exciting time for our family and though I really didn’t understand what was happening, I was caught up in the hoopla.  Two years later I was a little more aware and remember Orson’s return and the buzz it created in the family.  Every time we went to my grandparent’s home I would hope to hear more stories of what it was like to serve as a missionary for the Savior.  There were some tales that made me a little nervous: like when he and his companion spent the night in jail.  But most of his stories were the type that would get a little boy thinking a mission might be a really fun thing to do. 

Many of you may not know that Uncle Orson spent a lot of time overcoming sickness when he was a youngster.  I don’t recall all the maladies he had but I suspect it was really frustrating for a man of his nature.  To occupy his time, his mother (my grandmother) would bring home model airplane kits for him to assemble.  When he had completed each plane, he would hang them from the ceiling of his room in some sort of attack position.  While Orson was away on his mission, my parents visited the family home quite often and one day I discovered this wonderful room with all the airplanes. 
Imagine my excitement when I realized that if you open and close the door to the room really fast, it would cause the bombers and fighters hanging from the ceiling to launch into a great battle.  My grandmother warned me not to do it (after I was caught one time) but the temptation was too great so I persisted.  I didn’t understand the consequences of my actions until, shortly after Orson’s return from his mission, I was escorted to his room to explain why many of the airborne battalion was damaged and in ruins.  I think he eventually forgave me but I have always harbored a fear of retribution for my actions.

Over the years of our relationship, I have observed how Uncle Orson dealt with people – especially those whom he felt needed some extra help.  After I graduated from High School, Orson and Leslie allowed me to live in their home while I worked and went to school.  They had a large family and I’m sure it was not easy to suddenly have a teenage boy (Joyee and Orson Jr., Beckee and Eric were pretty young at that time) living in their home, acting much like a teenage boy will act.  But they were patient and helped me see that I could be a better man than I had considered possible.  Leslie even seemed to ignore my footprints on the ceiling as I learned to walk on my hands.

My time in their home gave me some other benefits.  With the large brood they were raising, I observed the same love of family I had witnessed in my own family.  My parents suddenly didn’t look so “stupid” because Orson and Leslie were doing many of the same things that happened in our home.  The confirmation they provided helped me come to grips with some of my own relationship problems I had with my folks.  My cool uncle help me see that my Dad was pretty cool also (but don’t tell him I said that).

Brothers and sisters, I could go on for hours with experiences that occurred while I was with my Uncle but you don’t really want to hear all that.  What you really want you to know is that Orson Whitmer was a good man who loved God and took excellent care of his family.  He made mistakes in his life and the consequences were often difficult for him to bear.  But he also made innumerable wise choices and has left a legacy of goodness and faith that will be remembered by his children and all those who knew and loved him.
The value of a man like Orson Whitmer is found not in wealth or possessions but in the rivulets of godliness that run through the lives of those whom he has loved and served. 

His value is seen through the kind eyes of his son Eric as he looks at those little girls he is raising.  There is an Orson-like tenacity that is familiar as you watch the way Orson Jr. works and treats the customers he encounters in his business.  Who does not recognize Orson in the tenderness Damon has for other people who are in need of a compassionate friend?  And I can see and feel Uncle Orson in the way Debbee remains so faithful in caring for her aged parents. The joy for life breathes out of Seth and gives all a hint of the excitement Orson always had for living.  And when you look in the tender, loving eyes of Beckee, they reflect the same brightness that gave her father the will to struggle through all the challenges of life – knowing that these are just the experiences of mortality that help us prepare for eternity. 
Yes, we are sending off a wonderful man today.  We will miss his presence, but his influence will last for generations through the lives of those he loved. 

May God bless Orson to know how much we love him and may his family always be thankful for the goodness he has given them.

I bear my witness of the gospel of Christ – which was the foundation of all Orson ever did.  Because of the knowledge we have, we know where we are going and what happens when we get there.  Peace to each of you at this special time of year.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Despite the best efforts of doctors and family prayers, Uncle Orson succumbed to the effects of mortality and passed to the realm of spirits.  In doing so, he has joined his parents and two sisters who preceded him in that journey.  There is surely a joyful reunion between these loving family members as Orson is welcomed to the place of rest and preparation for the resurrection.

Times like this remind me of experiences I have enjoyed that have been lost in the years.  Such is my time pondering my relationship with Orson and the times we spent together.  As I said in my last post, Orson has been my closest uncle and has been a great influence on my life.  Being only 14 years older, he was still a boy when I came to the family and I was the first nephew he had so it was a unique experience for both of us.  I liken it to my own son, Joel, and his relationship with his nieces and nephews – almost a big brother experience instead of a distant uncle thing.

I can remember sitting in Grammy’s living room and listening to Uncle Orson’s tales of the mission field.  He served in the South and had some hair-raising times with the locals of the area.  While some of what he said scared me, most of his stories built a desire in me to go out and serve like he did – as an ambassador for our Savior.  When I did accept a call (to Canada) there were many times I would hearken back to Orson’s stories and realize there were some great things we held in common.  Part of the reason I decided to serve (not an easy choice) was because of the positive image my uncle planted in my young heart.

After high school, I spent some time living in the Orson Whitmer home while I pretended to go to school and work (I’ll tell you about that some day).  The family was very accepting and counted me as one of their own while I was there (we had some memorable motorcycle rides on the street in front of their house).  But I was most blessed because I got to see another home where the parents loved their children and each other with total commitment.  My own parents set a wonderful example but I had a tendency to discount them because I knew them so well.  What I saw in Orson and Leslie’s family was a standard that, with my own personal experiences, helped me set a plan for how I would raise my children. 

No one should expect that I think Orson was perfect.  I know he had his weaknesses (but so do I).  He would not be afraid to tell you he had his own warts and difficulties.  His life was full of struggles and challenges (health, job, family, etc.) yet he never faltered in his devotion to those he loved.  Watching from near or far, it was easy to identify the depth of his love and commitment to his family.  He was an example to me (and I’m sure many others) of what a father and friend should be.

Orson Whitmer was above all else, my friend.  I had confidence in him to tell me the truth and show me the right way to go.  If I had been blessed with an older brother, this is the type of man I would want to have setting the standard for life.

I miss you Uncle Orson, and hope your reunion with our family is sweet and fulfilling.  When it is my time to leave mortality, my desire is that you will be there with all those whom I love so much.  Godspeed and keep the faith.

Your loving nephew,


Monday, December 16, 2013


My dad has a younger brother named Orson who was my favorite uncle all my growing up years (no offense meant to other uncles -- he was just around more and we got along).  He wasn’t too good to play with the little kids and he always had kind words to share and encourage me when things weren’t going well.  In some ways he was the older brother I never had (being the eldest) and I appreciated the way he treated me and helped me.

As I got older, there were many things I tried because of Uncle Orson.  He was a business major in school so I decided to give that a whirl.  I even went to work with him and my dad when I graduated from college for a while.  But maybe most of all, I have always appreciated the good example Uncle Orson showed in how to love and care for a family.  Oh, he had his struggles with his kids (like most of us do) but he always loved them and made them the focus of his efforts in life.

Uncle Orson, Dad, and Uncle Lewis

Last weekend we received a call from Uncle Orson’s wife, Aunt Leslie, telling us that he had coronary arrest and was not doing well.  It’s hard for me to believe that he is old enough to have any serious problems like that but I guess part of the issue is a congenital heart defect.  Anyway, we went up to see him and found him in the ICU of the local hospital.  It was an odd experience because he usually is more animated – of course, all those tubes and things might have limited his responses (I’m being silly because he was in an induced coma)

We used to go visit Uncle Orson and his family fairly often when all our kids were around more but lately we have been slack in our trips.  I realized that we do miss those times we had together and wish we had been better.  But the thing now is to make sure we do better.

We hope and pray for our ‘favorite Uncle’ to recover and return to his family unchanged but we also trust the God will help us with whatever circumstances result in this experience.  I do miss talking to my uncle and hope he can come back and be a part of our lives again.

Merry Christmas to you, Uncle Orson, and to all your family.   God bless you to be with us for a very long time.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Today is one of those times when I just have a jumble of thoughts going through my head.  It is hard to decide which to grab and share so I will toss out a few topics and see how they sound on paper.  And it’s OK if it makes no sense to you – I doesn't to me either.

I hate it when stores sell goods that are defective!!! 
I went to a nearby Lowe’s store to purchase some yard lights to use with our Nativity scene.  These were the rechargeable LED kind that are supposed to last all night. 

First problem – two of them came without the batteries.  OK, so I had a couple of rechargeables in my drawer so I put them in (one also had no door on the battery spot but a lesser deal).  After a full day in the sun (granted, it is winter and the days are shorter) I checked to see if the lights came on.  Sure enough, at 5:30 PM, when the sun had receded behind the horizon the little glow bugs were shining brightly.  Success!!!

This is actually a little nicer than mine but still similar
Except, when I went back out an hour later, all three of them were dead to the world.  The paperwork in the lights says they are good for at least 8 hours with a day’s charging but these little babies barely last an hour.  So much for product quality.


It has been really cold here in Utah.  I don’t mean just chilly or cold, but REALLY cold.  Most mornings I leave the house and it is in single digits (Fahrenheit).  Last time this happened we had some frozen pipes so I have taken precautions to prevent that issue ----- I hope!!! 

But hopefully none of this!!

We have a little of this.

For those who are not LDS, there is a custom that says High Council speakers are supposed to be dry and boring.  For this reason, many on the High Council feel threatened by the duty to speak on a regular basis.  Thankfully, I am just ignorant enough to not really care what people think (I do care about my duties and make an effort to present a good message but don’t worry too much about what others think) so I totally enjoy preparing and sharing a message each month.  It’s kind of like teaching school but no one gets to talk back during the lesson.  Some may walk out but they are usually quiet about it. 
Anyways, I love to speak and look forward to standing up to preach the gospel of Christ to my fellow Christians. 

Teresa convinced me to get her Christmas present early so she could use it for Cub Scouts and Christmas.  Now I don’t know what to do about Christmas Day!!!  She says it’s OK not to get more but I feel guilty.  If anyone has a helpful suggestion, please let me know.

BTW, she got a nice new printer for the computer.

Detective shows are some of my favorites on TV.  In the old days I liked “Rockford Files” and “Magnum P.I.”  Recently I have enjoyed watching “The Mentalist” because of the quirkiness of the main character.   For those who are familiar, Patrick Jane has had a long struggle, searching for Red John, the madman who killed his wife and daughter.  A couple of years ago he thought he had killed his nemesis but that proved to be a faulty premise.  Since then, he has drawn closer and closer to finding the perpetrator of the heinous crime he suffered.

“SPOILER ALERT” – if you haven’t seen the resolution of the Red John arc, please stop reading and skip the next two paragraphs.
Patrick Jane

I have rooted for Jane to finally meet his opposite number and give him his comeuppance.  The evil dude needs to be eliminated – not just for the murders he has committed but also for the network of crooked cops he has developed. 

BUT!!!!   The conclusion of the Red John story was very anti-climactic.  Turns out he was a lackluster sheriff who had a minor connection with Jane and the CBI over the years.  And his last encounter with Patrick was so tame and lame that it was almost comical in its presentation.  The only good part of the whole encounter was the ending of the storyline.  Very disappointing!!!

More often than I care to consider, I am moved to gratitude (yea, even almost to tears) that I have not begun to lose my hair (yet?).  Thus far, the hair grows and stays with me pretty well.  Granted, it is much greyer than before but at least it is there.  I hope this little paragraph did not jinx me in any way.

A sad state of affairs for any man!!!

If I have to be without most of my hair
I hope I can be somewhat like this man.
One of my favorite writers/Christians, Brother
Lewis knew how to wear bald well.

I posted this video on Facebook with three messages from modern prophets.  It was meant to show how the prophets have warned us about the deterioration of our country because of poor decisions by its people.  I often feel sadness for the predicaments we find ourselves in as a nation but I am so grateful for the knowledge that following Christ will eventually lead to a place of peace and joy.  We truly can’t rely on people for peace– it only comes from the Savior.  I echo Alma’s testimony (which I have shared before):

And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.  And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.  Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people,that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.  
(Alma 7:11-13)

I guess that’s enough for now.  Hope I didn’t bore too many people into “Slumberland.”  Merry Christmas and remember who we really love.  See you next time.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


As much as any child, I love the story and the traditions of Santa Claus.  Believing has been a part of me since my youth and I have tried to invite my children to carry that tradition down through their own families (Yes, I know what I say about traditions but this one is different).

The Jolly Elf Himself
Searching for information on the origin of Santa, I have discovered many stories of his counterpart, Saint Nicholas.  Apparently he was a real person and his experiences were used to create the man we know as Santa Claus.  Here is a site where you can see some of what Nicholas did to earn his reputation.

While I love the stories of Nicholas, I am more inclined to think that the true inspiration for our Jolly Fellow hearkens back to the life, teachings, and actions of our Savior.  Take these examples and see if they don’t fit:

Mary, Joseph with Simeon in the Temple

n Who better to offer gifts of joy and happiness to a weary people than someone who is eternally fully of love and joy? 

HIs love caused Him to come and be with us.
n He came at night and offered gifts of great worth to the entire world. 

The Wise Men with the Young Child
n His journey to earth was completed in a single night but it continues each year without stopping.
n He is not discriminatory – everyone is offered a present if they are willing to receive.

Even as a boy He was special.
n Any who want to communicate with Him need only make the effort and He will reply.
n His promises as fulfilled – no matter what!!!

I’m sure there are more images that fit the circumstances so I invite you to share some of your own.  Just know that I believe we REALLY know who Santa Claus is and what He represents.

Merry Christmas to all of you and may you find peace and joy in the love of Christ.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


A short vent today!!!

“Now these lawyers were learned in all the arts and cunning of the people; and this was to enable them that they might be skilful in their profession…. And now behold, I say unto you, that the foundation of the destruction of this people is beginning to be laid by the unrighteousness of your lawyers and your judges.”  (Alma 10:15, 27)
Not a new condition in the world.
Our family has been involved in some contact with the legal system this week and these verses are very appropriate for the circumstances they have encountered.  Right and wrong seem to have little sway in the matters at hand – it is more about who can obfuscate the truth to the greatest degree. 

I once had a professor (for business law) who stated:
“All lawyers lie and if they tell you they don’t, they are lying.”

There are some men of law whom, I believe, try to keep their work on the strait and narrow.  Hurrah for them and may they have influence on many others.  But when it comes to certain types of law, integrity and common sense take the back seat to profit and greed. 

Enough venting.  Back to kindness mode.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


In celebration of Thanksgiving, my classes spent part of today listing things they are grateful for in their lives.  Since “what is good for the goose is good for the gander” I decided to share a few of my ‘thankfuls.’  I will try to avoid cliché items and focus on some that I really find appropriate for my situation.  Let’s hope I don’t get too corny or so carried away that I lose the true spirit of the project.

Here goes!!!

1.   Peanut Butter – one of the great contributions to life from George Washington Carver.  Thank you GWC because now, when I get hungry and there’s nothing easy to eat, I can find bread and slather on PB (with a little J) and survive another day.

2.  Rubber – thanks to Goodrich or Goodyear, or whomever found a practical way to make rubber for personal use.  How else would I have anything to flip at students when I get frustrated or crazy?

3.  Ball Point Pens (which eventually became other methods of writing) – imagine having to use inkwells and pointy sticks to write out a check or put down the things we have in journals.  Not a happy thought.  (But then again, I don't do much writing with a pen because I have this cute little computer thingy -- oh well, I still am thankful for pens)

4.  Solar Watches – it was always frustrating to have to wind or replace a battery in my watch --- so much so that I often forgot.  Now, with a watch that runs using the power of the sun, I can blissfully go through many years (about 18 right now) and not worry one bit about powering or winding my little time friend.

5.  Science Fiction – this world is wonderful but it is so much fun to speculate on what ‘might be’ if we had some fantastic scientific knowledge or could cross current limits.  I cut my SF teeth on Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov and never looked back.  Most of what I know about physics, geometry, astronomy, history and a myriad other topics comes from science fiction stories and books.

6.  Scriptures – as a young man I never considered that this would become important but the older I get, the more I know I need the guidance available in these sacred books.  I love God and His Son and want to know all about Them and Their work.  These books offer the ability to understand, in a small way, who and what They are and what They have in store for us (You know I had to have at least one serious/normal thing in my list).

7.  The Best Wife in the World  (no battle) – anyone who can be faithful to a man like me for nearly 37 years has to be anointed for sainthood in any religion on the earth.  The fact that she doesn't run screaming from the house when I return each day is a testament to the tolerance and love she has for the “weak things of the world.”

8.  Scuba Diving – how else can you have an experience that results in the following statement as you sit on the bottom of the ocean------ I should be dead right now!!!  It is so much fun and such a rush – if only it didn't cost so much!!

9.  Great Music – while there are many interpretation of this phrase, I have found that it can appear in just about any venue.  Classical, Rock, Country, Religious, Reggae, Big Band, even Rap have songs and arrangements that can touch the heart and change the soul.  I love music.

10.        Children – I love being around young people of all types.  Probably why I chose the profession I now practice.  These are God’s greatest creations and will be the ones who prepare for whatever future this earth may have.  I have great faith in them and know that they will protect and preserve the goodness that comes to us all from God.  I especially love and honor those who have been sent to our little family.  These are the hopes of my future and the future of all that is dear to me.

OK, there were a couple that drifted to seriousness but I think I can be forgiven for that.  I have lots more that I thank Heavenly Father for every day but these are some of my favorites.

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you and may you find joy in being with those you love most.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Once a week, Teresa and I have the opportunity to work in the Jordan River Temple for a few hours.  We are blessed to be temple ordinance workers and have the privilege of blessing the lives of many who have passed on to the spirit world.  It is demanding work but very satisfying to the soul.

The Jordan River Temple -- Where we serve weekly
Most of those who work with us are retired or considerably older than our youngish years.  In fact, one of my favorite jokes (lame though it may be) is to come into a gathering of workers and remind all the brethren there that, though I am nearly six decades old, I am still the youngest in the room.  It generally elicits a chuckle and a groan or two.
The Temple in Mesa, Arizona
Where I first attended and received the endowment.

But what I like best about our weekly foray into the Lord’s House is the feeling of peace and contentment that resides in this sacred edifice.  Folks who come to work and worship in the temple are trying to change their own lives by drawing closer to God and Christ.  They come with the intent to serve by offering time to those who cannot do for themselves what they would like to do.  Many are there for the benefit of their own relatives and have such tender feelings that they can’t help but be moved to tears. Which often moves us to the same predicament.  And the feelings of spiritual strength are amazing.   

No matter how my day has gone (and working with teenagers can make life interesting) the hours spent in the temple are always satisfying and humbling.  The fact that God would allow simple souls like us to borrow His glory and authority for such a vital purpose is overwhelmingly overwhelming.

To quote the Primary song:
I love to see the Temple…

Try it yourself and see if it helps.

The Nauvoo Temple
Restored after the original was burned
as the Saints fled to Utah.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


I am not the nicest person in the world.  Not that effort is made to go out of my way to be difficult, but some of my idiosyncrasies invite negative feelings from others. 

For instance, at times I can be intolerant of what is recognized as weaknesses that my fellow earthlings possess.  And often my own feelings flashes through my face and physical reactions.  Sadly, failings of my own do not always register and are not uppermost in my mind when judgments are offered about others.

The message here is that there is great weakness in the character of the author of this blog.  Of course, if you are familiar at all with him, you already know these facts.  They are accepted and expected and will probably continue on in some form for eons to come.

But, I am not here to seek forgiveness (though that would be lovely if it were given) nor to justify past actions or future follies.  The purpose of this message is to present a principle that buoys up those in similar circumstances (including the author).  So if you have any interest in this subject, please keep reading.  If not, then I won’t be offended (much) if you just move on to the next blog.

Early in His ministry Jesus made this statement:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matt. 5:48)

In His visit to the Nephites He added “I or…” to those who are perfect (3 Nephi 12:48).  The message is clear--- we are expected to become perfect, like God and Christ have done.

Is that really possible, I ask my imperfect and mostly failing self?  Can a mortal with all the baggage that comes with mortality really find a way to put off the imperfection and weaknesses that crowd into life?

Well, Nephi said:

…I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them. 
(1 Nephi 3:7)

He was a prophet of God so it must be possible……. But, my golly, it seems extremely hard and painful!!!

Then the recollection comes that there is a way to make this thing possible.  God knew that earth life would be exhausting and overwhelming to His children so He planned ahead. 

He’s smart that way.

He knew that every time his children err – whether intentional or accidental – they remove themselves from His presence.  So He provided a solution.  And He gave it a name.


It’s all through the Bible and the Book of Mormon but falls into five basic principles that are pretty easy to understand:

1.   Have faith in Jesus Christ and His power to overcome the struggles of life. (2 Nephi 31:10)

2.    Repent of sin as quickly as possible by calling upon Jesus to help you become clean again. (2 Nephi 31:11)

3.  Receive the ordinance of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins.  Here I will refer to a specific verse for illustration:
a.   And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! (2 Nephi 31:5)

4.  By the authority of the Priesthood, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost as a companion to guide through life. (2 Nephi 31:12)

5.  And maybe the most over looked part of this doctrine – ENDURE TO THE END. (2 Nephi 31:15)

That brings me back to my purpose in writing this treatise. 

We all have weakness that will keep us out of the presence of God.  Our sins are such that we cannot hope to make it on our own.  But we have a Loving Advocate who has promised He will help us –

If we never give up!!!

Every time we falter, we have to GET UP!!!