page 229



(By Pearl Udall Nelson)

WITH FATHER'S and mother's release from the Temple they were confronted with a final move--this time back to the old family home at St. Johns. Erma came to Mesa and helped them "pack up" their belongings. A trucker was procured and by the middle of January they were on their way home, going by way of Snowflake.

Illustrative of father's alertness and interest in things is this incident, occurring at Snowflake, as related by daughters Erma and Pauline:

"Father got up before daylight to walk several blocks to the truck in which they were taking home their household goods, as he wanted to give the driver final instructions and make some adjustments in the load. The womenfolks told him he should send someone else. His answer showed his determination to carry on in life: 'Now mother and you girls, you bad just as well understand that you cannot set me down in a rocking chair and keep me there,' and on his errand he went.

"He also said to Pearl: 'Pearl, now that I am excused from the Temple, I must do some physical work, Mother and the boys do not want me to farm again, but I must have an outlet."'

page 230 

Sixtieth Wedding Anniversary

Shortly after their return to the family home, the 60th wedding anniversary of David and Ella was fittingly commemorated on February 1, 1935. We quote David K.:

"Girls, make this Sixtieth Wedding day a jolly, happy day. We have lately had enough obituaries."*

It was a great event for the Udall family, long to be remembered. All of the eleven living children and their mates, and a few of the grandchildren were there. It was a day of rejoicing, and a genuine love feast. Great numbers of the old friends and associates in the St. Johns Stake were still living and many came to greet them. Of that number twenty-one were widows.

In the limited lifetime left to them (2 or 3 years), both father and mother retained all of their faculties and generally enjoyed good health. They lived a leisurely existence with plenty of time for rest and relaxation but neither of them lost their zest for life.

The children and their families who lived nearby made it a point to frequently drop in for a visit. As opportunities presented, visits were made by father and mother to all of the children living elsewhere than in St. Johns.

Church attendance was never neglected and father gave some additional patriarchal blessings to his grandchildren.

Mother's sudden passing on May 28, 1937 (the details of which are set forth in Chapter XIV), badly shook father. As the lid was placed on her coffin, he said:

*Note: He referred to the farewells in Mesa when they were released from the Temple.

page 231

"Mother, I will be with you in a short time." He lived only ten months after she was gone.

*     *     *

Golden Jubilee Celebration--St. Johns Stake


Probably the last public function of note attended by father was the celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the organization of the St. Johns Stake, held on July 23, 24 and 25, 1937. This included the annual celebration of Pioneers' Day, being the 58th consecutive time that this important event had been celebrated in St. Johns.

Numerous committees had been appointed and more than one hundred loyal and energetic members and nonmembers alike gave of their time and means to make this affair a success. The Stake Presidency were the executive committee. Appropriate programs were carried out and particular tributes were paid to President David K. Udall and to the other fourteen original stake officers who were still living. The latter were guests of honor.

In pageant, song and dance, the old times were relived and many former residents of St. Johns Stake were in attendance. A bowery was constructed and a sumptuous barbecue served. President Charles A. Callis of the Council of the Twelve represented the General Authorities of the Church, and spirited meetings were held.

*     *     *

After mother's passing all of us decided that father must not try to get along without one of the daughters to look after him and the big house. It was agreed that Erma was the logical one to undertake the mission if

page 232 

her husband, W. W. Sherwood, was willing to stay alone with his work in Holbrook and look after himself and their home. When we asked Will about sparing Erma for an indefinite period be readily consented and thus proved himself again to be, as always, a true son and friend to father. It was not an easy thing for them to undertake, yet they did it gladly. Erma took over her responsibility at once after mother's funeral and stayed with father until his death the next February. During these months Will made weekly trips to St. Johns, helping father and doing the many necessary chores around a country home.

As we look back upon the services Erma and Will rendered father's family when our hearts were tender and lonely, everyone of us feels a debt of gratitude to them and their children which mere words cannot convey, nor the money paid, fully recompense. Theirs was the choice experience of being closest to father during the twilight of his life.

Father's Last Illness and Death

The day before father had to give up and go to bed with what proved to be his last illness, Erma says that he sat at his desk looking over his account-book and papers. He closed the book and said, "Well, Erma, I cannot see where I owe a cent to anyone or anyone owes me." About this time the boys, hoping to make father easy in his mind, took over all the business affairs. He said to Erma, "Well, my boys want to make me happy and say all I need to do is to whistle for whatever I want." With a

*Note: Records show he had accumulated a fair-sized estate at the time of his passing, which was equally divided among his children

page 233

chuckle he remarked , They are the ones who may be doing the whistling." During this period he said over and over again, "I must be ready for the call."

During father's last illness he grew steadily weaker, and when Pearl arrived from Salt Lake City it seemed he had just been waiting for her, for after a visit with her he sank into a coma and gradually grew weaker until the end came peacefully on February 18, 1938, at the ripe age of eighty-six years and five months.

Stake funeral services were conducted by President E. I. Whiting in a most fitting manner. Father, during the last week of his life, called his children around him and told them the story of his life, and poured out his testimony to them. He held their hands and told them, "I know the Gospel is true," and pled with his children to be faithful to the cause. After lapsing into a coma he would repeat the names of the early leaders of the Church: Orson Hyde, Oliver Cowdery and "Joseph, Joseph, Joseph," or friends he had known.

In outlining his own funeral father said, I want them to tell something of my life and I want my neighbors to testify as they wish." These wishes were respected and the speaker giving the sketch of his life appropriately concluded with this statement:

Out of honor and respect we here in the customary benediction surround the mortal remains of David King Udall. But the spirit and life of this son of English immigrants lives on, and, as was said at the passing of another great man: "He now belongs to the Ages."

The press in referring to father's passing acclaimed him as one of Arizona's greatest pioneers.

page 234 

We close this chapter with the following poem:


(Inscribed in loving tribute to President David K. Udall)

    You wake in the morning with your soul alert
         You are part of the day's big span,
    With might to measure and your rights assert
    You bless and hearten the distressed and hurt--
         You are God's idea of a man.
    Your noble bearing and your kingly grace--
         The steadying of your hand,
    Give cheer and courage to our daily pace
    And bold our standards in the uphill race--
         You are God's idea of a man.
    You are sure and steady and your judgments speak
         In tune with the Maker's plan,
    You are fit and functioned in your whole physique
    Yours the "Rock of Ages" for the frail and weak--
         You are God's idea of a man.
    You find the moments of the day too few
         For the are of your own heart's span,
    And you stamp the journey when the day is thru,
    With your entity, not your residue,
         You are God's idea of a man.
By: Bertha A. Kleinman.

Previous Chapter:  XI  Seven Years in the Arizona Temple
Next Chapter:  XIII  Sage Sayings of the Author

Main | Contents | Book Cover | Title Pages

Arizona Pioneer Mormon:
David King Udall: His Story and His Family, 1851 - 1938

Published by Arizona Silhouettes
Tucson, Arizona