After Darrell’s funeral a long letter was written to my Grandpa by his father with a short letter at the end written by his mother (seen above). The letter was postmarked 27 November 1947, two days after the funeral.
This letter is kept by my Grandpa’s sister Janice. I learned of it’s existence at a family reunion a few years ago. Prior to that I had never known there was a letter. A pdf was sent to me by Aunt Janice’s daughter and can be found here.
This letter is a great treasure to me. I transcribed it below:
(This was postmarked Nov. 27, 1947 – Janice)
My Dear Son:
How I wish I could be with you tonight that I might help to sustain you in what certainly is a heart breaking trial. Only our Faith in our Heavenly Father’s promises gives us the strength to carry on. Upon learning of this great tragedy my greatest concern together with my own deep sorrow was to break the news to your loving mother and to you. Mother was at the hair dressers. Marilyn & Lowell were in Ogden. When I returned home Janice, Wayne and I knelt in prayer to our Heavenly Father asking him to help and sustain Mother.
Our prayers were truly answered for you could have truly been proud of your Mother for her faith and her understanding heart. Surely we are stricken with grief but we have the devout faith that Darrell’s passing and separation from us is only temporary.
Death came to our boy at the Bamberger tracks east of home. He was apparently watching a freight train going south as he was proceeding westward and up the hill toward home. He could see that the end of the train
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would be passed the crossing before he got to it so he did not slow his car up and as he attempted to cross as the freight train passed he dashed in the path of a North bound passenger train. The car was carried 168 ft and I question that he knew but for a very brief moment what had struck him. He received a terrific blow at his left temple and was not permitted to suffer. Inasmuch as it happened or had to happened we are thankful that death came quickly and without long suffering.
I was in the yard having returned only two hours before from Holbrook Idaho where I had gone early that morning with a load of bulls. David and Avon came and told me to come quick that Darrell had met with an accident. They had partly prepared me for the worst before I got there but Oh it was a hard jolt. Darrell was still at the wheel of the car and we are thankful that his body was not ——- (bottom line cut off in the scan)
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Ronald I have never seen greater respect shown to anyone than was shown to your brother. He surely had a lot of friends. What with the ones registered and those estimated it is believed that more than 1,400 people called at our home and they are still coming. Six hundred registered the night before the service and many went away without. For quite some time there was a line way out on the lawn waiting their turn to come in. Such a display of friendship I have never known before. One Hundred Eighteen baskets, wreaths and sprays of flowers were brought. Nearly fifty of them were baskets and many of them large ones too. The Riverdale Student body sent a wreath about 4 1/2 feet in diameter made of large white Chrysanthemums and pink sweet peas. Both sides of the living room and across the south end were banked with racks of flowers and they started putting them on the stairway as long as there was room. The – – or twenty sprays were sent
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direct to the chapel. The funeral was held Tuesday at 2 PM in the Riverdale Chapel. The students from the Ninth Grade lined the stairway as we proceeded into the chapel and then as many as could crowd in stood in the aisles and along the back. The stand and all available space had chairs place in it. Chairs were carried in the North hall entrance and there were those in the North class room. It was estimated that 700 attended the service.
We had arranged for the following to speak. Bro. Sheffield, Miland Stephens, Brother Swenson and President Beus. On Sunday night Pres Beus came to the house and insisted we call one of the authorities from Salt Lake. He called Elder Spencer Kimball who as you will recall was at our home a very few months ago and spent the weekend with us. It was arranged the Elder Kimball speak and that Pres Beus dedicate the grave. On the day of the service just as it was ready to begin in walked President David O. McKay.
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Everyone was so thrilled and as someone said he almost looked Heavenly. Marilyn & Margaret said they had never realized he was so tall & stately & handsome. After the others had spoken Bishop Sheffield called on Pres McKay and his talk was just grand. The whole program or service was recorded and we’ll send you a copy of it as soon as it is completed. The talks were all just perfect and many have said it was one of the finest they have ever attended. Dr. Henry Peterson from Logan said “That was a funeral of Funerals. I’ve learned many things today.” Aunt Hazel was here with him. There were friends here from Tremonton Max Anderson, The Hyers from Blue Creek or Little Pocatello Valley. The Lowe family from Grace Ida who are Clair Peterson’s Husband’s people. You may recall I spoke at their sons funeral. Thacherys & Re— from Morgan and nearly everybody from the Eight & 29th wards who were there when we lived there came and a large part of them sent flowers. Whole streets were represented on baskets of flowers
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The music was as follows. Sister Annie Brian sang My faith in Thee and she sang it part of the time with her eyes closed and it was just beautiful. Bobby Jackson played Meditation a Violin solo and oh it was grand. Ronald Jenkins son of Lawrence Jenkins sang “I am a Mormon boy” His voice is very pretty and everyone that I’ve talked to really thrilled at his singing. One person said “He just threw his head back and sang “I might be envied by a King for I’m a Mormon Boy”. You may recall that he is just a little younger than Darrell but he looked so manly and his voice has changed to a beautiful tenor. Dale Bingham sang the closing number – “Abide with Me” and he sang it with great feeling. Patriarch Garner offered prayer at the Home. Pres Green gave the invocation and Bro Wiberg the dedication ——- (the last line is cut off in the scan).
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Mother and I have been up to the cemetery this morning as we did Yesterday. We covered the flowers the first night with a large tarp and last night it didn’t freeze. The flowers cover three graves and they are just banked and then some were put over on two other new graves one of which is Ella Mae Richards. About twenty baskets were brought home and were given those friends some of whom had lost loved ones recently such as Sister Wiberg and Jacobses. Sister Cook took some baskets to the Children’s ward at the Hospital.
We laid Darrell to rest in the New Washington Heights Memorial Park that is being created by the Linquist & Sons. It is the Hillside that lies between Washington Blvd at extreme south and the ravine that angles golf course to a point east of the entrance to the old air port. The place is high and dry and promises to ——— (this line cut off in the scan.)
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I am getting tired and my penmanship appears careless but I wanted you to know.
Margaret was with us at the service and rode with us in our car. She then stayed overnight with us and we took her home Weds evening.
We all feel like we are in a daze and its just all hard to realize its a reality.
You know we’ve all hoped and prayed that Darrell would get well so he could fulfill his mission in life. Dr. Brown said when he called the other night that there was little chance he could have ever been strong so there is consolation in the thought that he is now fulfilling His Mission. May our Heavenly Father Bless you and abide with always.
With all Love and Sympathy,
Your Dad has written the details of Darrell’s tragic death and funeral and I just can’t write now. I know the Lord has and will sustain you at this time. I have worried so much for you but your well worded cablegram so full of meaning came yesterday and I feel better. I am so thankful you are with the Saints in Whangarei. ———- (last line cut off in the scan.)
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We also received one from the Saints and missionaries in New Zealand sent by President Halverson for which we wish you to express our deep appreciation. May the Lord bless them always.
God bless you and comfort you
My Prayers and Love are with you.
to be continued…
7 thoughts on “Uncle Darrell – Part IX, A Letter”
Wow. What a difference the Gospel makes. It doesn’t lessen the grief but it certainly enhances the understanding. You know, I know a Lowe family from Idaho. I think I’ll see if their family is from the Grace area.
Wouldn’t that be an interesting connection? I agree, the gospel helps with understanding life’s struggles and losses.
Amazing letter from a father to a son. I can see why you treasure it. It’s so expressive and personal and emotional—not what I’d expect from a man of those times.
Thank you Amy. That is what I think about it too. A wonderful insight into their grief, the details of the tragedy and funeral, and some of their daily life.
Such a sad story. And such a loving letter.
I posted a second letter today – the one I mentioned the other day. The first page is what I was referring to in regards to your comment about 14 year olds. Each time I read them I am overcome with how personal the letters are. And yes, loving.