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Rhoda Deseret GUNN
Female 1898 - 2000

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Rhoda Deseret Gunn Stay

Autobiography. This history was written by Rhoda after her 90th birthday. The history includes a tribute to her by a grandson and short summaries of her each of her children.

I was born on 17 May 1898 in Salt Lake City, S-Lk County, Utah at the home of my parents on 221 J. Street, located on 4th Avenue. I was the first daughter and fifth child born to John Francis Gunn and Mary Ann Deseret Jackson. Preceding me were brothers; John Francis (Frank), Walter Leslie (Walt), Benjamin LeRoy (Roy) and William David Owen (Bill).

When I was still a baby we moved to 323 H Street where six more children were born; Alice, Lawrence Jackson, Viola (Vi) Jackson, Clifford Jackson (Cliff), Daisy Jackson and Zelma Jackson.

My father, John Francis Gunn, was born 19 September 1868 in Salt Lake City, S-Lk County, Utah, the son of Benjamin Gunn and Alice Bowdidge.

My mother, Mary Ann Deseret Jackson, was born 19 September 1870 in Logan, Cache County, Utah, the daughter of Mary Ann Owen and Thomas R. Jackson.

I was blessed by my father on 3 July 1898 in the Twenty-First Ward, Salt Lake Stake. I was baptized 4 August 1906, in the Twentieth Ward, Ensign Stake. I remember well the day I was baptized in the baptistery of the Tabernacle on Temple Square. The fathers didn't have the privilege of baptizing their children then. The Priests of the Stake were assigned to take care of it. I was baptized by Mathanial Thomas, a Priest. He baptized his son, David first and then me. Baptismal clothes were not furnished so we wore our own clothes. I had a nice, heavy white dress and long white stockings that I wore. There were a lot of children to be baptized and we took up two or three rows. We all stood on the benches so we could see while waiting our turn. I was confirmed the next day in Fast and Testimony Meeting by my father, John Francis Gunn.


I attended the Lowell and Longfellow schools. William J. Bradford was the principal of the Lowell school. I had to miss school for a few years because of my mother's illness. She had a bad heart and had a lot of fainting spells. Being the eldest daughter of eleven children, four older and three younger at this time, it was up to me to help mother out.

I graduated from the Lowell School with the second highest average in the class. My biggest regret is that I didn't continue on to school. Our family was large and the income limited so I sacrificed in order for my younger sister to finish her schooling because she had remained at home to help mother after I had returned to school.


During school hours we had to march to and from class. One day when I was marching a button broke and my red flannel petticoat, with crocheted lace on the bottom, fell off. Embarrassed, I grabbed it up fast hoping not too many had seen it. Later, a fellow that worked with Val, and had been in my class, told Val he remembered me and the day I lost my red petticoat at school.

My childhood was very happy. We enjoyed many family picnics and other activities. I roamed the hills north of Salt Lake City with my brothers, sisters and friends. Father used to take us hiking in City Creek Canyon where we spent many happy hours and had pleasant experiences. Digging Sego Lily bulbs was a lot of fun for us. I can remember even today what good eating they were. One Sunday we walked up to 6th Avenue and B Street, Dad pointed to a spot and said "That is where the State Capital is to be built". His statement always came to my mind when the Capital was finally built on that spot.


When we lived on 323 H Street, we had a large dog. It was good natured until someome shot it in the ear. During a 4th of July celebration, he was spooked by an exploding firecracker and jumped up on a little girl. Dad was told he had to dispose of the dog so he took him up in the hills and killed him.


When I was six years old, I contracted small pox from my older brother, Walt. All nine children had it. My mother then took sick and she was the sickest of all. We were living at 323 H Street at the time. A storekeeper in the neighborhood had a son with the disease. He had him concealed in his home in back of the store. My brother would go to the store for mother before going to school and had come in contact with the small pox in this way. A number of cases resulted from that source.


When we lived on the avenues, the stairs leading to the front door were not completed, so dad put wood planks to walk on. We children were alone at home one day when an Indian Squaw knocked on our door. We were too frightened to open the door so I called out that we couldn't open the door because we all had the measles. The Squaw turned and bounced down the planks as fast as she could go. She was more frightened than we were.


When I was twelve, my mother let me wear her engagement ring. I went outside to bring my brothers and sisters in from the sand pile to bathe and get ready for bed. They were nearly through with the sand castle they were building so I helped them finish. Forgetting I had the ring on I brushed the sand off my dress and the ring flew off. It was getting dusk so fast, I looked for the ring and couldn't see it. I sent the children in then knelt down and asked my Heavenly Father to help me find it. When I stood up the ring was right at the toe of my shoe. That has always influenced my life as to the value of faith and prayers. I have seen many incidents in my life where the sick have been healed through prayer and by the laying on of hands.

Primary, Sunday School, M.I.A., Religion Class and Sacrament Meeting were important to me and I enjoyed attending them. We didn't attend M.I.A. until we turned 14. I attended in the 20th Ward. I loved to attend the dances. These were the only ones my parents would let me attend because my brothers were there and could watch over me and take me home.


Christmas was always a glorious time. I remember how my father use to work in the cellar night after night for weeks before Christmas. We always had such nice things that father and mother would make like tables, chairs, rocking chairs, and cupboards. On Christmas Eve the tree was placed in the center of the floor and we would march around it and sing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." We always decorated the tree with candles for lights. One year our tree caught fire. Dad grabbed it and threw it outside. Luckily no one was injured. We didn't have another tree in the house until we had electric lights.


Being the eldest daughter there was always plenty to do. When my youngest sister, Zelma, was born I was just past twelve. The next to the youngest was just twenty-one months old. I took care of the home with the cooking, ironing, cleaning and looking after my younger brothers and sisters. My grandmothers, aunts and older brothers use to help.

On 4 August 1915 we moved to 3064 Highland Drive. I was seventeen at the time. The Gunn family lived there until 1940 when dad sold it for $3,000.00. It later became valuable commercial property.

I received my Patriarchal Blessing on 7 May 1917 by Edward White, the Patriarch of Granite Stake.


I met my husband, Wilford Valentine Stay (Val), at a get acquainted social of the Wilford Ward M.I.A. when I was seventeen. We rode on hay racks, pulled by horses, to Granite High School for a dance. There wasn't a cultural hall in the church building like we have now. At one time the chairs in the chapel were removed and dances were held there but when they renovated the chapel and made the floor on a slope so those in the back could see the speakers, the dances had to be held elsewhere.

A day or two before I met Val, Mother had sent me down to 2White's store to get some groceries. I saw Val's sister, Catherine, on the corner and spoke to her. Val was with her but I didn't pay any attention to him. She told Val after- wards, "Now that's a girl I would like you to meet. She's the kind of girl I want you to go with".

The night of the dance, Val and his nephew, Aden Stay, were on another hayrack. My sister, Alice had met Aden and they introduced me to Val. They asked us to join them on their hayrack. A group of boys on our rack got angry and tried to start a fight but we went with Val and Aden anyway. Val was playing the violin in the orchestra. He left the orchestra a couple of times and asked me to dance with him. I thought he was very handsome.

On another occasion we rode on a wagon with a surrey on the top. It was being pulled by a beautiful buckskin horse. Alice's future husband, George White, was the driver. Little did I know that Val was to be my future husband. Val started to put his arm around me but I wouldn't let him. He told me later that if I had let him put his arm around me I wouldn't have seen him again. He didn't want a girl that would let a boy she hardly knew put his arm around her. I was glad I was taught to be that way.

We went to a barn dance at a great big barn on 27th South and 9th or 10th East on New Years Eve. Val danced the first dance with me then I didn't see much of him for the rest of the evening as he was dancing with other girls. Another boy asked me to dance and when Val saw this he came over and told me "If that boy asks you to dance again, tell him no!" I said, "I won't do any such thing. You don't care if I dance or not". After that Val only danced with me and we started to go steady soon after that. On a Sunday walk before church, Val asked me to marry him. He gave me my engagement ring on my eighteenth birthday in May of 1916.

After nearly two years of courtship we were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 14 June 1917 by President Joseph Christenson. It was a beautiful day. We had a small reception at my brother Roy's home on Driggs Avenue. Aunt Loy Robinson Gunn, wife of my brother Walt, made me a lovely beaded wedding dress.

The next day we took the train to Tremonton, Utah for a five day honeymoon. We were met at the train by Uncle Joe and Aunt Catherine who lived in the town of Elwood. When we got off the train, they had hid a hayrack and a horse from our view. They took us over to it and drove us through the town with bells ringing.


We lived for six and a half years at Grandma Stay's home located at 1575 East 3200 South only a short distance from our present home.

We became the parents of four daughters and three sons. Rhoda Myrtle was born 16 May 1918 at a maternity home on the southwest corner of 7th East and South Temple. Dr. Jane Schofield was the doctor.

On 3 December 1920, Dr. Jane delivered Mary Fern at the old family home which is now 3285 South 1575 East.

In April of 1923, I took the first shovel of dirt out for a new home at 1545 East 3300 South. We moved into our home on 23 Oct 1923. Our third daughter, Betty Jean, was born there on 18 January 1924. Dr. Jane arrived when Betty Jean was forty-five minutes old.

Before indoor plumbing, we carried all our water from the well at the old home on 1575 East about a quarter mile away. It was a rock well with a cover. Beautiful yellow roses grew on a trellis that was over it.

While I was in the L.D.S. Hospital with our fourth daughter, VaLois Ruth, born 15 July 1927 also delivered by Dr. Jane, the water main was installed on 33rd South. Val ran the water lines into the home and what a happy day when I came home from the hospital to running water in the house. When the kids took a bath, they started from the youngest to the oldest (all in the same water). This water was then used to wash the floor and other things that needed cleaning.

On 15 October 1930 our first son, Wilford Gunn, [Billy] was brought into the world by Dr. Joseph E. Jack. He was also born at home at 1545 E. 33rd S. On 20 February 1934, Dr. Jack delivered our second son, Val Gunn, in the L.D.S. Hospital.

Dennis Gunn, our seventh and youngest child, was born 2 January 1937. He was brought into the world by Dr. Jack at the L.D.S. Hospital.

My married life has been extremely happy. We had the usual problems of rearing a family with their little illnesses, but the Lord has been so good to us that we have nothing to complain about.


Val was born 14 February 1897 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The ninth child and sixth son born to Joseph Hyrum Stay and Mary Cornelia Woodbury.

Val was a skilled fruit grower and helped to support his widowed mother by taking care of the family orchards and vineyards. He was skilled in pruning and grafting of the fruit trees. They raised and sold peaches, pears, apples, cherries and apricots along with the grapes.

Val had a Watkins route that he serviced. He also was an entertainer and played the french horn and violin in the band. His band would play for dances all over the valley.

Val was asked to go on a mission shortly after we were married. He was willing to go but the brethren decided it was better he stay home and raise a family since we had a child on the way.

In 1919 he went to work for Salt Lake City Corporation in the surveying department and became a surveyor. He worked for the city for most of his working years except for a short time that he worked for the county surveyors office.

During World War II and after, Val took on a lot of private jobs laying out subdivisions and doing the surveying for them. He also did the surveying for two local cemeteries in the Salt Lake valley; the Wasatch Lawns and Elysian Burial Gardens.

The largest job he had while working for the city was the surveying for the aqueduct to bring the water to Salt Lake from Deer Creek Reservoir. While he was working on this project he got into poison oak & poison ivy. There was no place upon his body that was not covered with a rash. The city physician gave him so many adrenalin shots to help him cope with the discomfort that we think this is what caused him to have his first heart attack because shortly after this he had his cardiac occlusion leaving him with a hole an inch and a half long in his heart. This ended his career of working in the field. Val spent the last ten or so years working in the office doing the paperwork.

In the first part of 1962, after 43 years of service, he retired from the Salt Lake City Civil Engineering Department.


I believe in the power of Administration. It was always our first aid when someone got ill. My husband, Val, had so many close calls and I know the power of the Priesthood was instrumental in saving his life. When he had his first heart attack, Val instructed our son, Bill, how to administer to him. Bill along with our son-in-law, Blaine, administered to him. After Bill had completed the sealing he put his arm around me and said that dad was going to be okay, that the Lord had let him know. Val did get better and lived for another twenty plus years.

When we were in the mission field, Val got sick. I was afraid it was pneumonia. There was not a soul he could call upon so he administered to himself and he got well. I then got sick and was down in bed. I was running a fever and ached all over. Val anointed and blessed me and by that evening we were out doing our missionary work.


I am grateful for the service I have had in the Wilford Ward. I have lived in this ward my whole married life and have seen my children blessed and confirmed here.

I have served as a teacher in Religion Class, Primary and Relief Society. I held the positions of sewing director, quilting director and a genealogy committee member. I served as counselor in Relief Society first to Ora Peterson, then to Jean Jensen. I was called as Branch Relief Society President while serving in the mission field.


I have served a total of sixteen years as an Ordinance Worker in the Salt Lake Temple. Soon after we were set apart, Val and I were asked to take the part of Adam and Eve in the Endowment. I was so nervous and frightened and felt I couldn't memorize the part. I had prayed and asked the Lord to help me but would doubt my ability and couldn't get over my fear. One day while vacuuming, a voice spoke to me, "What's the matter with you, can't you trust the Lord?" I turned off the vacuum and realized I had prayed for help but had not put my trust in Him. After that experience I relaxed and did put my trust in the Lord. I lost my fear and enjoyed taking the part so very much. For five years we took the part. After Val's death, I served another eleven years. It was a great comfort and joy to me.


My husband and I have had many wonderful trips together. In 1952 we went back to Olathe, Kansas with Brother and Sister Patterson, the parents of our daughter-in-law, Norma. Bill and Norma's first child a daughter, Cristine, was born 28 March 1952 at Fort Leavenworth Kansas; our first grandchild to be born outside the state of Utah. It was good to be with them.

In 1954 we took a trip to Minnesota and Port Arthur, Canada with our daughter, Betty and her husband, Chet. This was where Betty served her mission. Two of their children went with us. We then drove over to Seattle, Washington. It was a real nice but fast trip. We went between five or six thousand miles in two weeks.

In December 1960 we went with the Esther James Tour to the Rose Parade. It was a lot of fun. On 21 July 1961, we went on another tour with Esther James to the Cumorah Pageant which included all the church and national historical points of interest. We met many wonderful people on our bus.

We enjoyed trips with my brothers and sisters to San Francisco; the Rose Parade in California; Lake Louise, Canada and the Northwest.

In June of 1962, we took a tour of the Canadian Rockies, which included the World's Fair in Seattle Washington.

We enjoyed other trips with Myrtle and Blaine to Denver, Colorado; Zions National Park and Grand Canyon. In 1965 we went with them to Yellowstone National Park. Val and I slept in the station wagon. Myrtle, Blaine, Rhonda and Gary slept in the tent.

Fern and Walt took us to New Mexico when our son, Dennis was released from his mission.

We made a trip back to our mission field in 1966. While there we received news that our grandson, Walton Rice had been injured in an automobile accident. Our son, Bill, came back on a bus and helped in driving us back home. Walton died before we returned.

In the fall of 1970, before Val died, we went to Durango, Colorado then took the Narrow Gauge Railroad to Silverton and Mesa Verde, Colorado.

In 1978, for an eightieth birthday present, VaLois took me to Hawaii along with patrons from the Salt Lake Nursing Home.


I always hoped some day to be able to preach the gospel to others and help build up the Kingdom of God on this earth.

On 18 January 1963, Bishop Ralf Pollei, came to our home to interview us about going on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We were interviewed by our Stake President, Lee Nelson, on 20 January 1963. We received our call 11 February 1963 to go to the Western States Mission.

We had our farewell testimonial on 24 February 1963 at Wilford Ward. We entered the Mission Home on 4 March 1963 and received instruction from President LeGrande Richards,Elder Boyd Packer, Elder Spencer W. Kimball, Dr. Hill and Lynn McKinley through 10 March 1963.

I was set apart as a Missionary by Elder Marion G. Romney on 6 March 1963. He promised me if I would be prayerful I would be able to do all I was called upon to do and that I would be able to learn all that was required of me and that I would be able to get into homes that no one else had been able to. We saw this blessing fulfilled in more than one instance. He blessed us that we would return home safely.

We left Lake City in a blizzard on the 10th day of March and traveled all the way to Denver, Colorado in a blizzard. We arrived in Denver the 11th of March. The next day we were sent to Bridgeport, Nebraska. We lived in a three room apartment at 821 P Street for three months. It was very different to what we were used to. We paid $40 a month, plus utilities.

The following are excerpts from my mission journal:

March 21, 1963 - There is somewhat of an undercurrent here. We hope we can establish peace and good will among the members.

June 11, 1963 - We moved to a new home. How wonderful it seems to be in a clean home. Hope we can stay here all through our mission. We pay $65 a month.

June 13, 1963 - Arrived in Bridgeport three months ago today. Had Primary this morning, studied, had Genealogy class tonight with seven present. They all came in and surprised us with a house warming in our new home. We were really overcome. fourteen came, making sixteen in all. Served cake, ice cream and punch. Played games and had a lot of fun.

August 11, 1963 - Sunday. It was one of the happiest days in my life and I know one of the highlights of my mission. First, Brother Rhodes came to church, the first time in twelve years. Also, Sister Eddings was there and partook of the Holy Sacrament of the Lord. I just cried when I saw her for I know the Lord answered our prayers in her behalf.

26 November 1963 - President Davis called and told us we are to go to McCook next week and that Val would be Branch President. We hate to leave our nice home, but we go where we are sent.

30 November 1963 - The Bridgeport Branch had a farewell party for us. They presented us with a flash camera. Brother and Sister Robison gave us a portable mixer. All expressed their appreciation for our help here in the Branch. We hate to leave, hope we will be able to help McCook. Only by the help of the Lord will we be able to do so.

1 December 1963 - Sunday. Everybody was so nice to us. Not everyone is privileged to hear their own eulogy. They all said such nice things about us, you would think it was our funeral.

5 December 1963 - Arrived in McCook. Found an apartment. Cleaned and moved in. A terrible bed! You would think you were in a hammock. I had to put a pillow under my back to lie straight. Mrs. Fisher bought a new bed for us.

8 December 1963 - Sunday. Met some of the members, more split families to work with. We hope to gain their confidence. Val was made Branch President and I was set apart as Branch Relief Society President.

6 January 1964 - Moved to 701 West 1st. Only two rooms but larger than the other place.

10 January 1964 - Ten months ago we left Salt Lake. It has been a varied experience. Some happy, some sad. It is a real challenge for us in McCook. If we can just be humble enough to have the help of the Lord to guide us, I think that we might be
able to accomplish those things he wants us to do. Only through our faith and prayers will this be done.

1 November 1964 - Today was one of the highlights of our mission. We were able to baptize the Witt family with the help of the Lord. I am sure he had prepared them to receive the Gospel as they had no bad habits to overcome. They are a wonderful family, and will be a great asset to the McCook Branch.

26 November 1964 - Today was another highlight of our mission. We baptized Ann Baxter.

We received an Honorable Release from our mission.


Our family gave us a lovely party held on Friday, 16 June 1967 to celebrate our Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary. It was held in the Wilford Stake Center on 3080 South 1765 East. We enjoyed a special evening greeting family and friends.


An open house was held in my honor on May 14 at the Wilford Ward. The tables were set and decorated beautifully. A lovely birthday cake adorned a table in the center of the hall. A special program of songs was given by my grandchildren. It was a joyous evening spent with family and friends.


I have always enjoyed sewing and made all of my girls dresses and formals. I made pants for my boys from Val's old suits. I made most of my own clothes.

I crocheted 80 afghans for family and friends, and have done a lot of embroidery work on pillow cases and table covers. I made over one hundred temple aprons for family and friends. I made part of the ordinance clothes for all my children and their spouses when they married.

I enjoyed quilting. I made a quilt for Sandy Griffith who preformed on the Lawrence Welks Show.

I have always enjoyed cooking for my family and others. I have made loaves and loaves of bread to take to shut-ins.

Cooking and baking has been a wonderful therapy for me since my eyesight has kept me from reading. I keep meat pies and cookies in the freezer so I have something to give my family when they visit.

I made pounds and pounds of hard candy. My candy proved to be a good tool for breaking the ice to get into homes on our mission.

Reading has been a favorite pastime. I have read the Book of Mormon fourteen times; the Old Testament three times; and the New Testament eight times, the Doctrine and Covenants at least three times and the Pearl of Great Price several times.

I loved parades and fairs and seldom missed one.


During my later years I have had my share of injuries. While in the Salt Lake Temple in 1957 I broke my leg. In 1978, at the age of eighty, I broke my hip from a fall on the water meter in front of my home.

When I was eighty-one, on a walk home from the bank after depositing my Social Security check, my purse was snatched from me by a passing car. I was whirled around but didn't fall. The trauma caused me to get shingles. I was laid up for three months from this ordeal and still get a burning pain in my leg where the shingles were so bad.

While in the Jordan River Temple, August of 1993, I fell against the corner of a wall and shattered the bone in my left arm. A metal shaft had to be inserted from my shoulder to the elbow to hold the bones together. I underwent therapy for a long time to restore the movement in my shoulder. I can now raise that arm higher than my other one. This injury ended my bread making because I didn't have the strength to kneed the dough. I compensated by baking frozen Rhodes Bread.


To my dear children, grand-children and great-grand-children I bequeath my most priceless possession, my testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt in the world that it is true and I am so grateful to the Spirit of the Holy Ghost for making it known unto me.

I know that God lives and has established His church again through Joseph Smith. I know he was a true prophet of God and that a living prophet guides our church today. If we will strive to keep the Lord's commandments and follow the teachings of our present day leaders we will have no reason to fear. The greatest desire of my heart is to have all my loved ones follow the teachings of the Savior.

I think I have the riches of the world, not monetary riches but the riches that count; that of my family which I love so very much. I pray that they will all stay close to the church. To those who are a little shaky in their testimony right now, I know the Lord will touch their hearts that their eyes and ears may be opened,that they may hear and see the beautiful things there are in the Gospel. I pray that someday they will all return to their childhood teachings and know that is the only way they will be completely happy. I pray with all my heart that this will come to pass and that we may all be together in the eternities as an eternal family.

I want you to know I think I have the finest children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren in the world and am so grateful for their strong bodies and minds. You all have a lot of talents in many things. I feel the Lord has blessed us all greatly. I pray that you will always stay close to one another, to love one another, to help one another and be kind and considerate. Do not take offense at little things, which often come up, but where no offense is intended.

I am so grateful for the testimony I have of the Gospel and that my dear husband and I had the privilege of serving in the mission field and being called to work in the temple. I never dreamed that we would participate as the main couple in the temple. I am so grateful for that experience.

My sight is failing fast. I can hardly see what I write. I have a prayer in my heart all the time that I will have the strength to do my work from day to day as long as my Heavenly Father sees to keep me here on the earth. I just hope he takes me home before I am completely blind.

I thank my Heavenly Father every day of my life for all my family. May he bless all of you in your righteous desires I pray in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

By B. Jackson Wixom, Jr.
(Given in 1978)

Having am 80-year-old grandmother inspires a great deal of pride. Especially, when that grandmother has led a life as full and rich as Grandma Stay. There must have been a little something special added somewhere when this 5'1" bundle of energy we call Grandma was created.

My younger brother might say cooking was her special characteristic, because he just loves to eat. I don't know whether she introduced chocolate cakes with peanut butter and chocolate frosting to the world, but the Stay family is surely better (or thicker) because of them. Somewhere she developed the magical ability to produce food--in great quantities--instantly and from nowhere. Actually, Grandma carries a year's supply of complete dinners, neatly prepared and locked away in her freezer. These meal-size proportions were saved from the times she cooked those delicious dinners for her children and grandchildren. I'm almost sure the Swanson people took their idea for T.V. dinners from Grandma's invention. Any of us would find it difficult to remember Grandma at any family gathering without an apron.

Another might have a different view of Grandma's special talents. My wife, for example, would wipe her brow with a phew! and describe the Christmas Day several years back when Grandma had vacuumed the living room floor nine times before we arrived in the midafternoon.

If her sons-in-law made the attempt, certainly punch would be their secret specialty. I have heard a couple of them say that Grandma is the only woman in the world who cam make two gallons of punch out of a single can of lemonade. Having watched her gather the apricots and other assorted home-canned juices from her pantry shelf during the punch-preparation process, her uncanny punch-making ability has never been too surprising to me.

Her daughters might say that she had the uncanny ability to can fruit. Her daughter told me remembering peaches by the wash tub full, day after day while growing up. Grandma also had a talent at remaking clothes for another season's wear. Another might describe the modest black bloomers Grandma had sown on her treadle sewing machine.

My favorite story about the girls growing up, however, was their description of being dressed carefully against the cold for a long walk to school. With long underwear and long socks tucked inside each other, they were prepared against any winter gust. I also enjoyed the confession that socks would be rolled down and underwear tucked up at an appropriate distance from the home, only to be restored after school, when the smell of chili sauce cooking on the stove told them they were again under Grandma's scrutinizing eye.

Aunts and uncles have told me that Grandma and Grandpa created a happy home. They remembered the evenings when they'd watch as Grandpa made the dollar walk to entertain the young children on those long evenings before television was invented. It's hard for me to imagine Grandma's house without running water. But the little home on 1545 East 33rd South first had indoor plumbing in 1924. Grandpa Stay installed it while Grandma was in the hospital delivering one of her children. Those were the days when visitors would be invited to listen to the Stay radio and Grandpa would sneak downstairs to broadcast made up news stories about those curious visitors.

Grandma's early life was certainly not a bed of roses. Being the eldest daughter among 11 children brought with it the regimen for work that would carry on through her now 80 years. While a young girl, she missed a couple of years of school--once so she could care for her ailing mother. Despite that setback, she graduated second in her class from the Lowell School. "My biggest regret, she once wrote, "is that I didn't continue on to school. Our family was large and the income limited, so I sacrificed in order for my younger sister to finish her schooling, because she had remained at home to help mother after I had returned to school."

The happy early life Grandma describes included family picnics and other family activities. She roamed the hills north of Salt Lake City with her brothers, sisters and friends. "Father used to take us hiking in City Creek Canyon where we spent many happy hours..digging Sego Lily bulbs. I can remember even today what good eating they were." During that time, she also had a bout with Smallpox and loved to tell a story about scaring off indians by yelling through the door that everyone inside had the measles.

Grandma's great spiritual strength lifts and buoys all of us. I remember her handing me a book, "A Letter to my Son", the day I became a deacon. She had carefully penned a challenge in the flyleaf, promising me great blessings if I would keep myself clean and pure before the Lord. I remember many times when Grandma's face came into my mind during my rambunctious youth, preventing me from walking over the precipice. I am sure every one of her grandsons had the same kind of individual treatment.

Her faith continues to astonish all of us. Recovering from a broken hip at the age of 79 is a feat in itself, but Grandma must have set some kind of record in the shortness of her convalescence. She is truly an astonishing lady.

Once I asked her what the most wicked thing was that she had ever done in her life. She confessed that it was switching the legs of her son, Val, when he was a child, to teach him not to run off without telling anyone. "I cried more loudly than he did." she remembers. She described that she had decided to switch his leg in preference to spanking, not wanting to inflict any kind of damage on the young child.

Grandma's a constant missionary, sharing the gospel wherever she goes. Beside her beloved husband, Wilford V. Stay, now deceased, she accepted a call to Denver and an assignment in the Western States Mission. "We left Salt Lake City in a blizzard on March 10, 1963, and traveled to Denver in the blizzard all that same day. From the Denver office, it was northward to Bridgeport and then McCook, Nebraska. The friends and converts they were to win for the Lord still continue to keep in loving touch. I can well imagine that two more energetic proselytizers never existed.

I remember returning from my own mission and feeling the comforting hand of Grandmother resting on my shoulder as I would enter the Celestial Room in the Temple. Her loving wink and smile had already communicated her special enthusiasm for the gospel as she took part in the ceremony.

Grandma's seven children, Myrtle, Fern, Betty, VaLois, Bill, Val and Dennis provided her 37 grandchildren. In turn, we the grandchildren have now added 28 great-grandchildren to a posterity that reveres this great little lady. Congratulation, Grandma. We love you.

Rhoda Myrtle born 16 May 1918 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married Blaine Jackson Wixom 16 May 1940 in the Salt Lake Temple on her 22nd birthday. They became the parents of four children; Pamela Jean, Blaine Jackson Jr. (Jack), Rhonda Lee and Gary Arthur.

Myrtle graduated from Granite High School where she excelled as a student. She was an avid reader and often got so caught up in what she was reading that she forgot what she was supposed to be doing at home. On one occasion her mother told her to put coal in the stove and the carrots in the soup. She got the coal alright but

put it in the soup instead of the stove. The soup had to be thrown out.

For serveral years she made drapes for Southeast Furniture Company. She set up a room in their basement that she could work from so she could be home with her children. She later was employed as a Librarian at the University of Utah. She received her degree in Library Science and also took classes in art and ceramics. Her family became recepiants of many of her paintings. She loved her yard and grew beautiful flowers and raised a nice garden that she shared with her family and neighbors.

Prior to her marriage, she was a telephone operator for Mountain Bell Telephone Company. This was back before we had dial phones and you had to go through an operator to place a call. A nickname for the local operator was "Myrt".

Myrtle has always been active in her church and served in many capacities of leadership.

Blaine was employed as a draftsman for the State of Utah Transportation Department and for a short time was a Correction Officer at the state prison when it was in Sugar House.

Myrtle and Blaine served a mission together in Texas. They loved traveling both in the United States and abroad. Many times when they went cross- country they would tent it or sleep in the back of their station wagon.

Blaine died 18 Dec 1996 in Salt Lake City, Utah from complications related to Alzheimer's disease.


Mary Fern was born 3 Dec 1920 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married Walton Leonard Rice on 18 Sep 1941 in the Salt Lake Temple. They became the parents of four boys; Walton Jr., Kent, John and Jeffery. Walton Jr. died 3 Jul 1965 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

Fern was an excellent student in school and was an avid reader. She played the violin in the Granite High Orchestra and was a graduate of Granite Hight School.

Before her marriage, Fern worked as a secretary for Stover Bedding Company and Beneficial Life.

Fern was active in the South Cottonwood 2nd Ward and served as Relief Society President for five years and as a counselor for six years. She also served in the Primary as a teacher.

Fern was a beautiful quilter and her quilts adorned many of her extended families beds. She also made knitted baby quilts and sweaters.

Walt owned and operated Rice Heating and Air Conditioning for over fifty years. He built a four plex then sold it and then built some duplexes to rent. He also built a few homes to sell. Walt built the home he and Fern lived in throughout their lives. They raised a wonderful garden on their property. The produce was shared with family and friends and the remainder was bottled for their winter use. Walt died 16 Dec 1996 in Murray, Utah of congestive heart failure.


Betty Jean was born 18 Jan 1924 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married 2nd Lt. Calvin Elden Stocking 30 Jun 1944 in the Salt Lake Temple. Calvin was a Pilot in the Army Air Corp. He was killed when his plane, a B-25, crashed while on a training mission in Shady Dale, Georgia 10 Jan 1945. Calvin was a childhood friend from the Wilford Ward LDS Church, where they both attended.

Betty graduated from Granite High School 22 May 1942.

She served a mission to the North Central States during 1946 and 1947. In 1947 her mission celebrated the Centennial of the church.

After her mission, she attended the University of Utah. Betty's employment over the years has been: During World War II; U.S. Engineers in S.L.C. Utah; Wendover Chemical Warfare, Tooele, Utah; U.S. Naval Station, L.A., Calif; and Federal F.B.I. also in L.A. Calif. After the war, she returned home. After her mission she worked for Beneficial Life until her first child was born.

She married Chester Edwin Bailey, Jr. (Chet) who was also a friend whom she had known since Jr. High and High School. They renewed their long friendship and were married 17 Feb 1950. The ceremony was held on the radio program called, 'Bride and Groom' in Hollywood, California, (advertizing Fletcher's Castoria). They were given many gifts such as wedding rings, household items and the Key to the City of Laguna Beach, Calif. Their marriage was later solemnized in the Salt Lake Temple 17 Sept 1965.

They became the parents of five sons and one daughter; Chester Edwin 111, Carl Stay, Crestin Stay, Cortland Stay, Ella Dee and Chad Stay. They have acquired six daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and thirty-five grandchildren.

Betty and Chet own and operate LaBai Drapery Company. They have made drapes and installed them in many of the L.D.S. Temples in the United States and Canada. Through Chet's talents and creations, they set up a portable carnival called Bailey & Sons Carnival of Fun. They also created a full backdrop service for weddings and special occasions. These projects were done to support their sons on missions. Since the service of their missions, the money earned from the wedding backdrop is now used to build a cabin in the mountains. This will help teach the grandchildren to work together and stay out of trouble.

Chet served during the Second World War as a Sergeant in the Division of Leavenworth in Texas.

He served as Counselor (for six years) and Bishop (for five years) of the Winder 9th Ward in Salt Lake City, Utah.


VaLois Ruth was born 15 July 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah. She married Veral Nate Smedley 17 September 1946 in the Salt Lake Temple. They became the parents of two children; Edward Franklin (Ed) and Deborah Ruth. VaLois and Veral were later divorced.

VaLois married Otho Louis Strait 14 February 1956. They became the parents of one son; Richard Dean Strait. They lived in Portland, Oregon for several years. She enjoyed preforming and took part in several plays.

Her hobby has been working. She has been a Recreation Therapist and Social Service Aid in care centers along with taking care of the Public Relations, implementing outings and programs for the residents. She served as President of Dominguez Park Residential Association for two years. She has been loved by the patrons.

VaLois has served in every organization in the church. She has been a Primary teacher and Chorister, Beehive teacher and Camp Director, Relief Society Home Management teacher and is presently teaching the Home and Family Education lesson in Relief Society.

She loves to crochet and do ceramics and crafts.


Wilford Gunn (Bill) was born 15 October 1930 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He married Norma Lucile Patterson 27 April 1951 in the Salt Lake Temple. They became the parents of three boys and three girls; Norma Cristine, Steven Wilford, Joseph Patterson, Janette, Cherie and Gregory Patterson.

In Bills growing up years he learned to work early. He liked to go to work with his father on the surveying crew and carry stakes, hold the chain or hold the level rod for the surveyors. He was under 12 years old at the time. Before Walt went into the Navy, Bill helped him install furnaces.

Bill had an early morning Tribune Paper route. When he was fourteen he worked a short time in a radio shop testing vacuum tubes. He then went to work for O.P. Skaggs grocery store on the corner of Highland Drive and 33rd So. until the war was over. After the war he went back to work for Walt installing furnaces. By working through his teen age years he was able to buy all of his own clothes except for his graduation suits.

Bill enjoyed sports and played softball and basketball in the church program. He was on the high school track team. He couldn't run fast but could run long, therefore he ran in the distant events.

Bill learned the baking trade in high school and went to work for the school district as the baker for the school lunch program. When school was out for the summer, he would work for the building and grounds.

Bill didn't get called to go on a mission because of the Korean war. Instead he joined the Air National Guard and was called to active duty with them. After the war he stayed in the guard for 24 years and retired as a Major. He worked in the sheetmetal trade and insurance sales.

Bill was active in the Scouting Program serving as Scout Master, Explorer Advisor, Cub Master, Stake Scouter and District Commissioner.

He served two Stake Missions, served as Bishop; once in Kearns, Utah 16th Ward for 7 years and in the Rancho Mirage, California Ward for 6 years. He is presently serving on the High Council and as Stake Sunday School President. Along with his wife they are Ordinance Workers in the Las Angeles Temple, a work they enjoy very much.

Bill was active in civic activities; Vice Chairman of Kearns Town Council and Chairman of the Cottonwood Heights Town Council. He was President of the Kearns Chamber of Commerce and Kiwanis Club of Kearns. He was talked into running for mayor of the proposed Lake Valley City, but that city never came to be. He then organized the Salt Lake County Association of Community Councils and was the first president of that organization.


Val Gunn was born 20 February 1934 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He Married Phyllis LaRue Birrell 14 February 1955 in the Salt Lake Temple. They became the parents of three children; Kevin, Cynthia and Daniel.

Val has always enjoyed working with his hands and especially enjoyed his shop classes at Granite High School where he worked with woods and plastic.

He graduated from Granite High School in 1952.

Val worked with Walt Rice in the heating business and also in building of homes.

He worked as a truck driver for the Granite School District and custodian for L.D.S. church meeting houses. He was a Journeyman Tile Setter for Kimball Knaphas.

In 1959 Val and Phyllis served one year in the Hawaiian Mission. Phyllis took ill and they had to be released early.

Val has always been active in the church and has served as First Counselor in the Bishopric, Executive Secretary, Aaronic Priesthood General Secretary, Sunday School President and teacher, High Priest Group Assistant, Scout Master, Priest and Deacons Advisor, Explorer Varsity Coach, Scout Committee Chairman and Ward Sports Director.

Val enjoyed Summer Camps with the scouts and worked in the scouting program for approximately forty years.

Val enjoys hunting and fishing.


Dennis Gunn was born 2 January 1937 in Salt Lake City, Utah. He married Karla Jean Park 19 October 1960 in the Salt Lake Temple. They became the parents of three children; Rachelle Denese (Shelly), Douglas Park and Richard Brion. Dennis and Karla were later divorced.

He married Tamara Roberts 22 December 1968. They became the parents of one son; Cory Dee. They were later divorced.

Dennis married Maxine Varley. Maxine was a widow with seven children. They have made their home in Orem, Utah.

In 1957 Dennis served in the Southwest Indian Mission.

He served in the 130th A.C.& W. Squadron in the Utah National Guard as a cook and attained the rank of SSGT.

He learned the sheetmetal trade while working for Walt Rice and was employed by Young Electric Sign Company. Dennis went in partnership with his dad and brother, Bill, contracting with EPCON Sign Co. to do their sheetmetal fabrications. Their company was called Stay Manufacturing. At present Dennis contracts to do the installation of lockers and dressing room fixtures in commercial buildings and schools. He has done this for most of the L.D.S. Temples built in the United States.

His hobby for many years was raising pigeons and pheasants. He won several awards for his birds at State and County Fairs and Bird Shows. He served as President of the Utah Bird Association.

Dennis is an avid golfer and can even be found playing in the snow.

Dennis was ordained a Seventy and served as a Stake Missionary.


I am grateful for a family that has accepted calls to serve the Lord in building His Kingdom. A total of fourty seven of our family have served so far.

We served in the Western States Mission.

Our children have served missions in the following areas:

Myrtle & Blaine - Texas.

Betty - North Central States, including Canada.

Bill - Stake Mission in Kansas and Salt Lake City.

Val & Phyllis - Hawaii.

Dennis - Southwest Indian and Stake Mission in Orem, Utah.

Our grandchildren that have served missions:

Pamela & Richard Black - Mission President of Louisville, Kentucky.

Jack Wixom - Bavarian

Walton Rice - Ireland

John Rice - Brazil

Gary Wixom - Japan

Chester Bailey III - Australia

Carl Bailey - Guatemala

Crestin Bailey - Peru

Cortland Bailey - England

Chad Bailey - South Carolina

Edward Smedley - Sydney Australia

Joseph P. Stay - Oakland\Fresno California

Gregory Stay - Columbus Ohio

Kevin Stay - Switzerland & Reunion Islands

Daniel Stay - Seville Spain

Cory Dee Stay -

Our Great-grandchildren that have served missions:

Cindy Black - Georgia

Teri Black - Calgary Canada

Julie Black - South Carolina

Richard Black - Eastern Canada

Nathan Wixom - Hungary

Elizabeth Wixom - Arizona

Spencer Wixom - Brazil

Benjamin Wallace - Samara Russia

Scott Wixom - Delaware

Nathan Smedley - Birmingham England

Ryan Smedley - Bordeaux France

Jared Smedley - Reporting 23 July 1997 to Philippines

Steven Stay - Corpus Cristy, Texas, Spanish Speaking

Laurri Stay - Montreal Canada,French Speaking

Our Grandsons-in-law that have served missions:

Richard Black - Canada

Lane Wallace - Chile

Kent Pierce- Southern California

John Lillie - Boise Idaho

Our Great Grandchildren-in-law who have served missions:

Paul Hoffman -

Greg Jensen - Denmark

Trisha Rae Smedley - Taiwan

Aaron Walker - Hawaii

John Steele -

Owner/SourceRhoda Deseret Gunn Stay
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