45 years ago today - Jun 8, 1978-Thursday

[Leonard Arrington]
Elder Larson said that ... President Grant say on one occasion that some people were saying that J. Reuben Clark, Jr., was effective president of the Church at that time because of President Grant's age and disabilities. President Grant reacted negatively to this, insisted that he have the last word on all policy matters, and boasted that there were more new and fresh ideas generated by him during those last years than at any time in his life.

President Grant used to go riding in his car every Sunday afternoon. He hated to go to Sacrament meetings Sunday afternoon and evening. He would ask Brother Larson to drive him, and if they saw anybody he knew on the porch of the house or in the street he would invite them to go riding with him. On one such occasion they saw Ruth May Fox, president of the Young Women of the Church, and President Grant personally invited her to go riding with him, assuming she would be thrilled to do so. Sister Fox was a little indignant about the request and said that she was going to Sacrament meeting and she was surprised that he would be trying to take people away from Sacrament meeting by inviting them to ride with him instead of going where they ought to be going. ...

Elder Pinnock chose to travel tourist class with me rather than first class. He said that while there is a general rule that General Authorities ought to travel first class, he preferred to travel tourist class. For one thing, it was cheaper for the Church. For another he usually found better company; finally, by going in the no-smoking section he usually had better protection from cigarette smoke than in first class where anybody chooses to light up wherever he is regardless of the rules. ...

Somebody (possibly Elder Pinnock) told me that Steven L. Richards's brother was a high councilman in Hunter, Utah. About 1970 he died and they had his funeral.9 Somebody afterwards said that he had seen the deceased person at the family prayer. He mentioned this to another member of the family, and they decided that they should tell the mortician. They went with the mortician to the coffin and opened it and found the body gone and the clothes the body was wearing neatly folded. There was no explanation for all of this. Apparently, they concluded, there was a resurrection at the time. ...

On January 13, 1974, three missionaries in the Pennsylvania mission over which Elder Pinnock was a newly appointed president, were killed by a person under the influence of drugs. There was a trial on May 10, 1974. Just quickly looking I do not see anything under either of these dates or a few days before or after in the journal history clipping file, although there might be a news story under some other date. As Brother Pinnock related the story to me, it goes something as follows. A young white man, about 25, was a hippie type; he was unkempt in his dress and personal grooming. He occasionally used both liquor and drugs. He seemed to have some kind of a phobia about other young men who were dressed up neatly, well groomed, clean shaven, clean cut. Around Christmastime he saw a couple of missionaries driving and apparently bumped into them on purpose, and that had been dismissed as an effect of him being drunk or something. But on January 10 he saw these missionaries; he drove up alongside of them, yelled obscenities, used vulgar expressions. They didn't realize what was going on and simply drove on. He started to follow them. Wherever they went, in whatever lane, he followed them very closely behind. They sped up, he sped up; they slowed down, he slowed down. He kept yelling obscenities and making vulgar gestures. Finally he bumped into them very hard using the automobile as a weapon, and this caused the car to go in the path of oncoming traffic. There was a terrible accident. Three of the missionaries were killed. In the ensuing settlement with insurance companies he claimed that the missionaries were making obscene gestures to him. He acknowledged that he had hit them deliberately but he was simply responding in anger to their own expressions and gestures. His lawyer decided to sue the insurance companies of the missionaries and the mission president and the Church for damages. And this was on the grounds that they had led him to become temporarily insane through anger and that he had hit them accidentally during this period, and that he deserved to have his expenses taken care of by the missionaries. Before the matter came to trial the attorney representing him was disbarred, so the boy or his insurance company employed another lawyer and that lawyer accepted the boy's word privately from him that the boy had deliberately hit the missionaries. The trial went on for a few days, and of course the missionaries were exculpated and the matter ended.10 The father of one of the missionaries consulted Church people about suing this boy for a higher settlement. They discouraged him from this, but he indicated his desire to do so anyway. But the matter finally was withdrawn before another trial was held. Elder Pinnock said the Church did not suffer from this publicity because the newspapers presented it in a manner that made it unlikely that the missionaries had done these things. Mention was made in the paper of the missionaries' strict standards and this seemed to be accepted by the people. So the entire affair probably did not hurt the missionary effort. Elder Pinnock said that he made a full report to the missionary committee of the Church on the involuntary manslaughter charge, and presumably that report is in the files of the missionary committee. At Pittsburgh I was told by somebody, perhaps [mission president] Ken Godfrey, that there is a section in a book where a person who recites under deep hypnosis supposed she had lived in the time of Moroni and uses some Book of Mormon names. I checked on this after returning.

[Confessions of a Mormon historian : the diaries of Leonard J. Arrington, 1971-1997, Gary James Bergera, editor, Signature Books, 2018]

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