I was born on July 23, 1921 at Malta, Cassia County, Idaho, the first child of Isaac Franklin Lee and Orita Ellen Richins Lee. I was the only one of their children to be born outside of Utah. At the time, my father was engaged in carpentry work with his oldest brother. However, they shortly moved back to Grouse Creek, Utah, and eventually six more children were added to their family, making a total of seven. Besides myself, they were: Evva, Merla, Irene, Juanita, Ray and Russell.
I have always been proud of my heritage. My parents were hardworking, honest, and thrifty, and we were taught well by their examples in these virtues. They despised debt and “made do” in ways that probably seemed unacceptable to other people. However, if I had to, I could still milk a cow, scrub on the board, pitch hay, make lye soap, and wear hand-me-downs. They worked side by side with us in every family activity, and I cherish the memories of those years. The hardest experiences taught us the most.
There were lots of cousins, aunts and uncles besides grandparents in the Grouse Creek area when we were growing up. I knew all four of my grandparents and one great-grandmother. My Lee grandparents moved to Idaho before I was very old, so we saw them only occasionally after that. But my Richins grandparents were some of the stalwarts of the town, having been among its earliest settlers. I can remember of going to their home to listen to general conference when theirs was one of the few radios in town. I can remember Thanksgiving dinners at their house and of the countless times when grand kids were treated to bread and jelly sandwiches.
My schooling began in Grouse Creek and continued until I finished the tenth grade in 1937. There were five in our graduating class, all girls. The other four girls were: Eula Kimber, Flora Tanner, Afton Paskett and Treasa V. Ballingham. The principal at that time was Clyde Morris. Although our student body was small, and we lived in quite an isolated area, we were taught well in the fundamentals. We had some outstanding teachers during those years. In order to complete high school, it was necessary to go to other areas. I went to Ogden High School. I lived there with my Aunt Eliza Leishman during my junior and senior years. I enjoyed those years very much. I graduated in the spring of 1939, this time with a graduating class of several hundred.
For a while I attended Weber College, but was financially unable to continue. I worked for a lady in her home for some time, anticipating better employment. Then, on very short notice, I was given the opportunity to go to California and work in the home of the O.C. Tanners at Palo Alto, not only to work and live in their home, but also to help in his office at Stanford University where he taught in the Philosophy Department. At that time, he also was getting started in the jewelry business in Utah and was making frequent trips to and from California. I enjoyed many choice experiences during the months I was with them.
In May 1941, while still with the Tanners, a telegram came from Washington, D.C. offering me employment in the State Department. This came as a result of a civil service examination I had taken in Ogden before going to California, and from which I had not really expected any results. I accepted, and began working in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 1941. I was assigned to the Division of Communications and Records. I enjoyed the many experiences I had in the nation’s capital, especially the times shared with my roommate. Then on December 7, 1941 came Pearl Harbor. I remember how stunned and apprehensive we were as we listened to President Roosevelt declare that “a state of war exists between the United States and the Japanese Empire.” I had already applied for annual leave to return home for Christmas. Back in Utah, I decided to transfer from the State Department to the War Department, and I then began working at Hill Field in the Personnel Office.
While I was in California, Myron was drafted into the Army and was stationed at Fort Ord near Palo Alto. We saw each other several times before I went to Washington, D.C. and we then began to write to each other. During that time, he was given an agricultural discharge because of his father’s poor health. His father died in November of 1941, and Myron took employment at the Defense Depot on Second Street in Ogden to help with their financial obligations.
After my return to Utah, Myron and I began seeing each other again. We were married on June 24, 1942 in the Salt Lake Temple by Charles R. Jones (half-brother to my Grandma Richins), who was then in the temple presidency. For a few months we continued to live and work in Ogden, then moved back to Grouse Creek to manage the farm. By then, Russell, his younger brother, had also been drafted, and eventually saw active service in some of the worst battles in Europe. We lived with Myron’s mother for the next three years. Our two oldest sons,
Eugene and Michael were born while we were in Grouse Creek.
When Russell returned from the service, we moved to Wendover, Utah. Myron was employed at the air base there for a short time, then at a garage and then the potash plant. Russell and his mother moved to Wendover also, and eventually he and Myron went into the garage business together.
Two more sons, Gary and Kenneth, were born to us while we lived in Wendover. Gary was only two years old when he was seriously injured in an automobile mishap at the neighborhood store only a short distance away. He had crawled under a parked car to retrieve a ball when the owner of the car came out of the store. Unaware that Gary was under the car he began pulling away as Gary hurriedly tried to back out. Both of Gary’s legs were run over, badly fracturing both of them just barely beneath the hip joints. An Army plane from the air base flew Myron and Gary to Hill Field. From there they were taken by ambulance to the Dee Hospital in Ogden, where Gary spent the next month in traction. For the following six weeks, he wore a body cast from his ankles to his hips, and had to learn to walk all over again.
During our five years in Wendover, we enjoyed our church participation in the Wendover ward. At different times I served in the Primary and Relief Society presidencies and was also a teacher in the Sunday School. Myron also served in various positions including being a counselor in the bishopric.
Because of the long hours and the mental strain associated with the garage business, Myron developed bleeding ulcers. In September 1951, we moved to Grantsville, where he had found employment. He worked at different jobs for varying lengths of time, the last twenty-two years of his working career being at Hercules Incorporated at Bacchus (near Magna), Utah, where he was a foreman of the electric shop. He continued to be very active in church and civic callings, including four years as bishop of the Grantsville 2nd Ward. During those years, four more children were born to us, Margaret, Debra, Diane and Don. And during those years also, we built our own home on Race Street.
Raising eight children was a full time job, but I kept up my activities in the church also. I have taught in almost every auxiliary organization. For two years I taught seminary for two class periods each school day. I have also served as ward Primary president, and on stake boards and as stake Primary president and also stake Relief Society president. I had many choice experiences in carrying out the responsibilities of these callings.
Our family, like all families, has seen plenty of ups and downs, sickness and health, hard times and good times. A year after my mother’s death, my father came to Grantsville to live. For ten years he was an integral part of our lives, and I am so grateful that all our children came to know him so well.
Myron and I (he more than I) have had a number of serious operations. We are grateful for the measure of health and strength that we now enjoy. We have been fortunate to travel together to many places in the world, and are currently sharing in the glorious experience of being ordinance workers in the Salt Lake Temple. We find much joy in our children and grandchildren and their many fine accomplishments and contributions to church and country. Our blessings are many. (1997)
LaVerne passed away on October 6, 2002 and is buried at the Grantsville Cemetery in Grantsville, Utah.