An abundant resource of stories exhibiting faith, courage, humility, loyalty, spirituality and humor come from the life of President Marion G. Romney - from his boyhood days in a Mormon colony in Mexico to the last months before his death.
Following are some selected anecdotes recounting various experiences in President Romney's life. Some of the anecdotes are in his own words, and others have been related by family members and acquaintances. Many of the experiences have been published; others are from treasured notes of Church News editors and reporters.
Honesty - The following incident took place when Marion Romney was a young boy living in Colonia Juarez, Mexico. The story is from a family history:
"I used to drive cows up and down the lane. Sometimes I would let them get far enough in front of me so that I could throw rocks at them to make them go. I would throw the rocks through [George A. McClellan's] trees, which would knock down apples."
"On one occasion, I took some of the apples in the house, and Mother saw them. She asked me where I got them, and I told her. She said I had stolen them and that I would have to take them back and ask forgiveness. I remember how, with a heavy, sad heart, I took the apples back and made my confession, and how Aunt Mary McClellan patted me on the head and commended me for being honest, and then gave me the apples."
Prayer - President Romney related the following story on many occasions. This account was given during a 1973 interview with J Malan Heslop, then editor of the Church News.
"I was trained [in how to pray] by my mother, I guess, because my father was on a mission the first two years of my life. He left when I was 8 days old. Before he got back, my mother had trained me to have a private secret prayer when I went to bed at night and before I left my bedroom in the morning. I did it then, and I have done it all my life.
"I remember as a child having a valuable marble and losing it. I searched very carefully and failed to find it, so I knelt down and prayed to my Heavenly Father to help me find it, and then got up and went directly to the marble. To me, that was an immediate answer to a prayer."
Study of scriptures - All his life, President Romney read and studied the scriptures. As his eyesight began to fail him, he relied on large-print editions of the scriptures. On his 80th birthday on Sept. 19, 1977, he pulled a large-print edition of the Book of Mormon from his desk and told Church News editor Dell Van Orden: "I can read this. The scriptures are my bread and butter." In that interview, President Romney related other experiences with the scriptures.
"The colonies were isolated, and our people had to conduct our own schools. We didn't have any school books. Our texts were usually the scriptures.
"All during my law practice, for 11 years every morning, I would get up a half hour before my normal day was to start and read the Book of Mormon and other scriptures and books. I became well-acquainted with the Book of Mormon."
Communication - On Sept. 8, 1979, President Romney contributed an article for the Church News feature, "My most influential teacher." In that article, he wrote:
"Some 50 years ago . . . one evening as I was walking with Elder [B.H.] Roberts to the temple, he said something to me which I have remembered through the years. It was, 'Brother Romney, never say anything so people can [just] understand you. Always say it so they cannot misunderstand you. . . .'
"Through the years, I have frequently been required to prepare talks. Most of the time I have laboriously written them out and then asked [my wife] to listen to me read them. This she always cheerfully and patiently did. Then, when I asked for her opinion, with a twinkle in her eye, she would respond: "Well, now, just what is it you really want to say?'
"Back at my study desk, after a few helpful comments by her, I was always able to more nearly comply with Pres. Roberts' counsel to always so speak that people could not misunderstand what I had to say."
Preparedness - When the Church welfare program was announced in the mid-1930s, President Romney was bishop of the Salt Lake 33rd Ward. A family history contains this account:
"President [Heber J.] Grant told us in a meeting to go home and prepare our families for the coming winter. I went home and built cupboards and shelves so we could store food. That was the first time it ever entered my mind to do something about preparing for lean times."
Missionary service - In a 1972 Church News interview interview, President Romney made these comments:
"I was 15 years of age when my father and mother were expelled from Mexico with a very large family. For years, we just had to live from hand to mouth. I grew up from the age of 12 until 22 and didn't think about going on a mission.
"Then one day I went to conference and was so inspired as I listened to Brother [Elder Melvin J.] Ballard talk that I wanted to go on a mission. I had been planning to go to Idaho University to participate in athletics, but I found my father and said, 'Father, if you'll help me borrow the money, I'll go on a mission.' He said he would. The banker agreed to do that. I went to Australia in 1920, and there I laid the foundation for active service in the Church."
Sense of humor - Those who knew President Romney are familiar with his ability to blend wit and wisdom. In a 1974 interview, his wife, Ida, said, "He tries to bring home something cheerful and funny each day. I'm certain he's had to think long and hard to find something funny on some days, but he has always felt it was important to make me laugh. We laugh and enjoy each other. That's our dessert in life."
His sense of humor came through in some comments: On his 89th birtthday, he said, "It will be difficult to recover from old age." Some 15 years earlier, he told the Church News, "My sense of humor is the last thing I want to lose."
Kindness, love for others - Evaline Butterfield was President Romney's secretary for more than 20 years. Following are some of her memories:
"He expressed appreciation. When I finished an assignment and laid it on his desk, he was sure to say, 'Thank you very much' - words which mean a lot to any secretary.
"Another of his outstanding qualities was his ability to talk with the Lord. Some of the Brethren have mentioned to me that when he prayed in their meetings, they wanted to open their eyes to see if the Lord might be standing in their midst.
"After a visit with him, his parting words were usually, 'The Lord bless you' - a most heartwarming goodbye."