Matters of Conscience
Sterling M. McMurrin and L. Jackson Newell
Love and Living
[p.91] If we left your college years without introducing your partner of more than fifty years, Natalie Cotterel McMurrin, we would have only half the story. You met her at the University of Utah, did you not?
Actually, Jack, we met each other separately, in a manner of speaking. I first saw her on the stairway of the Cowles Building, then the L Building—L for Liberal Arts. I was going down the east staircase between classes, and she was coming up—narrow staircase. Now don’t laugh. She looked right at me though she has no recollection of it—and I looked at her and thought, “By damn, that’s the girl I’m going to marry.”
That’s the word for it. I had to catch my breath for a minute. Shortly after that, by some stroke of luck which I think must have been arranged in heaven, I was sitting at a table in the library’s reserve book room when Natalie came and sat opposite me.
Wholly by accident, of course!
That’s what she says. Mind you, I’ve always been of the opinion that she’d seen me on the stairs and was scheming for a chance to sit by me. At least, that’s what I’ve always wanted to believe. It was March 1935, and I decided before I left that stairway I was going to marry her. Our first date was on June 8, 1935, and we were married exactly three years later on June 8, 1938, a whirlwind courtship for those days.
In 1988 you celebrated your golden wedding anniversary. Tell me about Natalie’s background.
I’m a year older than Natalie; but because I had dropped out of UCLA for a year due to asthma, we were in the same graduating class. Her story actually starts in Idaho. Her paternal grandfather, Samuel Cotterel, was born in a Mormon pioneer family here in Utah. His mother, a plural wife, died; and young Samuel fell under the jurisdiction of a wife he didn’t like. He ran away from home, and the family, for all [p.92] practical purposes, disowned him—even gave his name to the next-born male child!
He had a romantic career—freighting from Corinne at the north end of the Great Salt Lake up into Idaho and Montana. He bought a ranch in the Raft River country where there’s a mountain named for him. The first checking station across the state line into Idaho is the Cotterell station.
So Natalie was born there?
Near there. Her parents were ranchers, too. Her mother, Mattie Alice Easley Cotterel, was a very devout Campbellite, a member of the Church of Christ. Her father, Clyde C. Cotterel, was reared as a Mormon but no longer practiced the religion. He was a rancher, and Natalie is the third of their seven children. Natalie was born in a log cabin at Yale, Idaho, at the junction of the Oregon Trail and the California Trail where the Raft River enters the Snake River.
Named “Yale” by someone with a sense of humor, no doubt, but an appropriate place for Natalie to enter this world—destined to spend her whole adult life among scholars.
It certainly was. Nothing there now but sagebrush. There’s still a Yale exit on the freeway, but you can’t find a thing there except a ranch home or two. Natalie and I took her mother over there once. She thought she might find the location of the cabin, but she couldn’t identify anything.
Is the ranch near there?
Yes, Natalie’s father ranched near Aberdeen. Natalie rode to school in a school wagon—like a bus, only pulled by horses. And no padded seats, either! There was no Campbellite church there, so they attended the Baptist church. Natalie didn’t like the preaching, but she learned a great deal of Bible and had a good religious upbringing. She has always been very devout in a way that I like.
When did she first encounter the Mormon church in earnest?
She had lived among Mormons in Idaho and her parents sent her to Salt Lake City to attend high school. She lived with her great-aunt and her husband, Mattie and William Prosser.
What about Natalie’s education? She is a highly cultured person.
Natalie graduated from East High School, where she was an excellent student. She was awarded a scholarship to Mills College in Oakland, California, a prestigious women’s school, but she couldn’t afford to go there. Her aunt was her grandmother’s sister on her mother’s side. The Prossers were highly cultivated, well-educated people from the middle [p.93] west and the south. They were intensely anti-Mormon. They were staunch Masons—and in those days the Masons and the Mormons were certainly on the outs, especially with regard to matters pertaining to the schools.
Mr. and Mrs. Prosser were both school people. He was a school principal, and she had been a teacher. When Natalie and I had our first date they discovered that I was a Mormon. The next time that I called to take her out, she told me that her great-aunt and -uncle had decreed that she was never to see me again. All of this had to do with the fact that I was a Mormon, and Natalie was forbidden to have anything to do with Mormons.
This could make dating difficult. What happened?
Well, it’s a long story, but actually very interesting and at times very exciting as to how Natalie and I managed to carry on in spite of this ban. As a matter of fact, her aunt hired a young man who was a family friend to spy on us at the university and to report to her if he found us together. It turned out that he was really a friend to Natalie. He had a car, and I didn’t have a car. On more than one occasion, he actually furnished his car and took us to where we were going on our dates. At any rate, we kept things going without really being caught. But I suppose they may have suspected from time to time that we were seeing one another. It’s a long story that would make an interesting book or a movie on how we eluded them—both here in Utah and once in California and Idaho.
Did Natalie’s parents share the Prossers’ biases about Mormons?
Natalie’s father (who died before I became acquainted with her) was reared in a Mormon family, and her mother was a very devout Protestant, but they had no anti-Mormon attitudes whatsoever. The same was true of Natalie’s brothers and her sisters. She had three brothers and three sisters. The religious issue was never a factor as far as they were concerned.
How did Natalie deal with all of this?
Well, a year before we were married, which was two years after the beginning of our courtship, Natalie joined the LDS church. When this happened, the Prossers, in effect, threw in the towel. They knew they were defeated, but they were very gracious about it. When Natalie and I were married, Mrs. Prosser had a lovely reception for us in her home. All in all, in my opinion, it was a great gain for Natalie to have lived with them.
So we both ended up at the University of Utah. It was obviously destined to be that way for both of us. Natalie majored in Spanish and [p.94] psychology as an undergraduate, then did graduate work in Spanish literature at USC. She never completed her graduate degree, but she’s maintained a lifelong love of Spanish—the language, the literature, Spanish-speaking countries.
So you met in the spring of 1935 and graduated in the spring of 1936. What then?
I stayed here, worked on my thesis during 1936-37, and was awarded my M.A. degree in the spring of ’37. We were in the depths of the Great Depression, and Idaho offered more money than Utah, so Natalie went to Idaho to teach high school. She went to the University of Idaho during the summer of 1936 to get Idaho certification. “Idaho school law” was one of her courses, I recall. Then she taught in Dubois, Idaho, for two years before we married. During the first of those years, I was at the university, and the second year I was teaching seminary in Richfield, Utah. To put it mildly, I was madly in love with her, and it was rough on me to be so far from her. But we communicated regularly by mail. In those day’s you didn’t make a long-distance phone call except in dire emergencies, but we managed to get together several times each year and in the summers.
I know Natalie felt rather conflicted about joining the Mormon church, wondering whether she was doing it out of religious conviction or for you. Didn’t Ephraim Ericksen offer her some advice about this matter?
Dr. Ericksen’s advice was just right. “Now Natalie,” he said, “there is no better reason for joining a church than for love.” That made it easy for her. She has never looked back.
David O. McKay, who was then a member of the First Presidency, performed the ceremony in the Salt Lake temple. Was that a difficult decision for you and Natalie, since her family could not attend?
Yes, we were married in the Salt Lake temple. It was simply the appropriate thing for a Mormon couple to do. And as far as I was concerned, the Salt Lake temple was the only real temple in the church. It looks and feels like one, inside and out.
Natalie had joined the church more than a year before we were married, and it was a matter of much concern to her that her mother could not be present for the ceremony, as my mother was. But her great-aunt, Mrs. Prosser, as I said, gave her a lovely reception that evening for all of our family and friends.
It was a double wedding, a beautiful ceremony, and my oldest brother, Blaine, was married at the same time to Lillian Miller. We asked David O. McKay to perform the ceremony as we all had greatly admired [p.95] him over the years. He was a man of great stature and was most gracious in every way. The four of us went on a trip through the southern Utah parks and Grand Canyon, and we all ended up in Los Angeles where Blaine and Lillian were to live and Natalie and I were to go to USC for the summer session.
Natalie is a lovely person, totally devoted to her family. I can say in all seriousness and all honesty that Natalie and I have never had a dispute of any consequence as far as I’m aware.
I’d say that’s unusual in the extreme.
Perhaps it is. I hear marriage counselors talk about fighting fair in marriage and hear talk-show therapists hold forth on couples listening to each other, forgiving, expressing your anger appropriately—well, I hardly know what they’re talking about. Natalie and I have never had a serious disagreement.
Now, Sterling, I’m prepared to believe that you’ve never had a fight, but I’m not prepared to believe that you’ve never had a serious disagreement.
It may very well be that we don’t have anything beyond very trivial disagreements because Natalie is so genuinely sweet and eager to please that she just gives in to me on everything. We have differences of opinion, but there’s no heat involved. Here’s an example: Several years ago, I let a stockbroker talk me into selling a small piece of preferred stock in Utah Power & Light, trading it for something else. It wasn’t much, so I authorized the sale, even though I said, “I really should consult with my wife about this.” When I told Natalie, she said, “You know, I don’t think that was wise.” I said something like, “Well, it’s done now,” and the subject was dropped. Do you know, she was absolutely right? The stuff he got me to buy turned out to be worthless.
If you’d consulted with Natalie first and she’d told you it was unwise, what would you have done?
I wouldn’t have sold. Absolutely not. I don’t know how Natalie does it, but she has an intuition about things that I’d be very foolish to disregard. Now—you’re making me think about this, Jack—I think it’s true that there are many things that one of us cares about more than the other, but the one who cares less accommodates the other.
More than “accommodates,” I’d say, Sterling. I’ve seen both of you put in a lot of effort so that something will work out the way the other one wants it.
Well, it’s true that Natalie and I have been remarkably compatible. We discuss decisions—even trivial ones like a little weekend trip—a lot. We like the same kinds of things. The same things make us happy. We [p.96] want the same things for each other—the same things for our children. I’ve never gone alone without Natalie without wishing she were with me. I mean that very seriously. I’ve never stopped being in love with Natalie. I guess we’re old-fashioned soul mates, companions in the highest sense of the word.
My Lord, I hear about people who’ve been married for thirty years getting divorced, and it takes my breath away. I simply can’t envisage a life that doesn’t include Natalie. It’s probably old-fashioned. You and Linda have been married for twenty-five years?
And I think of you as having a modern marriage. Both of you are highly involved with your work and both of you have been very involved with your four children. I think of your marriage as ideal for these times. It is a real partnership across the board.
You and Natalie have an equally happy but much more traditional marriage. I’ve heard Natalie say, however, that you have almost always done the grocery shopping for the family.
That’s right, but it is a small thing. I’m really glad you’re asking about Natalie. I love to see her get some of the credit she deserves. She’s a beautiful, warm, affectionate person. She’s as sensitive about things that are negative or crude as any person I’ve ever known. She has genuinely refined sensibilities—morally, artistically, and spiritually. She’s a deeply religious person. Not dogmatic at all, no rigid orthodoxies or conservative attitudes, but genuinely spiritual with a kind of natural piety.
I’m glad you’ve mentioned spirituality. Was it difficult for Natalie when you found your philosophy was diverging from that of the church?
Not at all. Natalie’s views are as heretical as my own—if it’s religious orthodoxy you’re talking about—but she’s much more devout than I am. Her religion is a genuine goodness, not a set of observances and practices. I’ve never heard her say a discouraging word to anyone. She’s completely loyal to her friends and her family.
You’ve had a career that’s demanded a lot of traveling and intensive periods of work. Has that been hard on Natalie, and was it for the children?
It’s been hard because we’ve missed each other, but it hasn’t been hard on our marriage, and I have avoided protracted absences. The only exception was in the late fifties when I went to Iran for the State Department for five months. I was homesick the whole time. Later when I first went to Washington, D.C., as Commissioner of Education, it was in January, right after the inauguration of President Kennedy. Natalie stayed here with the children until school let out in the spring. But I [p.97] came home fairly frequently that spring. During the ’60s and ’70s, I served on a variety of commissions for the university or the government, but those were comparatively short trips.
It sounds as if Natalie has been very supportive of your work.
Yes, and this might be an example of an area where we work for each other. Natalie doesn’t have much interest in the finer technicalities of philosophy—not that she is indifferent to the great questions—but she knows that the pursuit of philosophical problems is the great intellectual love of my life. She’s never felt that she needs to understand every detail to know that it’s important for me, and she’s always made every effort to accommodate my work hours and my travel schedule.
I know that you and Natalie enjoy traveling together.
Oh, yes! It’s one of our favorite things. We’ve been to Israel two or three times. Everywhere in Europe except Bulgaria, Romania, and Albania. We’ve been to Russia, Egypt, Ethiopia, the Middle East, India, Japan, and, most recendy, China. Natalie particularly enjoys Spain and Mexico. She’s an extremely good traveler, remarkably well organized. We have lived for a short period in both Rome and Germany.
Did you ever take the children with you when they were young?
Of course. I came to BYU to teach during its summer session in ’47. That was our first family trip. Trudy was three and Joe was two. The other three Jim, Laurie, and Melanie hadn’t been born yet. When we left Utah, we went to Oregon and down the Columbia River, then down the California coast. We’ve been taking the children on trips ever since. All of them except Laurie have traveled in Europe. Joe spent some time in Europe on his own; but Trudy, Melanie, and Jim have covered large parts of Europe with us separately. Laurie, our fourth child, was two when we went to live for a year in New York by way of Texas and Florida. We had a new car, so every weekend we were off somewhere—up into New England, all over New York, or down to Washington, and later home by way of Boston and Quebec.
So traveling was one of your family’s main forms of recreation?
Absolutely. We were constantly piling into the car and going off to a drive-in theater when we wanted to see a movie. Here in Salt Lake City, we had a three-seated station wagon, which had ample room for five kids. I hear people saying how hard it is to travel with children. Well, it was about the easiest thing we ever did. In New York, our children saw more of the city than most native New Yorkers. We had them in all of the major museums when Joe was only a first grader and Jim, our third child, was younger. We took Joe and Trudy to the old [p.98] Metropolitan Opera to see Aida—first-rate box seats up near the front. It was a great spectacle for them.
An unforgettable experience for a kid, or for anyone!
Pretty unforgettable. In Milan, when Melanie, our youngest, was sixteen, we went to La Scala for Rigoletto and to the Vienna Opera for Parsifal. Now Parsifal lasts five hours, and that’s one hell of a workout; but Melanie followed the libretto all the way. We were really rather proud of her.
How did you and Natalie work together as parents?
If you have a perfect mother like Natalie, the father can get away with quite a bit. I came home for the bedtime stories and hugs while she spent the day with the scraped knees and the runny noses. She’s always been willing to sacrifice her time or her convenience if she can help one of the children—and she’s still doing it, now that they’re adults with children of their own. She gives them everything. If they could wear my clothes, she’d be handing out my coats and shoes. I don’t think any mother could receive greater affection from all of her children and grandchildren than she does—or from her husband, I might say.
And when your children grew up, it sounds as if you and Natalie simply carried on as before and more. Do you have any favorite places to travel in the United States?
We used to go to New York a lot. When I was with the Committee for Economic Development, spouses were invited to social occasions at periodic intervals. For twenty years, during the ’60s and into the ’70s, I was a trustee of the Carnegie Foundation, which sponsors a very plush annual meeting with first-class travel, elegant accommodations, and a fine banquet. On one of my first visits, I facetiously asked the Carnegie secretary, “What would Andrew Carnegie think if he could see you spending his money on an elaborate affair like this and bringing our wives at considerable expense?” She answered seriously, “As a matter of fact, you’re required to bring your wife. In his will, in which the foundation was established, Andrew Carnegie stipulated that the trustees shall attend an annual meeting in New York City to which they are to bring their wives or daughters.” Then she smiled a little and said, “Now, you know what that was for. That was to keep you out of mischief while you were in New York. So he’d think this is great, you see!” She said that Carnegie was a phonetics crank and spelled daughters “dotters.”
What if the two of you have a free evening?
We’ve had season tickets to the university’s Pioneer Memorial Theatre ever since it opened, and for Ballet West, the Utah Symphony,[p.99] and the Utah Opera Company. But it is the opera first for us. Sometimes it gets a bit too much, and we’ll give our tickets to friends. But we go to almost everything.
We rarely go to movies anymore. As for TV, we watch PBS and newscasts, mostly. We don’t have cable. I’m a news-aholic, so I watch McNeil-Lehrer regularly, and Nightline and the Sunday news shows.
Sounds pretty respectable, Sterling. Now what else?
Oh, let me confess my secret vice, Jack. I listen to the TV evangelists on Sunday mornings. The wilder they are, the better I like them. They’re pretty tame around here, you know; but down in Texas you can see the real thing. Of course, the best ones are now off the air—some in the doghouse or in jail.
Does Natalie share this vice?
Oh, no. She won’t even be in the room with one of my preachers. I guess this is our most serious difference. Sunday morning for her is the Tabernacle Choir. She never misses it. We have several TV’s so we can watch separate programs if we want to. But on a typical evening at home, I’ll read or write, Natalie will read or sew, and we’ll listen to music. We have a very good stereophonic system.
You were the first people we knew who bought a compact disc system. What do you read?
Natalie reads biography and history. I read mainly philosophical stuff and the history of religion and philosophy. And we read together quite a lot. If we’re driving somewhere, Natalie will often read out loud to me. She read Conversations with Wallace Stegner while we were going to southern Utah. Very interesting stuff. Recently she read aloud to me the biography of Father Theodore Hesburgh, the president of Notre Dame. Father Hesburgh is a very dear friend of ours.
Do you spend much time with your children?
Oh yes. Two of our daughters, Laurie and Melanie, are here in Salt Lake City. Trudy, the oldest, recently moved to Las Vegas where she is an editor for the University of Nevada Press. Our oldest son, Joe, is in Honolulu, and Jim—Sterling James—is in Vermont. Some of our grandchildren are old enough to come visiting on their own, too. There’s a great deal of affection and informal visiting; but when we do family gatherings, Natalie will fix dinner or we’ll take everyone out to a restaurant.
[p. 100] And let someone else wash the dishes?
That’s right. It just makes for less confusion. Even after Natalie and I were married, it was quite an event to eat in a restaurant, but teenagers these days would just as soon go to a restaurant and squander their money as eat a piece of bread and peanut butter at home.
Well, wouldn’t you?
You’ve got me there.
Tell me a little bit more about Natalie’s sewing. That’s a side to her we don’t see.
Natalie still uses a portable Singer sewing machine that she purchased after a repossession the first year we were married. It fits into a wooden folding table and she’s used it almost every day for over fifty years.
No upgrading to a newer model?
She won’t touch another one. She’s a remarkably gifted seamstress— suits, drapes, quilts, clothes for the kids, costumes—you name it. She and the Singer can whip it up. Sometimes I’ll take her shopping and nag her until she buys something, but she always says, “Oh, I would rather make that than buy it.”
What are some other hobbies you share?
We don’t exactly share this one, but Natalie enjoys gardening. She loves flowers and really works with them. I don’t do much around the place except run the snowblower.
As you know, we have a mountain cabin on Kolob Plateau at 8,000 feet elevation, overlooking Zion National Park from the north. We built it well over twenty years ago as a family project. Natalie loves the place and we always enjoy being there. We keep horses, and I’ll ride some; but Natalie doesn’t ride any more, even though she’s very fond of horses. In California we occasionally went to horse races. Not to bet—we just enjoy seeing these majestic creatures run.
Then there is our condominium in St. George, Utah, a great place for the winter. Our kids enjoy visiting us there, as the place is a kind of resort. We stable our horses in St. George in the winter and pasture them on Kolob Mountain in the summer. With my nephew, Bill McMurrin, who is an architect in St. George, we have a horse set-up—barns, corrals, etc. We are in the business of raising Tennessee Walking Horses, the world’s best riding horses.
Could you describe your work patterns when the children were growing up?
Except when we were in Washington, I didn’t often stay late at the office, but I quite commonly took work home. Unless I was reading papers or grading those damn bluebooks, though, I was mostly reading [p.101] or writing. I did most of my writing at home.
Including your correspondence?
No, until I retired from the university I always dictated correspondence at the office, except for personal letters.
What are your work habits, Sterling?
Well, to start with, I can’t use a typewriter. I wouldn’t even know how to put a piece of paper in these new fancy typewriters. I’m fascinated by computers. I have an excellent computer but really don’t know how to use it. I can be hypnotized watching printers turning out the stuff. But I compose almost everything in longhand.
When do you do your best serious work?
I found years ago that I can read and write better at night than in the daytime. I break into my work frequently by listening to music or just raiding the refrigerator.
Now where are your children today? What are their passions in life?
I’m of the opinion that they are quite an unusual group. They were about the prettiest set of little children that I’ve ever seen, the five of them. They were all born in Catholic hospitals, incidentally. The first three in St. Vincent’s in Los Angeles, and the last two in the Holy Cross Hospital in Salt Lake.
Trudy has a degree in history from the University of Utah. She has remarkable linguistic skills and does a great deal with books as an editor. She is very much in demand and has done freelance work in Salt Lake City. Trudy is now acquisitions editor for the University of Nevada Press in Las Vegas and previously was director of the Southern Methodist University Press in Dallas and editor-in-chief of the University of Utah Press. She has an unusual capability for making books, sometimes almost out of things that hardly seem to be interrelated, and she has done some teaching at Westminster College on editing and publishing. Trudy is a person of many talents. When she was fourteen one of the leading producers of Paramount Pictures, Sam Jaffe, wanted to put her in the movies, but we didn’t go along with him. She did do some things on the stage here at the University of Utah in Kingsbury Hall and the Pioneer Memorial Theatre. For several years she was a student of Willam Christensen in ballet and danced in the University Ballet—which became Ballet West. Trudy is the very soul of cheerfulness. When she enters a room it comes alive.
Was your second child, Joe, named for your father?
Yes, just as Trudy was named for my mother, Gertrude. Joe has unusual capabilities in mathematics and science. He went to several [p.102] universities—the University of Utah, the University of Maryland, and the California State University at Northridge. He earned a degree in engineering at UCLA and a master’s at UCLA in engineering.
What does he do now?
He did a little teaching after he got his degree. Didn’t like it. Then he worked at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena for some time but was bothered a great deal by the smog in California. He eventually moved north in California, on the coast, and then to Salt Lake City. He became involved in doing a good deal of computer work and now is in Hawaii, where he contracts with an engineering firm that deals with environmental problems. Joe has quite a fine bibliography and has been primarily interested in environmental issues and especially the development of solar energy. His master’s thesis was in the field of solar energy.
Was Joe drafted during the Vietnam War?
No, he enlisted in the army in military intelligence. Though he selected Vietnamese as his first choice for language school in Monterey, Japanese as his second choice, and Russian as his third, they put him in Spanish. During much of the Vietnam War, he was located in Panama where he was doing intelligence work. He has never been able to tell us just what it was because it was secret. But I think it had to do largely with Cuba.
How about your third child, Sterling James?
Jim was interested in building from a very early time. When he was in junior high school, for instance, in Virginia, he won first prize in the State Science Fair for some architectural things that he did. Jim favored art and architecture and eventually went to the School of Architecture at the University of Utah. I think he put in at least one year—maybe two. He did work in the architectural office of the university itself—but he got interested also in sculpture. He had earlier graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor’s degree in sculpture and architecture.
What has Jim done since graduating?
He is very competent as a builder but has always been more interested in design than anything else. He went on to MIT, spent three years in its School of Architecture, and received his master’s degree. He has stuck with design ever since. Today he’s involved with one of his teachers at MIT who is a world-class sculptor, Michael Singer. Jim and he, with two or three others, work together on contracts in Europe and all over America. They are very successful and have done some remarkable things. Jim was involved for some time in the development of a [p.103] large water park in Stuttgart, Germany, and recently they completed a major art project for the new Denver airport. They develop their plans and designs in Vermont where Jim and Singer live. Then Jim carries through on the construction end of things. He owns a farm, raises horses, and helps his wife, Karen, with their lovely baby Sadie.
Jim must have been caught in the Vietnam War, too.
Yes, Jim enlisted in the naval reserve. After a short time, he was called into action and given a choice of several things. Because of his interest in building construction, he chose to be in the SEABEES, the construction arm of the Marines. We saw him off to Danang from the air base in San Bernardino, but when the plane stopped for refueling in Okinawa, they took Jim off and assigned him work there. He remained in Okinawa with the navy until they ordered the base closed.
Joe had several excellent opportunities for positions as an engineer in defense industries—both in California and here. But he simply refused to take a job that had anything to do with the manufacture of war materials. Joe and Jim both, as I have indicated, voluntarily enlisted in the military during the Vietnam War, but neither of them had any inclinations to favor war or any kind of military activity.
Now, your fourth child, Laurie?
Her full name is Natalie Laurie. She is a person who from her very earliest years showed a great deal of curiosity about everything. She was taken with mythology and legends and with matters pertaining to religion. At an early age she was concerned with such things as death and immortality. She is a very sensitive person. Laurie also showed from a very early age a good deal of organizational talent. At the University of Utah she received her degree in anthropology—and then worked as an anthropologist for the state of Utah’s historical division. Laurie later went into personnel work—directing personnel for one or two firms—and that led her into the world of finance, where she was connected for a number of years with a leading brokerage firm. She enjoyed that work very much, had a great deal of aptitude for it, and passed the examinations to become a licensed broker in the state of Utah.
She has moved up the ladder to manage an office for a financial firm that deals with brokerage houses. She enjoys that very much, and Natalie and I have a great deal of confidence in her. Whenever we have a little money to invest, we simply turn it over to Laurie, and she takes care of things. Laurie is very stylish in her dress and her appearance and very professional in every way. She has a twelve-year-old boy, Scott, as bright [p.104] as they come, who has joined the Boy Scouts and is active in athletics. She is completely devoted to him.
Now, Melanie, your fifth child?
Melanie was born here in Salt Lake City and has always had a mind of her own. Now all of our kids have had minds of their own from the time they were born, and certainly at the present time, but this independence of mind, I think, showed up earlier in Melanie than in the others. And it’s very evident at the present time. She’s so good natured and is a delightful person to be around. In college she had a little difficulty deciding what to study. Very early on she decided she wanted to be in forestry. She was in some tree-planting expeditions and things of that kind up in the mountains and later left the University of Utah and went to Utah State University to study forestry. I don’t think that lasted for more than a year, and when she came back, it looked like she was going into biology, but she ended up in geography for her degree. Her interests seem to have been mainly in art. Melanie is the most cosmopolitan of our children. She was with Natalie and me in Rome and has traveled widely in Europe. Before settling in Utah, she lived in Paris and Toronto. She has two children, Mira, a beautiful teenager, and Lyra Zöe who sets her grade school on fire. They both shine like the stars they are named for, and Melanie is passionately devoted to them. She is studying art at the University of Utah again and will probably become an art teacher.
Do your older children have children, too?
Joe has a daughter, Kivalani Grace, a beautiful child—very bright for a preschooler. Trudy’s daughter, Robbie (Natalie Howard), is grown up and lives outside of Portland. She has a great deal of talent in the field of visual arts and with her partner Kerry Haladae has founded a beautiful art shop. Robbie has a fine stepbrother, too, Jeof McAllister, an accomplished young aerospace scientist.
You and Natalie must be very proud of your progeny.
Yes, our offspring are all very cultivated. They all have university degrees, and they engage in high-level conversation. I frankly doubt that there is a family anywhere in which there is more mutual affection and concern for one another and interest in what the others are doing. A very strong bond of family ties, and this has always been the case. I know of no alienation whatsoever of our children from Natalie and me. I have difficulty understanding why in so many families today there is so much distance between parents and children.