A Book of Mormons
by Richard S. Van Wagoner and Steven C. Walker

E – F

Richard L. Evans was "the voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir" and an Apostle. Photograph coutesy LDS Church Archives. Richard L. Evans (1906-1971)
“Voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir”

[p.83]Family Background
1906. March 23: Born Richard Louis Evans in Salt Lake City. His father died from injuries received in a streetcar accident when Richard was only ten weeks old. When he was thirteen, his left eye was destroyed by a pellet from a playmate’s BB gun.

In 1933 he married Alice Ruth Thornley; they had four sons.

Editor and Author
Evans edited his high school yearbook, and as a nineteen-year-old missionary to Great Britain, served as assistant editor of the Millennial Star under mission presidents James E. Talmage and John A. Widtsoe. In Evans’s copy of Evidences and Reconciliations Widtsoe wrote, “To me this volume is another evidence of your goodness to me. No son could do more than you have done for me in our association together.”

He began fourteen years as managing editor of the Improvement Era in 1937 followed by twenty-one years as senior editor. He was instrumental in the creation of the Ensign, New Era, and Friend magazines.

Evans wrote seventeen books in addition to fourteen volumes of his “Spoken Word” sermons. He also wrote a weekly editorial for William Randolph Hearst’s national King Features for five years.

KSL Director
1928. Shortly after graduating from the University of Utah, Evans began working as an announcer on KSL radio. He soon became publicity director, production manager, and eventually station director.

“I spend a full seventy hours a week working here,” he said. “I never have a day off, not excepting Sundays or holidays. At one time I went two years without a vacation or a single day off, except one day spent in bed under doctor’s orders.”

[p.84]“Voice of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir”
1929. “Once more we welcome you within these walls, with music and the spoken word, from the Crossroads of the West,” was the sign-on heard by millions of Americans every Sunday as they tuned in Richard L. Evans and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

To his vast audience, Evans was “a personal friend who dropped in Sunday mornings to introduce the selections to be performed by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and organ and to share his short, inspirational messages. Many people throughout the world have claimed membership in Richard L. Evans’s church. … Their only ‘religion,’ an enjoyable half-hour weekly with ‘Music and the Spoken Word.'”

Evans delivered more than two thousand sermons during the forty-one years he produced and announced the program. The Spoken Word messages were short, to the point, and filled with suggestions for improving one’s life: “There are some fine distinctions to be found in the now immortal phrase, ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’ Life is an eternal fact; liberty, an inalienable right. But with happiness—we are offered only the right to pursue it! We can give man his liberty. He may not use it well or keep it long, but we can give it to him. But not so his happiness. We can help, but ultimately he has to help himself to happiness.”

General Authority
1938. October 7: At thirty-two, Evans became the youngest general authority in over thirty years when he was called as a president of the First Council of the Seventy.

1947. Appointed director of Temple Square.

1953. October 8: Called to the Quorum of the Twelve by President David O. McKay. His committee responsibilities included Church magazines, Temple Square activities, world fair exhibits and other Church information centers, the Tabernacle Choir and the Choir broadcast, general conference broadcasts, the Hill Cumorah pageant, Church [p.85]historical sites, management of Church communications,   public relations, publications, translation and distribution, and temple ceremonies.

Rotary President
Elected president of the Salt Lake Rotary Club in 1949. A year later he was elected president of the University of Utah Alumni Association. Three years later he was elected president of the Salt Lake Bonneville Knife and Fork Club. After his calling as an apostle, he was elected International Rotary president.

1971. November 1: Died of a viral infection of the central nervous system at the age of sixty-five; buried in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

Deseret News, 1 November 1971.
Evans, Richard L. Thoughts for One Hundred Days. Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1966.
Evans, Richard L. Richard L. Evans: The Man and the Message. Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1973.
Flake, Lawrence. Mighty Men of Zion Salt Lake City: Karl D. Butler, 1974.
Woolsey, Heber G. Memorial Services for Richard L. Evans. Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1971.

Green Flake was a black pioneer and "human tithing." Photograph courtesy Utah State Historical Society.Green Flake (1828-1903)
Black Pioneer
“Human Tithing”

[p.87]Family Background
1828. January 6: Born into slavery on the Jordan Flake plantation in Madsburr, Anson County, North Carolina. Married Martha Crosby (later known as Louise, “Liz,” Hazel), daughter of Vilate Litchfield. They had two children, Abraham Green Flake and Lucinda Viiate Flake Stephens. The Flakes also raised Lewis Flake, a white foster son.

Mormon Convert
1844. James M. Flake, Green’s owner, was baptized in Mississippi during the winter of 1843-44. After visiting Illinois in the spring of 1844, the family decided to move to Nauvoo. John Brown recorded in his pioneer journal that he “baptized two black men, Allen and Green, belonging to Brother Flake,” in April, 1844.

Black Pioneer
1847. “When Brigham Young commenced fitting out a train to take the first of the Pioneers across the Great Plains, he needed the very best teams and outfits to be had. James M. Flake, who had put his all upon the altar, sent his slave, Green, with the mules and mountain carriage, to help the company to their destination. He told Green to send the outfit back by some of the brethren, who would be returning, and for him to stay and build them a house. Like the old slaves he faithfully carried out his instructions.”

One of three black servants in the pioneer company, Green drove James Flake’s white-topped carriage used by Brigham Young during the trek and entrance into the Salt Lake Valley. By Green’s own account, he was “in the first wagon through Emigration Canyon.”

Human Tithing
1850. When Green’s owner was killed in an accident in California, Mrs. Flake moved to San Bernardino with [p.88]Charles C. Rich and Amasa M. Lyman. Before leaving Salt Lake, she gave her “Negro slave Green Flake to the Church as tithing. He then worked two years for President Young and Heber C. Kimball, and then got his liberty.”

1851. A free man, Green moved his family to the Union area of Salt Lake County, where he farmed and mined ore from the Cottonwood Canyons. He was an active member of the Union Ward. Friends and neighbors remembered his neighborly deeds, his fine singing voice, and his participation in dances at the old Union Co-op Hall.

1885. Upon the death of his wife, he moved to Gray’s Lake, Idaho, to be near his son Abraham’s family. He returned to Salt Lake in 1897 to attend the Utah Pioneer Jubilee on July 24, where he received a certificate honoring him as a surviving member of the Brigham Young pioneer company.

1903. October 20: Died in Idaho Falls, Idaho, at the age of seventy-five. Buried in the Union, Utah, Pioneer Cemetery.

Brooks, Juanita, ed. On the Mormon Frontier: The Diary of Hosea Stout. 2 vols. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press/Utah State Historical Society, 1964.
Brown, John Zimmerman. Autobiography of Pioneer John Brown: 1820-1896. Salt Lake City, 1941.
Carter, Kate B. Our Pioneer Heritage. Salt Lake City: Daughters of Utah Pioneers, 1959.
Flake, Osmer D. Life of William Jordan Flake. Salt Lake City: Church News, 1948.
Lythgoe, Dennis L. “Negro Slavery in Utah.” Utah Historical Quarterly 39 (1971):40-54.
Madsen, Steven K. Interview, 21 October 1979.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Church Archives. William J. Flake to Church Historian’s Office, 14 February 1894.
Salt Lake City, Utah. LDS Genealogical Society Library. Jordan Flake Will. North Carolina Wills, Anson County, 1751-1942.