Back to Table of ContentsTribute to Walter Raymond Clark


by - P. Blaine Hawkes

Walter Clark turned out to be my teacher, friend, mentor and became like a father to me after the death of my own dear father.

It was 1941, when we first met.  He had just moved his family from Star Valley, Wyoming, to live and farm the 1000 acre dry farm he had just purchased in the Highland area east of Squirrel, Idaho.  Their family had come to the rock church house in Farnum for the first time. 

I was 13 years old, and had been expecting the arrival of some close relatives that I had never met.  I was on the lookout for them, as we seldom had any newcomers visit our ward.  So, when this vehicle full of people drove up, I hurried down the steps of the church and walked right up to their car.  I quickly opened their car door and said, “Welcome to Farnum Ward!” 

My action took them by surprise, but they did get a hearty welcome to the ward.  I was surprised also to find out they were not my relatives after all.  It was a good positive way to start out a friendship that would grow and last forever.

The friendship of their family and ours grew.  By the next year, when I was 14, I started working for them on their big farm as a hired hand.  I lived with them and came home on weekends for church and to see my own family for a while.

July 15, 1943, Walter was sustained a first counselor to Bp. Herbert Benson - Percy Nyborg was second counselor.

I worked doing all sorts of jobs; from driving the tractors to helping with the construction work of their house and other out buildings.  I was taught to fix various breakdowns that would occur out in the field as we used the machinery.

On July 1, 1945, my 17th birthday, Walter was sustained as our new Farnum Ward Bishop.  Sam Reese was first counselor, and Chester French second counselor.  Percy Nyborg was ward clerk.

Early in June of 1946, I was working up in the timber northeast of Ashton getting out logs to be sawed at Dixon’s sawmill for Walter’s building projects.  He came up on the 11th and told me that they had taken my father to the St. Anthony Hospital.  Gale Biorn flew me from Ashton to St. Anthony in his aerocoupe airplane.  To everyone’s surprise my father passed away the next day.

I remember when Walter came to our house after this news, he put his arms around me and we both shed many tears.  As Bishop, he conducted the funeral which was held in the white chapel in Ashton.  He also sang a solo, “Friend of Mine.”

Our Farnum Ward building was condemned September 22, 1946, so we held church in the Drummond school house with 50 or 60 in attendance.  On January 11, 1948 our ward was discontinued and all officers were released.  The member’s records were sent to the Marysville Ward east of Ashton.

After my father’s death, I helped run the farm at home.  Occasionally I was able to still work for Walter. My brother, Lloyd, took my place working for Walter for some time.

Bonnie and I were married July 21, 1948, and rented the family farm from my mother.  On April 17, 1950, we purchased Walter’s RD-4 Caterpillar tractor and a 10ft, wheatland plow.  This was a great blessing to us as we, by then, had about 600 acres of ground to farm.

Walter and Rhea and family lived on and farmed their ranch in the summer, but soon bought a home in Idaho Falls to live in during the winter months.  The children were able to go to school there and Walter worked in the Idaho Falls Temple as an officiator.  This was the pattern of their life until July 19, 1953.  Walter was called to be a new bishop in the Marysville Ward in the newly constructed brick building in the east edge of Ashton. 

They were asked to sell their home in Idaho Falls and make a permanent move to Ashton.  Rhea designed the new red brick home within a week, and construction was soon started. 

Walter called me as his first counselor, and Mac Reynolds as second counselor.  We served until Feb. 9, 1958.  This was a great growing time in my life.  Walter taught us many things about the gospel, praying for guidance, and seeking for the Spirit of the Holy Ghost.

Walter still served as an Idaho Falls Temple officiator for many years.  He taught me the temple ceremony used in working at the veil, which I have enjoyed doing all through the years.

Let me now reminisce about the many things Walter has taught me through the years.

He taught me how to farm and repair broken machinery.

He taught me how to weld on the farm (later we took a welding class together at Ricks College.)

He taught me how mechanical things worked, and how to repair them.

He taught me how to service cars, trucks, tractors, & machinery.

He taught me how to sing with power, communication, and meaning.

He taught me how to treat a wife & children by example and word.

He taught me many things about the principles of the gospel.

He taught me how to be a good neighbor as I watched him interact with the Marsden, Kandler, Albertsen, Sharp, Harshbarger, and other families in the area.

He taught me how to work - to be busy - anxiously engaged in something useful.

He taught me to be honest and yet generous.

I will conclude with some memories and thoughts of Walter. I always considered the way he did things as the right way.  When I wonder what to do, I think, “What would Walter have done with this problem or concern?”

I remember when our well went dry the late fall of 1961.  We had to get our culinary water from their place in Ashton.  For about 2 months, Rhea would have me bring the washing in on my way to teach school in St. Anthony.  On the way home I would stop by to get the water cans.  She would have the clothes washed and dried for me to take home to Bonnie.

In 1951, while harvesting out on the Fuller place, I crushed my finger in a combine chain and gear.  While I was recuperating in the Ashton hospital, Walter and others came with their self-propelled combines and finished harvesting the crop for us.  Walter and Rhea were always ready to help anyone in need.

I saw him “fix” some impossible things.  In harvest one year, a copper wire became disconnected from one of the carbon brushes that run the big motor up in the top of his grain elevator.  He did not want to stop the harvest production to take it to a repair shop in the city.  So, he took it apart, went to the shop and welded it back together some way, and it worked!

In the early days, I drove the RD-4 Caterpillar tractor as it pulled the side-hill combine.  Walter rode the combine and kept it level and running in good order.  He would hand signal for me to slow down or speed up.  Once in a while, when we were in an extra heavy patch of grain, I would need to pull over so as the combine would only be cutting part of a swath.  Then he would smile and pat the big side pocket of his overalls to indicate how much money he would be getting because of such a good crop.

I got $100.00 per mont wages and room and board with a bonus at the end of the season.  The tutoring, teaching, and experience I received in this apprenticeship was, and has been, worth a lot more to me than the money I received.

I value the friendship and love of Walter and Rhea and their family as a prized possession.  I look forward to this life and the next as we continue to grow toward perfection and perhaps eternal life together.

Written - May 27, 1998


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 If there are any additions or corrections that would make this more complete please send them to  P. Blaine Hawkes