WALKER FAMILY HISTORY
BISHOP MURRAY HOLT INTERVIEW 26 SEPTEMBER, 1989
Murray Holt: The main thing I remember most about President Walker was that he was not only a great church leader but that he was a community leader. He contributed a lot of time to try to build up, not only the town, but the church as well.
He was the bishop during most of my growing up years. He was my bishop. Later on he became the Stake President. His counselors in the Stake Presidency were John Allen and Les Palmer.
He was the Stake President that was responsible for this beautiful cultural center that we have. He wouldnít agree that they should join it on to the existing chapel. I remember there were two apostles that came up for a meeting. I was in the Bishopric at that time. These two apostles were trying to get the support of the whole stake as to where this particular addition to the Stake Center should be.
One of them said: Do you people sustain me as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles? And they all said: Sure. He said: Well my opinion as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is that you should put the addition on to the existing building.
I can always remember President Walker; after the Apostle got through, President Walker said: ĎWell, weíre going to take time to reconsider this. Weíre not going to make any decision on it at the present time.í And they didnít. They took time and eventually they got what they thought they ought to have. It was the right way to go, and now you can see the result of it.
For years and years and years it was one of the better places for having any kind of meetings on a Stake level, or even for some of the activities of the community.
Bill: President J. Golden Snow told me about when he and Grandpa went to Bishop Wirthlinís office to look at plans for the building. (Presiding Bishopís office) They looked at the plans of the big building, that Bishop Wirthlin didnít really want them to see. That is the building that they built.
Murray: I wasnít very old when your grandpa got involved as the President of the Chamber of Commerce, or the Board of Trade, as they called it at that time. He sure did put a tremendous effort into that. As a result of that we got the factory and the beginning of the sugar beet industry in Southern Alberta. Of course, the sugar beet industry still exists, and it is one of the better agricultural operations in this area.
He made a great contribution to the progress of Southern Alberta.
I remember that he was a good organizer, when he was the Bishop. He always seemed to have the support of the ward. It was a pretty active ward. I can still remember when he would have song practice in Sunday School (when he was a counselor in the Bishopric). Boy, he could get everybody to sing. He just had that leadership quality that he got people moving.
Another thing about him that I really admired - I remember when I first went to him for an interview. Iím not sure if it was to get a temple recommend to get married, or what it was, but he was somebody that could talk on your level. We appreciated that.
He was the Stake President when I was put in the Bishopric. That was in 1947, when he was put in as the Stake President. They made the four wards and the bishops were Bishop Hicken in the First Ward, Bishop Snow in the Fourth Ward, Bishop Jensen in the Second Ward and Bishop Dahl in the Third Ward. Your Dad and I were counselors to Bishop Hicken.
We used to have carnivals to raise money to build the old second ward building when your grandpa was the Bishop. We did anything we could to raise money. I donít think many people were critical of what they were doing to raise money.
Harris Walker: Brother Eveson was. He wrote a letter every week to President Grant to get Dad released as Bishop.
Murray Holt: That was a time when things were really tough. There was no money. Nobody had anything. People had barely enough to eat and no money to buy anything else.
Harris: If somebody made $100 a month, you thought they were pretty rich.
Murray: I donít know how long it took to finish that building, eight or nine years, something like that. They finished the recreation hall first and started using it. Thatís where we held all of our meetings for quite a while.
Beth Walker: They had the dance hall outside, and they made money there with the dances. People came from all over the country to dance on the cement floor.
Murray: It was like an open air pavilion. They had a dance there every Saturday night. They had dance bands: Lou Kings band and Nolan McMullin. Lou was Shirleyís older brother. He was a real musician.
Harris: Do you remember Joe McLain? Joe used to play with him. Jack Patey and Wes McMullin played with him too.
Murray: Wes McMullin played the drums. He was Nolanís Dad. The Second Ward put these dances on. They had Jitney dances at one time, and you would pay 5 cents or 10 cents for a dance. Youíd get a string of tickets, for example you would get five tickets for 25 cents and that would allow you to dance five times. They would rope the dancing area off and you had to give a ticket to get inside the rope to dance. In those days you would dance with everybody, you didnít just dance with one girl. Thatís the way they did it in Waterton, too.
Another thing I remember about Harrisís Dad is he always got them trained for athletics. He would go out and train with them, too. You had a lot of equipment there didnít you Harris?
Harris: Well, we didnít when we started, but later we did.
Murray: You had almost a regular track right there at your house.
Beth: Grandpa figured thatís one way he could keep track of what his kids were doing and keep them busy. We used to buy meat from Murrayís meat market, and we would get a huge round steak for 25 cents.
Harris: Murray ran the butcher shop for a long time. His dad ran the farm and the butcher shop.
Murray: I came to the farm in 1940. Anything was better than wages, and at least on the farm you could get something to eat. When Dad died in 1940, Mother didnít know what to do with the farm, so I decided I would try to run the farm.
Beth: Murray and Vella lived right across the road from Grandma and Grandpa's house. Right across from Stuartís house.
Murray: We were there for five years. Scott and Ruth owned it and they moved over to the place next to Stephenson's. It was a little two room house. When I bought the place I remodeled it and stuccoed the house. I grew up in about three different houses. I was born in the old Joe Nielsen house. Then Dad bought the old Johnson house. Then we lived down in a house by Mark Evansís old house.
I went all the way through school with your Dad. Your Dad was a pretty good, smart student. He had lots of energy, and he was athletic.
Harris: I got good grades until I had to start to study.
Murray: We had some smart kids in our grade. Darrel West was a real smart mathematician. He was a real brain but he would never do any homework.
Harris: He was about the smartest guy I ever saw, anywhere.
Murray: He would come about ten minutes before school started, and ask one of us what the homework was and he would have it all done by the time school started.
Bill: He sounds like Jim Fisher.
Murray: Well, Jim is a Bishop now, they just put him in as the Bishop in Warner.
Harris: Cybil Bacon, Marie Redd and Mirza Pack were all in our grade and they were real smart, too.
Murray: In 1st and 2nd grade all the kids used to like to come with me to Dadís store to get candy. In high school, I didnít run around with your Dad too much. In high school, I kind of ran around with a mischievous group, sometimes we would steal ice cream off peoples porches when they were having a party. Sometimes we would steal a chicken and cook it that night. There were lots of chicken suppers held with stolen chickens.
Bill: You werenít doing that Dad, were you?
Harris: I didnít ever steal any chickens.
Beth: He didnít have time. His dad kept him working too hard.
Harris: We had too many chickens ourselves.
Murray: Well, Bruce Galbraith & Ralph Meldrum & Shirley King, they used to get in on a few of these pranks.
Bill: Well, if you had been caught stealing chickens, your Dad probably would have about killed you.
Harris: Thatís right. We used to have our chickens stolen quite often. One time, I think it was Andy Sorenson and his pals, they came up and stole a whole bunch of chickens from my Dad. Then they invited Dad and Mom to the chicken supper. Dad didnít find out until after. I was about six or seven at the time. He was pretty mad.
Murray: I was involved with your Dad quite a bit in school activities. In 11th grade, I was put in as Premier of the High School. We called it Premier back then, instead of President.
Solon Low was one of our teachers. he had gotten involved in politics. We kind of patterned our high school organization after Parliament, so we had a Premier and we elected an opposition leader. Our opposition leader was Charlotte Knight. Then we had the Minister of Athletics and the Minister of Finance. Harris was on the high school team at that time. It was quite an experience. We were responsible for all the activities. In those days we had a program on Friday afternoon, twice a month. We would rotate the people responsible for the program and the talent. They were really pretty good. We would have quartets and duets and other musical performances. We had some pretty good dances in the old high school gym, and they had weekly Saturday night dances at the Opera House. That old high school gym, that was something, wasnít it Harris? It had a low ceiling. When we played basketball in there, half the time the ball would hit the ceiling, but it was in bounds. If it hit the ceiling, you just kept playing.
Harris: I remember when Bud McKillop played guard for Lethbridge High School. He was so big, he was 6í 4" or 6í 5" and probably weighed 300 pounds. He would stand there in that little gym, and he was so big, nobody could get by him. They might go down the other side of the floor, but they couldnít go down his side of the floor. Bud could make the long shot, too. he would make two or three baskets a game from three-quarters the length of the floor.
Bill: What do you remember about my Grandma, Fannye?
Murray: Well, she was, I would say, an ideal mother and wife. She was a church leader too, and she took her responsibilities along with her husband. They were an ideal couple. They set a real good example. They were people you could respect. She was friendly with everybody. She was Stake Mutual President for a long time. Sister King worked with her in the Stake Mutual for years. And Sister Walton. She had a tremendous influence on the young ladies in this Stake. I don't know how she had the energy to do what she did - man she was a worker. Especially with all those kids, twelve kids. There were Walkers everywhere.
Bill: Can you tell me anything about when you and Dad were counselors to Bishop Hicken.
Murray: Well, I thought we did a pretty good job as a Bishopric. That was a tremendous experience. That was something I didnít expect. I donít know if Harris was surprised when he was called into the Bishopric, but I was. I was not completely active. I wasnít attending church as regularly as I should have been. But I had always paid my tithing. I learned that growing up and as soon as I started working on my own, I always paid my tithing. I always said that is probably why I was chosen to be a counselor to Bishop Hicken. My Dad always felt like tithing should be paid, and of course, I remember that he would often send one of us kids up to see Bishop Walker with a check from my Dad for tithing settlement. He would allocate some of his tithing to each of the children to account for how he thought we had contributed to the earnings of the business. It seemed like we always had a dime. We seemed to have the money we had to have, we didnít always have everything we needed. But we got by. When I started to go with that little lady that I married, she would never marry me unless I was worthy to go to the temple. One of the requirements for a temple recommend was to be a full tithe payer. I started to pay tithing as soon as I started to work on my own, and Iíve never seen the day that I didnít have a dime. And Iíve never seen the day after I started to farm that I couldnít go and borrow money.
When they divided the wards, it had been noised around that it was going to take place. Bishop Hicken came out and knocked on the door and said to Vella: Whereís Murray? She said heís over doing the beets. He said: Do you know what Iíve come for? She said: Well, not really; Is it something to do with the divisions of the wards? He said: Yes, Iíve come to ask Murray to be a counselor in the Bishopric.
He came over to the field, and I stopped the tractor. He said: Iíve come to ask you to be a counselor. I said: No, No, you havenít, you donít want me. Bishop Hicken said: Well, I might not want you, but the Lord does. I gave him a dozen excuses why I shouldnít be there. He said: Is there anything youíre doing that you canít quit? I said: I guess not. He said: Will you do it? And I said: Yes. And while I was out there with Bishop Hicken, my wife was here praying that I would accept the call. It was a beautiful experience.
Beth: Well, I wasnít going to let Harris take the job. I said the only reason you would be called is because you are the Stake Presidentís son, and everybody would be talking about it. He said: Well, donít worry they wonít ask me. I said: Well, Iíve got a feeling they will. People will say it is favoritism. So the next day, along came Mamma Robbers and she said: ĎWell, I hear President Walker is going to fill all the jobs with his family. Harris will probably be called to be the Bishop of the ward.í
Murray: Well, I was surprised when I was called to be the Bishop. You donít plan on those things, and I thought they would just put in a new slate. When I was called, I had no reservations about who I wanted to be the first counselor. I wanted it to be Harris.
Beth: I donít think there was ever a Bishopric that was closer in spiritual aims and everything, than you guys.
Murray: We had a real good relationship in all ways.
Beth: It was more than just carrying out the program of the church. It was individuals who were helping each other, and each others families. There was a closeness there that you donít often feel in a ward.
Murray: We used to have a lot of good get-togethers after we had worked hard all day. Weíd have pot luck at one place or the other. We had a lot of fun. We could stir up a party in nothing flat, couldnít we?
Beth: We always had cold roast beef sandwiches.
Murray: We included the clerks, and would often have all the ward leaders together, and sometimes it would be as many as 24 or 26 people.
Beth: We had a good time together. We had a common goal. It was to make the ward work and to make our families a success.
Murray: It sure was.
Beth: There was a genuine love there.
Harris: We had a Bishopric quartet for quite a while.
Murray: Yes, it was Godfrey and Harris and me and Orvin. Man, we did quite a lot of singing. We had an expert at the piano. I always sang the lead , Godrey was tenor, Harris was baritone and Orvin was the base.
Harris: We used to sing pretty often. Every time we had a ward party, we would sing.
Murray: We would sing at funerals.
Beth: You were the only music at Emil Weedís funeral. The only ones in the congregation were the Bishopric and Vella, and me at the organ, and Parley Litchfield. That was all that was at his funeral. They sang the songs and did the preaching and said the prayers.
Bill: There probably arenít very many bishoprics where they can all sing well enough to sing the parts.
Harris: Of course, with the next bishopric, John Smith couldnít carry a tune. So it didnít work with that bishopric.
Murray: We even went into a festival competition in Calgary. I think we came in second. It was a regional church music festival.
Bill: I have to tell you, one of the most embarrassing experiences of my life happened when you were having one of your bishopric parties at our house. It was 1954, I was 10 years old and Mrs. Holmes was my fourth grade teacher. You know how boys of that age wait till the very last moment when they have to go to the bathroom. I was somewhere in the house and realized I had to go to the bathroom bad, so I went tearing down the hall and hit the bathroom door. I had the routine down where I could open the bathroom door, swing inside, close it, put my knee on the door and lock it, and do it in about one second. I locked it and turned toward the toilet as I was pulling my pants down - and Mrs. Holmes was sitting on the toilet. (laughter) She was speechless, as she had been sitting there and all of a sudden the door came flying open, and this kid came flying in. She looked at me and said nothing. I was just standing there and we were looking at each other. I excused myself; and I can tell you I didnít want to go to school the next day. She was my teacher. I thought how am I ever going to be able to go back to school. I worried about that for a long time. She hadnít locked the door, but she had probably tried. It was a door that if you didnít put some pressure on it you couldnít lock it. She probably twisted it and thought it was locked. It was a long time after that before I could forget about that. You know how you let things bother you when you are a little kid. That was an embarrassing moment.
Murray: Godrey and Virginia Holmes were the same age as Orvin and Inez. Godrey was the Ward Clerk when Bishop Hicken was the bishop, and when I was put in we had Jack Evans as the Ward Clerk. When Orvin was the bishop, we only had the one clerk, but later the church told us we should have a welfare clerk and a financial clerk. It was after I was a bishop that they started having executive secretaries. Of course, a lot of the programs have changed.
When Bishop Hicken was the bishop, you had to give the tithing right to the bishop. It was later that they started allowing it to be given to the counselors and the financial clerk.
Bill: I remember sitting in the clerks office and giving my tithing to Jack Evans. He would put the money in the fold in the receipt book, and write a receipt for me as I waited.
Murray: Bishop Hicken used to do all of the reports himself. He would take the money home every Sunday night, then he would make up the report and take the money to the bank the next morning. He would do it himself. The Ward Clerk would help with the statistical report, but all the other reports to the stake, the Bishop would do it himself. We were fortunate because our ward was very stable. We didnít have a lot of movement out of our ward.
Beth: I remember once you said we have a 100% ward, and someone said to you what do you mean. You said: Well they are either 100% active, or 100% inactive, there isnít any in between.
Murray: Well, we were always in competition with Welling Ward. They called their ward Zion. They almost had 100% all the time in the Welling Ward. I think 100% except for Lenny Mehew and somebody else. There were only two people in the ward that didnít go to church. I remember when they used to have statistics for the stake in the church and the Taylor Stake was always in the top ten.
Harris: I remember when I was a kid seeing my Dadís tithing report once. I guess I wasnít supposed to see it, but I did. The total tithing for the ward was $9000. Of course, that was back in the depression days.
Harris: I didnít ever throw anybody down the coal shoot. Murray canít say that.
Murray: At the old school, they heated it with coal, and they had a big coal shoot going to the basement. It was that old slack coal. If some of the kids got out of line, we grabbed them and threw them down the shoot. Old Peterson and Holly Demeister and Alwin Stone. Alwin was a cocky little guy so we would throw him down there.
Harris: Floran Demeister was a big clumsy Dutch man, and in grade ten, these kids got up in the attic of the old high school. They were climbing around in the attic in the middle of one of our classes here came a big long leg down through the ceiling. It was Florin. He had slipped off one of the studs and his leg went right through the ceiling into the classroom.
Murray: It was me and Mirza and Floran. We were up there trying to figure out the electrical to hook up some lights for the dance. He was walking along the studs and slipped off and took a great big hole in the ceiling, knocked off the plaster and everything. So we had to clean it up and they had to have a plasterer come in and fix it. It was crazy. We had fun.
Transcribed by William R. Walker
5 August , 1995