MARRIAGE, MISSION, MIT, AIR FORCE, STANFORD, DIALOGUE
By Charlotte England
Our good friend Garry Shirts introduces this group of stories with his reflections on experiences that took place during the last part of our mission in Samoa. We received a telegram from the mission president about two weeks after we had moved into a section of a house shared with four other missionaries that we were to be on the next flight, which happened to be the first small jet flight from Samoa, and were to finish our mission in Hawaii. There was no reason or explanation given at the time but we learned later the significance of the directive.
After our mission Gene finished his degree at the U of U, in English and Philosophy. He also went through the ROTC program that many students joined during the Korean crises, committing three years to the Air Force. We moved to Boston where Gene trained at MIT to be a meteorologist for the Air Force. We made many new friends, some for a lifetime, including Ken and Kate Handley and Gene and Bonnie Dalton.
After a year at MIT, Gene was stationed at George Air Force Base on the Mojave desert where he would provide weather forecasts for the next two years. It is here where there is a chance meeting with our good friends Thom Parkes and Ken Godfrey. Jerry Cannon also shares a few remembrances of Gene as the two of them served together in the Elders Quorum during this time. Our lives during this and later times intersected wonderfully with Renee and Jack Carlson.
After serving his two years, Gene takes a job at the University of Utah with the student government for a year and applies for a Danforth Fellowship for his graduate work. He chooses Stanford where he can study under Yvor Winters and Wallace Stegner.
From 1962, it’s a flurry of friends and activities while Gene pursued his degree and taught part time. It a was a delight to have young students at Stanford become enmeshed with our family. Stories from Karen Rosenbaum, Kathy Petty, and Scott Cameron, as well as others from the community that we shared time and adventures with. Hank Taylor and Kent and Betsy Christensen describe well “Bearmont,” one of those activities, and Pat Robinson’s door was always open to us.
I was fortunate enough in my search to find three of Gene’s colleagues who were also Danforth Fellows at Stanford. When I first spoke to Jim McMichael, he said it was difficult for him to write about a close friend like Gene but after coaxing out of him a very brief episode about sharing lunch with Gene one day, I asked for more. He said he preferred telling over writing, and this wasn’t a time that I could leave for his home in Long Beach to do an interview, so I asked my daughter Katherine, who lived a short distance from Jim if she would do the interview for me, which she generously did.
Eventually, friendships with Jim, Bob Christmas, and Gene come together at Jim’s cabin in Idaho, where the three spend a day fishing and talking that Bob writes about.
Conversations were humming in the 60s to start a Mormon journal in which participants could discuss and share their thoughts and ideas on topics of interest and concern. We have the accounts of that period from Frances Lee Menlove, Wes Johnson, Diane Monson, Claudia Bushman, and Bob Rees.
“A Friend for All Seasons”
R. Garry Shirts
“Snapshots for New England and Beyond”
Bonnie Dalton and Kate and Ken Hadley
“Memories of Eugene England”
“Eugene England: A Man for Whom Faith Won”
Kenneth W. Godfrey
“Gene in Service”
“Golden and Constant”
“Remembrances of Things Never Really Past: Gene at Stanford”
“Reaching Out, Building Relationships”
“At Home in Our Home”
Betsy and A. Kent Christensen
“An Enduring Friendship”
“Eugene England, Our Gershwin”
“Gene in Two Settings”
Frances Lee Menlove
“A Committed Person of Exceptional Value”
G. Wesley Johnson
“I Learned That I Should Take On Anything That Gene Suggested”
“Talking with Gene”
Robert A. Rees