The Personal Histories
Darvil Burns McBride & Josephine Phillips McBride
SERVICE IN THE CHURCH
My grandparents on both sides converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints early in its history. Most of them were a part of one of the many groups leaving family and possessions in Europe, to cross the angry Atlantic in discomfort and privation.
Hardy, noble pioneers, once in America, driven off their property by persecutors, they crossed the great barriers—monolithic obstacles in the path of their destination. The plains and prairies, the mountains and deserts and the freezing torrential waters, seasoned them under blazing sun, in sand filled wind and through freezing rain, sleet and snow. Their destination—a place of liberty to worship—a place to worship according to true doctrines restored through a living Prophet raised up by a living God.
Each in turn fought their way westward, by oxen-pulled covered wagons or bodily-pulled, and pushed, handcarts. Usually they trudged on foot for most of the way to save space and energy, both human and animal to at last descend into the Great Salt Lake Basin. Full of hope in their quest, they suffered untold hardships in the name of truth and freedom, to reach a place to call their own, free of persecution.
A few arrived barely a decade later, swiftly, from East to West over the twin ribbons of shining rails completed in 1869. But, they too had known the treachery of the great sea and left their loved ones, property and possessions back in a far-away land. They too braved the ravages of the New Worlds elements and would answer the call of a Prophet of God to pioneer distant valleys at his request—many, on more than a single occasion.
Raised in the Gila Valley colonized by those great men and women, my forefathers, whose mingled blood comprises my grand heritage; I grew up a member of the expanding church. From infancy, through youth, through young adulthood and on, my interests and activities have been centered around the Church and among its members. Nurtured at first by a loving mother and father—then by a mother alone—I began to learn of the great principle of service through the influence of service itself.
The L.D.S. Church, peculiar to all other Christian denominations—and for that matter perhaps to all religions of the world—is administered gratis by the common members and not by a paid professional ministry. Thus, one at an early age expects to be called to serve in various positions. Now, even children are called to positions of leadership commensurate with their circumstances and age.
Many years have past, but the first level of responsibility I remember is when the ward leaders ordained me to the office of Deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood at age twelve. In the position I learned the requirements and acted upon them, as still happens today. Called eventually to be a counselor in the three-member presidency, I later became president of the deacon's quorum at age thirteen. At age fourteen and fifteen, I became a Teacher; and if I remember right I took a turn as the president of that quorum too. Then, as a Priest, the third office in the Aaronic Priesthood, I served as the Bishop's Assistant.
We attended the Mutual Improvement Association (M.I.A.), each week during a weekday evening. The activity arm of the Aaronic Priesthood in the M.I.A, the Boy Scouts of America scouting program, was for the boys, ages 12 through 17. Thatcher Ward, as nearly every ward in the Church sponsored a troop. After a time, I became the Patrol Leader of the Jackass Patrol, which rose to local fame principally through its name. I progressed through scouting to the level of Life Scout. Later in my teens, the Scouting District Leadership called me to serve as a Senior Scouter responsible to advise and help adult scouters to organize campouts, courts of honor and special mixed activities.
At age nineteen I left scouting to enter the young, unmarried, adult, men's program of the Church, the M-Men. The female counterpart was called the Gleaners. For at least one year and maybe two, I served as the M-Men President. Working with the adult advisor and ad hoc committees, we organized things like dances, picnics, overnight outings, plays, firesides and a basketball team. The M-Men of each ward organized a basketball team, and we played the five ward teams in our stake. I especially enjoyed this part of the organization.
I played the position of forward for a year while the captain of the team. We won the stake championship. Then, by defeating the Globe Ward team at the Globe High School gymn, we became the Church Champions in the State of Arizona. We traveled to Los Angeles to play a game, which if we won would make us eligible to play in the All-Church Tournament in Salt Lake City with hopes of becoming the All-Church Champions.
In California, we found ourselves in a bench-edge thriller pitted against a formidable group of athletes. As the quarters slipped by and minute followed minute, the score stayed close as each team recaptured the lead by one or two points throughout the game. At the end of the final quarter when the buzzer sounded we were clinched in a tie. We rested while we waited for the overtime play to begin.
Through the hard-fought three-minute overtime the lead continued shifting from team to team. The final seconds of the last minute narrowed any margin for error on the part of either team. The final buzzer sounded; again, in the middle of a deadlock. However, at the instant of the final buzzer, one of our team was fouled, and the referees determined it to be a technical foul. As it happened, I had scored every point for our team during the overtime period. Overall, our player-coach, a young, single high school teacher and a good friend to all of us, had scored thirteen points. I had scored twelve.
The referee signaled. As the team captain, entitled to attempt the technical, I started to the foul line with the basketball in hand. As I started to move toward the line, the coach snatched the ball from me as he strode passed saying, "The coach shoots the technicals." Younger, and out of respect for his additional years and position as a school teacher and bishop's calling as coach, and without an answer, I differed to him. The referees nor the other team ever questioned the impropriety then or after the game.
I'll never forget his impassible composure as he reached the line. The referee signaled him to proceed, and without a moment’s hesitation, with perfect confidence, he sent the ball arching on its way. Swish—it passed clean—through the hoop. We'd won the game. With that shot, the high point man became our hero. We all leaped into the air overjoyed with the win and with appreciation for our player-coach.
For reasons time has dimmed, that year the church authorities canceled the All-Church Tournament. Perhaps a church-wide problem with sportsmanship had robbed us of the chance to reach the top.
While being interviewed by Harold Clark, the principal of the Solomonville School, for a teaching position, as the bishop, he let me know that he hoped I would also accept the position of scout master in the Solomonville ward if he decided to hire me. Having been an active member of the ward, he knew of my past interest in scouting and of the need in the ward. He hired me to teach my first year and called me to serve as the scout master. Pleased with the calling as well as my new job, throughout the eight years I taught and served as the principal in Solomonville, I continued as the scout master.
During the last four years of the scout master tenure, the scout district called me as their field scouter. I served in that capacity concurrently with the scout master calling. My responsibilities included involvement in all of the district functions. I helped in the planning, organization and presentations of courts of honor, camperees, and instructional meetings. Also, I visited the many different troop meetings in the district as an analyst to answer questions and offer suggestions and give encouragement to the scout masters.
For four years in the ward I taught the Sunday school class of twelve and thirteen-year-olds. The next four years I served as the superintendent of the Sunday school (known now as the Sunday School President). Concurrent with the Sunday school calling, I taught the fourteen and fifteen-year-old boys in the M.I.A.
In May 1942, we moved to Southern California. After a stay of six weeks with Jo's brother and his wife, we lived in Newport Beach, Balboa and Westminster. We began attending the Huntington Beach Branch about eight miles away. There, I first served as president of the M.I.A. and the gospel doctrine class teacher at the same time. After serving for two years as mentioned, I became the Branch President for a year. I had replaced Elliot Woodhouse who held the calling for twenty-two years. Karl Allred, our neighbor in Westminster, the first counselor, became the next branch president after we moved to Wilmington. Later, he became the bishop and then a patriarch in Garden Grove Stake.
During part of the war years when everything worthwhile was being rationed to further the war effort, even the seats in the tabernacle at conference time in Salt Lake City were scarce, along with especially gasoline and tires. I was serving as president of an independent branch in Huntington Beach, California. At that time, bishoprics, stake presidencies and presidents of auxiliaries and a few others holding key positions were invited to conference. Since branch presidents had somewhat the same status in the Church as bishops I attended conference a couple of times.
PRESIDENT KIMBALL’S COUNSEL: One of these years, not having enough gasoline ration stamps, and unable to hitch a ride with someone who did, I took the small stipend tendered my position and bought plane fare. Jo reluctantly agreed to this arrangement if I would promise to make every effort to contact her Uncle Spencer—Spencer W. Kimball, had been an Apostle for only a couple of years. This, I readily agreed to do, for my visit, if it would materialize, would have a two-fold purpose: to not only deliver my wife’s greetings and love, but to also seek counsel about a problem that was beginning to concern me.
Recently I had received a letter from a friend in Washington DC, employed there as executive secretary to an Arizona Congressman. He believed that I would have no trouble finding very profitable employment there. Since the war seemed to be winding down and my job with Douglas Aircraft might soon be ending, I was worried about my next move. Certain Elder Kimball could give me some sound advice, I hoped for a short visit with him.
After the morning session I waited until the tabernacle had nearly emptied before I approached Spencer. As he eagerly grabbed my hand, pulled me to him for a quick hug, I said, “Do you have a couple of minutes for a man with a question.” He saw the seriousness in my eyes took me by the arm and led me upstairs into the balcony. “We won’t be bothered up her,” he said, as we seated ourselves. His next words were to congratulate me on my calling as the Branch President, that he had become aware of it only recently. Before I could give him Jo’s message, he asked about her and the family and expressed his love for her and her mother, Nettie, who became his beloved sister (albeit stepsister) with the second marriage of his father, after his mother’s death.
This rapid-fire type of exchange between us lasted only a couple of minutes for I knew him to be a busy man whose time was in demand, and I did not wish to use usurp much of it. As quickly as I could get to it I told him about the letter from my friend and asked should I consider taking my family there. He wasted no time in answering. He agreed that the war would soon be over and I was wise to be thinking about the future, but N0! Washington DC was no place to take a young, impressionable family, that the following years were bound to be years of turmoil at the National Capital. He reminded me that sin was everywhere; and even spoke about how well organized the devil now was, with many emissaries on his payroll, and how effective they could be where the Church’s influence was sparse. “Stay in the west,” he said: “among your own people where the Gospel can more readily influence your moves. Get yourself some kind of business and put down roots of permanency. Then he uttered the words that changed my life: “Darvil,” and he put his hand on my shoulder. “I’d rather have a popcorn and peanut stand on the street corner and be able to call it my own than work for the other man, no matter how good the job offered me.” Well, guess what our first move was after the war ended. We took the little nest egg we had saved for the purpose, and without any hesitation or qualms of fear of failure, purchased a business. Since that time we have attempted to follow that Prophet’s counsel and keep ourselves in self employment, nearly to the point of the popcorn stand—MAC’S MARKET SPOT—a near starvation grocery store on the street corner, where regardless of some lean years, we enjoyed the satisfaction that can only come with freedom of ownership.
After we bought the laundry business in Wilmington in 1944, we moved to a house on Enola Street in that city. There, we attended the Wilmington Ward. To my surprise, for I was the youngest high priest in the group, I became the group instructor. The bishop later called me to be the teacher of the gospel doctrine class, keeping that position as long as we stayed in the ward.
From Wilmington we went to Grand Junction, Colorado where I represented Woodbury College recruiting high school graduates. The bishop knowing we were there only temporarily, did not call us to positions though we attended regularly.
In 1949 we returned from Colorado to live in Thatcher after a seven-and-a-half-year absence. After living there for a year, we moved to Safford for a year and attended the Layton Ward. The bishop called me to teach the gospel doctrine class. He called Guy Anderson as an assistant, and as it turned out, he taught the class about one-quarter of the time, when he could be there.
Back in Thatcher after a year, the stake president called me as the first assistant in the stake Sunday school presidency. After about two years, the Saint Joseph Stake was divided and reorganized. The stake presidency called Jo as the music specialist and me to be the speech and drama specialist on the Stake M.I.A. Board. After three years, I became the Stake M.I.A. Superintendent. This was the Mount Graham Stake, newly organized, of which Spencer W. Kimball had become its first President.
Close to the time we purchased the store, I was called to be the first counselor to Bishop Farrell Layton in the junior college, institute ward. I served in that capacity from then and on through the eight year tenure in the State Senate even though I could not be present for indefinite periods because of the time spent in the legislature and the travel back and forth.
In 1969 we returned to live in California. In the East Pasadena Ward, I served as the secretary of the M.I.A., then as an assistant to the high priest group leader, responsible for home teaching. Later, the bishop called me to be the editor of the ward news letter much to the protest of the group leader. Influenced by the objection of the good man, the bishop gave me the choice of where I wanted to serve. I chose to be the editor and remained in that calling until moving from the ward. The new bishop, just called, accused me of moving purposely to escape the editor job. I'd served in the ward under Bishops: Bruce McGregor, Kieth Hilbig, Don Mortensen, Russel Groesbeck and then the accuser, Clark Coberly.
In 1985 we moved into the Bayside Village private community in Newport Beach. New members in the Corona Del Mar Ward, Jo and I were called to serve as the church publications representatives. Little time passed before the calling fell to me alone. Jo gave up the ship and left me adrift. In addition to the first calling, I was called to work in the Orange Stake Family History Center too, as a patron services specialist. Jo had been called to do it too. Terrible! She wouldn’t do it either. In all fairness, age and circumstances was taking its toll on both of us.
Of course, during service in these varied callings, since the age of fourteen as a junior companion and then as an adult, a senior and companion, I've always served as a home teacher to three to five families in the several wards and one branch we lived in.