Family Search sent me a copy of my grandfather’s draft registration online recently.
It showed that 102 years ago, during World War I, Alfred Gardner Gunn was 30 years old, married and the father of two, which would include my father, Alfred Grant Gunn. I am the third Alfred G. Gunn and feel a deep responsibility to live up to their good name.
My dad was an FBI agent, and a good one, and I am sure that is why I was given every consideration when I too was hired by the bureau after a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and college graduation.
When I was 12 — and my brother Ronald was 9 — Dad taught us the principle of giving a little extra effort in whatever job we had, when we became caddies at Overlake Golf and Country Club. When I was just a little older, I remember Dad’s talk about respect for girls and warning against some profane terms I might hear. One was so vile he would not let it cross his lips, and because of him it has never crossed mine either.
At Bellevue Junior High School Dad signed on as a chaperone on the weekly school buses to Snoqualmie Pass where we boys, and Dad, learned to ski. What great times those were.
It was during that period that Bishop Layton B. Jones invited Dad and Reese Chipman, another FBI agent and an active Latter-day Saint, to go hunt down the Utah Mormons in the area who had moved to Seattle to work for Boeing, and bring them out to church. They did, and it brought my dad and mother back into church activity too.
It was a life-changing time for our family —my younger brother, sister and me. Dad and I would go early to the rental hall that was our church in Kirkland and clear away Saturday night’s ashtrays and beer bottles to prepare for our worship there. I was learning to serve.
When we moved to Bellingham our church meetings were in the living room of a rented house, but in that humble setting we children gained testimonies of the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ that is a joy in our lives to this day.
Of course the folks were growing into being active Latter-day Saints, including attending church in the morning and afternoon on Sunday, as was done back then. We children look back and laugh at the fact that between Sunday meetings we snuck in nine holes at the Bellingham Golf and Country Club — calling it “family time.”
We laugh because Mormons don’t typically play golf on Sunday. Some things you have to grow into, and that’s what our folks were doing.
The Utah Mormon father I love was an athlete and as a young man had been more interested in sports on Sunday than going to church, but with a family he had the courage to grow in his faith, perhaps for the sake of three children.
When I was away for 30 months on my LDS mission, Dad gave up his golfing membership in the club for a year to help build the first LDS meetinghouse in Bellingham. That’s when I knew he loved the Lord more than he loved golf. What a great example.
Dad sent me a handwritten letter every week of my mission, with Mom sending almost that many. When I returned from Brazil, the $4,500 I had saved as a young man to pay for my mission was still in my bank account. The folks had sacrificed once again for my sake for what would become my education money.
When a move took the folks to Houston for a few years, Dad would be called to preside over an LDS congregation as a bishop there. Later, back at Bellingham, he would be called to serve as a bishop again —quite unusual for a man of 72. He served in church leadership there until age 82 and people there remember him and love his memory to this day.
But not as much as I do, when I think of him and count my blessings, not only at Father’s Day but when I hear his voice in my own.