Spencer W. Kimball Tower dedication
Welcome by Jeffrey R. Holland, President of Brigham Young University
I think for all of us the brightness and beauty of the day outside is exceeded only by the brightness and beauty we feel inside, inside this building and inside our hearts today, as we welcome one and all to this historic and special convocation on the Brigham Young University campus. Our hearts are indeed full to overflowing that in answer to our many prayers, President Spencer W. Kimball, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President of the BYU Board of Trustees, is with us and presiding at these dedicatory services on this very, very beautiful day. President, on behalf of the entire BYU family, we greet you, and we express to you our love and our wholehearted devotion. Indeed, we thank thee, O God, for a prophet.
We also welcome to the university today Sister Camilla Kimball and many members of the Kimball family. Presidents Marion G. Romney and Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency are also seated with us on the stand. Both are officers of the Board of Trustees, and President Hinckley serves as chairman of its Executive Committee. We also welcome President Ezra Taft Benson, Elder Boyd K. Packer, and Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve. President Benson and Elder Packer serve as trustees of the university. We are honored by the presence of many other General Authorities seated throughout the audience. We especially welcome the wives of the Brethren who have been able to accompany their husbands today.
We are pleased to have with us on the stand Brother D. Arthur Haycock, personal secretary to President Kimball, Mayor James E. Ferguson of Provo City, Commissioner Henry B. Eyring and his associates from the Church Educational System, plus administrative and student officers of the university. Sister June Oaks is in attendance today representing her husband, former President and current Justice Dallin Oaks. We would especially like to acknowledge the presence of architects Hal Beecher and John and Emil Fetzer. General contractors Wally and Walter Christiansen are with us also. We wish to thank them for the splendid work they have done on the Spencer W. Kimball Tower. May we ask our architects and contractors to please stand. Thank you very much, brethren.
We have assembled here this morning to dedicate the majestic and imposing Spencer W. Kimball Tower, newly constructed on the BYU campus in honor of him who is so faithful and has so devotedly led the Church to some of its most remarkable and revelatory history. The towering, prophetic stature of Spencer W. Kimball will be forever in our thoughts and our hearts as we daily view this towering structure on campus, a veritable beacon of light visible by day and by night throughout the length and breadth of this valley. Indeed had the Spencer W. Kimball Tower been in place in 1917, young Spencer Kimball, then newly arrived in Provo from his home in Arizona, might not have wondered where the campus was and mistakenly walked the length of East Center Street to seek admission at that other institution for which Provo has also been famous. May this structure and the life of the man we honor by it today ever be an attraction to every generation of young Spencer Kimballs who will come to Provo to seek learning even by study and also by faith at Brigham Young University.
However, I need to say to all of you that President Kimball is not here today without understandable concern on the part of his physicians, his Brethren in the presiding councils of the Church, and certainly the BYU administration. We ask every effort on your part in restricting personal contact with President Kimball, as much as he would wish otherwise. We ask your every effort to do everything possible to make President Kimball's time on campus as pleasant and as restful as it can be. Thank you very much for your understanding and for your restraint. Upon the advice of his physicians, we will not be asking President Kimball to respond this morning, but we are delighted that he is indeed with us.
Tribute from the Students by Kasey Haws, BYU Student Body President
Though my remarks will be brief, I pray that the Spirit of the Lord will be with us on this great occasion when we as students will have the opportunity to honor President Kimball and as a university dedicate a building in his name.
During President Kimball's recent stay in the hospital, an enterprising group of BYU students decided to create an enormous, impromptu get-well card out of a nine-by-three-foot piece of butcher paper which they hung up across from the university cafeteria, and then invited the students to sign get-well messages to the Prophet. First one side of the paper was filled, then the other, and then another piece of paper was filled, and still another, until it became apparent that many BYU students had taken the opportunity to express their wishes and appreciation to the Prophet.
As I took the opportunity to sign my name on this piece of paper, I noticed a short message just above mine that read, "President Kimball, please get well soon. Thanks for everything. A BYU student." As I have pondered that phrase, "Thanks for everything," I thought it best summed up the feelings of so many who signed those pieces of butcher paper knowing that it would be impossible for President Kimball to read the great majority of the messages, and perhaps touches on the things the students would like to express today. I will try to explain.
If we assume that the average age of a BYU student is somewhere between 20 and 21 years of age, it means that, at the end of 1973, when Spencer W. Kimball became the President of the Church, most of the students who are with us today at BYU were somewhere between 11 and 13 years old. As we have grown through teenage, young-adult, and, for many of us, young-married years, President Kimball's clear, constant, and loving advice has been a great beacon of direction in our lives. We have drawn on such teachings as keeping a daily journal, praying daily, and consistently studying the scriptures. Phrases like "Lengthen your stride" have become mottoes for thousands and thousands of the young members of the Church and of this great university as a result of President Kimball's guidance. President Kimball's own motto of "Do it" has come to signify our image of his own personal example. Many of the students in this building today feel a great thankfulness that they responded to your call, President Kimball, that all worthy young men and many worthy young ladies should serve full-time missions. Almost 50 percent of the students who currently attend Brigham Young University have been on missions for the Church and had the opportunity to bear frequent testimony of a true church and of a living prophet.
Because of President Kimball's personal example to all of us during the critical years of our youth, somehow we feel a special bond with him as a spokesman for our times and the specially called leader of this generation. It's even come to the point that the once vacant and rocky plot of land only a block and a half from this building between the Missionary Training Center and the Wymount Terrace dorms is now a beautifully planted field of vegetables and green grass in summer as a result of President Kimball's direction to create gardens in our homes and beautify our surroundings.
President Kimball, as students of Brigham Young University, our message and tribute to you today, I think, was best summed up by that one student who wrote, "Thanks for everything." Thanks for your teachings and your counsel. Thanks for your exemplary life. The building that we dedicate today in your name will stand for the BYU students today not only as a remembrance of your life, but also as a reminder of the great teachings which you have afforded us during the most critical and formative years of our own lives. We wish you health and strength and the choicest blessings of our Father for you. We wish to express our gratitude and our love, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tribute from Faculty, Administration, and Staff by Jae R. Ballif, BYU Provost and Academic Vice-President
The first time I became aware of the man, Spencer W. Kimball, he was already an apostle and I was a young student. He used to address us and stress the importance of our moral behavior. He would talk with some insistence about our dress, and we as students, perceiving only as through a glass darkly, used to consider him quite stern. Then I thought as a child, but now I struggle to think as a man. I struggle to put away childish things and live as a disciple of Christ, and there has been no more profound influence upon me than that of Spencer W. Kimball, Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. He has fully persuaded me that he loves me, and that the gospel he teaches provides the way, the truth, and the light. For as long as I live, the eternal student in me will remember his constant example of how great struggle has given him insight into truths, led him to greater understanding, and ultimately motivated him to caring for God's children in acts of love and tenderness. In fact, his whole ministry seems to be one great work of love, designed to share the truth with all who will hear.
When he was called to be an apostle, he spent six days and nights of almost constant prayer. Then he sought solitude and found his way to the top of a mountain. He wrote:
There was one great desire, to get a testimony of my calling, to know that it was not human and inspired by ulterior motives, kindly as they might be. How I prayed! How I suffered! How I wept! How I struggled! . . . .
[Then there] came a calm like the dying wind, the quieting wave after the storm is passed. . . . A calm feeling of assurance came over me, doubt and questionings subdued. It was as though a great burden had been lifted. [Edward W. Kimball and Andrew E. Kimball, Jr., Spencer W. Kimball (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1977), p. 195]
I will never forget his voice at the end of the October 1975 conference. He rose to the pulpit and quietly, humbly offered us these words:
While sitting here, I have made up my mind that when I go home from this conference this night there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through with conference. ["Spoken from Their Hearts," Ensign, November 1975, p. 111]
I know that all of us here at BYU—faculty and staff—would each like to pay our own special tribute to this man, but it is my privilege to speak for all of us. When we pass the building bearing his name or teach and learn in offices and classrooms, we will be reminded of the man Spencer W. Kimball who taught us in deed and eloquent word the eternal value in these interlocked truths: there is something very sacred about the struggle which precedes knowledge and understanding. It is necessary, and the peace of purpose comes only after we have begun to use our increased understanding in blessing the lives of others with acts consistent with each new truth we learn. Here on this campus we perceive a responsibility and a vision for this school derived from these teachings.
As you have loved us, President Kimball, we want you to know we, too, love you. We promise you we will be anxiously engaged in this great cause to which you have devoted your life. We will struggle to learn; we will give service with our learning. We will push back the clouds of ignorance; we will love and teach others to love. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tribute from the Family by Edward L. Kimball
Not too long ago I asked my father, upon leaving him, whether there was anything I could do for him. He said to me with a characteristic twinkle in his eye, "Yes, there is something you can do. You can see that I'm buried—but not before I'm dead."
Sometimes we wait until people are gone to eulogize them, and I'm glad that we have not waited that long this time. I appreciate the opportunity to speak in tribute to my father. I hope that we who are members of his family have told him often enough in private how much we love and respect him that what I say in public will come as no surprise. But I want all of you who are here to know how we feel about him.
Jesus repeated the proverb, "A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house" (Matthew 13:57). That may be a true generalization because those close to a prophet can easily see the human frailties that surely exist, but like most proverbs it is not universally true. Here is one prophet who is honored by those of his household. We not only love him as a person; we sustain him as the Prophet of the Lord. He has made that easy for us by not having very many human frailties. As I look back over 50 years of close and continuing contact with my father, I can recall almost no instances when we had any serious disagreement.
Some of us are more thoughtful of strangers than we are of those closest to us, but that is not true of Spencer Kimball. A few years ago as part of the baptismal celebration for our son, my family and I dropped into my father's office for a few moments to say hello. He visited with us pleasantly. He seemed to be a bit preoccupied, but I did not think anything of it. After we left and were going down the front stairs of the Church Office Building, he appeared at the front door of the building and waved good-bye to us again, and I thought that a little strange. But, then the next day I received a telephone call from him, apologizing for having been somewhat distracted during our visit. He had been worrying, he said, about what he should say at general conference. He had the welfare of millions of people to be concerned about, and he was worried about how he might have given offense to me when it was nothing.
Some of us are a bit embarrassed about a public display of affection to our family members, but not Spencer Kimball. When a solemn assembly was held in the upper room of the Salt Lake Temple for priesthood leaders from the Provo area a few years ago, I was one of those singing in the choir. After the session was over, several thousand men stood in respect while President Kimball and other Church leaders found their way out. But he saw me over there in the choir and went out of his way to hug and kiss me, completely unselfconscious.
At the time Dad was sustained as President of the Church, Elder Mark E. Petersen commented on two different aspects of his character. He said,
He has accepted his high position in deep humility. But although humble and unassuming, he is nevertheless a tower of strength, a man of great initiative and foresight, a doer in every sense. ["The People Say 'Amen,'" Ensign, May 1974, p. 54]
I know of no one more acutely aware of the difference between Spencer Kimball, the man, and Spencer Kimball, President of the Church of Jesus Christ. The one deserves honor for whatever qualities of character he has developed. The other deserves honor because he is the earthly representative of the Lord. The weight of that kind of assignment is very great, and I recall clearly saying to myself, when President Lee died so unexpectedly and was succeeded by my father, that, at his age and with his health problems, the crushing responsibility would kill him within a year. (That shows how much of a prophet I am.)
I have seen how power comes from on high to bear up such a man as this, giving strength and resilience beyond the natural. I know of no one who has tried harder or more determinedly to do what the Lord expected of him. I know of no one who has felt more inadequate for a task and yet filled it so admirably with God's help. God has made him adequate to his responsibility. Out of these past eight years have come some wonderful developments: the organization of the First Quorum of the Seventy, the lengthening of our stride in missionary work, the startling burst of temple building around the world, the marvelous revelation extending the priesthood to all worthy men of all races. And he continues on with the same determination to carry forward his responsibility. You know that just last fall, before he was to come here to participate in the dedication of the Spencer Kimball Tower, it was necessary for him to undergo emergency surgery to relieve the pressure on the brain caused by bleeding inside the skull. The recovery from that has been longer and harder than we ever imagined it would be at the time, but he has been determined to recover.
I remember one day when Dad was still in the hospital. He had suffered a hemorrhage from a new ulcer and was seriously weakened by the sudden loss of blood. A nurse came into his room to prepare for transfusion. As a result of the many earlier punctures of the veins in his arms, she had a terrible time finding a vein that was large enough and sound enough to receive the large transfusion needle. She spent a full half-hour tapping and searching, and she stuck him more than once in an effort to get the needle in. As she saw his discomfort, she said very sympathetically, "I guess you don't really want this, do you?"
He responded almost fiercely, "But I do want it!" He was determined to submit to whatever pain was required to restore him to health. I believe you will find him at the end struggling on so long as he believes he can still give service in the great cause to which he has dedicated his life.
In all this he still retains that sense of humor that has made him easy to live with. I repeated to him a joke I heard going around about the tower. According to the story, the Board of Trustees said they would like to name a building at BYU after him, and he said, "Well, Brethren, I guess that would be all right, but please don't make it a short building."
When I asked him, "Dad, did you really say that?" he said, "No, but I wish I had."
May the Lord bless you, dear father, for your faithfulness, for your loyalty, for your affection, for your great example to us and to all the world. I pray for that blessing in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Greetings Camilla E. Kimball
My dear brothers and sisters, it's a thrilling sight for us to come here and see this great assemblage of people, young and old, gathered to honor Spencer Kimball. We are still small-town people at heart, and it is nearly overwhelming to be the object of so much attention. We know full well that the respect and regard in which Spencer is held in large part is due to his position as President of the Church, not to his person, so it is humbling to be the symbolic recipients of honors only partly deserved.
We are very grateful for the innumerable prayers which have been offered for his recovery from the serious operations of several months ago. We are grateful, too, for the degree of strength he has recovered in what is a long and slow process. He continues to gain gradually in strength, but he is still quite fragile, and it was thought wise that he not undertake the responsibility today of public speaking.
If I may, I'd like to say a few things on his behalf and add some thoughts of my own. We have talked many times about what I might tell you today. It always comes back to some very basic things. His message today is the same as it has always been: to encourage you to love God, to follow Christ, to serve one another, to develop self-mastery and spiritual power, and to keep the commandments with the assurance that thereby God will be pleased, and you will obtain eternal joy. Never give up in well doing. Continue faithful to the end. You are blessed with unequaled opportunities in life. This great institution offers a world of learning in an atmosphere which allows you to develop spiritually as well.
We love the BYU. I came here in 1912 in preparation for becoming a teacher. Spencer came after his mission in 1917 so he was able to stay only briefly before he was called back to Arizona for military service. In the years since then we have seen two of our children and twelve of our grandchildren associated with BYU. When we were young, it was the exception to graduate from high school, and a college education was available to a relative handful. Today the sacrifice of many others, as well as your own sacrifice, has made these educational opportunities available to great numbers. It is sometimes urged that education for women is not as important as education for men, but there is no real difference. What we must be concerned with is preparation for life, and that preparation is continuing education.
Whether it is to earn a living or to rear a family, men and women both need to have the knowledge that enhances their natural talents. The parents' aliveness to the world of ideas and art and science opens new vistas for children. Parents who plop themselves down in front of the television set without discrimination as to what they watch produce little likelihood that their children will achieve the things they hope for.
You know that the Church considers your education important by the millions of dollars spent on providing you with this university as a resource. We pray that you may take full advantage of it, remembering that your education is a treasure over which you are custodian with a responsibility to use it for good unselfishly.
I have appreciated living with a man who has an eager, receptive, seeking mind. He is always studying, writing, thinking, working. He has had unwavering devotion to the great cause of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ and serving his fellowmen though his calling. I have appreciated his deep faithfulness and fervent testimony. Today as always the Church comes first in his life, and he has survived physical crises one after another because he has been determined to endure to the end, contributing to the full extent of his powers as long as he lives. That example is marvelous.
No one has known Spencer Kimball so well as I, perhaps; therefore, my assessment can have some weight. I can say without hesitation that in this man there is great virtue. It is too much to say that he is perfect, but he comes wondrously close. There are in him devotion and consistency and power. I have sensed his struggles to know God's will, and I have sensed his peace in receiving the answer. My testimony of his prophetic calling has come to me in the same way it comes to you—by the whisperings of the Spirit. I know and testify that God called Spencer Kimball out of obscurity to perform a great work. He has labored hard to bring the world to a knowledge of Christ and the Father and to persuade men to be good.
We should hope that the tower bearing his name can be a continuing reminder of the things he has emphasized as matters of special concern to the world: family, integrity, brotherhood among all men of whatever culture or race, need for individual righteousness in withstanding the sensualities of the world and giving unselfish service to others. His knowledge of the truthfulness of the restored gospel and his integrity in keeping the commandments of God are basic in his life's activities. In all the 64 years of our lives together, I have never seen him short in any instance in living the laws of the gospel in completeness, always with love. There is no selfishness in his makeup. Consideration for himself comes last in every situation.
I pray that we may take example from him and merit our Father's approbation. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Tribute from the General Authorities by President Gordon B. Hinckley of the First Presidency
President Kimball, we are delighted that you are here. Your presence reassures the entire Church. This is an important day in the annals of the university. It is a significant day in the affairs of the Church. It is a day to be remembered in the chronicles of your remarkable life and that of the Kimball family when we dedicate the Spencer W. Kimball Tower on this beautiful campus.
I feel I speak not only in behalf of the Board of Trustees and the General Authorities, but for the membership of the Church across the world. The board and the administration chose to place the name of Spencer W. Kimball on his building out of a great sense of love and respect for our leader, choosing to honor him, not after he was gone but while he is yet with us and while he serves as the President of the board and as President of the Church and, more importantly, as the Prophet of the Lord in our day.
Could a great edifice of learning bear a more appropriate name than that of a living prophet of God? He is the leader and teacher of this vast body of people upon whom has been laid the divine injunction to teach one another
Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations; . . . and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms. [D&C 88:79]
It is significant that the building is designated a tower. The very word carries the image of the upward reach so characteristic of this man who could say with Robert Browning, "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?" ("Andrea del Sarto," 1.97).
President Kimball, in this dedicatory service we honor you and thank you for the great example you have been to all of us. We honor you for your love of learning. While your opportunities for advanced education were somewhat limited, you have constantly built on the foundation of the schooling you had. Anyone reading the language of your talks senses the depth of your understanding and the breadth of your interests. Your writings have the essence of poetry. Along with the practicalities of life, they deal with beauty as well as ugliness, with work and worship, with sin and repentance, heaven and hell, with forgiveness and compassion and forbearance. As you have loved learning, you have motivated that desire in others, counseling always, in the words of Jacob, "To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Nephi 9:29).
We honor you for your great sense of service. We think often of your words, "My life is like my shoes, to be worn out in the service of others." The other evening, Dr. Hal Eyring, Church Commissioner of Education, who is with us today, spoke of his father, the late Dr. Henry Eyring, the brother of Sister Kimball, a man perhaps more widely recognized as a scientist than any other in the history of the Church. Hal said that one of the cardinal principles in the life of his father was this: "You must put in more than you take out." That is, you must give more than you expect to gain. The application of that principle made Dr. Eyring great. We have likewise seen that principle at work in your life, President Kimball, and this has been an inspiration to all of us.
We honor you for your example of industry. You've stirred the entire Church with your ringing charge, "Lengthen your stride." Those three words have become for all of us a challenge in the pursuit of excellence and in the fulfillment of duty. Those of us who have known you well, who have worked with you and traveled with you, have become exhausted in trying to keep up with you. Your presence here this morning under the adverse circumstances of your health, when in a few days you will be 87 years of age, speaks to us with eloquence of your lifelong industry. We thank you for your remarkable example.
We honor you for your love for others. No man in this generation of whom I know has been so greatly loved by so many. That love is only love returned for love given. One example will suffice to illustrate the point. With a great and compelling concern you have reached out to the American Indians, the children of Lehi. Years back you knew their degradation, their sorrows, their hunger, the desperate circumstances of their lives. In love you reached to lift them. Miracles have come of that effort. This university, I've been told, has done more for American Indians in the way of offering them advanced education than has any other institution in the nation. Its Indian graduates now occupy positions of trust in government, education, business, the professions, and the Church—the sweet and marvelous fruit of your love and perseverance in reaching out in their behalf. These great people are now rising phoenix-like from the ashes of their past, and they with appreciation look to you with love. They thank you; they pray for you.
We honor you for your quiet, shining example of faith in God our Eternal Father and in the risen Lord Jesus Christ and their work for the salvation of man. Speaking from this podium you have said to the thousands of students assembled here:
In your pursuit of truth, remember that while some truths matter more than others, all true principles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is no true principle that we need to fear.
Do not be unduly fearful about conditions in the world . . . . Be aware. But be of good cheer, and also be about your Father's business. The Lord has promised us, again and again, that He will watch over His people and lead them along.
This is the Lord's work. He knows the end from the beginning. His work will surely triumph. ["Acquiring Spiritual Literacy," 1980 Devotional Speeches of the Year (Provo, Utah: Brigham Young University Press, 1981), p. 123]
Your example of faith has for many people in many lands been a pillar by day and a fire by night to guide them over rough places in their search for peace and truth.
And so we honor you and thank you as we dedicate this great educational facility. We hope and pray that all who occupy this building which bears your name, whether they be faculty or students, will be motivated by your remarkable example. President Kimball, our tribute is not adulation. It is recognition and appreciation. We honor you, we love you, we thank you as today we dedicate this building which carries your name, and with faith and affection we pray for you as our prophet and our leader. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Dedicatory Prayer President Marion G. Romney
Our beloved Father in Heaven, we have been lifted and edified this day in paying tribute to thy great servant and holy prophet, President Spencer W. Kimball. We love and honor him, Father, even as he loves and honors thee. Each one of us here would gladly give of our own strength if it could be given to him, that he might continue to lead us in righteousness and broaden our view of heaven. Because of him we have tried to lengthen our stride. We would ask that we might yet enjoy his companionship for a long season, that his stride might yet move thy Church and kingdom forward toward its glorious destiny.
We are grateful that members of his family can be with us today, especially Sister Kimball, who has overlooked her own pain to care so lovingly for her beloved husband. We ask for a continued blessing on them both, that thy healing hand might sustain and comfort them. We ask that their joy might be full as they look back over a lifetime of devoted service and forward to a glorious eternity with thee and their loved ones.
Holy Father, we thank thee today for Brigham Young University and the faculty, staff, students, and administrators who serve here. We thank thee for the vision of education which the restoration of the gospel brought back to the earth and which leads us on to truth. Bless every soul who comes here, and especially those in attendance this day, that their minds will be open and their hearts will be pure. Bless them to learn well and to be of influence for good in the world they will enter after leaving here.
Now, Father in Heaven, we dedicate unto thee and thy purposes the Spencer W. Kimball Tower which rises so majestically over this campus. May we always remember the majestic, towering life of him for whom it is named. Bless this building from its lowest foundation to its loftiest elevation that it may serve the purposes for which it has been constructed. Bless all physical components of the building that they might endure the effects of weather and the winds of time. We pray that it will be safe from human or natural violence and serve as a symbol of strength and security to all who observe it from one end of this valley to the other. We pray especially for those who will teach and learn there. Bless all those who go in and come out daily that no unkind or unclean or untrue thing will be said or done there, for this building will be a temple of learning. Bless us to keep this building and our lives unspotted from the world. Bless both student and teacher with a special remembrance of President Kimball and the life of selfless devotion he has led. May they be as devoted to thee and to their fellowmen as he has been.
Many of the helping sciences and services are to be housed in this building. May we today renew our commitment to aid every son and daughter of God in need. Give us the spirit of faith and hope and charity. Help us to help each other. Let this day linger in our memories as a reminder of the lives we ought to live.
Again we thank thee for the joy and inspiration of this hour, and we dedicate this building and this service unto thee in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
© Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.