Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Tribute to Dwight Laws

* The tribute below was sent to me by Lola Kaye last year via email. I loved reading about Dwight's life and thought it would be appropriate to post the tribute here.  - Deniane

Note from Lola Kaye with the tribute: "I am sure that some of you were unable to attend Dwight's funeral.   It was a wonderful tribute to him.   Dwight was a giant in my eyes and I know that many others thought the same as I did of him.   Dwight's son David gave this eulogy of his father in the funeral, I thought that you all might like to read it.   I am going to put it in with my geneology stories. I am so thankful to be a "LAWS", what a blessing it is in my life. I love you all - Lola Kaye Laws Manhart"

Richard Dwight Laws

Our life as a dream, our time as a stream glide swiftly away
And the fugitive moment refuses to stay.
For the arrow is flown and the moments are gone.
The millennial year presses on to our view, and eternity’s here.
Oh, that each in the day of His coming may say,
“I have fought my way thru: I have finished the work thou didst give me to do
Oh, that each from his Lord may receive the glad word;
“Well and faithfully done: enter into my joy and sit down on my throne.”

Richard Dwight Laws was born on November 26, 1939 in a tiny hospital in Moab, Utah to Julian Asa Laws Jr. And Marie Black and spent the first 8 years of his life in Blanding. His father died in 1943 when he was only 4 years old.

Marie remarried Presley DuVall in 1947 and moved the family to Little Bear, Wyoming. It is there that he learned to ride a horse, rope a calf and stay out of the way of  rattlesnakes.   He also attended a tiny 1 room schoolhouse in Chugwater, Wyoming.

In 1950 Presley and Marie moved to the Avenues in Salt Lake.   It is there he met almost immediately his lifelong friend Terry Summerhays and formed the loose group of friends known as “The Fellas”.

Although he lived in Salt Lake, he spent many summers in Blanding working with his Uncles, Frost Black and Bill Laws and also Kay Lyman and living with his cousin and dear friend Arvid Black.

He attended West High School where he participated in wrestling and band.

He served an honorable full-time mission in the North Central States in 1960-62.   It is there that he once quipped to his companion during church in St. Paul, Minnesota that he had just met his future wife.

After returning from his mission he went to work for KSL delivering tapes of conference during marathon plane itineraries, and later installing radio systems for conference broadcasts around Europe and South America.

He married the love of his life, Linda Lorraine Heurkens (Pup) on Friday, July 13, 1962 in the Logan, Utah LDS temple.   Yes, Friday the 13th.   It explains much.

He went to work in the Airline industry for KLM and Pan Am and in the course of the next 8 years traveled to nearly 100 countries all over the world including cold-war Russia, Polynesia and most of the South Pacific, Southeastern Asia, Africa, all of South America, all of Europe, and much of the Middle East.

He moved his family to Blanding in 1975 to raise his family in a small town environment. It was during his stay there that part of his Patriarchal Blessing was realized.   He was promised that during his life he would find ways to get to know his deceased father.   During his run as county commissioner, he met and spoke with many people who knew his father well and told him many stories about Asa.   He left Blanding in 1984 to change careers once again.   He was employed at BYU in the division of continuing education as Associate Director of Travel Study as well as Director of Conferences and Workshops and Director of Independent Study.

His hobbies were many and varied.   He built his own house in its entirety in Blanding (and helped with scores of others), SCUBA dived all over the world (usually legally), had a private pilots license (and flew commercially for scenic aviation in Blanding), wrote several fictional novels and a few non-fictional biographies, owned a hot-air balloon, wrote remedial reading material that was used worldwide, sang in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (even commuting from Mesa, Az for more than 2 years and holds the record for longest commute and most logged miles by the member of the choir), played the piano and trombone (in the famous Francis Lyman band and in high school with the dance band Stardusters), was an excellent wrestler during college, rebuilt automotive engines, loved jeeping and 4-wheeling and Sunday rides into the mountains, and could hike for miles searching for Anasazi Indian ruins.   He played competitively (and often fiercely) in basketball and softball leagues (although his favorite was playing in city league softball with his sons and grandsons).   He would stand at the back door and lob long-distance hook shot after hook shot saying “Just one more, I’ve got the range” as we chased down all the misses until he made one at last and ducked into the house claiming victory.   He loved horses and owned more than 14 over the years.   He rarely missed the chance to act as tour guide through his beloved San Juan County to those who had never see its wonders.

Yet his oldest and most beloved hobby was motorcycles.   He won 14 different motorcycles and loved to ride them.   During his trips he visited all but 2 of the 50 states, traveled through Mexico, Canada and even Alaska.   It didn’t take much coaxing to get him to join a cross-country ride or even a day trip.   At the conclusion of each long road trip he was barely recognizable in his full leathers, boots, helmet hair, 10 hays growth of beard and bandana.   Yes the bandana, it was always with him.   He was a member of the Temple Riders Association and loved to ride with them.   Our best guess is that he logged nearly 200,000 miles on his motorcycles.

Next up the line was his firm belief in education.   Even while raising several children he continued his dogged pursuit of a bachelors degree, which he earned in 1974 for the University of Utah at the age of 35.   It took him many years but he never gave up.   He served on the San Juan board of education for more than 7 years.   Then in the early 80's he was given an opportunity that would alter the course of his life.   He was offered the chance to get his Doctorate degree.   It was technically not a difficult decision for him though the actions necessary would prove tough.   In the end, he left his boyhood town, sold his truck for tuition money, turned over the house he built with his own hands to foreclosure, moved his family to Provo and finished his degree.   Graduation day in 1985 with a degree in instructional science at the age of 46 was something else - what a great example to watch your dad fulfill a life-long dream.   There are many in this audience that are the beneficiaries of his dedication to education.   This is why Independent Study was such a dream job to him.   It is where he finally found his niche in life and the culmination of his talents, abilities and passion.   He could use HIS education to help others get THEIRS.   It was a perfect fit.

Yet with all of his many professional accomplishments and awards, with all the marvelous trips and tours, with all his wonderful experiences, his family was his greatest passion and in his mind, his highest and most noble achievement.   56 directs descendants, and each of us thought we were his very favorite.   He loved to spend time with his family.   Many have been on motorcycle trips, jeep trips, 4-wheeling trips and hikes with him.   Many others have helped write and edit his books.  Yet others have participated in his favorite dialogue.   “Guess what?   What Granddad”   “I love you, that’s what”.   And each of us has had many opportunities to just sit and talk with him, to sit at his knee and learn from a master teacher.   And there are literally hundreds of individuals that Dad ‘adopted’ into his family.   If you walked in his home, you were treated as family and expected to act like it.   You were welcome to anything in the fridge or pantry, but you were also expected to wipe the counter and sweep the floor.   He fed thousands as part of pancake Sunday (but you had better stay out of the kitchen).

He passed away quietly and peacefully on March 10, 2008 of complications due to Thyroid cancer surrounded by his wife and all nine of his children.   He is survived by his wife, Linda: his children Jodi, David Joseph, Roger Dwight, Richard Asa, Ryan Quin, Juli, Reed Arthur, Robert Dru, DuVall J and their respective spouses: His dear and beloved step-father and step-mother Presley and Evelyn DuVall: 36 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.   He is pre-deceased by his father Asa, mother Marie and one grandchild Emma.

Dad was teaching, always teaching.   It could be well said of him that his life reflected his words.   They were never at odds.   His life was his greatest teaching tool, and he used it to great effect.   Way to go out at the top of your game Dad.   Well done, thou good and faithful servant.

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