Saturday, August 8, 2009

George Cannon died

George Cannon was one of my favorite people for many reasons. We had the great blessing of living in their ward many years ago. I have not forgotten the lessons he taught by his humble and devoted example.

My favorite memory was kneeling with him in an office in the stake center every month and reporting my stewardship as an elder's quorum president. On one such occasion, sensing my need, he offered a priesthood blessing that was comforting and reassuring. He never failed to lift and inspire me to more consecrated service. I loved him for his humility and his total devotion to the kingdom. The great ones never assume they are great. They know it is God that magnifies them. He was such a man.

I will never forget when he was called as a stake patriarch. We were seated as a family near the front of the hall in the stake center. Elder Bruce R. McConkie was the visiting authority that day. It was in the days when only a member of the Twelve was authorized to name stake patriarchs, but there was no indication before conference that such a calling was in the offing.

As the conference started, Elder McConkie was in the Primary room meeting with all the children and not on the stand. Soon thereafter, he took a few long quick strides to his place on the podium. Before the conference had started, he wandered through the assembling crowd and shook every hand he could reach.

As he settled himself on the stand, only a few minutes passed before he arose, exited the stand and walked along the side of the hall to the back. He motioned for George Cannon to come with him. I watched the whole thing unfold -- Elder McConkie was a tall man and was an imposing presence. I suspect I was not the only one whose neck was cranked to see what he was up to.

Toward the end of the meeting, when the time had been turned over to Elder McConkie, he asked George to stand at the rear of the hall and then called for a sustaining vote for his calling as a stake patriarch. He then asked George to take the stand and share his testimony with us.

George explained that the reason they were seated at the rear of the hall was that they were late arriving. They had been in St. George vacationing. Isabel, his devoted wife, arose early with the impression they should start immediately back to Salt Lake so they could attend stake conference. Just an impression. How sweet and subtle are those whisperings!

Elder McConkie spotted their late entrance, testified of his impression to issue the calling, and then proceeded to give a masterful sermon to the conference on the patriarchal order of the priesthood. He taught that day, as he did many times during his ministry, about natural patriarchs and ordained patriarchs, and he explained the differences and the similarities.

He testified that in every sense of the definition that George Cannon qualified as a "natural" patriarch, the father of his posterity, and because of his worthiness would someday stand as a priest and a king in our Father's kingdom. He then differentiated his new role as an "ordained" patriarch, and discussed the many ways he would bless the lives of others beyond the lives of his own posterity.

I have no idea how many patriarchal blessings George Cannon gave, but I can testify knowing the man that those recipients of his blessings can rest assured that the Lord was speaking directly to them through George Cannon. He was a pure vessel, a dedicated servant, a natural patriarch, and my friend.

I loved him, I love his family, and he will be enshrined in the Goates memory "hall of fame" forever.


  1. What a wonderful Patriarch he was and will continue to be. I had the honor of receiving my blessing from George Cannon, and I felt the spirit so strongly as I entered his home. Truly a guided servant of the Lords. No coincidence, I am sure, that he was close to the Goates' family. How wonderful it was to have Di and Clark there with me who had a history with this great man. Thanks for sharing this experience. It does motivate me, however, to be to Stake Conference on time whenever a General Authority is going to be present :o)

  2. I don't know if you remember dad, but this was the guy I treated at my PT internship last summer. He was a really great guy and was happy to learn I was from your family.

  3. Last night we went to the viewing for George's wife, Isabel. How wonderful it was to mingle once again with their children and all the former and present members of the Parleys Sixth Ward. Patsy and I reminisced all night again about all the powerful lessons we learned by rubbing shoulders with all the stalwarts who lived in that ward when we were young parents. We have never forgotten and continue to cherish the examples of not just the Cannons, but also the "other" Cannons, the Gardiners, the Oklands, the Eldredges, the Warners, the Backmans, the Garffs, the Pugsleys, the Hendersons, the Jacobsens, and so many more. They left a long and fruitful legacy of faithfulness and we were their beneficiaries.

  4. And then I awoke this morning with many more names in my mind - the Jensens (our old bishop), the Watsons, Perris Jensen, the Jacobs, the Allens, the Clarks, the Pearces, the Hunters - honestly the list just grows as I think about how many we loved and served there. I will be forever grateful for that inheritance of faith and righteousness.