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David O. McKay Diaries – “Westwood Ward”

Below you will find diary entries on the topic of “Westwood Ward.” You can view other subjects here.

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Sun., 1 Feb., 1953:

“Confined to my room most of the day.

Elders Henry D. Moyle and Harold B. Lee called and discussed with me the ‘Hunter’ case, which was discussed in the Council meeting of January 29, 1953 in detail.  I was absent from this meeting because of illness.

This matter pertains to an injury received by Richard Hunter, son of Dr. and Mrs. Wm. Hunter of Los Angeles, while working on the Westwood Ward building.  The family is now bringing suit against the Church, and Brothers Moyle and Lee have been assigned to make investigation of the case.

I expressed the felling that the Ward should be made a party with the Church in satisfying any settlement that should be made, and that the Bishop should be instructed to convene a meeting of the Melchizedek Priesthood and there discuss with the Priesthood what they might be willing to do and ascertain their feelings with respect to this case; that the Stake President should be in attendance at the meeting and impress upon them their responsibility as the Ward membership in whatever settlement that would be arrived at.

I requested Brother Lee to see that the matter is followed up and to bring in Brother David H. Cannon if he considered it necessary, and talk it out with him.”

Tues., 27 Oct., 1953:

6 p.m. Left for home.

Note: During President McKay’s absence from the office, attending a meeting, Mrs. Ira B. Sharp, the sister of Mrs. Hunter of Los Angeles whose son was injured while working on the Westwood Ward Chapel two years ago, called at the office to see Pres. McKay, and to explain how her sister and her husband feel about the unsatisfactory way the case has been handled.  Bishop Dean, the former Bishop of the Westwood Ward, the present Bishop, and Dr. and Mrs. Hunter would like to come to Salt Lake City for an audience with the First Presidency.  They want no discord with the Church Authorities, nor do they want to overlook the spiritual phase of the whole question.  They do not want to sue the Church, but Dr. and Mrs. Hunter are worried about the future of the boy who is now paralyzed from his chest down as a result of the injury he received when he fell.  They fear that if something happens to Dr. Hunter, the money they have will not last very long under the heavy expenses of keeping an invalid.  Mr. Sharp called Monday and asked for an appointment.  It was suggested that he see Pres. Clark.  Mrs. Sharp then went to Harold B. Lee who told her to see President McKay about the appointment for the people referred to above.  Mrs. Sharp was advised to write a letter to the First Presidency and state the facts to them.

Wed., 28 Oct., 1953:

First Presidency Note

2.  Pres. McKay mentioned that the parents of Brother Hunter of the Westwood Ward, L.A., California who met with a serious accident months ago are making a strenuous effort (partly through Mrs. Ira B. Sharp who left a letter with the First Presidency) to see the First Presidency.  They say they are not satisfied with the way things are going.  The Brethren agreed that the First Presidency should not see these people.  They were to be told that we have a committee dealing with that matter and they should go to them.

Sat., 11 Mar. 1961:

“9:45 a.m.

Met by appointment, President Henry D. Moyle, Bishop and Sister Arvo Van Alstyne, (Bishop Van Alstyne of the Westwood Ward, Los Angeles Stake is a tax authority and member of the faculty of the law School of the University of California in Los Angeles), and Brother Vernon Snyder of the Legal Department of the Church.

It had been previously recommended by President Moyle that Bishop Van Alstyne be called to serve in our Legal Department to take the place left vacant by Brother Royal K. Hunt who has been called to preside over the West German Mission.

Following our conversation with Bishop Van Alstyne, it was my decision that he remain where he is as he is rendering excellent service to the Church in Los Angeles.

Saturday, March 11, 1961


March 14, 1961

President David O. McKay

Church of Jesus Christ of

  Latter-day Saints

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City 1, Utah

Dear President McKay:

Ruth and I were pleased and delighted at the opportunity you extended to meet with you last Saturday morning while we were discussing with President Moyle a possibility of legal employment by the Church.

You will perhaps recall the tenor of the two letters which President Moyle read to you regarding my present position in legal education.  I was not aware of the contents of these letters before they were read by President Moyle; and I frankly believe they represent more what my aspirations may be than what my attainments have been.  I can assure you that I was most gratified at your advice to remain in legal education and to continue to serve the Church in whatever capacity I might do so from that vantage point.  Ruth and I deeply love the Church for we realize what it has meant in our lives.  We shall both do everything we can to act in accordance with your counsel.

We both pray that the Lord’s choicest blessings will be on both you and Sister McKay.

Sincerely yours,

Arvo Van Alstyne


Thurs., 7 Dec. 1961:

Telephone Call

President John M. Russon of the Los Angeles Stake called regarding the change of the Bishopric of the Westwood Ward.  Said that for the good of the Ward it will be necessary to release Bishop Richard Stratford immediately, and that Elder Junius Smart has been chosen to succeed him.  This will be taken to the Council meeting today.”

Thurs., 4 Feb. 1965:

“President Arvo Van Alstyne called on me at my home in Laguna Beach and took up matters pertaining to his release as President of the Los Angeles Stake in order to accept an offer to become Professor of Law at Stanford University, commencing next September, 1965.  He would like to be released in the Los Angeles Stake Conference scheduled for June 26-27, 1965.

I asked President Van Alstyne to write me a letter at the Church Administration Building, and told him that when I returned I would take it up with the Brethren.

Thursday, February 4, 1965

February 10, 1965

President David O. McKay

47 East South Temple Street

Salt Lake City, Utah

Dear President McKay:

Last Thursday, February 4th, you were kind enough to permit me and my wife, Ruth, to intrude upon your rest and relaxation at Laguna Beach for the purpose of presenting a personal problem to you.  This letter, written at your request, is intended to be a memorandum of our conversation.

I advised you that I had received an offer to be Visiting Professor of Law at Stanford University commencing next September, 1965.  Although there is no commitment that this year’s teaching at Stanford would be followed by permanent employment there, a strong possibility exists that the change would be permanent were I to accept the offer.  After prayer and careful consideration, we had concluded that a move from UCLA Law School (where I am now Professor of Law) to Stanford would be a desirable opportunity because it would be professionally rewarding, would permit of more independence in connection with my interest in improvement of government law, and would provide a better environment for the raising of our children.  Ruth and I, however, feel the responsibility of my office as Stake President of the Los Angeles Stake, and thus desired to have your counsel and wishes known to us as to what we should do in this matter.

After some discussion of the reasons why the acceptance of the Stanford offer might be advantageous, you expressed the opinion that it would be permissible for us to accept this offer, provided I was confident that appropriate leadership existed in the Los Angeles Stake to assume the duties and blessings of the Presidency of the Stake.  Toward the end of our discussion, you observed that Stanford was a good school, and that you would be happy if we were to move to Stanford.

I stated that Los Angeles Stake did have capable leadership well able to assume the Presidency of the Stake.  The leaders in the Stake area, I believe, known to some extent by Elder Howard R. Hunter and by Elder Delbert L. Stapley who attended our Stake Conference in January of this year.  I mentioned, as me who certainly should be considered in this connection, the following:

1)  Bishop Richard C. Stratford – now Bishop of Westwood Ward; formerly President of the Northern States Mission; formerly counselor in the Portland Stake Presidency.

2)  Merlin W. Sant – now 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency; former Bishop of Arlington Ward, High Councilman, High Priest President.

3)  Winfield Q. Cannon – now lst Counselor in Stake Presidency; former Bishop of University Ward; former Bishop’s counselor; etc.

I have listed these men in the order in which I would rank their qualifications for the office of Stake President.  But, as I stated to you, there is so little difference between them that it is more accurate to say that each is well qualified, with each having certain specially strong points.

Thus, in my view, Bishop Stratford is strongest in terms of overall experience, general executive ability, and knowledge of the Gospel.  President Sant is especially qualified by reason of complete dedication to the work, good organizational ability, and willingness to adhere to the program as laid down.  President Cannon ranks highest in terms of personal warmth, good judgment, and ability to plan in detail.  All three are better than average speakers.

Last weekend, after meeting with you, I spent some time in Palo Alto with the Dean of the Stanford Law School.  With the assurance I had received from you, I indicated that I would be disposed to accept the Stanford offer.

Thus, it would be best from the viewpoint of the welfare of the Los Angeles Stake, in my judgment, that a change in the Stake Presidency be affected at the Los Angeles Stake Conference scheduled for June 26-27, 1965, at which time we would normally be expecting to receive a General Authority visitor.  As previously reported to you, and with your consent, I have agreed to spend eight weeks this summer in Princeton, New Jersey as a faculty member in the Orientation Program in American Law by special invitation of the Association of American Law Schools.  Thus, I will be leaving Los Angeles immediately after the June 27th Stake Conference, and will probably find it necessary to report directly to Palo Alto in September to assume my new duties at Stanford, without returning to Los Angeles.

I trust that this letter accurately and adequately summarizes the discussion we had last Thursday at Laguna Beach.  Ruth and I are most grateful for your cordiality and understanding heart, and we pray constantly to the Lord to continue to bless you with health and vigor and happiness.

Sincerely yours brother,

Arvo Van Alstyne

Stake President

Los Angeles Stake”