This week I attended the funeral of a neighbor, dear family friend, and client who passed away at age 102. A couple years ago I created his official centenarian portrait at age 100. I shared some of those images and the stories on my blog, here. They are some of my favorite photographs because of the stories they tell about this wonderful and perfect man.
Years ago, my town was mostly farmers. And because LDS/Mormon leaders are not paid for church service, many of these farmers would regularly have to briefly leave meetings to change their irrigation or do some quick work before coming back to the chapel to teach their assigned lesson. Seeing Wilford with his pitch fork, standing on his farm in dress clothes reminds me of those young memories and of the worth ethic he instilled on his family and many of us youth growing up.
He was a perfect man, kind, giving, and incredibly generous. A small symbol of his character is in these wooden pens that he made with wood brought to him by friends who traveled the world. And he made these pens with a lathe that he made and kept in his barn. I think about him building his own lathe, and I am inspired. There is a solid sense of contentment in this earlier generation that is lacking today. It was the sense that you earn the things by saving for them over time, then you made them last, and continued to fix them. And if you couldn’t afford something or couldn’t make it yourself, you did without. I am honored to have been given one of his wooden pens, and I wore it in my suit pocket to his viewing.
And a few years earlier, I photographed him with his dear wife for their 70th anniversary. They’re now reunited together again in heaven.
I will miss Wilford. The world needs more good men like him. I hope his character, ethics, and love of God continue to be passed on through the generations of his growing family. Here’s a link to his obituary.