Fortune, pt. 2: Legacy

Remember this post?  It’s {past} time for the continuation…

John Tanner’s sons were described as “generous, plain-speaking and long-lived”.  All good qualities in my eyes.  🙂  Leonard J. Arrington, a Church Historian, studied the history of the Tanner family.  He says “Each has a separate story to tell, but in the activities of the family as a whole, we can see their contribution to the Church. They consistently contributed to the growth of their communities; they served long and faithfully in their local wards and provided children and grandchildren who sat in the highest councils of the Church. Consistently devoted and hard-working, they gave their families economic and spiritual security and left an honorable legacy of commitment that has not decreased with time.”  What a blessed legacy!

Spiritual and economic security for my family?  Sounds like good goals to me.  How does one go about insuring that?

Some things we are doing now to help provide spiritual security:

* Family Home Evening

* Personal and Family scripture study

* Personal and Family prayers

* Sunday evening interviews – complete with setting goals.  We currently interview two groups – older children/younger children every other week.

Spiritual security – definitely something we’ve been working on and will continue to do so.

Economic security?  Not as much.  How does one do that?  I think a lot of it comes down to the example we set as parents and the skills we teach our children (much like the spiritual security).  Where are our priorities?  Do we always pay tithing first?  Do they know we set aside savings?  Do they see us budget and know money is spent in different categories?  Do they see sacrifices being made now and realize it brings blessings later?  I have some work to do…

While studying more about the Tanner family I came across two examples with qualities I want to emulate.  May I share?

First is Maria (Louisa Maria Tanner Lyman) – John Tanner’s only daughter to come west.  According to Arrington she “set a high standard of womanly loyalty, resourcefulness, and independence for the family to follow. Her courtship with Amasa Lyman was brief, and began in earnest when she, a sixteen-year-old, received a short letter from Amasa:

(This is what I imagine the letter to look like.  Minus the bottom box of course.  …and maybe not such nice handwriting.  Maybe.  The letter is mighty eloquent, the handwriting might have been too.)

(George S. Tanner, John Tanner and His Family, Salt Lake City: John Tanner Family Association, 1974, pp. 263–64.)

“They were married ten days later and Amasa practically became part of the family, moving with the Tanners to Independence, then Far West. He became an apostle in Missouri and was harrassed by a mob, spending the winter in Liberty Jail with the Prophet.”  I can only imagine the experiences and lessons learned there.

Maria’s legacy continued on:  Her “…loyalty did not waver. She accepted seven sister wives and followed Amasa across the plains, to San Bernardino, to Beaver, Utah, and then to Fillmore. Their son Francis Marion became an apostle. A grandson, Richard R. Lyman, also became an apostle; and among their descendants today is Elder Marion Duff Hanks of the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy.” (This was in the 1970s.)

Can’t wait to meet Maria someday and hear her stories firsthand.

Another descendent that fascinates me is one that is living today – John S. Tanner:

Now, after reading so many of his works and biographies – I actually don’t know if he’s related to my John Tanner.  However, he has the same name – and is a remarkable man, so I’ll definitely claim him as family, and let you know in the future if I find out differently.  🙂

One of my favorite lines on his wikipedia page is:  “Tanner received his bachelor’s degree in 1974 from BYU. This same year he married Susan Winder after a dizzying romance.”  Hmm, wonder if that was ten days or more?  Seems as if he made a really good choice though – 🙂  Susan W. Tanner grew up on the family homestead at Winder Dairy. Her father served as mission president to a few areas (including the Family and Church History mission – dear to my heart) and as the first president of the Nauvoo, Illinois Temple.  Her mother was the 11th general Relief Society President.  Susan herself became the 12th general Young Woman President and is the author of the book, “Daughters in My Kingdom”.  A true gift to all women about the history of women and Relief Society in the church.  A copy can be downloaded from that page as well.  The artwork and stories are simply beautiful!  Susan is now serving with her husband John, current Brazil Sao Paulo South Mission President.  Talk about lives full of service!

John S. Tanner has led an academic life, starting his teaching in Florida and then Utah.  He was the chair of the BYU English Department from 1998 to 2003 and became the Academic Vice President of BYU in 2004.

There are so many of his works I adore.

Tanner wrote the words to “Bless Our Fast We Pray”, hymn# 138 in the LDS Church hymnal and a sonnet about the sacrament, published in the Ensign in 1981:

Sacramental Sonnet

By John S. Tanner

How, Lord, how
Can I be other
Than I am now?
Am I my am,
My was, another
I will be when?
Bright aspire
Or dark desire?
To me impart
As is required
A clean heart
Heartily desired.
In thy/my will
Let me be … still.


*Sigh*  “heartily desire” … that’s where I’m at.


Here are little bits of some of my other favorite articles by Brother Tanner:

Responding to the Lord’s Questions  (April 2002 Ensign)

This gem of a quote:  “To most questions man wants to have an answer. But to the Lord’s question man must be an answer. From man God does not need information. Man’s response must be man’s own self” (Dennis Rasmussen, The Lord’s Question [1985], 7).  “… Another question that reverberates in my heart and echoes ever more loudly in my ears as the years go by is “Lovest thou me?” (John 21:15).   … Once again, the Lord’s question cuts to the core of my being, brooks no evasions, and demands to be answered with my life.”

“…remember the Lord’s questions, which challenge us to repent and give our lives more fully to God. By opening my heart to the Lord’s questions of me, I have discovered that I am in a better position to ask and receive answers to my questions of Him.”


Lingering at Church (February 1982 Ensign)

“We need not always linger; but we need to be sensitive enough to know when to honor hand tugs and when to heed tugs at our hearts.”

This article is about how John, as a young man, could not figure out why his parents would stick around after church for so long.  Now he knows.  He talks about how unity comes from caring for others.  And he talks about Christ’s example in 3rd Nephi – “I understand the Nephites’ feelings when, in tears, they gazed upon the Lord after his meeting with them “and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them.” (3 Ne. 17:5.) And he lingered. Can you imagine that! He had just told them that he was going, he had official duties, he had to show himself to the lost tribes. And yet the Father’s Executive tarried, even with the children. What followed was one of the greatest spiritual outpourings in recorded scripture. (See 3 Ne. 17.)

Jesus also tarried briefly with two men travelling to Emmaus. Like you, I have often repeated their plea that his Spirit abide with me at the close of an evening service. (See Luke 24:29; see also Hymns, nos. 251.) Happily, sometimes he has consented.”


Tanner helped write the letter that missionaries for the church receive when called.  He was also involved with putting to music “Nephi’s Psalm,” from a chapter in the Book of Mormon. The first one, “I Love the Lord” was written to the tune of “Be Still My Soul” and was sung at the Priesthood Session of the April 2007 General Conference.  I still remember Jim Bob coming home from that session of Conference so excited.  The first thing he told me about was that song and I remember when he found it later on You Tube for me to hear too.  It is beautiful!

Intriguing back story to the psalm can be found here.  At the end of the article he states “we need more sacred songs drawn from the Book of Mormon. Too few hymns derive from our unique scriptural tradition. As a result, restoration scripture has not been borne by song into the sinews of our speech, the wells of our memory, and the affections of our hearts. I hope that these two adaptations of Nephi’s psalm [other adaption found in the article] begin to remedy this deficiency with respect to one of the most extraordinary texts in the Book of Mormon—and, perhaps, thereby to inspire other Latter-day Saints to mine the resources of this sacred text for the substance of new songs to sing to God.”


The last section of this series (mini-series??) will be about an article that John S. Tanner wrote that was one of my wondrous discoveries while studying about effort this last year.  So there’s all the background leading up to the author of the article that means so much to me… coming soon.  Or, relatively soon.

I have loved learning about more incredible people in the Tanner family.  I also love this quote by President Gordon B. Hinckley, which I think sums up legacy fairly well:  “Behold your little ones and teach them.  I need not remind you that your example will do more than anything else in impressing upon their minds a pattern of life.  It is always interesting to meet the children of old friends and to find in another generation the ways of their fathers and mothers.”  (Be Thou an Example, p. 38)

In that frame of mind… legacy backwards and forwards, this quote gets me teary and fills my heart with purpose every time I read it:

“He [John Tanner] gave the Church two fortunes—his wealth and a family that has built the kingdom ever since.”

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  1. Thanks for your wonderful blog! You are a Tanner! (and a Leavitt, Alder, Anderson, Applegate, Gedeborg – such wonderful Legacy!)

    • It’s true – and perhaps over time I’ll be able to include lots of their stories as well! 🙂


  1. […] in a series about Fortune.  Part 1 & 2 found here and […]

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