1. The Owens Family. Led by Cherry and Brent, the Owens family played a big part of my senior and ensuing years. They were unceasingly generous with their home, frequently tolerating and somehow welcoming large groups of loud teenagers who played games and music until far too late.

But there was more to them than just allowing people to come over. I felt nearly adopted by Cherry and Brent. Cherry, she passed away some years ago, always asked me how things were going and listened to my response. Her faith and support of my decision to join the church were huge at that time of my life. Brent’s sincere support and care were equally wonderful. He’s a hardened man, tough from decades of killer labor, but his heart is big and full of love. As a kid who hadn’t been able to see good examples of men around him, the way Brent lived made a huge difference.

2. The Cram Family. Randy and Shauna are the parents of Nathan and Erin. I dated Erin for a while. She’s a great lady, but that was probably weird of me to do to my friend, Nathan. The Crams struck me as a marriage based on mutual respect of, and affection for, each other’s intelligence. Randy tolerated us spending inordinate amounts of time in his studio and garage. We produced a weekly TV show in there. We built armor in his garage. We made noise and mess. We offended people on the TV show a lot.

But he let us do it and in so doing allowed boys to explore and grow. His patience impressed me to no end.

I didn’t spend a lot of time with Shauna, but my interactions with her left an impression of wit, low tolerance for stupidity in action, and fierce protection of her kids. That they allowed me in their home and family made a difference to me, making me feel worthy of kindness and love.

3. The Willis Family. I felt adopted by Bev Willis from the first moment I met her. She is warm, welcoming, thoughtful, and very sincere. Nile is more restrained, but he clearly supports his wife in all that she does. Just look at their kids (I only really know the daughters, Lorraine and Lindsey). These two women are strong, smart, accomplished and very impressive.

Bev has always shown great compassion and concern for me and my family. She was endlessly seeking ways to support us and help us feel loved and at home. I haven’t visited her in a while, but the next time we’re in Kanab, we will definitely say hello.

Her family is a model family for me.

4. The Tanner Family. Ron and Jane Tanner have raised a large and remarkable family. I got to associate with Summerlyn, Javen, and Ben. I also met Jared. All of the Tanners’ children are brimming with talent– but more than that– they also work hard to develop those talents and explore the world around them and do good. Jane spent years in Kanab teaching singing and dancing to local kids, and Ron spent those years leading his family with strength and a deep love that I could perceive, even from afar.

The Tanners were also very welcoming to the often large groups of young people that would invade their home. And their home always felt like you could toss a coin and it would bounce off walls built of faith. Every time I think of the Tanners, I want to get my kids into as many music lessons as we can afford.

5. The Roberts Family. I didn’t spend a lot of time with Nathan Roberts’ family, but I did get to go home teaching with his father, Dr. Roberts. He was a model home teacher and he taught me about the sacredness of prayer and the importance of caring for others. This left a strong impression on me.

6. The Henderson Family. I didn’t spend much time with Spencer’s family either, but they raised a lot of amazing kids and those kids’ lives are a testament to the love, faith, and discipline that must have been in that home. Another very strong impression that has abided with me for some time.

7. The Mosdell Family. I often marvel at how a person can decide to be a mortician. I still don’t understand it, but Brother Mosdell is making a life of it, and Chris is following in his footsteps. I know Chris, James, and Jeff– having spent time with each of them in different contexts. Their humor and sense of duty and devotion to family are a testament to the remarkable spirit of the Mosdell home.

8. The Honey Family. Terrill and Susan also raised a large family. My experience with them has been one of warmth and generosity. They GAVE me two old suitcases to use for my mission. Terrill always greeted me on Sundays with a kind smile and firm handshake– which was important to me as I was so new in the faith. Susan has always had a kind word and has been very welcoming of me, despite knowing of my culty background.

9. The Clark Family. I got to know Ray Clark when I joined the Messiah Choir in, I think, 1993. I was a tenor and he seemed to be the tenor anchor, so I basically just tried to match him. He was helpful and very supportive in my singing endeavors. He was always kind and generous with his friendship– he never seemed to be humoring me or condescending. He’s got a great family too.