Daniel H & Nellie Teresa Richards Leavitt
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LEAVITT, Daniel H. & Nellie Teresa (RICHARDS)
from Thomas Rowell LEAVITT, His Life, His Family, His Descendants
Daniel H. Leavitt was born on July 8, 1896 in the village of Leavitt where he was later raised. Following in the footsteps of his farmer father, Dan took to the land, being taken out of school at intervals throughout the year according to the demands of the farm. His scholastic career was consequently chequered, for the plough was more essential than the pen.
It was in the closing months of World War I, on August 29, 1918, that he married Nellie T Richards in the Town Office in Cardston and they were sealed in the Cardston Temple in 1923. He recalled with nostalgic happiness the persistent way in which he wooed his young bride, on horseback or with the trappings of the buggy, cleaned and shining for the occasion. He said, “I thought I loved her then, but I’ve learned to love her more each day. I was one of the lucky guys. I had a wife and a sweetheart, a real partner beside me through the years.”
The three years following their marriage were spent in Boundary Creek where Dan worked as a foreman on a ranch, tending some 5,000 head of sheep. It was there, in 1919, that their first son Theron was born. They returned to Leavitt to look after the farm whilst Dan’s father went on a mission to California. Dan was a devoted son who enacted the principle of the fifth commandment Honor thy father and thy mother. The farm was heavily mortgaged and there was much work to be accomplished. Their second son, Bill, was born in May 1921, their daughter Beth, in January 1925, and their third son, Bryce in October 1932.
Dan’s father, a studious, dedicated Mormon went on a mission for six months to Kingston, Ontario whilst Dan shouldered the responsibilities in his absence. On his father’s return, despite an eye defect which prevented Dan from going on a mission, he and his wife worked alongside his parents on the farm for erratic yields until his father’s death in March 1944. Not only had they shared their tribulations, they had also shared a home for 30 years, and it was not until 1947 that they moved into a home which he himself had built for his wife and family. A year later, the passing of his dear mother brought to an end an era.
Throughout these years, Dan was not only a farmer. He was the epitome of a devout Latter-day Saint. He was a family man. His love and labour were directed towards his wife and children; he was a good provider, a devoted father and a loving grandfather. What spare time there was from the farm work was spent in living the good life, in serving the Church and the community, as a counselor in the bishopric, as president of the Mutual Improvement Association, as dance manager and social worker, caring for people’s needs, both spiritual and material. Well respected for his standards, he was acknowledged by those who knew him as a man worthy to be a leader by his example.
Prior to World War II, Theron, the eldest son was teaching school and Bill was working with his Dad on the farm. The two boys enlisted in the R.C.A.F. at the outbreak of war, Theron as a navigator and Bill as a pilot, and when demobilized, it was Bill who returned to work with his Dad on the farm. Such was the harmonious relationship between Dan and his cousin, Owen Archibald, that they were able to share their farm machinery for seventeen years until Dan eventually sold the farm to his son Bill in 1957 when he felt that the time had come for retirement. He did not, in essence, ever retire. The call of the land was one he could not deny. Whenever there was a stray heifer or a hand to be given to his son-in-law, Lyman, with the harvesting, he was there.
The family presented them with a set of luggage to mark their 50th wedding anniversary in 1968. In June, 1969, Dan and his wife left for a tour of the British Isles. They were a happy six weeks. Even in that short time, he had endeared himself to the neighbours in the Welsh mining village where they spent most of their time. Long after they left, people asked about them, “When are they coming back?” I remember traveling with them on a train through the rolling moorlands of Cumberland and Northumberland en route to Scotland. All the time his eyes were fixed, not on the famous British landmarks, but on the farms and the pastures the things nearest his heart, “Well?” I asked. He replied, “It’s the grass. All that green. And the rock walls separating the pastures. My, those rock walls sure are somethin’!”
His one regret was that he was not better educated. He wished to know more “fancy” words. If he had, he wouldn’t have been the man he was. He needed nothing to embellish his personality, his quick wit, his sense of humor and basic sincerity, his readiness to look for the good in everyone. He consistently maintained that, “If you can’t say something good about a guy, then don’t say anything at all.”
Dan’s passing, on April 14, 1973, after years of indifferent health, which no one would have suspected from his uncomplaining attitude, unless they measured his slower tread. He was mourned by some for the loss of a man who, by his example, perpetuated the teachings of the Master; by others, it was revered that they had the privilege to know such a man. If there is a testimony to Daniel H. Leavitt, it is, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
It was the children who felt the impact of his passing. Affectionately known to them as Uncle Dan, they were always happy to see him, not only because he carried a piece of candy for them, but because he loved them, showed concern for them, and took time to talk and to listen to them. “Suffer little children to come unto me...” was more than a text from the Sermon on the Mount for him. It was a way of life
Nellie died 31 Jan 1991 after nearly twenty years of being blind.