Education Week will offer an opportunity for visitors to learn more about a famous figure in LDS Church history.
Ted Gibbons will perform a monologue of Willard Richards, which he has done many times on different occasions. The monologue will be performed on Friday at 7:10 p.m. in 3108 of the Jesse Knight Building.
Gibbons said Richards was particularly important as a member of the Quorom of the Twelve in 1841. Gibbons said he was in charge of many executive matters of the church, and close to the Prophet Joseph Smith until the time of Smith’s death.
“He was right close to Joseph for those 36 months until the martyrdom,” Gibbons said. “He was in the jail with Joseph at the time of the martyrdom. Joseph had prophesied several months before that ‘the time will come when balls will fly around you like hail and there will not be so much as a hole in your garment.’ John Tatum was shot four times, Hyrum and Joseph were shot multiple times, but Willard Richards just took a hit to the left earlobe, where a ball barely grazed him.”
Gibbons said over the 2,000 times he has performed the monologue, he has learned new things about Richards. He said the testimony of Richards of the Prophet Joseph Smith has had an impact on several audience members.
“I have had a lot of people say to me ‘I got my testimony of Joseph Smith listening to this,’ ” he said. “I’ve done it five or six different times at the Missionary Training Center at Christmas-time, and have had missionaries write to me or tell me that ‘I finally got my testimony of Joseph Smith.’ ”
Gibbons wanted to make it clear, however, that he didn’t want the credit for the testimonies others gained from listening to the monologue.
“One of the things I have learned is that when you bear the testimony of Joseph Smith, the Spirit testifies with you,” he said. “It is because of the person you are talking about that is important and the Spirit that comes with it, like the testimony of the Savior.”
Ted Gibbons’ wife, Lydia Gibbons, said she sees similarities in personality between her husband and Richards.
“Sometimes when he does it he (Ted) almost seems like he is Willard Richards,” she said. “I sometimes wonder if Willard Richards over in the Spirit world is saying, ‘good job, that’s what I would have said if I was there.’ ”
Shayne Durrant, a close friend of Ted Gibbons and advertising director of the Daily Universe, shared his insights on how the monologue has impacted him and others he knew who heard it at LDS stake activities. He said the hearts of the youth and leaders were both touched during the performance. Durrant gave an idea of what those who have never heard it can take from the experience.
“It was truly a great experience,” Durrant said. “No matter what thoughts you had going into it, you came away with a sincere admiration and appreciation for Willard Richards.”
Ted Gibbons shared a favorite experience of performing the monologue to inmates at a state penitentiary during a Sunday school class. He said there was a strong spirit there that he would never forget.
“When we were done, nobody said a word,” Gibbons said. “Everybody stood up, and I guess there were about 40 or 50 inmates there, and they walked up one at a time and hugged me and just walked out the door. Nobody said a word, they just came up and hugged me and walked out. I’m still not sure what to make of that, but there was a great Spirit there.”