Devotional speaker uses grandfathers as examples of life lessons


Learning from previous examples provides endless valuable life lessons for those willing to take a look into the past.

In the university Devotional on Tuesday, Thomas Fletcher of the Chemical Engineering Department talked about his two grandfathers, Harvey Fletcher and Howard Tonks. He addressed lessons learned from both grandfathers and how students can apply them to their lives.

In lesson one, “Be good and great,” Fletcher described how when his grandfather Fletcher was in primary, Karl Maeser told him that he would grow up to be a great man. Years later he was still embarrassed and blurted out how he would rather be good, not great, to his Aaronic priesthood quorum. Fletcher used this story to explain how students should do their best to be good followers of Christ.

He called lesson two, “Do your best in school and work.” His grandfather Fletcher attended BYU and, after failing physics first semester, realized he needed to take his education seriously. He retook the course, received the highest grade possible and graduated. Fletcher went on to to become president of the American Physics Society and the first LDS scientist elected to the American Academy of Science. His example shows how students should dedicate their efforts to something they are passionate about, no matter how challenging.

“Don’t be discouraged if it does not work out how you wanted at first,” Fletcher said. “Keep trying with your best effort.”

In lesson three, “Stay true to your testimony,” Fletcher told a story of how his grandfather Fletcher was asked to become a researcher at Western Electric in New York. President Joseph F. Smith encouraged him to go and be an example for the church in New York. Fletcher said students should stay true to their testimony and ask in faith to be good examples to those around them.

Fletcher shifted focus to his other grandfather, Howard Tonks.  Tonks moved to Victor, Idaho, as a child, where his family started a dairy and sheep farm. In lesson four, “Serve faithfully in callings,” Fletcher told how Tonks was called to serve a mission in Australia during World War I. Tonks left his home and work, to faithfully fulfill his calling. Although times were hard, he learned to love his calling and the Australian people. Fletcher challenged students to serve to the best of their ability.

In telling how his grandfathers found their spouses in lesson five, “Be devoted to your spouse,” Fletcher emphasized the importance of committing 100 percent after falling in love.

“Both Howard and Harvey were sealed to their spouse in the temple of God,” Fletcher said. “If you are still looking for a spouse, pray that the Lord will guide you and let you know when it is right. If you have made a marriage covenant already with someone to whom you fell in love, stay in love.”

Fletcher used his grandfather Fletcher to illustrate lesson six, “Have a positive attitude (I can still dance).” Commonly known as “Uncle Harvey” to his associates, Harvey was always positive and showed respect to those around him. Fletcher noted how his grandfather could stay positive in any situation and encouraged students to strive for that as well.

Finally, Fletcher shared an example of Tonks to explain lesson seven, “Be humble and try to be like Jesus.” Fletcher described how Tonks was a hard-working man who loved the scriptures and remained faithful to the Lord his whole life. Tonks’ example inspired Fletcher to be like him and develop a loving relationship with the Lord. Fletcher encouraged students to look at their own family history and learn from their examples.

“It is my prayer that we can all strive to be great at what we do but good at who we are,” Fletcher said.

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