Brother Rooker

Stake Center

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Thomas S. Monson shares a personal experience

I attended a stake conference some time ago in Modesto, California, where I was to divide the stake.  As I was preparing to do so on Sunday morning, I let my mind go back 10 or 15 years.  I remembered that I had previously attended a conference in that area.  At that time it was called the Stockton Stake, and Modesto was a unit in that stake.  I thought to myself, "What was the name of the stake president?"  Then it came to me; his name was Rooker--Clifton Rooker.  I asked the stake presidency as they sat on the stand,  "Is this the same stake over which Clifton Rooker 

The brethren said, "Yes, it is.  He was our former president."

"It's been many years since I was last here," I said.  "Is Brother Rooker here today?"

"Yes, we saw him this morning."

Then I asked,  "Where is he seated?"

"We don't rightly know,"  they replied.

I stepped to the pulpit and asked, "Is Clifton Rooker in the audience?"  There he was--way back in the cultural hall.  I felt the inspiration to say to him publicly, "Brother Rooker, we have a place for you on the stand.  Would you please come forward?"  With every eye watching him, Clifton Rooker made that long walk up to the stand and sat by my side.  It became my opportunity to call upon him, one of the pioneers of that stake, to bear his testimony--to give him the privilege of telling the people, whom he loved, that he was the real beneficiary of the service he had rendered his Heavenly Father and that he had provided the stake members.

After the session was concluded I said,  "Brother Rooker, how would you like to come with me into the high council room and help me set apart the new presidencies of these two stakes?"

He said,  "That would be the highlight of my life."

We went into the high council room and, with his hands joining my hands on the head of each person, set apart the two new stake presidencies.  We embraced one another as he said good-bye and went to his home.

Can you imagine the shock I received the next morning when I received a telephone call from his son, who said,  "Brother Monson, I'd like to tell you about my dad.  He passed away this morning, but before he did so, he said that yesterday was the happiest day of his entire life."

As I heard that message, I thanked God for the inspiration that came to me in the twinkling of an eye to invite this good man to come forward and receive the plaudits of his stake members, whom he had served, while he was yet alive and able to enjoy them.

As we love our God, as we love our neighbor, we can be the recipients of our Heavenly Father's love.  Of all the blessings I have had in my life, one of the sweetest is that feeling the Lord provides when I know that He has answered the prayer of another person through me.  As we love the Lord, as we love our neighbor, we discover that our Heavenly Father will answer the prayers of others through our ministry.

President Thomas S. Monson shares this story in his First Presidency Message, Ensign, Jan. 1998, p. 6)