A missionary-minded family

As Ethel Hutchings, widowed matriarch to a family of 352, celebrated her 100th birthday on May 6, she could count a combined family total of 164 years of full-time missionary work, plus 46 years of part-time missionary service. She and 71 descendants filled a total of 98 missions, teaching the gospel in 13 languages on six continents and in 27 nations.

Now, at the century mark, she still retains her keen interest in sharing the gospel. Every time one of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren visits her, she asks: "What are you doing in the Church?" and then, "When are you going on a mission? Where would you like to go?" She is a member of the Parleys 6th Ward, Salt Lake Parleys Stake.And missionary service in the family still continues. Six great-grandchildren are now serving missions in Taiwan, Switzerland, Texas, Costa Rica and Canada, with other younger descendants eagerly awaiting their turns to go.

Included in the Hutchings family's legacy of full-time missionary service are six terms as mission presidents - in the Southwest British, France Toulouse, Switzerland Geneva, Zaire Kinshasha, Florida South, and Mississippi Jackson missions.

Family members have also served in part-time missionary service (as stake missionaries and official guides on Temple Square), which includes 14 years of service as stake mission presidents.

Sister Hutchings, widowed in 1980, served a mission with her husband, Ralph, in the Northwestern States Mission, from 1962 to 1964.

An example of their missionary zeal came as the time drew near for their release. They felt a strong desire to bring at least six more persons into the Church (in addition to the 24 baptized earlier). They took the matter to the Lord in prayer, asking that they be led to six more people who would accept the gospel. They rose from their knees and went to work to find the six persons they had prayed to meet. One by one, they found those who were ready to listen, and one, and then two, were baptized, but their mission was almost over.

Finally, they met a "golden" family, whose baptism could bring the total fruit of their service to 30 new converts. That family was almost ready to join the Church when the Hutchings' release date arrived, but Elder and Sister Hutchings could not bear to leave until they finished their work, so they remained in the field an additional week to participate in the baptism that fulfilled their prayed-for goal. They had prayed for a specific blessing and the Lord had answered their prayers specifically.

At home in Salt Lake City, Brother and Sister Hutchings were active as temple ordinance workers until his death on Christmas Eve in 1980, and even after that, Sister Hutchings, approaching age 90, often went to the Salt Lake Temple.

She was born May 6, 1893, in the little town of Junction, 20 miles east of Beaver, Utah. Young Ethel Bay rode over rough horseback trails across 12,000-foot mountains to attend high school. One of eight children whose parents were quite poor, she worked and saved in order to attend Beaver Stake's "Murdock Academy," a former branch of Brigham Young Academy. Her father first took her around the high mountains to Beaver in his small, one-horse buggy in 1909.

Each year, he made periodic trips from his farm in Junction to replenish her school supplies and those of her younger brothers and sisters who followed her to the school. Tragedy struck the family in March 1913, when Ethel's father died bringing her the supplies. His buggy overturned in a flash flood, and he was drowned. The family's deepened poverty did not quench Ethel's hunger to learn. She taught school at Spry, Utah, for a year so she could continue her studies. She basked in the intellectual and cultural stimulation of the Academy under such instructors as Reinhold Maeser, son of the famous BYU savant Karl G. Maeser; and Alfred M. Durham, composer of the Mormon classic hymn, "Carry On." One of her classmates and partner in a chemistry class was Philo T. Farnsworth, who later invented television.

In Beaver she met tall, good-looking Ralph Hutchings, who had just returned from a three-year mission in Germany. He was quite taken up with the lively, red-haired Ethel Bay, and in time they decided to marry. She returned to her home in Junction to make preparations, and, about the first of May 1915, Ralph crossed the mountain from Beaver to claim his bride. However, an unseasonable snowstorm swept across the high-mountain terrain, making travel difficult. Not to be deterred, he hired Abe McIntosh, owner of one of the first cars in Piute County, to drive them 15 miles over the rutted, snow-covered dirt road to

Marysvale, where they boarded the D&RG Railroad for Salt Lake City and the LDS Temple, where they were married. It was only the second time in his life that Ralph had ever ridden in a motor car, and only the third time for Ethel. They arrived no warmer in Salt Lake City because the railroad passenger car was unheated.

From the beginning of their marriage, she budgeted and saved and planned for her children's missions. One source of missionary money during the Depression of the 1930s was her pay as southern Utah correspondent for The Deseret News. She hid the money away and when her oldest son, Bay, was called to the French Mission in 1938, she pulled out a large glass jar in which, for years, she had squirreled away pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. He later recalled that she counted out $42.63 in coins, enough to buy him a suit to wear into the field. He was later called as a mission president in Toulouse, France, and in Geneva, Switzerland. He and his wife, Jean, were the first Latter-day Saints sent as missionaries and mission president to Zaire, Africa, (formerly known as the Belgian Congo).

The Hutchings' third child, Arden, served a mission in Denver, Colo., and later presided over the Florida South Mission and served in the West Indies Mission and in Zaire. Donald, the Hutchings' fourth child, and his wife have fulfilled five full-time missions for the Church, four since their retirement.

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed