For more than 34 years, William Robbins has been the keeper of a tasty treasure. His responsibility, in his estimation, is not to hoard his good fortune, but rather spread the wealth.
"If you have something you really enjoy, you want to share it," Brother Robbins said. "Like music, and the gospel."Brother Robbins became heir apparent to this treasure in 1964 after visiting a friend in Port Orford, Ore., where he and his family were served sourdough pancakes.
Following the meal - being something of a pancake aficionado who felt that any ward function, any meeting, any celebration was a good excuse to eat pancakes - Brother Robbins asked for his own sourdough starter.
"I was told that the culture starter was 95 years old and that it would last many more years if I cared for it," he said.
A few years after moving from California to the Murray Utah South Stake in 1971, Brother Robbins sought to share his passion for pancakes with the ward and proposed a breakfast for the morning of July 24th to celebrate the arrival of the Mormon pioneers into the Salt Lake Valley.
A pancake breakfast seemed a natural celebration for his Springtree Ward, since the site of the meetinghouse marks the halfway point between Little Cottonwood Canyon and Temple Square. During the years when the Salt Lake Temple was under construction, drivers hauling granite from the quarry would stop at the site to rest and feed their animals.
Now, after nearly 20 years, Brother Robbins continues to don the apron and flip about 1,200 pancakes to feed 400 people. It's his yearly labor of love.
"People coming through the line for the first time say they only want one pancake," said Brother Robbins, now in his mid-70s. "I tell them they will be back. And sure enough, in a few minutes, they come back asking for more."
"He's always doing things for other people," said Shelton Jackson, bishop of the Springtree Ward. "He creates a fun time for the ward."