Family history moments: 'Long lost cousin'

In September 1995 my uncle, Max Ranquist, was suffering from atrial fibrillation. For a year he had been confined to an oxygen tank and his recliner.

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He was wondering why he was left to live in this helpless condition. What had he left undone? Certainly not family history. He had pursued his Ranquist ancestral line to a dead end. His brother, Harold, had even flown to Sweden and contacted all the people he could find with surnames similar to Ranquist in the Stockholm and Gavle area where our ancestor was born. It was a fruitless trip.

Then, the telephone rang. A man on the other end with an accent said, "Hello, my name is Sven Ronnqvist, and I think I am your long-lost cousin in Sweden."

Sven Ronnqvist did indeed turn out to be his long-lost cousin. He had in his possession a letter written by Uncle Max's grandfather, A. L. Ranquist, in 1910 to relatives in Sweden informing them of the death of his father, Lars. It was signed, "I'm your long-lost cousin."

This was the last contact the family had had with each other. Efforts from family members in Sweden (who are not members of the Church) led them to the Church Genealogical Department in Salt Lake City in 1982. The department reported that a Max Ranquist from Orem, Utah, had submitted information on his grandfather, Alexander Lars Ranquist.

Over the years, Sven thought of contacting Uncle Max, but the thought of finding one man out of millions of people in America was too overwhelming. As time passed, Sven heard about an international directory assistance that could connect him to anyone if he knew the person's name, city, and country. As he lay in bed that Sunday evening in September 1995, he was prompted to try. The family connection was finally made.

After the Ranquists had done all they could, the spirit worked with the Ronnqvists until contact was made. Max, his wife, Arlene, and his brother, Harold, were able to visit the old homestead in Sweden and obtain many names of living and dead relatives within weeks of that call. My Uncle Max died one month later. But he knew his life had been prolonged until the Ranquists and the Ronnqvists were reunited.

— Margaret C. Murphy, Sioux Falls 2nd Ward, Sioux Falls South Dakota Stake

Another in a series of "Family History Moments."

Illustration by John Clark.

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