Seventy-eight high priests reside in the Highland Park Ward of the Salt Lake Highland Stake, and the pace setters are three 94-year-olds, according to the group leader.
Kenneth W. Burnett, West Hammond and Emil H. Wyss are dauntless in honoring their priesthood and magnifying their callings, said group leader Robert Day."They do their home teaching every month," he said. "They are there every Sunday morning and are an example to the rest of us for faithfulness, dedication and commitment."
In a Church News interview at their ward meetinghouse, all three were gregarious and eager to share personal memories and insights gained from their lifetimes of Church service.
Brother Burnett, who worked first in farm machinery sales, then in banking, and owned a collection agency, has served in four bishoprics, once as bishop. He was first counselor to a bishop in Birmingham, England, while serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War I.
He and his wife, Melba, reared six children and they have 26 grandchildren. He said they have lost count of their great-grandchildren.
Brother Hammond, who founded a toy business in Salt Lake City that is still thriving, is a stake patriarch and has given more than 400 blessings. He is also an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple.
In 1954, he was called as bishop of the ward. Five years later, his first wife, Lottie, died. He remained as bishop for a year, and then married his second wife, Golda, whose husband, a bishop, had been killed in a car accident. She later passed away and he is alone now, but gains joy from his four sons who have all been married in the temple and served missions.
Brother Wyss, a son of Swiss immigrants and converts to the Church, made his living as an accountant. While working for the Union Pacific Railroad in Omaha, Neb., he served as president of the Omaha Branch and later of the Council Bluffs Branch.
He and his wife, Segrid, a Norwegian immigrant who came to Utah at age 10, reared five children and have 13 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren.
Brother Burnett visits five households as a home teacher, including a widower who is an elder in the priesthood but is less-active. "I'm trying to get him to prepare to go to the temple so he can be sealed to his wife," he said. "I still have hopes."
Brother Hammond, who visits four households, said it thrills him to do home teaching. "I usually call the families beforehand and say we will be there on a certain date."
Brother Wyss, who visits five homes, said the widows he visits seem to appreciate having a priesthood holder come and leave a blessing with them.
"I've always felt home teaching is one of the most important callings in the ward. If it is done right, the bishop has a report each month of all his families. One thing a home teacher can do is see that children who reach the age of 8 are instructed about the importance of baptism."