70-year union built upon rock foundation

When David B. Haight courted Ruby Olson, they were obliged to take the downtown Salt Lake City streetcar on their dates because he couldn't afford a car.

From that humble beginning, they built an eternal marriage that so far has spanned 70 years as of Sept. 4. (His 94th birthday occurs two days before, on Sept. 2.) In the process, the two self-styled "farm kids" (his birthplace is Oakley, Idaho, and hers is Fairview, Utah) have reared three children yielding a posterity of 18 grandchildren and, come October, a total of 64 great-grandchildren.

They have shared a life of adventure characterized by his service as mayor of Palo Alto, Calif., and, ultimately, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. Through it all, what seems to have been their watchword is the scriptural injunction that formed the title of a talk he gave in the October 1995 general conference, "Seek first the Kingdom of God."

In a recent Church News interview, the Haights shared reminiscences of the time they met. The Great Depression had come. Young David had attended Utah State Agricultural College in Logan, Utah, and had come to the "big city" of Salt Lake to go to work at a downtown department store, Keith O'Brien.

Through his college fraternity network, he attended a University of Utah sponsored dance at the Old Mill, a landmark in Little Cottonwood Canyon east of Salt Lake Valley that had been made into a dance hall.

"I had a date with a girl, and we were sitting out the dance," he recalled. "And I noticed this very attractive girl come dancing by. I asked the date I was with, 'Who is that girl?' "

Finding that it was a friend of his date's, he asked her to introduce them. He realizes now what a faux pas that was, but he was motivated by interest in this young woman who would eventually become his bride.

"A few days later, in this store where I was working, I had the responsibility of hiring some temporary summer help," he related. "A group of girls, university students, came in to be interviewed. Included in that group was this attractive girl I saw on the dance floor. And we only needed to hire one that day. Guess who got the job?"

"And a husband!" added Sister Haight.

In impressing Ruby, what young David Haight lacked in affluence he made up for in resourcefulness and pluck.

"I remember calling her one day and she said she had a date," he said. "I said, 'What time is your date?' She said 8 o'clock. I said, 'How would it be if I came at 6?' So I came on the streetcar and took her downtown. We had ice cream. I decided I would show her a good enough time that when she was out with this other fellow in his dad's big, fancy automobile, she'd still be thinking about how much fun she had on the streetcar."

The strategy apparently worked: They were later married in the Salt Lake Temple.

The next day, they departed for California in a Ford Model A he had purchased for $695, with all their worldly possessions packed in the rumble seat.

In the general conference talk cited above, Elder Haight delighted the congregation with a tale of their trip:

"We crossed Nevada going a hundred miles an hour on those gravel, washboardy roads — 30 miles straight ahead and 70 miles up and down. We'd never been to California before, so when we finally made it to Lake Tahoe, that large lake looked warm and beautiful. I didn't know that it was icy cold under the first inch of water. We found a little motel and went in and put on our swimsuits. I wanted to demonstrate to her that she had married a real 'he-man.' We went on the pier out in the lake, and I thought it looked so wonderful. The sun was just going down. I dove straight down, to demonstrate to Ruby what a 'find' she had made. As I dove through that icy water farther down, I thought I was a goner. I clamored to get out."

In California, they made a life for themselves.

"We affiliated with the Church, and soon we had many friends," Sister Haight explained in the interview.

Though neither had any inkling he would one day find himself among the General Authorities of the Church, Elder Haight reflected: "We've had a wonderful, wonderful life together. We've been in many places, we've had the experiences, and now we have those memories. But most of all we have developed the solid knowledge and understanding and background regarding the foundation stones of life, so that we know for a surety that what we're doing [in helping build the Kingdom of God] is true. Those foundation stones are granite stones; not soft, not limestones. They are granite."

"And we've been blessed with good descendants, children strong in the gospel," Sister Haight added.

How did they manage to raise their children in righteousness?

"The principles become part of their lives," Elder Haight said. "And when it becomes part of their life, it isn't difficult to do."

Referring to a line in the hymn "Ye Elders of Israel," he said, "It's not a matter of living in Babylon and all of a sudden deciding you want to dwell on the mountains of Ephraim. You have to live those gospel principles all along. Then the children grow up that way."

Or, as he expressed it in the 1995 conference talk, "If we seek first the kingdom of God and live as we should, all the rest of life seems to fall into place and wonderful things happen."