NORTH SALT LAKE, Utah — Anyone who shared even brief amounts of time with Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone likely walked away with a life-changing story to tell.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency spent plenty of time with his good friend and fellow General Authority. And yes, he said, he was blessed for it.
“He was a lover of people — and that gave him tremendous power,” said President Eyring in closing remarks Friday, May 18, at Elder Featherstone’s funeral at the Bountiful Regional Center.
Hundreds of Elder Featherstone’s family members, fellow missionaries, friends and associates in a life defined by gospel service participated in the memorial services. Joining President Eyring on the podium was President Russell M. Nelson, along with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
A native of tiny Stockton, Utah, Elder Featherstone died Saturday, May 12, in Bountiful, Utah. His wife of almost seven decades, Sister Merlene Miner Featherstone, and six children survive him. His eldest son, Ronald, preceded him in death.
President Eyring began his remarks by reading a letter of sympathy from the First Presidency to Sister Featherstone. The letter saluted her husband’s Church service that included his presiding leadership over the Texas San Antonio Mission and the Logan Utah Temple and as the Young Men general president.
“We rejoice with you in his life of devoted service.”
Decades ago, President Eyring was serving as the commissioner of the Church’s Board of Education. At the time, a heated public school busing controversy had developed in Southern California, angering many of the local Latter-day Saints. A proposal was made by many of the members to set up Church-operated schools at area meetinghouses.
The president of the Church and other key leaders chose not to accept their proposal. Brother Eyring was sent to California to deliver the decision to the local members.
Elder Featherstone, who was presiding over the Area and was sympathetic to the challenges facing the California parents and their children, met him in California.
As expected, Brother Eyring’s message to an emotional gathering of members “was not well received.” But then Elder Featherstone stood before the group and said that Brother Eyring had just shared with them the will of God’s prophet.
“How many of you in the room,” asked Elder Featherstone, “will sustain the prophet?”
The people answered his question by sustaining the prophet and his decision. They loved and trusted Elder Featherstone.
With tears in his eyes, Elder Featherstone promised the people that the situation would be resolved if they continued to follow the prophet. A short time later, the busing controversy was resolved amicably in the courts.
President Eyring said there is much talk today about what it means to minister. “Elder Featherstone believed ministering is to lead people to do the things that will, in the long run, make them happy.”
Remarks were also offered Friday by three of Elder Featherstone’s sons — Paul, Scott and Joseph.
Paul T. Featherstone said his father — despite growing up “shy, introverted and rough around the edges” — made his life an offering to the Lord.
“And through him, the Lord was able to feed multitudes,” he said.
Elder Featherstone’s testimony was anchored to the Book of Mormon. He joyfully shared that testimony with his children and legions of others. “He gave his whole life to the Savior.”
J. Scott Featherstone called his father “a man of Christ” and a master “in the art of living.”
Elder Featherstone cherished his wife of almost 68 years. In return, she supported her husband through decades of Church service that often took him away from home.
Elder Featherstone also loved, supported and sustained his fellow General Authorities, noted Joseph M. Featherstone.
Vaughn J. Featherstone was both a physical and spiritual giant who taught others key gospel principles such as tithing through his own quiet example, he added.
His life “was a daily manifestation of faith in the gospel of Jesus Christ.”