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Austin Gudmundsen

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S: Austin Gudmundsen

BC: The monument you make of your life will be a symbol of your love for me.

FC: Austin Gudmundsen

1: Austin Gudmundsen was born to Lettie Austin Gudmundsen and Abraham Gudmundsen on March 22, 1898 in Lehi, Utah.

2: Miracle of Prayer As a boy on a ranch in Wyoming, my life was definitely saved through the miracle of prayer. This has been an influence throughout all my life since. I shall never forget that terrible sub-zero blizzard that roared down the mountain, blinding and freezing me as I struggled to find the shelter of our camp wagon a half mile away. As I finally kneeled and prayed for deliverance, I instantly received a guiding force directing me through a maze of snow drifts, sage brush, and deep washes. Finally, I blindly stumbled over an obstruction in my path making a loud clatter. At that moment there arose a chorus of dogs barking. I was home! I had stumbled over the wagon tongue of the invisible camp wagon. The herder, "Big John” quickly carried me inside and thawed me out. | Austin 5 years old holding his Grandfather Gudmunder's goldsmithing tools.

3: Payson, Utah After leaving Wyoming in the fall of 1913, we returned to Lehi, where father (Abraham Gudmundsen) again set up his jewelry business. It soon became evident that he could not support his family of ten; competition was too great. The Utah-Idaho Sugar Company needed a man to manage the storehouse at the new Payson factory, so we moved there in the fall of 1913. | Brother Strasbourg of Lehi had a large hay-rack wagon. All our furniture was loaded on to it, Tthere were no moving vans then. It took him two days to go from Lehi to Payson. Our cow was led by a rope attached to the wagon, and I followed the cow on my bike, prodding her to keep up. She didn't like it! As we arrived at the outskirts of Payson, we encountered certain curious youngsters, and finally we had a regular parade in this strange procession. Many of the curious ones were in my own age group and the kidding I got lasted for years. There was a sad ending to this cow episode. The first winter was very cold, and she froze to death in her poor shelter. We had to buy milk at five cents per quart. I worked at the Payson factory the first fall as assistant to the Chemist. I worked twelve hours a day at $1.50 per day, seven days a week. We lived three miles from the factory. A covered wagon transported ten of us there and back every cold, freezing day about an hour each way. This lasted four months every winter. When the campaign was over, I went to High School having to “make up” for time spent in the factory. I worked hard and had the help of the instructors. This lasted for three years until we returned to Lehi again. I graduated from Lehi High School in l915.

4: College Years I then attended the Rae Automobile School in Kansas City for six months. I returned to Lehi and set up a garage there. I did well in the summer, supporting myself for the first year at the University of Utah. In the meantime, my folks had leased the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort on Utah Lake which they ran for five years. During the summers, my brothers and I helped on the resort. | University of Utah

5: I enrolled my second year at the University of Utah and enlisted in the U. S. Army Student Training Corp. We were housed at Fort Douglas during that terrible year of 1917 - 1918 where hundreds of our boys died of the flu. After serving about eighty days, I was honorably discharged from the SATC branch of the Army and sent home. I again registered at the University of Utah. Major academic credits were given me for my work at the Automobile School. In the fall of 1919, I went to California Institute of Technology, completing a year there. | Fort Douglas

6: Myrl Goodwin Gudmundsen

7: In the meantime, I had been seriously courting Myrl these years. We kept company seriously during my school years and after her full-time mission. We have been very happy all this time. We were married September l5, 1921 in the Salt Lake Temple. We have been much in love all the years of our courtship and all the years of our marriage. (Note: They were married for 60 years.) I enrolled back at the University of Utah as a senior. I was fortunate in securing employment on the faculty as a math instructor. We lived in a nice apartment and did very well. Austin was a Mechanical Engineer of exceptional ability. His first job was with the Salt Lake City “Smoke Abatement” department. At that time all the furnaces were coal-fired. It made the air in the Salt Lake Valley very smoky and full of soot. Later Austin joined the faculty at the University of Utah in the Mechanical Engineering Department. | Camping in American Fork Canyon for their Honeymoon

8: Myrl, Pres. Grant, Richard, Austin

9: Pittsburgh - Called by the Prophet Austin's reputation as a combustion expert grew and reached the attention of the A.O. Smith Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They persuaded Austin to join them. He agreed with the proviso that he be allowed to spend a year at the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh prior to reporting for work. They agreed. So in 1929, Austin and his family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to do research at the United States Bureau of Mines and the Carnegie Institute. On our first Sunday in Pittsburgh, we located the church and found it being reorganized by President Heber J. Grant. President Grant tapped Austin on the shoulder and said, “We want you to be Branch President.” Austin protested, “But President, they don't even know us here!’ To this, President Grant replied, “But the Lord knows you.” This was a real challenge because of the hours he would need to spend in research. But the Prophet, in setting him apart, promised Austin great success with his studies, which proved to be true and of great value. It should also be noted that some missionaries asked President Grant for permission to take a photograph of him. He replied, “Yes,” and touching Austin's five year-old child, Richard, on the shoulder, added, “If this little boy can be in the picture too!” This photograph is a treasured item in our family.

10: Our Home in Milwaukee | Myrl, Richard, Stan, and Austin. We had lost our little girl, Lois. Later Ruth joined our family. | Ruth | Lois and Dick

11: Milwaukee, Wisconsin In 1931, I accepted a position with A.O. Smith Corporation in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as a research and development engineer. Myrl, Dick, and I rented a house in a nice suburb in Wauwatosa. This was our home for the next sixteen years. The first Sunday we headed for Sunday School, the first meeting of the day. After looking for a long time, we finally found the address which was the basement of a Greek Orthodox Church. Going in, we could not understand any of the speakers because they were giving their talks in German! We weren't quite sure if we were in the right place until the Sacrament was passed. I was made President of the Branch until President Heber J. Grant ordained me as Bishop of the Milwaukee Ward, and instructed me to always remember that I was the first Bishop to be ordained in the state of Illinois since the exodus of the saints. .

13: Stories By Richard Gudmundsen Closing the Meeting Austin was sitting with his family in Sacrament Meeting. He had had little sleep over the past several days and fell asleep during the opening song. The bishop had not assigned anyone to give the opening prayer. He stood up after the hymn and asked Austin if he would give the opening invocation. Austin’s young son, Stanley, never one to miss an opportunity such as this, elbowed his sleeping dad and quickly whispered that the bishop wanted him to give the closing prayer. Austin walked to the podium and promptly closed the meeting. The bishop then had to re-open the meeting with another prayer! The Day Dad Came Home Covered with Beer In the early 1930s, Milwaukee water was drawn from Lake Michigan at a point too close to the raw sewage discharge. As a result, people were told to boil their water whenever a storm stirred up the lake water, as simple chlorination did not kill all the bugs. Gudmundsen-Stratton Laboratories main business was water treatment systems for hotels and industrial plants that used a lot of water. This included all the big breweries. The Milwaukee Ward held Priesthood Meeting at 8:00 o'clock, Sunday School at 10:00 o'clock, and Sacrament meeting at 6:00 o'clock PM. Austin Gudmundsen was at that time the Bishop of the ward. One Sunday afternoon, Dad was called to the phone. It seems that the man who serviced the companies with Gudmundsen-Stratton Labs was sick and called Dad to go to the Blatz Brewery. Dad left in a hurry, still dressed in his Sunday best. About two or three hours later, his car came back into our driveway and a sorry apparition emerged. It was Dad soaked from head to toe with beer! While he was fixing a leak in a high-pressure beer line, the pipe burst, spraying beer all over the room. Some thousand gallons of beer were lost until the correct valve was found. That day went down in family history as “The Day Dad Came Home Covered with Beer.”

14: Torpedo Destroyer In 1941, German submarines were taking a huge toll on convoys from Halifax, Canada to Scotland. They were using sound from ship propellers to guide their torpedoes. Austin developed an idea to defeat such infernal devices. He sent it to the Navy Department and got no response. But after the war was over, got a confirmation that it his idea had been used. The image reads: | A Sonic “Scrambling” system for protecting convoys from submerged submarine attack 1. Each vessel in the convoy will have an underwater signaling device. 2. The minimum intensity of any signal will be greater than that from any propeller on any ship. 3. Signals will have a wide pitch range and a wide intensity range, both of which may be readily varied during short signaling periods if necessary. 4. A timing control system, as between ships, will be employed so that no signal from any ship will be on more than a few seconds at a time, yet one or more ships will be broadcasting a signal at all times. 5. It would appear that this system could completely scramble sounds emanating from the ships propellers, so that the sub’s sonic detector would be useless for locating the position of any vessel in the group.

16: Icelandic Settlement While residing in Milwaukee in the 1940’s, we saw an article in the Milwaukee Journal concerning an Icelandic settlement on Washington Island, a small island in Lake Michigan. We were very much interested in the article, so that weekend, we went to Green Bay Wisconsin, took a ferry, and visited the island. We first went to the little hotel or inn to register for a room. To my amazement, the man at the desk came toward me with his hand outstretched and welcomed, "Mr. Gudmundsen" (me) to the island. I had never seen the man before. They were having a family gathering or reunion, and he was positive I was a relative. He took a large book from the shelf and showed me pictures and group photographs of Gudmundsen relatives. The Gudmundsen “look” was most predominant. Later he called others in and introduced us to his relatives. They treated us most graciously. We toured the island and were invited into several homes. At the cemetery, we saw many graves bearing the name Gudmundsen. One, Dr. Gudmundsen, was among the first settlers. We were not able to connect the families with ours at that point, but the family resemblance was most remarkable. Years later, Fanny Gudmundsen Brunt visited the island and spent some time trying to connect the families.

17: Four Generations of Gudmundsens | Gudmunder | Abraham | Austin | Richard

18: McCullough Motors Later on, Austin accepted a position with McCullough Motors Corporation and we moved with the company to our new home in California. Stake President of Inglewood Stake We settled in Inglewood and after only a few months, Austin was made a counselor to President Barlow, serving for more than a year and a half. A division was made in the stake, and Austin was set apart as President of the Inglewood Stake by Elder Spencer W. Kimball.

19: The Great Horseman By Richard Gudmundsen Bernice and I went to Mammoth one summer shortly after we were married, and stayed in the same campground as Dad, Mom, Ruth, and Stan. It was on Twin Lakes a short distance from the bridge. We had a great time together, went swimming at Hot Creek, fished the lake and various streams, had campfire programs where we sang together while I played the guitar, and went on side trips to the many points of interest around there. One day, Dad, Ruth, and I decided to take horses to Garnet Lake. At that time, we were able to take horses out without having to have a "guide wrangler" along. We traveled to the lake without incident, fished a little, took some photographs, and came back down toward the stable located on Lake Dorothy. As we came down through Cold Water Campground, Dad's horse ran away toward the stables at a furious gallop. Dad was caught completely off guard, and the fishing creel bounced with increasing amplitude as his pants belt suddenly caught on the saddle horn, and he came down with a bang onto the saddle each stride of the horse. As he tried in vain to extricate himself from the difficult and embarrassing situation, reels, fish hooks, leaders, and fly boxes began to exit the creel one by one through the campground. People scurried right and left out of the way of the flying horse. Dad finally got his belt off the horn and pulled the horse to a rearing stop right in the middle of some man's camp. Dad's final cry in great anguish was "Whoa! Whoa! You dumb @%$!!!" Just then a small man emerged hurriedly from the tent, looked up at Dad and said, "Why hello, President Gudmundsen." He turned out to be Dad's Executive Secretary in the Inglewood Stake! I don't think that Dad ever found all of his lost gear, and he was ribbed in presidency meetings from then on as the "Great Horseman." However, Dad was just grateful that he was not injured or even killed in the incident.

20: Icelandic Names In 1950, my brother, LeGrand, and I were in his motor boat fishing on Mirror Lake, situated in the high Uinta Mountains in Utah. We had been quite successful in catching some big ones. We noticed a boat some distance from us with a large man, his wife, and child. They didn’t seem to be enjoying the same experience as we had. So we went over to them and asked about their luck. It was as we supposed, they hadn’t caught any fish. We offered them two or three of ours. They were most grateful. I then introduced myself. "My name is Austin Gudmundsen," I said. A very peculiar look came over the gentleman’s face as he said "You won't believe this, but my name is Gudmund Austinsson!" He was from Iceland and on a mission to Hill Air Force Base in Utah for his government. We talked a while, but since I left for my home in California, I never met him again. | Mirror Lake

21: Inglewood, California Remembered by Joyce G. Richardson In 1961, my Grandpa Austin Gudmundsen sent me this picture taken in the backyard of their house in Inglewood, California. This is the home I remember when I came to visit them as a child and young adult. The house always smelled of homemade rolls and roast beef. In the living room was an organ and a piano. When Uncle Stan and Aunt Ruth and their families came to visit, we would always sing together. Grandpa’s family all sang in beautiful four-part harmony I loved to hear them sing songs such as “I Had a Dream Dear,” as well as hymns such as, “Did You Think to Pray.”

22: In those days, General Authorities always came to speak at Stake Conference. They usually stayed in the home of the Stake President. Austin and Myrl were privileged to host many of these men. After serving for many, many years, Austin was released as the Stake President. He was given a bible with the signatures, mostly handwritten, from each of the General Authorities who had been in his home. Many of them later became Presidents of the Church. President Ezra Taft Benson, President Hugh B. Brown, Carl Beaner, Elder LaRay L. Christianson, William R. Chrislow Jr. , Richard L. Evans, Marion D. Hanks, Gordon B. Hinckley, Melvin R. Hunter, Thorp B. Isaacson, Antone Ivins, Harold B. Lee, John Longdon, Bruce R. McConkie, Mark E. Peterson, LeGrand Richards, President Marion G. Romney, Robert L. Simpson, Alma Sonie, Delbert L. Stapley, Henry H. Moyle, Theodore Tuttle, and S. Dilworth Young

23: Retirement When Austin was released, we moved to Leisure World in Laguna Hills. It proved to be a very happy venture. Austin especially enjoyed the rock shop where he turned rough pieces of rock into beautiful polished stones to create bolo ties and other jewelry. | Note from Joyce G. Richardson: Grandpa gave me this rock he polished. It looks like Adam praying. He also gave my husband, Greg, some beautiful cuff links. | Austin, Mark, Lee, and Myrl at Leisure World

24: A family is pieced together with hope and faith. A family is quilted and bound with love and grace.

25: Working in the Temple Austin and I were set apart as ordinance workers in the Los Angeles Temple. Austin was asked to be a “sealer” and was set apart by President David O. McKay. He acted in this great work for many years. Austin sealed two of his grandchildren to their spouses. Scott Gudmundsen was sealed to Julie Leanne Bingham, and Joyce Gudmundsen was sealed to Norman Gregory Richardson. | Added by Joyce G. Richardson My Grandfather is a noble spirit. He has a vibrant testimony of Jesus Christ and of the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He lived his life as a true follower of Christ and his life is an excellent example to follow. He was a loving father and grandfather and loved us all. I compiled this collection of stories to help keep his example alive for his posterity. I love him so much.

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  • By: Joyce R.
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  • Title: Austin Gudmundsen
  • A brief story of the life of Austin Gudmundsen.
  • Tags: Austin Gudmundsen, Lehi, Inglewood Stake
  • Published: over 6 years ago