Clyde Roland Gustafson

Clyde Roland Gustafson

05/02/1905 – 04/11/1993

Clyde Gustafson was an honest, loyal, and determined man, with a desire for the truth and unwavering dedication to his Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. Throughout his life he has endured many heart breaking moments as well as enjoyed the blessings because of his loyalty and faith. With a spirit of true appreciation for the gospel, his words of affirmation give credit to his positive perspective, “Nothing but good ever happens to me.”

Clyde’s parents, Carl Axel Gustafson, and Anna Carolina Kvistberg, were Swedish immigrants who were converted to the Mormon faith. They met soon after coming to Utah in 1900 and were married later that year on November 14th. Clyde was born on May 2, 1905, in Draper Utah, he was the third child of nine and the second oldest son. His siblings were Edna, Carl, Grace, Arthur, Ethel, Jennie, Helen, and Herbert; Edna died in childhood at the age of seven.

Clyde began school as a young boy but couldn’t speak any English as his parents only spoke Swedish in the home. The teacher would line the children alongside of the room and have them read a paragraph, but the teacher always skipped over Clyde when it cam to his turn. This would happen for the next four months until Clyde decided with determination that he was going to read his paragraph. He said a prayer in his heart that he could read his paragraph and when his turn came, he could understand the words and read them as fluently as any other child there. His teacher was so happy, she went up to him and gave him a big hug right in front of all the other students.

Clyde’s father worked at a smelting plant in Draper which caused damage to his lungs. His doctor recommended he move somewhere away from the city with fresh air or else it would kill him. He soon moved his family north to Treasureton, Idaho in 1914, when Clyde was nine, where he was able to purchase a 427-acre dry farm.

Carl and Anna Gustafson with their children: Carl, Clyde, Grace, and Arthur, Cir. 1908. Photograph, Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson memories.

From the ages of 10 to 13 Clyde’s main responsibilities on the farm were plowing the fields as well as his least favorite which was herding cows. He found it quite boring and would read missionary pamphlets about Heber C. Kimball and Orson Pratt while out in the fields. He also enjoyed listening to the talks given in Sunday meetings about three miles from his home. His father would load up the family in the wagon, but Clyde didn’t want to risk being late and missing his favorite speaker, Lon Ward, so he would always leave much earlier and walk instead.

At the age of 17 Clyde became the president of the Mutual Association in the LDS church which was quite the honor for his parents. Soon after the event Clyde had a dream that was very frightening to him.

               I dreamed that I was standing out in a field of grain that had been cut, and in the green grass was a grave down in the middle of the field, an open grave. As I looked at it, I saw a skeleton rise out of the grave and come toward me. In the dream, I was paralyzed with fear and didn’t think I could do anything about it. The skeleton grabbed hold of me and started dragging me towards the open grave, like that’s where it wanted me. I struggled with all my strength, but I was powerless to get loose form this skeleton that was slowly dragging me toward that grave. When I got to the very edge of the grave, it seemed like the only power that could save me was to call upon the name of the Lord, which I did. I prayed that the Lord would deliver me from that grave. I rebuked this skeleton and as I did that, it seemed that the skeleton disintegrated and fell apart and the bones rolled into the grave, and I got loose. (Gustafson M., 2016)

This dream stuck with him for a while, and he couldn’t shake the uneasy felling that came with it. As he walked into his mother’s kitchen, she could see the state he was in and asked him what was wrong. Clyde assured her he was fine, but he also gave her a warning, “Mother I am going to be sick, and I’m afraid I’m going to be real sick and if you don’t do what I say, I’m going to die. If I become unconscious or delirious then I want you to go, or have somebody go, back in the hills after old man Ward and have him come down and administer to me.” Lon War was Clyde’s old Sunday school teacher and although the townspeople didn’t have the highest opinion of him, Clyde felt he was a good man who truly believed in the gospel. He went on to instruct his mother, “when I get sick, don’t put anything white on my bed, no sheets or pillowcases or nothing. No white bed covers on top of me because I’m going to live. And I don’t want anything that will make me think of death, for the Lord is going to pull me through.”

Three weeks later Clyde became sick with fever due to some bad drinking water at work. By this time his mother had forgotten about the instructions he had given when he became sick. She called for the doctor in Preston, he told her Clyde had typhoid, and gave instructions on how to care for him and told her not to worry when he became delirious due to the fever. After ten days the sickness became worse, and Clyde was mostly unconscious as well as raving and tossing around in delirium. The fever continued for three weeks, and the family feared he would die, so they continued to pray for him. His mother called for the bishop and his counselors, and they administered to him, but nothing changed. The bishop went to Riverdale and got the stake president and two bishops to come and administer to him. Again, nothing changed, and he looked close to death. His mother gathered the family around him, and his father said, “you know, I think if we all get around him and have prayer and promise the Lord that whatever thing that he wants to use him in, why, he’ll get better.”

The family held hands in prayer and his father made a promise to the Lord that if he would spare Clyde’s life, he could use him in anything he wanted. After the prayer his mother remembered his request to get Lon Ward. The church officials present thought she was crazy to ask for him because he was labeled a crazy mountain man. His brother Alex went into the hills to retrieve him. He came in his old work clothes and laid his hands on his head alone without ceremony or anointing oil. After he removed his hands, Clyde was coherent, sat up and shook his hand. In a matter of days, Clyde was well and walking about.

Clyde continued his schooling at Preston High school in Idaho and trained to be a boxer his senior year, he even fought in the preliminaries. This was short lived as he ended up ruining his right ear in a fight which caused him to be partially deaf on that side for the rest of his life.

As Clyde turned 19 the church ward came to his mother and asked if she had a son ready for a mission. She told him they could send Alex, she felt Clyde was a problem child and not ready for such a responsibility. His father spoke up and said, “No, Clyde is the one that is supposed to go on that mission.” A year and a half later Clyde received a letter that he would be going on a mission to Sweden. This pleased his father very much as Sweden was his birthplace.

As word got out about Clyde’s mission to Sweden, there happened to be a girl who attended school with Clyde. This girl was the daughter of the principal of Preston High school as well as his only child. This man talked with Clyde’s father and told him it was a waste to send him on a mission. He told him Clyde was a smart boy and would do well in law school and that he would pay to send him to law school if he didn’t go on a mission. However, Clyde was determined to go on a mission and told his father that that man was only interested in what his daughter wanted, which was to marry Clyde. Clyde was not interested in this girl but a different girl he had also gone to school with. They both felt the same about each other and Clyde had a mind to marry her and mentioned to his father what he planned. His father told him, “I believe she is a good girl. She’s got a fine mother, but you know that isn’t enough. When we get married here, we do it for time and all eternity. You know that’s a long time to be with a woman. You should make mighty sure that you don’t make a mistake. I’d find out what the Lord has to say about it.”

Clyde wasn’t happy with that response and the whole next day as he was plowing out in the field, all he could hear was his fathers’ words, “Boy that’s a long time to be with a woman, forever and ever.” Clyde pulled the horses to a stop by a couple haystacks and crept between them to pray. He uttered the shortest and probably the most important prayer he ever said in his life. He said, “Lord, I’m going to propose to that girl tonight, and if you don’t want me to have her, you cause her to turn me down.” (Gustafson M., 2016)He didn’t think it was possible for her to turn him down, but he felt better about it as he had done what his father had asked and went back out to finish plowing.

That night he took this girl for a ride in his old model T Ford, in the moonlight by Bear River. The night was beautiful and couldn’t be more perfect as Clyde said, “Maybe we ought to get engaged before I go to Sweden.” At this she burst into tears telling him, “I think the world of you, and I like you better than anyone I know. I’d give anything if I could marry you, but I can’t do it. I can’t marry you.” In a bit of a shock, Clyde asked. “Why can’t you marry me? You felt good about everything last week.” She responded through tears, “Yes, then I did. Now I just can’t marry you.” They sat in the car for a while as she cried and cried, Clyde asked again “Won’t you even give me a hint why you can’t?” she said, “That’s one of the things I can’t do. I dare not do it.” Clyde sat there with her until almost midnight trying to get her to tell him why she couldn’t marry him, but her response was always the same. “I’d like to tell you, but I dare not. I can’t tell you.” Clyde took her home to Treasureton that night, somber. As he made it to bed, he knelt in prayer and realized the Lord was doing things on his behalf and this wasn’t the right direction for him.

Clyde and his fellow classmates during missionary school Cir. 1926. Clyde is back row second from the left. Photograph., Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson Memories.

Clyde soon left for his mission to Sweden along with four other boys. They took a ship from New York and started their journey. Within the first week on the water the ship rescued the crew members from their sinking ship nearby. The captain of this ship did not come with the crew as in those days it was custom to go down with the ship. A crewman went back for the captain and patted his back in comfort and gave a swift smack to the back of his head, knocking him unconscious and bringing him back to the main ship. The captain was very grateful to this crewman once he awoke.

Clyde and his companion Elder Olson next to a water well in Uppsala, Sweden Cir. 1929. Photograph, Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson Memories.

They landed in Stockholm, but Clyde needed a few days to recover as he had been quite seasick for the entire journey. They started their mission work by passing out pamphlets. Clyde would soon be promoted to Conference President where he was assigned the task of establishing a branch in Uppsala. He stayed there for about 14 months before he moved farther north passing out pamphlets and holding meetings mostly in the woods. There were times when he was welcomed and given food and lodging but also times when certain locals disliked the Mormon missionaries. They would warn the other residents not to help him in the slightest.

Clyde and his companion Elder Olson plowing fields in Uppsala, Sweden Cir. 1929. Photograph, Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson Memories.

Over the course of two years Clyde felt he had completed his mission and was wanting to make his way back home. As he began to make plans to return to Utah the stake president came to him and told him he would have the privilege of staying for another year. He felt very disappointed and homesick as he had received news that the family home had burned down although no one had been injured. The Lord had plans for him and it wasn’t time yet for him to go back home.

Clyde at the docs in Orebro, Sweden, Cir. 1928. Photograph, Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson Memories.

Clyde made his way south in hopes of finding his relatives and father’s birthplace as he had been notified of family being in this area. He was able to meet two of his aunts, and uncle, as well as his father’s mother. She was a frail looking woman, her age in the range of early 90’s. The aunts warned him she was senile as he watched her pick at the quilt on her lap, her gaze unfocused on the wall next to her. As he came near her, she turned her head towards him and for a moment her sanity seemed to return. The aunts asked her if she knew who this boy was. She looked Clyde up and down and said, “That’s Axels boy.” She grasped his hands in a surprisingly firm grip and shook them. She let him go and soon began picking at her quilt, her sanity leaving her. Clyde stayed for a few days before making his way back to Stockholm with the money the aunts had given him.

Clyde during his mission in Upsala, Sweden, Cir. 1929. Photograph, Family Tree, Clyde Gustafson Memories.

After completing another year of his mission, Clyde was able to board a ship back home called the MS Gripsholm. He made his way back home to Treasureton, Idaho and worked on the farm with his father, but he felt a restlessness begin to form within him. This feeling continued to grow and Clyde would pray often because of it. He would sometimes stop in the middle of the field and pray next to the plow, so that the Lord would show him what he wanted him to do with his life. As the weeks went on the restless feeling grew along with his consistent prayers.

It was later in the season near harvest and Clyde was threshing wheat for his father. After he had finished the last bushel of wheat, his father came to him and said, “Okay, you can go now if you want and good luck to you. I hope you can find what you’re looking for.”

The very next day Clyde hitched a ride to Twin Falls and got a job piling beans, but at the end of his shift he still felt restless.. He collected his pay and quit, making his way back to the highway. He did not know what way he should go but he began to hitchhike hoping guidance would come. The first car that stopped asked him where he was headed, but Clyde decided to ask the driver where he was going. The man said, “Idaho Falls”, so Clyde decided that’s where he was going.  

Clyde got a job picking up potatoes until the season was over and he wondered what to do next as he felt he was in the right place. He took a walk down main street and soon found a help wanted sign in the window of a new big store called S.H. Kress Company. He decided to go inside and apply for the job and soon began working there.

The old Kress building in Idaho Falls, Idaho. Photograph, roadside Architexture.com, Idaho Kress stores.

After a few months working at Kress, a stock boy came up to Clyde as he was checking invoices. He said to Clyde, “Gus, there’s the sweetest little girl that I’ve ever seen, working in the toy counter. They just hired her.” Clyde said, “What do you know about pretty girls? You better let me take the next basket down and I’ll give my opinion.” As Clyde made his way down to the counter, he could see the back of her head when the spirit of the Lord came over him so strong, and spoke to him saying, “This is going to be your wife. ”This girl was Orlean Kingston. Clyde was afraid to ask her out as he knew the importance of the situation, but the spirit of the Lord came over him again, telling him if he didn’t  ask her that night, he would lose his chance.

Orlean Kingston. Photograph, Family Tree, Orlean Kingston Memories.

As quitting time came and everyone was cleaning up, Clyde approached Orlean and asked, “Miss Kingston, is there any chance of a man getting a date with you?” She responded, “Yes.” Not realizing what she had agreed to, Clyde quickly said, “Good. I’ll pick you up tomorrow night and we’ll go to church together.”

On their third date Clyde proposed, which very much upset her. She said, “You and I can never be anything more than friends.” Clyde felt very low and continued to pray to the Lord that night. The next day at work the holiday merchandise had come in and the store was quite busy. The department manager paired Clyde and Orlean together to check the merchandise with the invoice and mark them. As they continued to work until the end of the day, not a word passed between them besides the numbers on the paper. The bell soon rang to signal the end of the shift and she got her coat on and began to walk away. She stopped and turned around and said, “Mr. Gustafson.” Clyde answered, “Yes Miss Kingston.” She asked, “Do you know how to play checkers?” Clyde responded, “Yes, but I’m not very good at it.” She said with a note of finality, “Well it’s your move.” And walked out the door. Clyde was so excited he called her before she even made it home.

Clyde and Orlean on their wedding day, Cir. 1931. Photograph, Family Tree, Orlean Kingston Memories.

Clyde and Orlean became engaged, and Clyde soon met her family. Her father, Charles W. Kingston, had four other children, Elden, Arduous, Ortell, and Merlin. Charles had been part of the LDS church and had been ordained to the council of 70 in 1928, but because he began preaching the Gospel of united order and plural marriage as well as the claims made in the 1886 revelation about the keys of authority, he came under evaluation from the church. Charles was called before the High Council and asked to stop the things he was doing because the LDS church did not support preaching these ideas. Charles chose to continue with his teachings and soon found himself excommunicated, which was very hard on him and his family, but he remained faithful to the fullness of the Gospel of the Lord that had been preserved by John Taylor and John Woolley. He taught all these things to Clyde as well.

After meeting with Charles for two to three hours at a time for a few days going over the fullness of the Gospel, Clyde needed time to think and gain his own testimony of these principles. He was able to find a room in an upstairs attic to rent for a while. During this time, he studied the scriptures and prayed continually. An excerpt from one of Clyde’s talks explains this uncertainty of Charles teachings:

One of the things that I couldn’t understand in my strivings to gain a testimony of this work was the fact that the Spirit of the Lord had been with me while I was over there in Sweden. I thought, when I was over there and this and that happened, if I was teaching the wrong kind of work or teaching for an apostate church, then how come the Lord would bless me over there and give me the things he did? I thought of the time that He caused me to stand up and prophecy, and that prophecy was fulfilled three weeks after it was said. I thought of other great things that happened while I was over there, and I couldn’t understand. All those things would go through my mind. (Gustafson C., 1978)

Clyde and Orlean on their wedding day Cir. 1931. Photograph, Family Tree, Orlean Kingston Memories.

Over the next few months Clyde had to find different work as Kress policy stated no dating other employees and he and Orlean had gotten engaged. He was able to find work in the potato fields where he met a man named Jesse B. Stone and Ren Stoddard. These men also believed in the teachings of the fullness of the Gospel. Clyde began to spend more time with Ren and had many a conversation about these teachings.

About a month later as Clyde was walking down the streets of Idaho Falls, he met Ren walking down the street and he stopped to shake his hand. As he did this the spirit of the Lord came over both men and Clyde began to walk with him as he began to tell him about his family. Ren had brought his children from Montana to live with their grandmother as his wife had died. His mother-in-law was not very fond of him and told him he was not welcome in her home, and he would need to find other lodging while she took the children. He lamented to Clyde that he didn’t have a penny to his name, a job or even a home. Clyde comforted Ren and told him he had all those things, and he could stay with him in the attic he had rented.

Ren told Clyde of a time when he had been given a blessing that some time in his life, he would have to seek the Lord in mighty prayer to know and understand the things that the Lord wanted him to do. Ren felt this was that time as he wanted to know with certainty the truth of the things Jesse Stone and Charles Kingston had been preaching. Clyde assured him they would strive together as he needed confirmation of these things as well.

Over the next six months Clyde and Ren lived together, where they prayed and strived together to gain a testimony of the fullness of the gospel. During this time Clyde was excommunicated from the LDS church due to his questioning of the church’s integrity. This excerpt from one of Clyde’s talks gives more depth to how he felt about being excommunicated:

I was always a good church member and always went to church and Sunday school when I was in the Mormon church. I went quite regularly and when I was excommunicated, I had no place to go on Sundays because I wasn’t allowed to go to their Sunday school or their meetings. I’d walk around the streets of Idaho Falls on a Sunday, lonely as could be. I would go home to my room where I was batching it in Idaho Falls. I would kneel down and ask the Lord to spare my life that I might live to the day when the one mighty and strong would come, and the Kingdom of God would be set up on the earth. I knew the day was close. I visualized that it would take about 50 years or so before that man would come before the Kingdom of God would be established upon the earth. So, I would pray that the lord would spare my life and prolong my days so I would have the chance to be in his work. (Gustafson M., 2016)

As the news of his excommunication reached Clyde’s parents, they were very upset and told Clyde they wished his ship had sunk to the bottom of the ocean while he was on his mission rather than have him leave the church. This was very heart breaking for Clyde as he understood why his parents were so dedicated to the church, but he had a desire to know and follow the fullness of the Gospel and live it.

Soon after this event Ren and Clyde acquired an old patching machine for patching shoes. They mounted this machine in the back of Ren’s car and they traveled throughout Idaho Falls, Taylor, and Ammon, fixing shoes for money.

Charles Elden Kingston, circ. 1933. 1 Photograph, Family Tree, Charles Elden Kingston Memories.

Orlean’s brother, Elden, married Clyde’s sister, Ethel on May 29th, 1931, in the Salt Lake temple and Clyde and Orlean were married shortly after on June 15th, 1931. They had their first child March 12, 1932, a daughter named Coreen. Orlean, her mother, Vesta, and Ardous were summoned to appear before the bishop’s court in Idaho Falls Stake President building. There they were questioned for several hours before the church made the decision to excommunicate them along with the rest of their family.

On February 14th, 1934, another daughter was born to Clyde and Orlean, they named her Elaine Harriet. She was a happy healthy baby but come September she became very sick with Erysipelas which was a common sickness that followed strep throat. Elden and Clyde administered to the child late into the evening with no improvement. The following is an excerpt from Orleans journal, telling of the experience.

October 3, 1934 Wednesday – 2:30 AM

               Elaine Harriet passed away. Bro Elden said, “We’ll wait a half an hour. I then will pray for her and see if her spirit will come back and she’ll be made well.” We waited and then Brother Elden, Clyde and Father prayed. The Spirit of the Lord came in abundance and they stretched forth their hand to put on her feet. (one hand was already on her head.) Just as they were about to touch her the Spirit of the Lord departed and they were left to themselves. They tried again with the same volition. They relieved the bedroom and prayed. And tried again with the same volition. Again they tried and this time as they were about to recall the spirit back to the body Brother Elden was slapped at the side of the face with such a blow that tears came to his eyes and he paused and said in a loud voice, “Her spirit is gone and it is not coming back.” We knew for assurity that the Lord’s will had been done. We relieved to the front room below and knelt in prayer and thanked the Lord for these words of faith and asked for strength to bear up under it. (Gustafson & Johnson, 2019)

Elaine Harriet Gustafson died October 3rd, 1934 and was laid to rest in Ammon, Idaho next to Orleans infant brother who had died shortly after birth in 1916. This was very hard on Orlean, and she always had Elaine on her mind as she consistently mentions her in her journals as well as dreaming about her often.

Three weeks later October 28th, 1934, Clyde married Orlean’s sister, Ardous Kingston, as a second wife. This was a testament to his faith and dedication to the fullness of the gospel and the law of celestial marriage.

During the next few months Clyde would fast and pray with his brother-in-law, Elden, along with helping him prepare for the most important event of his life. On January 1st, 1935, Elden Kingston established the Davis County Cooperative Society. The members of this co-op were Elden Kingston, his two wives, Ethel Gustafson Kingston and Afton Brown as well as Ethel’s small child, Leon Kingston. These were the members for the first month and then more began to join. Clyde Gustafson and Burke Frandsen joined in early February and later in March, Marion Brown and Charles W. Kingston joined along with their families. Clyde and Burke were able to attend the very first Order meeting with Elden, in February of 1935.

The following is an excerpt from Clyde’s journal, telling of the importance of this event.


One morning, Brother I [Elden] said, “Today we will hold our first meting in the Order.” There were only three men present: I, Brother Elden, and Brother Burke. Brother Elden was to be the audience, so he remained seated. The song Brother Burke had picked out was, We Thank Thee Oh God For A Prophet.

I could not finish the song, such a wave of wonder and thankfulness came over me. I thought of the years of being scorned by my past friends, of being shut out from the church, which I had worked for, for over two years. I thought about the experience with my parents when they wished that my boat that had brought me home from Sweden had sunk to the bottom of the ocean, etc.. And though I longed for this day to come, not even daring to dream that it would come this soon or that it would even come in my life span, I just stood there and cried while Brother Burke finished the song. That song was never sung with greater appreciation than on that day by two humble servants of God.

After the song, we three knelt down and had circle prayer. Then, Brother Elden stood up and began to prophesy, saying that in this time we would not have to go out on missionary trips to exhort people to come. He said that the Spirit of God would come over different people and would bring them unto Zion. After all, that’s the best kind of people; those who come of their own will and choice. After talking to us for about one hour, we closed the meeting.

The prophecy in the24th Chapter of Matthew, about the second coming of the Savior, had been fulfilled. The first glimmer of light had become visible and our joy and wonderment knew no bound.

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