Written History of Bert N. Whitney
Anne had many close friends among the sisters in the ward, as well as our mutual friends, and we enjoyed much fun with them. She worked in many church jobs, but the one she loved the most was when she was in the stake primary presidency with all her board member friends. They worked hard at their job, and also had a lot of fun with trips and social activities. On April 24, 1952, I was called as second counselor in the ward bishopric of the Ontario Ward. I had previously been working in the scouting program and on the stake mutual board. I enjoyed my job in the bishopric, but only served a little over a year when the ward was split and one member of each bishopric in the stake was called as a stake missionary; I was the one from our ward.
We were building a new chapel while we were there, and I learned some things about building that I have used ever since. I also organized and taught the first seminary class in that area, which increased my knowledge of the Book of Mormon and of church history. My summers were spent working as a draftsman at Convair in Pomona, which supplemented our income. In 1953, my brother, Howard, got a job in the same school where I worked, and we taught together for the next two years. He and his family moved to Upland, and we had a lot of fun doing things and going places together. One place we went together was Disneyland; once was enough for me.
Our next two children, Clark and Beth, were also born in the Upland hospital while we lived in Ontario. Clark was a colicky baby and was held on his mother’s hip from birth. We thought Beth was going to be twins. When we decided to move back to Nevada, we had five children. We chose Boulder City as our new home, and I was hired as a math teacher in the high school there.
We were able to purchase an older home in Boulder City at 501 Ave. L, near the north-east corner of the town. It seemed to provide our needs for that time in our lives. While we were there, a friend, George Anderson, was visiting us from Henderson, and he asked me why I didn’t improve the house, pointing out things that could be changed without much expense. He said he would help me, and asked me if I wanted to do it. I told him it sounded like a good idea, and with that he took a hammer and knocked holes in a wall that was to be removed and said, “Now you can’t change your mind; I’ll be over tomorrow with my tools.” During a good part of that summer the house was wide open and the cooler was ineffective. Several children had chicken-pox, and we were all extremely miserable. We did survive, however, and we got the job finished, resulting in a much more livable house.
Living in Boulder City was really nice; it was a pleasant town with lots of nice families there, many of which became our life long friends. My job of teaching math at the high school was enjoyable, and our personal and social life was fulfilling. We were close enough to our parents to visit them regularly and stay close to other members of our families. Anne’s talents were much in demand in the community and church, so she held several leadership positions, along with being a loving mother and wife. I served as ward clerk, and later as a counselor in the bishopric. In 1958, I was called as bishop of the ward where I served for seven and one half years with the full support and help of Anne.
A “Juvenile Conference Committee” was formed in Boulder, and I was appointed as chairman. We dealt with first offender young people, assigning them to community service projects and other activities to keep them from getting a record in the justice system. This project was really ahead of its time and I think it did some good.
We purchased a building lot in the late 50′s and started making plans to build a new home. It was located near the residential center of the town on the corner of Sixth St. and Avenue I, about two blocks from the high school and the new ward building. I was able to do most of the work on the house myself, using the skills I had learned helping on ward chapels. Several ward members also helped, donating their time or trading work with me.
We moved into the house before it was finished, on March 26, 1960, and financed it for $12,000, paid back the $6,000 we had borrowed for construction and used the balance to finish the house. We were able to pay off the mortgage in just a few years and have enjoyed living in a mortgage free home from that day to this. The economic blessings we received from helping build ward chapels were unforeseen, but we reaped a great harvest over the years.
The construction of the new ward chapel in Boulder City was a big part of our lives, as we were very active in the process. For part of the program at a building fund dinner on Feb. 22, 1957, Anne was to give a reading entitled, “Leetla Georgio Washeenton.” She spent much time and effort preparing for the event and we sat tending six children for over two hours waiting for her to present the reading, but the bishop forgot to call on her, so she never had a chance to give it. He later wrote her a letter of apology.
The first Sunday that I was to conduct the Sacrament Meeting after I was made bishop, President Stephen L. Richards of the First Presidency of the Church walked into the chapel, sat his wife down in the congregation, and came and sat on the stand. Needless to say, I was very nervous, but I did have the presence of mind to ask him to speak, which he did; all in all, it was an unforgettable experience. It turned out that he was vacationing in the area.