In memory of James Mack Easton. He was born in Greenville, Beaver
County, Utah on November 4, 1915, the 9th child of William Joseph Eastpm and Eva Jane
Mack married Verena Broderick on April 24, 1947 in Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona.
They had five children, William Douglas, twins Sandra Kay and Steven, Gregory and Kent.
After their children had grown, Mack and Verena were called to serve in the LDS Tampa
mission in Orlando, Florida. Below is the letter that Verena wrote about their experience.
Verena died on December 1, 1889 in Whittier, Los Angeles, California. Mack later married,
Lorretta Bayly. They lived in Whittier until James Mack Easton died in his home on January 2, 2003 at
the age 87. He is buried in the Rose Hills Cemetery in Whittier, Los Angeles County, California.
Verena's Letter From Their LDS Mission in Orlando, Florida
Dear Family and Friends'
Happy holiday greetings from Orlando!
It will be one year in February since we left Whittier; having been called by the Prophet,
Ezra Taft Benson, to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The time has gone quickly.
You know we were really fortunate in being called to serve. My sister Clara and I have
serious phyysical problems. She and her husband, AlDean, were however inspired that we
could still fulfill a mission if we could get approval from the Church to serve as a
foursome -- Clara, Al Dean, Mack and me.
It was Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve that came to our rescue. Had it
not been for him, we would not have received this blessing. He was impressed with our
proposal that we function as a foursome; in fact, calling it an unique idea.
It was not long after Elder Maxwell became our intercessor that we, as a foursome, received
a our call from the Prophet to serve in the Florida Tampa Mission for a period of one year.
We were thrilled and excited about where we had been called.
We entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on February 10th and were involved
for 2 1/2 weeks in a training program designed to prepare us as effective representatives
of the Church. The experience was very educational and most inspirational. The frequent visits
of the General Authorities and their counsel to us were experiences we'll never forget --
those men are truly endowed.
It was also a sight to remember as 1800 young missionaries and over 180 married couples stood
in the large assembly hall and recited in concert the Fourth Section of the Doctrine and
While at the Mission Training Center we stared with the Washburns in their home just a few blocks
from the center. We were royally treated and blessed by the hospitality of this good couple.
After we finished our training we loaded up both of our cars and departed Provo for Florida. After
about 5 das we reached Tampa. Although we were assigned to the Florida Tampa Mission, our area
of service was in Orlando. It was here we found attractive and comfortable facitities for the
four of us. The area is called Lake Pinelock Village and comprises over 300 units with strong
security protection. I always feel safe and secure as I take my evening walks. I may not look
too great, but the lizards, frogs, and cats don't seem to mind how I look or walk. The members
of the Bumby Ward, to which we were assigned, also seem to be getting used to me. We love them and
the work of our mission. It is so rewarding to have someone respond to our teching and accept the
blessings of the Gospel.
Wheneve we are inclined to complain, we think of the message in Alma 29:1-8, which reads, in part:
"O, that I were an angel and could have the wish of mine heart... but behold I am a man and do
sin in my wish for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me..."
While we were together the four of us enjoyed studying and proying together and in sharing our
thoughts concerning our assignments. We also shared cooking responsibilities; each couple every
other week. Doing dishes and cooking was not a favorite duty for any of us -- it was and still
is the 'Pitts'!
We are busily involved in teaching the Gospel to whomever is responsive and when not engaged in
bearing testimony of the rewards of the Gospel, we assist as home teachers in the ward -- so many
families have not had home teachers for years.
The Mission President, when we first arrived in the mission was L. Lionel Kendrick -- truly a valient
servant of the Lord. His slogan, when counselling the missionaries, was "You are not just good; in
fact you're not even just the best, you are better than the best!" After singing the "Florida Tampa
Mission Song" and hearing his slogan, I really felt a spirit of enthusiasm and I truly was "better
than the Best."
President Kendrick was called, the first of July, as a General Authority in the First Quorum of the
Seventy. During the general conference in October he gave his first addres to the entire church as
a General Authority -- it was exciting to us.
President Kendrick's successor is L. Vern Albright. Not long after he arrived the bomb hit! I was
devastated! The Washburns were asked to transfer to Brandon which is about 80 miles from here. The
president wanted them immediately so within two hours they were packed and on their way. After having
been together for six months, I had a difficult time adjusting until I convinced myself that the
transfer as truly a call from the Lord. Soon after the Washburns were transferred to Brandon,
their youngest son came to live with them.
After the shock of having the Washburns move subsided, we seemed to do more and better missionary
work -- enough to convinc us once again that the transfer was the work of the Lord.
At the end of August our, Greg, was here for a few days. His visit was surely a highlight. We went
to the Epcot Center and Cypress gardens, but the best fo all just having him here was a great
blessing. We are surely looking forwart to the visit of our som, Kent, his wife, Sue, and their two
children, James and Michelle, at Christmas. Their comimg will ease, somewhat, being separated from
all our children and grandchildren during this holiday season.
We've had some unusual and very eventful experiences during our mission. Probably the most exciting
an incident that could have had tragic results, was the one in which a Baptist minister threatened
Elder Washburn with a firearm. This incident arose because we had protested the printing and the
distribution by this minister of anti-Mormon literature that was grossly untrue. The tracts were
slanderous and he knew it, but his defense of the lie was to resort to the waving of a handgun.
An interesting day -- one among many -- was one which we spent at the Church Welfare Ranch near St.
Cloud. The ranch covers 350,000 acres and has on it abundant wildlife including alligators,
wild pigs, deer, and all kinds of colorful birds. The rance is also heavily stocked with cattle
and, each year, markets in excess of 50,000 beef animals.
We were at Cape Canaveral in September, just prior to the launching of the Discovery spacecraft --
a truly beautiful and an unforgetable sight.
We, the original foursome, enjoyed a three day excursion to the Florida Keys over the Thanksgiving
Holiday. It was a different kind of Thanksgiving that the customary roasting of a turkey and
being with the family.
We are going to miss our mission, however it will be good to be home. The difficulty, if there are
any difficulties, in serving a mission is being away from ones' children, their wives and husbands,
and twenty-two grandchildren. We visit them often by telephone.
A mission, in many ways, may be a sacrifice, yet it is the kind of sacrifice that brings forth the
riches of heaven. The sacrifice of leaving home, family and friends -- something good for something
better for the Gospel is true. Never have we had that truth manifested to su more than during the
time we've been here. It is our witness to you that the Church is true; that Jesus Christ is our
Saviour and that Joseph Smith is the Prophet through whom the Gospel was restored in these latter
days! We further testify to you that God, our Father, has always communicated to his people, through
his servants, the Prophets!
Christmas is a beautiful time of the year and we hope you find it so ... and that the new year will be
one of happiness, peace, and prosperity for you and yours!
Love, Verena and Mack
The crowning experience of our mission was when we were called late one Friday night and asked to attend
an all-mission conference the next morning. It was also suggested that we be seated thirty minutes prior
to the meeting. Just before the meeting began, the chapel doors opened and to our astonishment, in walked
the Prophet, Ezra Taft Benson and his wife. It was an incredible surprise! Sister Benson talked first and
then the Prophet spoke on the urgency of missionary work. The President (Prophet) then did something he has not
done for many years -- he shook the hands of the Entire congregation!