Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Well Known Alumni

Harold B. Lee was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1972 to 1973.

He was born on 28 March 1899 to Samuel and Louisa Emaline Bingham Lee in Clifton, Idaho. He graduated from the Oneida Stake Academy in 1916, where he was involved in basketball, wrote for the school newspaper, was an athletic manager, comedian, debater, and vice-president of class. "When you forget the thought of fame, Consult your class-mate, Lee, again," states The Quiver (OSA yearbook).

After his own schooling, Lee became a teacher at the Silver Star School in Weston, Idaho, sending his earnings home to help his family. When he was 18, he became the principal at the school in Oxford, Idaho. On weekends, he would play in a band, as he was proficient at playing the also, baritone and French horns. In 1923, he married Fern Lucinda Tanner. After her death in 1962, he married Freda Joan Jensen.

During the Great Depression, his stake president challenged him to come up with a program to help people help themselves. This program grew into the welfare program used today by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Lee died on 26 December 1973.

Ezra Taft Benson was the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1985 to 1994. He was also the Secretary of Agriculture for the United States under President Eisenhower.

He was born on 4 August 1899 in Franklin, Idaho, to Geroge Taft and Sarah Dunkley Benson. He graduated from the Oneida Stake Academy in 1919, two years after another president of the LDS Church, Harold B. Lee. Benson went on to study agriculture at Utah State Agricultural College. Just after receiving his masters from Iowa State University, he returned to Whitney to run the family farm, and later became the county agriculture extension agent. In 1926 he married Flora Smith Amussen; they had six children.
In 1939 he moved to Washington, D.C. to become Executive Secretary of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives. Fourteen years later became the Secretary of Agriculture. At the time, he was also an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, under president David O. McKay.

He loved Whitney and often returned to visit, presiding over the community's centennial celebration in 1989. He died in May of 1994 and is buried in the Whitney Cemetery.

Samuel Parkinson Cowley was the first FBI agent killed in the line of duty, and as such is the first agent inducted into the FBI Hall of Fame.

He was born on 23 July 1899 in Franklin, Idaho, to Matthias F. and Luella Parkinson Cowley. He attended grade school in Preston, Idaho, and graduated from the Utah State Agricultural College in 1924, then George Washington Law School in 1929. He was employed with the Department of Justice under J. Edgar Hoover starting in 1929, being assigned to the Los Angeles area.

Cowley (1899-1934) was a special agent with the U. S. Justice Department, Division of Investigations. He helped to apprehend John Dillenger and was killed in a shootout with "Baby Face" Nelson.

For the FBI's account of Cowley's encounter with Baby Face Nelson, see the following link:


George Nelson is the namesake of the George Nelson Fieldhouse at Utah State University, in Logan, Utah.

He was born in Norway and came to the United States when he was 16-years-old. At the age of 25, he became the Oneida Stake Academy's wrestling coach. He filled that position from 1915 to 1920. Before that, he took the light heavyweight boxing championship of the world from Ad Santell in a match in Ogden, Utah, states his obituary.

Nelson went on to become the trainer at USU form 1921 to 1958. He was married to Emma Nuffer of Preston in 1914. After her death in 1919, he married Anna Rinderknecht. According to the Hometown Album by Newell Hart, a sports writer from Los Angeles wrote that Nelson was "one of the great matmen of his time, possessing a deadly headlock second only to the hold of Strangler Lewis."

Picture courtesy of the Utah State University 1937 Buzzer. 

Irene Staples  This woman was the Official Hostess of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints  - the first one, actually, and served from 1966 - 1976. She was instrumental in starting the display of Christmas lights at Temple Square in 1965. She's in the same boat as Samuel Cowley. She lived here as a child,  the daughter of one of Preston's early dentists, David T. Edwards. Her mother was Florence Fern Edwards.

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