I have always had a soft spot for Grandpa Widtsoe. I think this largely because, though he was quite ill, he wanted so badly to live long enough to hold his first great-grandchild—which turned out to be me! I grew up hearing many stories about him from his wife Leah (she died the year I turned 13), and my grandmother (his daughter Anne) who took care of her in her final years. We went to visit them almost every Sunday and I got to know and love them both. My wonderful mother also told many stories of her adventures with Grandpa Widtsoe and “GG” as she and her brother drove John and Leah many places, often out of state. Through these stories I also developed a strong love for my Norwegian heritage and Grandpa Widtsoe’s mother and her sister, who was often called simply “Aunty.” In 1975, I was blessed to serve an LDS mission to Norway, where, living there for 18 months, my love of that corner of my ancestry grew deeper, and I gained a better understanding of what made them who they were.
When I came home, I wanted to learn for myself more about this amazing man, whom everyone I spoke with loved deeply. People loved not only the man, but the thoughts and feelings of his heart. So I dug in and started gathering everything I could that he had written, trying to learn more about this beloved man with a gift for teaching and explaining things so all could understand. My knowledge increased; not only about him, but also about the world we live in. I learned about the earth, the universe, God, and religion—all of which were an integral part of who Grandpa Widtsoe truly was!
Then I started noticing that he had some really great analogies about life and science and a million other topics. He also had some pretty amazing one-liners that were just as valid in my day (65 years later) as they were in his. So, I began re-reading everything he wrote and started copying these great messages that are still pertinent for our time. What was collected in The Way to Truth: Quotes from John A. Widtsoe was just the tip of the iceberg of this man’s genius. This wonderful little quote book puts on display Grandpa Widtsoe’s deep commitment to education and learning, as well as the importance of understanding the world in and around us. For Grandpa Widtsoe, education wasn’t just about a college degree, but pure and simple knowledge. I knew I had to share what I had learned with as many as possible and I am so very grateful to the Widtsoe Foundation for giving me that chance. I truly hope something he said will inspire the next generation to continually study and learn all we can about as much as we can. I know my life has been enriched by his words as I hope yours will be, too. It was truly an honor to honor him in an area he was so passionate about. Learning should never stop!
The Way to Truth: Quotes from John A. Widtsoe is available online to download and read for free at www.widtsoefoundation.org .