Willard Day (1900-1995)
Born Willard Albert Day on June 28, 1900 in Circleville, Utah. Parents are Thomas Clark Day and Annie Eliza Berry. Willard died August 10, 1995 in St. George, Utah. The following information about Willard is taken from three different newspaper articles about him. All the articles came from The Daily Spectrum newspaper, St. George, Utah.
About this page
This page is locked. Want to contribute to this page? Contact Carol L _whitedaisy
The Daily Spectrum newspaper...Section: Spectrum Church Life...August 24, 1984
Title of article..."Day shares uplifting philosophy - in poems"... by Steve Gilbert, Staff Writer
ST. GEORGE -- Back during the Depression almost everyone was bothered with more than their share of problems, whch they were more than happy to share with others. That's how Willard Day got started with his favorite occupation...writing inspirational thoughts, stories and poems.
"I was driving a cream truck back then and in those days people didn't have a way to get into town, so they would come with me," said Day at his St. George condominium across the street from the temple. "And when people would ride with me after a while I started noticing a trend. Now I'm not saying that all women are like this, but when a woman would ride with me she would almost always want to tell me her problems. And when a man would ride with me he would seem to feel a responsibility to tell me a foul story of some kind".
"But when you're driving a truck all day long your mind has too much time to wander. I thought to myself, hey I could do this for the next forty years and not know anything more than I do now. I've never had a good memory, but I started carrying copies of other people's poems with me so I could memorize them. Then when some one wanted to tell me their problems I would say, 'You know, I just learned a wonderful poem. Would you like to hear it?' And of course since they were riding along with me they would have to say yes. And every time I told them a poem, they no longer wanted to tell me their problems or a foul story."
Since then, Day has written dozens of poems, and in 1958 he self-published a book, the first of three, entitled "Crude Oil...Mental Lubrication." He had two thousand printed, and they went fast. Somebody told Day that if he didn't compile them and have them printed up, then they would. He sold 125 of the books during one week at Heber, where he was living at the time, and in only two hours he sold 40 in Roosevelt where he had lived most of his life and where people knew him and his poems.
Day's work deals with religious themes, dealing with life's problems, finding solace, peace and reconciliation for the soul, yet celebrating life and its joys and sorrows. He writes tirelessly, and at 84, enjoys amazing recall of his and other's poems, reciting them spontaneously whenever the conversation lulls.
"I called that first book, 'Crude Oil' because it needs refining," said Day. "So if you don't like it you can refine it."
He says he knows commas are out of place and his ideas are not professional, that they are more simple and down to earth.
And now, after having his books around for 25 years, he has sold or given away close to five thousand of them, never with the idea of getting anything in return except the satisfaction of giving people something to think about.
"I was happy only to make back the thousand dollars my wife and I spent for the first book," said Day.
Sitting on the edge of his chair he tells the story of going to a ward auction with nothing to donate for auction but one of his books.
"After everything else was gone the auctioneer picked up the book and said, 'Now the last thing left is this book, and I don't know anything about it,' explains Day. 'Is there anybody here who knows anything about this book,' he asked. And I stood up. He asked what could I tell the people about the book, and I said that I wrote it. Then he said, 'Take the microphone.' So I read some of my poems and when I was finished he said, 'What am I bid,' and the first bid was five dollars, the second $15 and the winning bid was $20. And that made me feel good because there were a lot nicer things at that auction that didn't go for $20."
But you still can't get Day's books in stores. You have to be given one or buy one from Day himself. As employment specialist for Fourth Ward, he shares his wisdom and encouragement with many who need and appreciate it most.
He still writes too, sometimes getting up in the middle of the night when ideas come to him, leaving them sketchy for work later. His big project is his personal memoirs, now near completion.
"And I have notes and ideas from 40 years ago that I'm going to develop yet," says Day, which only goes to show his work is timeless.
*Along with this article was a photo of Willard and his wife with the caption, "St. George..Willard Day with his wife of 63 years, Arvilla, at their home in St. George. Day has self published three books of his "poetic philosophy,' which he has been writing for 50 years."
*Included in this article was the following two poems, written by Willard.
It doesn't take long after arriving
To feel this is not thy rest
Even though you reach what you thought
Was life's hill top crest.
You feel no physical discomfort,
The uneasiness is of the soul,
Urging to arise
For this is not thy goal.
And we make another start
Toward the promised land
To find more discouragement
And a wilderness at hand.
We may wander for forty years and a half
But the spirit must climb Mt. Sinai
Before we are really ashamed of our golden calf.
The physical need, the Ten Commandments
The soul urge is to a higher plain
Life is to reach the summit again and again
Until the man complains.
What is weariness to the body
To the soul is but growing pains.
Willard A. Day
Call of the Soul
Higher, still higher, is the call of the soul
Never satisfied; where is thy goal?
Climbing, wondering, is there no end?
You think you are close, and then
Another call. Get thee hence, stop not here.
I get the message, though not too clear.
Nor am I always sure.
From whence comes this rush, pull to another shore.
What is this thou has done to me.
Ever uneasy, asking, driving for more?
I find no satisfaction in physical things:
Appetites, passions, nor what offices
and head appointments bring.
I, like a fish on the desert, trying to find an outlet to the sea.
Dear God, is there no rest for this weary searching soul
Until I am able to find rest in thee?
Willard A. Day
The Daily Spectrum newspaper....November 19, 1988
Title of article..."Life of serving, caring, positive outlook reflected Day's poems"
ST. GEORGE --- What does it take to make a poet?
Undoubtedly the answer to that question could be answered in a hundred different ways. But the life of St. George resident Willard Day is an example of one man's odyssey in developing the art of poetic expression.
Willard and his wife Arvilla find life quiet these days compared to the times when Willard was serving in the LDS church as a bishop, Scoutmaster, Sunday School teacher, or on a Stake High Council, and Arvilla was serving on every level of the Primary callings within the ward and stakes where they have lived. Willard also spent a number of years as a member of the State Highway Commission.
Willard says he is currently serving as a merit badge counselor for Boy Scouts. During the PowWow in the spring of 1988, he guided 60 boys (from Nevada, southern Utah and Arizona) through merit badge work. He remembers someone expressing surprise after they heard of his work.
"Someone asked, 'At your age, you take on a bunch of boys?' I said 'Sure, they don't bother me, I like 'em."
One of the boys said afterward, "Mr. Day, I liked your class, but I like what you told us better."
Willard says, "I told them about life and honesty, and what it really means, and why." It was obviously a positive experience for both the merit badge counselor and his boys. Willard believes "Kids need someone to really talk with them more than they need facts and lessons." He relates that one group of tough 13-14 year old kids got him for a Sunday School teacher "after vowing they would 'run off anyone who came in to teach them.'"
Remained with class
After the first class, when he had to assert his authority a bit, he never had another problem. In fact, when the year was up and it was time for the group to advance to another class, they refused to leave his class. After futile efforts by the Sunday School presidency and finally the bishop, the problem was solved. They passed him along as teacher with the group. The happy group of boys and girls were with him for three years. After they graduated from high school, went on missions and to college, they still held reunions, and through the years still get together now and then.
In another community, he and Arvilla were called upon to work with young people who had married prematurely, thus endangering their chances of graduating from Seminary, along with a few students who were dropouts from the regular Seminary program of the church.
"We began by having them to our house," Willard related. "But we soon realized that it would be better for them to share each other's homes, so we rotated to their houses." This class brought both the Days great pleasure as they became more than teachers -- they became friends, and in effect surrogate parents to young people who needed unconditional love, guidance and firm direction. "Each of the couples ended up going to the temple, and several of the group have become well respected church leaders". Willard said. Some, who were considered impossible to reach, have lived rich, valuable lives as good citizens and parents. "You can't ask for better than that, can you?", Willard said.
Married 68 years
Willard was born in Circleville, Utah in 1900, and Arvilla was born in Heber City. They have been married 68 years (on Valentine's Day) and are the parents of three children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They have recently become great-great-grandparents.
Life, according to Willard, is meant to be lived, and lived to the fullest extent possible. He is not a stranger to suffering, and he has known a life threatening sickness, and survived.
"That has made me different," he comments, thoughtfully. Though the sickness was more than 70 years ago, when he was just a little boy, it still has a profound effect upon his life. After more than 40 days of being unconscious, being given up on by the doctors, he was healed through the dedicated nursing and the faith of his mother in the administration by the priesthood.
Interest in poetry
You don't go through an ordeal like that and not come out of it different, he says, and so, most of his life he has been more sober, more intent on what is really of value in life than is usual for little boys.
Willard began his interest in poetry during the Depression, when he was making a living driving a cream route. He traveled throughout the farming community building a route, earning a small commission on the butterfat collected from the product he hauled to the creamer.
Out in those country roads he often found people flagged him down for a ride to town. After a while he began to notice that "the ladies always told me their troubles and the men always came up with dirty jokes."
"I figured if I didn't do something, I was never going to learn much of value doing that job," he remembered with a smile.
So, he began to read and he found a poem he liked and stuck it in his hat brim where it would be handy so he could work on memorizing it as he drove around his route. Pretty soon he had it memorized and when someone got in to ride with him, he would recite the poem.
"It was really a beautiful poem," he adds.
The result was astonishing. Once he had recited the poem, nobody got off on negative conversation. In fact, it usually led to lively, uplifting thoughts and ideas which took up the miles so that when they arrived at their destination they would be surprised and asked, "What? Here already?"
From this experience Willard gained some very important values concerning conversation, and how to control your mind. It also led to his being asked to give recitations of poetry throughout the county. It greatly aided him in developing public speaking qualities. At first he just gave popular poems, but later on he began to write verses from his own feelings and ideas. Then he had an experience which stimulated him to experiment with words, and with poetic expression.
One time he was at a friend's house, and she was taking different stanzas from different tunes, running them together to create a new melody. This intrigued him, and he thought of trying this with major poetic works. So, he took a line here, and a line there, and just put enough in between to make it smooth in transition, so that the outcome was a medley of poetic lines, drawn from their original place in some famous poem, yet now part of a new creation -- one of his instructional, motivational poems.
Through the years Willard has published three books; his life history, and two collections of his poems. He is currently hard at work on another book of poems, which he thinks will benefit his posterity.
Age changes little
At 88, Willard is beginning to feel his age; he's a bit hard of hearing, his face is lined, yet his eyes are young, his smile almost boyish. Arvilla is equally alert, with a cheerful demeaner. The bond between the two is evident. In his almost courtly manner of seeing her seated before he seats himself, in her quick attention to his words, putting in a comment here and there, to clear up any misunderstanding that might exist because he didn't hear. For them "love" has a meaning deep and broad, firmly rooted in the soil of complete fidelity.
From the homestead days in the Uintah Basin, with endless hard, pioneering labor, to the quiet, almost too restful days of their life of retirement in St. George, optimism has been their gift to friends and associates, and, they agree, their own safe passage through many trials.
For the Days, wisdom has grown out of careful obedience to the commandments of the Lord, and a sweet acceptance of others. Poetry is more than an art form to Willard. It is the discipline of the mind, the vehicle of higher communion with life. And life, according to Willard, is "very good". Arvilla smiles in quiet agreement.
*Included in this article was the following poem, written by Willard.
Thoughts between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Our great mistake is seeking separation instead of oneness.
We were created to be one with, and yet to harmonize with all nature.
No one part of the body can say to another part, I have no need of thee.
Why do we seek changes in others? And so content to leave ourselves the way we are?
The business of life is to refine ourselves.
The difference in people is their awareness.
We will always be lonely, lost, and confused until we find oneness with someone.
Separation is a very great sin.
Separation is the story of Adam and Eve. The story of Cain and Abel.
The story so beautifully told by the Master of oneness.
Jesus' teachings are to find oneness with all life.
Oneness is what marriage is all about. What Church is for.
Our great challenge is to bring ourself down from the top of our mountain of separation to the valley of grace and oneness.
Let's think about the journey we are all on.
Why am I here? To have experiences and make choices.
Who am I? I am one of God's thinkers.
Where am I going? As far as my thinking takes me.
I am not a body with a spirit. I am a spirit with a body.
When the spirit leaves this body, the body disintegrates.
The spirit goes on to greater knowledge and experiences.
Everything in this physical world dies. Separation takes place and disintegrates.
Separation can be a mean word, oneness is a God word.
We fail to realize separation from others is a grave sin. It separates us from our source. God.
There are two great laws in this universe; constructive and destructive. We can aline ourselves with either.
Constructive grows and increases -- destructive causes deaths and disintegration.
The difference in people is our awareness. I want to become aware of everything possible. Not just a peephole.
I want to open the door wide enough to see all beauty, truth, and love.
To be aware of sunrise, of sunset, a rainbow when it appears, see the puddles after the rain, the grass, flowers, trees, the mountains, the desert area.
The moon, the stars and what does it mean to fall out of orbit?
The Daily Spectrum newspaper...Section: Prime Time....July 30, 1993
Title of article...."At 93, Willard Day considers life"...by Willard Day, Guest Writer
There are strange things about life. Some feel there are values in life, others think, who cares? Some stay in the basement of life, others move upstairs.
I was born in poverty, number 10 in a family of 14. My father learned to read and write from his mother. Mother went to school through the third grade.
Father became a herder of sheep. No one doubted his honesty, and at times it seemed it wasn't to his advantage.
We had a small plot of land. My mother read everything she could about how to plant a garden from the Farm Papers. When Dad came home, she told him what to do and how to do it. Men don't like that, especially if told in a critical manner. To be rejected is the worst feeling. To be accepted is the best!
They grew farther and farther apart. I remember lying awake at night wondering what would happen to me if they separated. I couldn't understand it all, because they were such nice people. Everybody seemed to like them.
Where the only jobs were for farmers, at that time, I was paid 25 cents to 50 cents per day. I lived with the family. Many quarrels occurred. Some were hard for me to understand, and it was very hard for me. I liked them both, but it was very emotional and difficult for me at that time.
I stayed with another couple. They were young with one little girl about two years old. He was a large man. She was small and beautiful with a very mild temperament. They lived 50 yards from the canal where we received all our water.
The only time he acted like he was happy wih me was when I noticed there was no water in the house. I took the buckets and brought her water. He said, "We got to get going, there's so much to do."
Man needs the woman's love and appreciation. Sometimes he would do things and say things that were not respectful. She became ill and passed away. It was an emotional experience for me at the age of 15 to lose this dear woman who had helped me.
Her husband begged me to stay with him for awhile. He told me many times, "I would give all I own, if I had been better to her". He had 100 head of cattle and 80 acres of land. To me, that was a lot.
I began putting things together. I thought if I would marry a girl wih a perfect disposition, it wouldn't work. I had a quick temper and was grouchy at times myself. I decided I had to do something about myself. I had a tune I liked to whistle, so I decided anytime I was angry, I would whistle that tune. I found you cannot be angry and whistle at the same time.
I found I could handle anger, and I found I could also get over some other faults. Like Job said in his lamentations, "The things I fear come upon me."
You can imagine how thrilled I was when I found myself on the road to self-control.
On Valentine's Day, Arvilla and I were married 72 years. We now have nineteen great-grandchildren and four great-great grandchildren. Each feels we love them most. Each tries to show he loves us most. All are correct.
*On the cover of this section was a picture of Willard Day.
*Below the above article from the newspaper, was a cover article:
On the cover . . . .
ST. GEORGE -- Willard Day didn't start writing until his 30's. On June 28, he celebrated his 93rd birthday and so far Day has completed four books and his life history.
He wrote one of his most touching poems for his beloved wife Arvilla's birthday in 1980. She died earlier this year. (December 20, 1992)
Many great poets extol the beauties and wonders of life.
But to be, is greater than a poem.
My lovely wife is the most exotic poetry I have ever read.
The beauty of her soul and inward loveliness.
So happy 80th birthday to the most magnificent lady I have ever met --
Who means so much to me, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
From the husband you so patiently remodeled, motivated and inspired.
Day tells a remarkable survival story about his childhood. Soon after he started school he came down with typhoid fever.
The neighbors packed him in ice to get his temperature down, then he got pneumonia.
He said as he lay in a comma for days, the doctor said the only thing keeping him alive was his mother's prayers.
The doctor told Day's mothers to let him go since no one knew what a long coma might do to his brain. His mother refused, and fed him broth from a spoon, and when she couldn't get his mouth open enough, she ran the broth into his mouth with a knife.