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We wanted to update this article to include the following information so that anyone who knew Larry and who lives in the area could pay their respects:
A viewing will be held Friday, September 9th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at the Walker Sanderson Funeral Home, 646 East 800 North, Orem, Utah. Funeral services will be held Saturday, September 10th at 11:00 a.m., preceded by a viewing from 9:30-10:30 a.m., at the Orem Utah Orchard Stake, 880 East 600 North, Orem, Utah. Interment will follow at the Orem City Cemetery. Condolences may be offered to the family online at www.walkersanderson.com.
In lieu of flowers, please consider contributing to the LDS Church’s Missionary Fund, a cause dear to Larry’s heart.
We are heartbroken and thunderstruck to announce the death of long-time Meridian writer and our dear friend Larry Barkdull. He unexpectedly died Sept. 5, 2016 from a complication following a routine surgery and will be remembered by the thousands whose lives he touched through his books, articles and relentless service.
His passion was the studying and writing about Zion as he did in his seven-volume Pillars of Zion—and his own life represented the consecration of a devoted disciple of Christ. We talked to him for an hour on the phone last week when he seemed to be recovering well from a surgery—and our conversation was, as it always was, about the Book of Mormon, priesthood power and missionary work. No trivial conversation for him. Like Joseph Smith, deep water was what he was wont to swim in.
He sent us a new article to publish this weekend, which is our cover article today. It is both an irony and blessing that our words and the spirit behind them can so far outlive our body, but thus it is in this fragile life. Larry speaks to us clearly in this cover story today, urging readers to begin to comprehend the power that is waiting for us if we will bring the Book of Mormon more deeply into our minds and spirits.
For most of the 17 years of Meridian’s life, Larry has been a staple in our Wednesday edition, giving gospel insights that only come from disciplined scripture study and the revelations that accompany that. He has struck a nerve and given hope to the parents of wayward children. Many have written to him on this topic, asking for help for their own children who, as Larry says, have gone to “a far country.” They have said, “I write with tears in my eyes.”
He has probed the meaning and message of covenants. He has explained what it means to receive revelation. He has told stories about blessings received and blessings given.
He was a pioneer in online missionary work and his successes there are notable. A few years ago he formed Gospel Ideals International (www.gospelideals.org) a website and repository of LDS gospel articles designed to introduce people to the church. Thousands came to that website from countries around the globe, first learning about the gospel there and then being forwarded on to mormon.org He was one who truly could say that his efforts created hundreds of investigators a month.
One of these was Mary who lives in Embu, Kenya, eighty miles north of Nairobi. She read Larry’s writing, began talking long distance with missionaries in Salt Lake and with Larry, and developed a testimony. Because she is far away from Nairobi where the Church is organized, she cannot yet be baptized or become part of a branch or ward, but she has shared the gospel and what began with just her testimony has grown spontaneously into a much larger group. 89 people meet regularly each Sunday to study and worship. They wait and hope for the day when the gospel ordinances can be delivered to them.
Larry inspired us with his writing. He almost seemed to leave a message for his family in this unexpected death with these words: “We do not choose heroes from those who have never been through something hard. We admire and try to emulate those who have faced and overcome extreme adversity then emerged with their integrity intact.”
In another article he wrote what might also be a telling message at his unexpected death: “Trust in God is the ongoing theme of mortality. We never can escape it, although we may try to place our trust in someone or something we can see. Futilely, we sidle up to the influential and powerful, or we try to gather about us enough stuff to shelter us from life’s risks..Trust in God is redemptive. Trust in His goodness; trust in His power; trust in HIs knowledge; trust in His love.”
He lived what he wrote. Listen to the faith he exhibits in this very personal family story.
In April of 1990, Larry and Buffie’s son Matt had begun to hemorrhage internally and, he said, “my life and I arrived at the hospital only to be rushed into a quiet room by a doctor who told us that Matt’s kidneys had failed. The doctor couldn’t understand why Matt wasn’t in a coma. My wife and I were devastated. We were suddenly faced with the very real possibility that our son might die.”
Larry said he walked the hospital ground “weeping and praying for peace, But nothing came. Finally, I arrived at a decision; no matter what happened, I would allow nothing to turn me away from God. I would trust him. I said aloud, ‘If you take my son, it will be hard for me, but I won’t stop believing in you.’”
He wrote, “For the next three months our daily life was put on hold as my wife and I took tests to see which of us might qualify to donate a kidney. Dialysis was now keeping Matt alive. We were soon to discover that becoming a donor was not an easy task. One must be in prime health and have no previous history of serious illness. After taking a particular test, the doctors told me that I could not be considered as a donor because at age eleven, I had contracted nephritis, a complication of strep that attacks the kidneys.
“I couldn’t accept the news. Some months earlier, before Matt’s kidney failure, I had read of Senator Jake Garn’s donating a kidney to his daughter. The Spirit had whispered to me, ‘One day you will do that too,’ It was a strange impression that I had tried to dismiss, only to have it surface again and again. Now, in the middle of donor tests, the impression felt like a clear directive. I was not about to be told by doctors that I could not be considered a donor.
“On the day that I had been rejected, I drove home from the hospital concerned that the burden of donating a kidney would fall to my wife. I was confused about the former impression that I had received and I began to offer a vocal prayer. Suddenly, the thought came into my mind. Go and ask your bishop for a blessing and your kidneys will be fine.
The bishop gave him a blessing that his kidneys would be healed and he would be allowed to donate. Larry returned to the hospital, begging the doctors to relent to allow him to be tested and they finally agreed. To everyone’s surprise but Larry’s, the tests indicated that his kidneys were perfect and he was able to donate one to the son he loved so much.
Larry also wrote this beautiful image that describes our covenant with God:
“Imagine standing at the beginning of a long, narrow path as you gaze off into the distance at a magnificent golden city on a hill. The Guide approaches your and describes the resplendent beauty and blessings of that city. You express your desire to go there, and the Guide explains that you can do so by simply following the path that lies before you.
“As you survey the path and gaze longingly at the golden city, you contemplate both the difficulties and the possibilities. Feeling inadequate, you wonder out loud if you are capable of making such a trek or if you might even get lost along the way. The Guide comforts and encourage you. ‘The path is clearly marked,’ he says, ‘and I will walk with you.’ HIs offer causes you confidence to rise. Then placing a hand on your shoulder, the Guide adds, ‘But I am just one who is willing to help you. The King of the city, your Father, and His Son, your Elder Brother, will also come and walk with you.”
“‘Guaranteed?’ you ask hopefully.
“The Guide nods and says, ‘All three of us will enter into a covenant right now at the beginning of your journey that we will never leave you and that we will always remain at your side to help you, even carry you, if necessary to the golden city.”
Larry was the author of several books including Rescuing Wayward Children, The Shepherd’s Song, Cold Train Coming, The Mourning Dove, Zion: Seeking the City of Enoch, The Pillars of Zion and Emergency Essentials. His books have sold more than 250,000 copies and been translated into Japanese, Korean, Italian and Hebrew. For many years he owned Sonos Music Resources and published the Tabernacle Choir Performance Library. He was the creator and producer of the well loved Scripture Scouts and a regular presenter at Education Week. He and his wife Buffie are the parents of 10 children and grandparents to 19.
Meridian wants to pay the most fitting tribute to a writer—republish his articles. Thus, moving forward we will republish Larry’s articles on Wednesday as a sign that we remember his work and will always value it.