Last Visit with Uncle Dee by Mike AdamsOn the Thanksgiving weekend 2011 Cindy and I with our exchange daughterfrom Mexico, Geny, were touring the sites of southern Utah. On Saturdaymorning, November 26, we were heading to Parowan Gap to see thepetroglyphs before heading to Bryce Canyon. I had the feeling that weshould stop and see Uncle Dee. Having written down his phone number fromthe motel phonebook, I called him as we headed towards Enoch and it wasbusy. I tried a few minutes later although it would have been so easy tojust skip it and this time he answered and invited us to visit. He guidedus by phone to his address and met us in the front yard inviting us in. Wepassed through the kitchen where he had been working on a wood turningwhich hadn't developed as he wanted. He then invited us to sit down in theliving room and commenced showing us some of the projects that he haddone. He explained his sawing, gluing, shaping, and finishing technique,most of which went over my head.A day or two before he had been at a high priest group service projectpulling some would paneling from a pilefor an elderly widow and now hewas complaining of some pain in his chest whenever he took a deep breath.There was no chest wall tenderness and so considering his description ofthe pain, I suggested that he monitor it closely and it should graduallyresolved if this was a muscle strain as a sounded. This was bad advice asit turned out.Conversation turned to family stories and he told us of his shipboardexperiences in World War II and courting his sweetheart, Cleone, for threeyears by mail. Glancing at a photo, he said "I never realized howbeautiful she was."I had told him that we were sorry that we hadn't hadenough notice to be able to attend her funeral when she died last year.It was obvious how much Uncle Dee loved Cleone and how much he missed her.He then told us a story about his father George Q. Wilken from his servicein World War I with an infantry unit that fortunately, avoided battlefieldaction. They were coming back on a ship and his lieutenant said thateverything he had assigned to George had turned out easy. He was thereforegoing to assign him the dirty job of night shift, shoveling of coal intothe ships boilers. George found that by patching a steam leak he was ableto harness the steam and make an excellent heat source for brewing anexcellent coffee. In addition he had access to Navy chow which wasconsiderably better than the Army's chow. His lieutenant found him withhis feet up drinking coffee, smoking a cigarette, and eating much betterthan his buddies. Again, George's assignment turned out to be a gravytrain. Others, including the leutenant, begged George to share hisassignment after that. I had never previously heard that Grandpa Wilckenhad a Word of Wisdom problem in his younger days.Uncle Dee brought out a ceramic crock with unit number and insignia of hisfather's unit containing a German military belt buckleand othermemorabilia from his grandfather Charles Henry Wicken including a ribbonattached to a metal with the inscription, "veteran Indian wars". (If Iremember correctly, his name is on the veterans memorial in Heber Valleyunder Echo Canyon War and Black Hawk War.) There was also a badge whichwas star shaped and inscribed "Salt Lake City Sheriff". I took pictures ofthese two badges. Uncle Dee then told us a story of Charles Henry who wasentrusted with the responsibility of safeguarding a black prisoner whoevidently had gunned down a well loved law enforcement officer in SaltLake City who had been in the process of arresting him for being drunk anddisorderly. There was no need for a trial since there were plenty ofwitnesses and the dead officer was well liked. Great Grandpa wastransferring his prisoner to a more secure facility when a cowboy rode up,threw his rope over the prisoners head, and dragged him off to the crowdwho lynched him. There was not much that Great Grandpa Wilcken could havedone at that point. (This is a somewhat different story from the printedversion.)I asked about the home in Abraham which Charles Henry built for "LittleGrandma"and Uncle Dee said that there had been a reunion last year inDelta and they had time to look around for both of his grandparents'homes. Uncle Dee remembered spending considerable time there as a child inboth of these homes and had previously found remnant foundations. Alltrace of these structures are now gone and he couldn't remember exactlywhere they had been.I asked him if he had ever written down these memories and stories. Hestated that he never learned to spell well and his building principal,when he had worked as an industrial arts teacher, had embarrassed himconsiderably. Therefore he never attempted to write very much. He did saythat Jay and Annette had some oil stained writings by Cleone that theywere trying to interpret. He again encouraged us to choose one of severalwooden goblets that he had made from particularly attractive samples ofwood. I took pictures of uncle Dee and the ceramic crock containing thehistoric treasures. I asked him to record the stories so that they couldbe transcribed. I was impressed at how clear and sharp his memory was andhow much he continued to enjoy handcrafting beautiful projects and hislifelong appreciation for wood. I had also asked if he knew anything ofthe music conductors stand made by his father for the Salt Lake Tabernaclewhich was used by the Tabernacle choir director. He said that this hadbeen transferred to the Assembly Hall on Temple Square and was seen thereabout 30 years ago but where it has gone from there is unknown.We then thanked him and left to pursue our site seeing tour. It was awonderful visit and as we proceeded down the road, I remarked to Cindythat considering Uncle Dee's age and the frequency of our visits to CedarCity, this might be the last time for us to see him. On Monday, November28, Cindy called me and told me that later that day on Saturday he wastaken to the hospital with a heart attack and, rather suddenly, on Mondayhe passed away to join his lifelong sweetheart.