Vandis Jensen Hathaway, 1931


Born: 2 January 1931

Died: 18 April 2013

Father: Leonard Leroy Hathaway

Mother: Una Florizell Jensen

Historical Context for the Birth of Van Hathaway

1929 marked the beginning of the great depression. Van was raised in the midst of this national crisis, when Utah’s unemployment rate (in 1933) was at 35.8 percent.

Mahatma Gandhi did his famous Salt March, as a protest against the salt tax, on 12 March 1930. One month earlier, Pluto was discovered in the Solar System.

In the week prior to Van’s birth:

  • 25th – 1st US bobsled run open to public (Lake Placid, NY)
  • 25th – Mt Van Hoevenberg bobsled run at Lake Placid, NY opens
  • 25th – Slinger Nitschke scores 142 SA v Qld at Adelaide before 5,422
  • Actress Bette Davis Actress Bette Davis 25th – Tasmania all out 280, WI 2-139 at Hobart Crowd 2,500
  • 29th – Fred P Newton completes longest swim ever (1826 miles), when he swam in the Mississippi River from Ford Dam, Minn, to New Orleans
  • 31st – Pontifical encyclical Casti connubii against mixed marriages
  • 31st – US tobacco industry produced 123 billion cigarettes in 1930


And the week following Van’s birth, 1931:

  • Jan 3rd – Nels Stewart of Montreal Maroons scores 2 goals in 4 sec (record)
  • Jan 5th – 1st woman to purchase a baseball team Lucille Thomas purchases Topeka franchise in the Western League
  • Jan 6th – Thomas Edison submits his last patent application.
  • Jan 7th – Guy Menzies flies the first solo non-stop trans-Tasman flight (from Australia to New Zealand) in 11 hours and 45 minutes, crash-landing on New Zealand’s west coast.
  • Jan 8th – Phila Quakers set then NHL record of 15 straight loses


After Van’s birth, the following events took place throughout the year 1931:

  • Al Capone was Imprisoned for Income Tax Evasion
  • Auguste Piccard Reaches the Stratosphere
  • The Christ Monument is built in Rio de Janeiro
  • The Empire State Building is Completed
  • The U.S. gets its official National Anthem


The Life of Vandis Jensen Hathaway

Vandis Jensen Hathaway was born during a cold spell in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Friday, 2 January 1931, to Leonard Leroy Hathaway and Una Florizell Jensen Hathaway.

When Van was five years old, the family experienced a frightening tragedy. From an interview by Vanessa Gonzales and Barbara Anderson with Van and Corinne the incident is shared in Van’s own words:

“Dad had to have help with the farm, and one of his sister’s and her family came up supposedly to help, and then one of my mother’s brothers who was single at the time–he came up to help. But my dad’s sister and her husband really needed help. Their family ate everything, all of the food they had stored, and really just almost ran them to bankruptcy, and because of that, and his illness, they lost their farm. The depression had set in, and there was some movement back and forth to Idaho from there.

They didn’t really, at that time, and we didn’t have a whole lot. At the time of the fire they had to come back from Idaho, and Grandma Jensen’s little house was fairly close to hers that someone in the family had build, we weren’t exactly sure who…. When we came back, we moved into that little house. It didn’t have electricity, so we were using kerosene lamps for lights, and that’s what started the fire.

At that point they didn’t have a (?bathroom or medicine) like everybody else had, and he’d returned from his illness, but then they lost the farm up there…

Una had gone back into the back bedroom… and got the jar of kerosene, and was carrying the jar.

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), 28 November 1935

Reno Evening Gazette (Reno, Nevada), 28 November 1935

She was thirteen. She came out of that room through the doorway, and Zola was just going into the room, and they bumped into each other, and that was… by this big old coal stove, kitchen stove… and… knocked her off balance and the bottle of kerosene hit against that stove and exploded… They’d been cooking evening meal, so it was hot, and it just exploded that whole jar of kerosene.

Mom was back in the back room, and I’m not sure where dad was, but as soon as the fire started, he ran to pull the door open to get… but he pulled the door open to get the family out of the house, and of course, it was too late for Zola, because she was covered in kerosene anyway, and engulfed in flames.

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), 29 November 1935

Nevada State Journal (Reno, Nevada), 29 November 1935

I jumped up on a big trunk we had there, and then when he got the door open, I jumped off that and ran through the fire, and that’s what caught my foot on fire.

Zola ran out of the house, she was just ahead of me on fire [running for the creek in front of the house].

How did they get the flames out?

The house burned to the ground.

Tell us about your aunt that came as you ran for the creek.

We had this stream maybe 50 yards from the house–it was an irrigation ditch, and Zola was running for the river, and so was I. I can remember as I came out of the house, I could see my Aunt Stell had come out of their house, and that was maybe 200-300 feet down away from us. I was running as far as I could go for that stream, and I remember seeing her come out of the door to their house, and she caught me before I could get to the stream with the water, and threw me down and smothered the flames with her clothes.

Did anyone get to Zola?

I don’t remember if Zola got to the water, or whether someone got to her, or what happened after that. I just didn’t know how my aunt got from the house to catch me fast enough. I was old enough to move pretty fast, but somehow she did.

Zola didn’t die on the scene, did she?

No. It was later.

Grandma’s comment (Corinne Hathaway): “When they got to the hospital, her mom was sitting with him (Van), and the doctor came and told her that she better come, that her little girl wasn’t going to make it through the night. They weren’t really sure he would, either, but she was worse. So she had to leave him and go to her.”

And where was your dad?

My dad rode in the same car as I did to go to the hospital in his car… I don’t know where he was after that…

Because you were only five…


Weren’t they going to take your foot?

Yeah. The burn [on my foot] appeared to be a complete burn… Burned the skin and flesh so bad that it wasn’t letting circulation to the foot. So after they analyzed that, they checked and said… they would have to amputate it. Of course, I was too young to know what they were talking about anyway, but that didn’t set well with Mother, so she got ahold of the bishop, and I’m not sure how long after it was from the incident till the decision had to be made that it could be done. But they determined the night before that that would be the next process.

So I remember that next morning, early, here came the bishop Blackburn and his companion, and they gave me a blessing. I don’t remember what they said, I was too under to hear the blessing. I found out later, when the doctor came in, he called for other doctors, and they came in and looked at it, and resultingly discovered that circulation was getting to the foot in one spot 1/3 of an inch on the inside of my ankle, that all of a sudden at one point… but it was, where it should have been the night before. It was abnormal, but it was enough that blood flow could get through and support the flesh and cells of my foot.

As you’ve grown, how wide is that now? (The rest of it’s just scarred tissue)

Oh, it’s probably three to four inches.

How did your parents deal with the recovery from that, I mean they had you seriously injured and they’d lost this little six-year-old daughter. How did they deal with that?

Oh, it was a tough situation.

Grandma’s comment: “His mother was in a bad way.”

…I remember… Grandma Jensen’s house, and there was no …house of ours, it was sort of a recreation area and office type thing… and an old dance hall–an outside dance hall… building structure with kind of an office of some sort, I’m not sure. But we were able to live in part of that for awhile. But that brought another trip to Idaho… my mother was feeling thought they were going back up to Chester… so we did that.

Grandma’s comment: “He was in the hospital two months. They took skin off his thigh, and tried to graft, and it didn’t work, so his whole leg scarred, because the graft they took scarred.”

How did your parents even afford it?

Grandma’s comment: “The county clerk… someone must have helped. I’d be willing to bet that Grandma’s brother’s helped, but I really don’t know, but they didn’t have anything.”

So Grandpa had worked doing what at the time of the fire?

I’m not sure what…worked with farms, things like that.

What did he do when he went back to Idaho?

Same thing. Worked as a farmer. Didn’t have property there, except the place where we lived. And I’m not exactly sure how he made a living there… high school…

You lived in Idaho quite a bit then?

Well, that was his home, where he grew up, and a lot of people in Chester … Hathaway family… and Grandpa Hathaway went up there with two or three of his brothers… at the same time.


Grandma: “Tell the story about you getting your foot caught in the train track.”

We lived right next to a track there. I was about five, it was after the fire. They had the railroad that I guess freight train would have pulled through, but the thing I remember most was the Galloping Goose, we called it, it was a Yellowstone special, since… couple of… old fashioned… thirty rows of them… and they would take passengers up to Yellowstone Park

I was up near the house, and we were told not to play on the railroad tracks, but I didn’t listen. We always thought it was interesting to see how far we could walk on the railroad tracks without falling off. And I’d been doing that one day, and slipped off… and my foot rolled down in the railroad track. I got my foot caught in there and I couldn’t get it out with my shoe in there.

Man! Something wanted your feet!

I couldn’t get my foot loose from that. I was trying to get my foot loose from that, and trying to figure out a way to do that, and I looked up and I could see the Galloping Goose coming down the track, and I’m thinking, “Well, what do I do now?”

Then I thought, “Why don’t I just untie my shoe?” So I did untie the shoe, and got my foot out of the shoe just in time. The shoe afterward was all chewed up, you know, and I had to explain that one.

But I got away from that one, too!


From recording with Vanessa Anderson Gonzales:

What’s your favorite food or dessert?

I like Apple Pie (I eat it with Cool Whip). I also like german chocolate or strawberry pie.

Your dream car:

The 1929 Chevrolet Cooper. That was the first car I ever owned. I think I would like to have a new Chrysler 300.

Favorite thing to do:

I like to go [fly] Fishing.

Favorite animals:

Horses and deer. I love seeing deer in the wild. I love to see them in their natural habitat.

If you could have anything in the world, what would it be?

Good health.

Do you have a favorite book, movie, or play?

The Man from Snowy River.

You grew up with horses, didn’t you?

Yeah. We had, not riding horses, but the working horses.

Like the big Clydesdales?

Yeah. They were big horses, 1600 to 2000 pounds. I used to work with them… They were strong, big, but still gentle giants, most of them.

Didn’t you have a pig?

Yeah, we had lots of pigs. We had one big ol’ boar that upset the pattern, because being butchered, of course, they had to be ??? (killed) first, and my dad did that–tried to do that with a 22 rifle, and it didn’t do the job. But it hurt the pig and sent him crazy. I was just out down the way a little bit with my sister Gwen. She was very little, and the pig started running straight toward us. And the hay rack was next to us over there in the field, and the pig was running right towards us. I grabbed Gwen and tossed her up onto the little load of hay and I turned and jumped on, too.

The pig ran in under the hay rack–it was just big enough that he could fit under, and we could just wait… But it kept the pig there, so it didn’t get to us. But yeah, we had a lot of pigs.

Do you have a prominent holiday memory:

Christmas, Thanksgiving, and the 4th of July; where the family gets together.

What started our 4th of July Celebration?

When [the children] were young, small kids, we’d try going to the park or to the canyons, and we found so much confusion there, and undesirable elements. And we thought, well, maybe we could try that at home, and see if we could make it enjoyable for everybody, if they’d like to do it that way, instead of having all the outside influences that kind of detract from the family spirit.

So that year we tried it, and it worked very well. So we did it the next year, and that started the tradition. We thought that probably when [the children] got married and had [their] own families we would probably stop, but we didn’t. The family still liked to get together… that’s really what started it. We weren’t sure if it would work–that we could create an atmosphere that was enjoyable enough, and to be able to do it at home.

What do you need in order to be happy?

Things like family, where there’s no contention; understanding. Faith–strong abiding faith, and a conviction and a testimony. All of that adds up to make life complete… understanding who you are, where you came from, and where you’re going.

The greatest moment of your life?

January 11th, 1950 (the day he married Corinne). And then to have that enhanced as the kids came along.

Have you ever had a really memorable dream?

I dreamed one time that I was working. We were loading a trailer with furniture to send to Montana, and we were really working hard, and I realized that I was dreaming. I thought, “Well, if I’m going to be dreaming, it’s not going to be about work.”

So the screen went blank, and when it came on again, I was back up in the canyon, up and driving a place up there, and just really thoroughly enjoying myself. I was able to be a little selective what I dreamed about.

If a great artist were to paint your portrait, what would you make him change?

Ha, ha! My face. My hairline would be one thing!

No, I would say, “Paint me just like I am.” I want my posterity to see me as I am and not as I think I ought to be.

What scares you?

One thing that used to bother me, and I’m sure it still would if the situation applied, would be being out in a place like Yellowstone Park, on a treturous trail next to a waterfall or something, and have one of the kids running loose and fall off the path and tumble into the river or into the ravine or something. I used to worry about things like that.

If money were no object, where would you go?

Denmark. Europe, England, and back in that country.

When did you ever feel defensive?

I always try to see both sides of the story, and then stick to the side that’s the right side. Sometimes the other side of the story is the right side, and you have to adapt, but if it’s NOT the right side, then I stay on that side.

It depends on the circumstances, too, because a lot of times, you might win the battle, but you lose the war. So you have to be able to give and take. You have to have points and reason. No one has to take a walk on you, but by the same token, you’re not the one that’s having the heavier feeling.

Your first love?

(Points at Corinne) There she is, right there.

What did you hate as a kid?

I think I used to hate to have to chop wood for the fire. We had to to have kindling for the fire. I hated that kind of chore. Chores that had to do with the animals I didn’t mind that at all, in fact that was kind of fun to take care of the cows, horses, pigs, and chickens. But I didn’t like to go out to that wood pile in the wintertime, when it was already cold. You had go out and sometimes wrestle with the snow to get to the wood you needed to chop.

What political issue are you most passionate about?

What I dislike is when an issue is put on the ballot, and the voting public votes it down, and some government agency picks it up and puts a little different tack on it, and forces it through anyhow. I don’t like that.

What do you appreciate most about the way you were raised.

In my home… to me there was no favorites, and everyone got treated the same. There was no question about the emotion that my parents had for each other, and they reflected that with us as kids. We knew where we stood with them all the time, and we knew where we didn’t stand if there was any point of contention, we knew it was going to be handled fairly and equitably.

A favorite childhood memory?

One time, I couldn’t have been older than six, maybe not even that, maybe still five, we lived in Idaho for a while, in a town called Chester. My older brothers, they were better hunters than I was, but we were after squirrels; my older brothers, myself, two or three other neighborhood kids. We all had squirrel traps, and we’d go out to a field with quite a bit of sagebrush around and find a squirrel hole, set the squirrel trap, and try to catch a squirrel.

I was setting that trap, and going to follow the others behind, and we set the traps in a place, and came back later to see if the traps had caught a squirrel, and I was the only one that did.

They had told me, “You’ll never catch a squirrel in that spot.” And I set the trap there anyway and I was the only one who caught a squirrel.

Tell us your mom’s positive and negative qualities:

Normally she always tried to bring out the best. She could play the piano, and did very well. She made sure I learned to sing. I didn’t get to learn to play the piano, but I did learn to sing. She used to play the piano for me and my brother Zeniff so we could sing together at church concerts, and things like that.

As far as the negative qualities, sometimes I thought she didn’t like to talk to me because I was a boy. She’d talk to the girls instead of the boys. That’s probably just my own feeling.

Your father’s positive and negative qualities?

My dad was always a hard worker. He always worked hard, and did things well. He had to, raising a family during the depression like he did. I don’t know how they ever held things together.

He taught me, not only the value of work, but he taught me HOW to work. I don’t remember ever dwelling on any of the negative qualities that really affected me that much, and I don’t even remember them.

He did some flagstone work in Millcreek Canyon, and other places around, on bridges and such.

Did your mom and dad have advice that they consistently gave you throughout life?

My folks always said if a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well. It’s part of what we talked about before, this work ethic thing. So if it had to be done, you may as well do it right, because if you do it wrong, you have to do it over.

Recall a time that you did something you thought you couldn’t do.

Ha, ha! I survived!

The hard thing to do, we do right away, but the impossible takes just a little longer. So the things that we consider to be impossible and tiresome we find out we can do after all.

What do you think the difference between knowledge and wisdom is?

About 50 years!

Looking back over a difficult time, how would you redo it, knowing what you know now?

I look back and try to think of things we could have done different–maybe if we had done it different, it would have turned out worse, so I’d rather accept things as they are.


If you only had one month to live, what would you do?

Live it.

Are you afraid of dying?

If we didn’t have the knowledge we have, it would be a lot harder. But to know kind of what we have to look forward to, it makes it so it’s not so bad. As hard as it is, it could be a lot worse, if we didn’t have the knowledge of what is and what can happen after.

How do you picture the earth in 100 years?

I picture a lot more reservoirs, and managed water systems.

If your life was made into a movie, who would you want to play you?

Jimmy Stewart.

What would your final line in the movie be?


What do you want [people] to know about you?

I kind of like the statement President Hinckley made when asked what he attributed his old age to. He said, “I wake up every morning.”

I’m kind of glad for that, too. It’s nice to go to sleep, but when you wake up, “Wow! I made it through again!”

Well, and I determined to let my children know I love them. That’s unconditional. I don’t necessarily always agree with everything that they do, but I’m not supposed to.


In Memory of Vandis Jensen Hathaway

Vandis J. Hathaway

Our beloved husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend, Vandis Jensen Hathaway, passed away April 18, 2013 surrounded by his family at the age of 82.

He was born January 2, 1931 in Salt Lake City to Leonard L. Hathaway and Una F. Jensen Hathaway. The family moved to Union, Utah where he attended school and graduated from Jordan High School, where he met his sweetheart and eternal companion, Corinne Patience. They were married for time and eternity on January 11, 1950 in the Salt Lake L.D.S. Temple. As a faithful member of the L.D.S. Church he served in many callings, including Bishop, High Council, Ordinance Worker in the Jordan River Temple, and Home Teacher. He enjoyed music all his life, participating in choirs, quartets, and performing solos. He spent many happy hours hunting, fishing and camping with the family. Stories and jokes around the campfire were favorite activities and will always be remembered.

Van is survived by his loving wife, Corinne; children, Douglas (Debe), Katherine (Lynn) Timothy, Norma (Scott) Aston, Barbara (Dee) Anderson, Ellen and David (Jody); 28 grandchildren; 51 great-grandchildren; brother, Zeniff (Ruth), and sister, Gwenda (Douglas) Daley. Preceded in death by daughter, Dianna; parents; 3 brothers and 3 sisters.
Funeral Services for Van will be held Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 12:00 noon at the Jordan North 2nd Ward, 4270 South Falcon (4145 West). The family will receive friends at a visitation Monday evening from 6 until 8 p.m. at Valley View Funeral Home, 4335 West 4100 South; and one hour prior to the service on Tuesday at the Ward. Interment: Valley View Memorial Park.
Condolences may be sent to the family @

Fun News Articles from the life of Van:

Deseret News, July 12, 1989

Wedding invitation is returned—16 years and 8 children later

Letter returnedA wedding invitation mailed 16 years ago to the wrong address was finally returned to it’s sender after the marriage had produced eight children, said Van and Corinne Hathaway of West Valley City.

The Hathaway’s daughter, Kathy Timothy, sent out her invitations in April 1973 in preparation for her May 2 wedding, Van said.

Recently Corinne found an invitation bearing a Sandy address in the Hathaway’s mailbox. At first they thought it had just been misdelivered.

“When we looked at it closer, we saw it had our return address on it,” Van said. The Hathaways opened the invitation and discovered it was to their daughter’s wedding.

The letter had been postmarked twice, once in 1973 and again in 1989. It was mailed with an 8-cent stamp and finally returned by the Sandy post office, Van said.

The front of the invitation had a stamped message explaining the letter was returned “due to a change from old Sandy numbers to Salt Lake County numbers in August 1985.”

“Where could it have been all this time? I guess it was just behind something,” Corinne said. “I’d like to know if they really had to return it, or if someone just had a great sense of humor.”

The Hathaway’s plan to pass the invitation on to their daughter.

“She’s going to frame it,” Corinne Said. —Christi Evans

The Deseret News, March 31, 1948,–16-YEARS-AND-8-CHILDREN-LATER.html


Characters Come to Life

Colorful costumes and the music of Tschaikowsky will be presented by students from Jordon High School tonight when they stage, “The Forest Prince.” Leads are Vandis Hathaway, left, Arden Bodell and Picola Hatch who will play in three act opera.

Colorful costumes and the music of Tschaikowsky will be presented by students from Jordon High School tonight when they stage, “The Forest Prince.” Leads are Vandis Hathaway, left, Arden Bodell and Picola Hatch who will play in three act opera.

Jordon High to Present, ‘Forest Prince,’ Tonight
SANDY—“The Forest Prince,” a three-act operretta featuring the music fo Tschaikowsky, will be presented today at 8:15pm in Jordan High School auditorium, J. Clement Crapo, music director, said today.
Romance and intrigue among a Cossack band provides the settling for the brightly constumed musicale A chorus of 100 voices and the school orchestra will support the cast.
A special feature will be four Russian dances, a Cossack “Courtship” dance; a ballet, “Watz of Flowers”; a courtier dance, “When the Lamps of the Palace Are Bright.” and the finale, “Dreamy Waltz,” directed by Miss Ruth Bowers.
Miss Picola Hatch and Arden Bodell portray the romantic leads. They are supported by Karen Boggess, Bonnie Rasmussen, Vandis Hathaway, Jimmy Dyer, Betty Graham, Eldon Smart, Ravell Beckstead, and Clifton Higgins.
Drama and costumes are under the direction of Miss Lucille Tuttle, a school speech director. Also assisting with the production are Royal D. Madsen and Donald Olsen. Original stage settings are under the direction of W. H. Gartlett, Jordan School District supervisor of art.
Students enjoy a special matinee yesterday, according to Mr. Crapo.

Shortly before his death, Jody Hathaway (wife of Van’s son, David) recorded this account:

Dad (Grandpa Vandis J. Hathaway) was a great example to us and left us an amazing legacy by the way he lived his life and the way he served others.

I had the opportunity to spend time with him during the last days of his life. I will never forget this special experience and the spirit that was in the room. His first concern was for his sweetheart, and the love he has for her will continue and grow throughout the eternities. Communication became difficult in his final days, but through his determination, dad was able to share his love for his family and a portion of his testimony with me. He asked that I write it down for him and to repeat it to him to make sure I got it right. Neither of us knew that I would be sharing his thoughts with you today [at his funeral], but I know he would be pleased that I am doing so. I would like to share his words to his family with you.

What a blessing you all are to me. You have brought much joy into my life. I am so grateful that you all are a part of my family. You all brighten my life. I feel honored that we have been able to share so many experiences together. I have so much gratitude and love for you.

“I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I know that Jesus Christ is the son of God. There is no question in my mind that he is the person that rises above the world. He is the person that we look to follow. I look forward to being together as an eternal family.

Of these things I also testify in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

-Recorded 4/13/13

Shared by Jody A. Hathaway (daughter-in-law) at his funeral 4/23/13


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Corinne Hathaway: “It’s not so bad to get to the stage where you look back on your life and you’ve pretty well accomplished what you’re supposed to, and then after that, each day’s a gift.”

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