Marvin Owen Ashton, First Counselor to Presiding
Bishop LeGrand Richards was born April 8, 1883
in Salt Lake City to Edward Treharne Ashton and Effie Walker Morris. Marvin
was the third of seven children. Reared in the Church, he was baptized
when about eight years of age.
After obtaining the Aaronic and then the Melchizedek
Priesthood, Marvin O. Ashton married Rachel (Rae) Grace Jeremy on January
3, 1906. The couple would be blessed with seven children, among them Marvin
Jeremy Ashton who would grow up to become a General Authority in his
own right, serving as an Assistant to the twelve and later as an a member
of the Twelve Apostles. Scarcely a year after his marriage Elder Ashton
answered the call to fill a mission to Great Britain in 1907-1909.
Upon Elder Ashton's return to Utah, he and his wife
set about making a home and a family. Then on June 10, 1917, the
Wasatch Ward was organized from the east part of Emerson Ward, with Marvin
O. Ashton as Bishop, and named Wasatch on account of its proximity to the
Wasatch Mountains. For a few weeks after the organization of the ward,
meetings were held in the home of Bishop Ashton. Though there is an apparent
conflict in the records, another source indicates that Elder Ashton was
ordained a High Priest and Bishop June 22, 1917, by Heber
Elder Ashton served as Bishop of the Wasatch Ward,
Granite Stake, Utah, from 1917 to 1924. Later he would serve a Stake President.
On April 6, 1938 Bishop Ashton was called as First
Counselor to Presiding Bishop LeGrand Richards, a calling in which he would
serve for eight years until Oct. 7, 1946.
Elder Marvin J. Ashton recalled his father, Bishop
Marvin O. Ashton, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, as follows:
"As I look back on significant association and impression influences with
my father, I am impressed with his powerful example. He set up crisp guidelines
and then conducted himself ably within the framework to leave no doubt
as to what he had in mind." Here are but seven of these guidelines:
1. "Keep your chin up." Don't get down on yourself
or others. Be optimistic. Don't give up.
2. "Put some water in the soup." Share with others
in their needs, even if you have to thin down your own soup to do it.
3. "Let's speak the English language." Get to the
point. Be frank and pointed in your conversation and opinions.
4. "Measure your words and let them be few." Good
listeners are at a premium. Don't talk just to be talking or get attention.
When you speak, have something to say.
5. "Remember who you are." Conduct yourself accordingly.
6. "The world will love you if you're human." Have
empathy for all you meet. Be a friend to the troubled and weary.
7. "Thank you." We are all inclined to take too little
time to express gratitude to our associates and God.
Elder Marvin O. Ashton died October 7, 1946. The
Church News for October 9, 1946 recorded the details of Elder Ashton's
funeral on page 2.
Oct. 9, Salt Lake City, Utah—A funeral was held
for Bishop Marvin O. Ashton, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric,
who had died in the early morning Oct. 7 at his home in Salt Lake City.
The services were held in the Assembly Hall on
Temple Square. President J. Reuben Clark Jr.
of the First Presidency conducted under the direction of President George
Albert Smith. President David O. McKay,
the other member of the First Presidency, was out of the state when the
unexpected death occurred and was not able to return for the funeral.
President Smith, during the services, said of Bishop Ashton, "This
good man was not interested in winning the favor of those who were great
and strong and powerful, but if a man or a woman or a child was in distress,
he found pleasure in relieving that anxiety and sorrow if it was possible
to do so. What more could we say of a human being?"