Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
William J. Critchlow William J. (James) Critchlow, Jr.

1892 - 1968
  • Born 1892, Brigham City, Utah
  • Baptized as a child; Aaronic Priesthood as a youth, Melchizedek Priesthood as a young man
  • Married Anna Marie Taylor; three children
  • Ordained High Priest 1934
  • Assistant to Twelve 1958-1968
  • Died 1968, Ogden, Utah

    William James Critchlow, Jr., business executive, Stake President and Assistant to the Twelve was born August 21, 1892, at Brigham City, Box Elder County, Utah to William J. Critchlow, Sr. and his wife, Anna Christine Gregerson or Geiger. (The sources disagree on his mother's maiden name.)

    On December 16, 1934, he was ordained a High Priest by George F. Richards. In 1941, he was called to serve as President of the newly formed South Ogden Stake. His achievements were not overlooked by the Lord and the Prophet for on October 11, 1958 he was sustained as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, to which office he was set apart on October 16 by President David O. McKay.

    Because Grampa Bill has not found an abundance of biographical material on Elder Critchlow, he has included below Elder Critchlow's remarks on the occasion of his calling:

    President McKay, my brothers and sisters, please do not hold anything I may say against me this morning. I am still in a partial state of shock. Truthfully, my senses are dulled by a sense of fear-fear that I shall not be able to measure up to the stature of these men whom you have sustained as General Authorities of the Church.

    I feel a good deal like that elder whom I called to be the president of a quorum last week.  He said, "Oh, President Critchlow, I am not worthy of that honor. I do not measure up to such responsibility." I took him by the hand and said, "You can do it. I want you to do it." He accepted.

    Yesterday, noon, when President McKay interviewed me for this position, I found myself not only feeling like that elder but also talking like him and telling him that I was not worthy and that I did not measure up to the responsibilities of the calling. President McKay took my hand in just about the same way as I took that elder's hand and said, "You can do it.  I want you to take it. Now, go tell your wife."

    I have a good wife, a lovely wife, who has sustained me and supported me through the years-nearly a quarter of a century.  She has kept the home fires burning.  She has trained our children, and has done a marvelous job.  Our family has come first. The Lord entrusted us with precious Spirits, and he expects their parents to care for them, and that is what we-my wife and I- have tried to do. We have tried not to neglect our Church work.

    My children, all three of them, will support me. I had anticipated a release as a stake president soon, and my wife and I had planned to circulate around -among some of our friends and our kin with whom we have not mingled for a long time. Well, Mama-our plans will have to be changed, but I know you will not complain, nor will my children.

    My youngest son, not too long out of his teens, is a counselor to a bishop in one of the Ogden stakes. My other son graduated this spring from a law school in Washington, D. C.; while there he served in the stake mission as an assistant to Elder Benson's son, who was the president of the Washington State mission. My daughter, despite her youth, is the president of a ward Relief Society in one of the wards here in Salt Lake City. They have all been married in the temple. I am proud of them.

    When Dr. [John A.] Widtsoe set me apart as stake president, he promised me that I should be successful. If I have attained any measure of success, it is reflected in my family. I am one of those who like to believe that the real measure of success is a man's family.

    My brothers and sisters, I have a strong testimony of the gospel.  I have that conviction which President Richards spoke of yesterday, that President David O. McKay is a prophet of God, and I so sustain him. I love that man. We love him in Ogden. All Weber County loves him. He is our own. He is from Weber County and maintains a part time residence there. And we loved his brother, whose place I seem to be taking among the Assistants to the Twelve. I hope that in time the people of Weber County may come to respect and love me as they loved Thomas E. McKay.

    There is another one of the General Authorities whom the people of Weber County love and respect, and he is President S. Dilworth Young of the First Council of the Seventy. There are many young men in Weber County, and many parents who will be eternally grateful to President Young for the help he gave youth when he was the executive of our Boy Scout Council in the Ogden area

    Now, my brothers and sisters, I have learned through experience that much of the real joy that comes into one's life, comes as a by-product of service. I think I shall have to explain that term by-product. Let me illustrate it.  One winter evening-a blizzard raged outside-I had just settled in a cozy chair with a newspaper and a book, to spend a comfortable evening at home. My wife interrupted my pleasure, saying, "Daddy, if you finish your ward teaching (I was ward teaching at the time) you will have to do it tonight, for tomorrow night you have this, the next night you have that. Get it done, Daddy, tonight!" And then to strengthen her request she brought me my coat and hat and sent me forth.

    Well, that's the kind of a wife I have. Now, it was not pleasant, and I was not happy about going out in the storm to do that ward teaching. It was such a stormy night, snowing and blowing, but I went. I walked down the street, a mother across the way, holding a critically ill baby saw me enter a home. She recognized me when the door was opened and the light silhouetted me. She phoned and asked if I would come and administer to her baby. I sought help and complied. She was a young mother whose husband had been drafted into the army. She was living alone in a neighborhood where she was practically unknown. She needed help, and the baby needed a blessing.

    Back in my home, later that night, I sat again in my comfortable chair and resumed my newspaper reading. Presently a feeling came into my soul that you brethren know all about, a feeling of joy. I did not go out that night seeking that joy-it came to me as a by-product of my service. Happiness, much of it, is a by-product of service.

    Let me illustrate again. One morning, soon after the war, the coordinator in our welfare region, came to one of my wards and made an announcement. He reported that our government had made it possible for us to send to our kin and friends in Europe small packages of clothing and food which these overseas folks sorely needed. He said, "Clean up some old clothes, bring them to the storehouse where they will be packaged in sixteen-inch cartons and sent to your kin and friends overseas." How the members of our Church responded to that general request you folks well know. He further related an incident of the previous day when the news was initially released, which involved a man who hearing the good news promptly -- even on the spot -- shed his overcoat and said, "Send that." Then he went out and bought a pair of shoes and said, "Send these." After the coordinator's announcement a little girl arose and told a story about happy shoes. This is not the way she told it, but this is the way I seem to have heard it.

    Once upon a time, there was a king in a land overseas where the people were unhappy. I suppose they had been at war and were hungry and cold, and the king was therefore unhappy. There was a tradition in the land that somewhere in this little kingdom was a pair of happy shoes, and whosoever should wear them would be happy. So the king sent out his soldiers and servants in search of the happy shoes. Day after day they sought them, and then one evening as two of the servants were returning to the king's palace, they passed a hut from which came the strains of a song. Now, the people in this kingdom were in no mood for singing. These servants had not encountered it before. When they heard this song, they stopped to listen. You know the song. These are the words:

"We thank you O God, for a prophet,
To guide us in these latter days."

    Before the song was ended, they rushed into the hut and found there an elderly man sitting alone by candlelight. They said, "You sing. Are you happy?" He answered, "Yes, I am happy." "Then let us have your shoes," they said. "You must have the happy shoes." They immediately discovered that he had no shoes. Fragments of leather were tied on his feet with rags. The servants went their way.

    What they never knew, however, was this: The next day someone brought him a sixteen-inch long carton. He opened it carefully. There on top was an overcoat. Under the coat was some underwear, and on the bottom of the package was a pair of shoes. He picked the shoes up and hugging them to his bosom said, "I have the happy shoes." He then tore the rags from his feet and, thrusting his feet into the shoes, he felt something. He took it out. It was a note, which read: "From your friend, John Doe, blank address, Ogden, Utah." He sat down and wrote a tear-stained letter to John Doe which he concluded by saying, "I am the happiest man in the world. I have the happy shoes." But he was not the happiest man in the world. You know who was. When John Doe, blank address, Ogden Utah, received that tear-stained letter, he also shed tears of joy and deep down in his heart he sincerely believed that he--John Doe -- was the happier man, for the moment at least.

    Brothers and sisters, I testify to you that happiness is a by-product of service. May the Lord bless us all and may he bless me in particular that I may have the strength and the courage to carry on successfully in this new calling, I humbly pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

    Elder Critchlow served as an Assistant to the Twelve until his death August 30, 1969 in Ogden, Utah.

   William J. Critchlow, Jr., Conference Report, Oct. 1958, p.49
   Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol.4, Appendix 1
   2005 Church Almanac, p. 75

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