When Elder W. Douglas Shumway was a boy he traveled with his parents for a Saturday evening visit with relatives who lived about an hour's drive from the Shumways' home in St. Johns, Ariz. Later that night, as the family was preparing to return home, young Douglas remembered he'd been asked to share a 2 1/2 minute talk in Sunday School the next day. "But I didn't particularly want to."
The boy asked his father, Wilford Shumway, if he could spend the night at his cousin's house. His father agreed, and Douglas went to bed, satisfied he had sidestepped his speaking assignment.
But at first light Sunday morning the wise father pulled up to the relatives' home to pick up Douglas. The elder Shumway asked his son if he'd forgotten about the 2 1/2 minute talk. Douglas said no.
"Well, we must get you back in time for Sunday School so you can give that talk," his father said.
Such dedication to duty and commitment carved a lifelong impression on W. Douglas Shumway, 63, a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. "Since that time I've tried to be an obedient child and fulfill the obligations assigned to me," he told the Church News.
A product of pioneer stock, Elder Shumway said he grew up in a family in which adherence to sacred covenants and duties were, well, sacred. It was a blessing, he adds, to grow up in a small Mormon settlement such as St. Johns where people cared and looked out for one another.
"Everybody knew everybody," said Elder Shumway. "Half the community was Catholic, the other half was Mormon — and we each honored our own religions."
Elder Shumway's great-great-grandfather, Charles Shumway, crossed the Mississippi when the early Church members were driven from Nauvoo. He later entered the Salt Lake Valley about the same time as his friend and business associate, Brigham Young. Later, Charles Shumway was sent by President Young to St. Johns to help settle that area of Arizona. The Shumways established deep roots and prospered.
A self-described "small town boy," young Douglas grew up in a home anchored by Church activity. His father was the stake president while his mother served in the Relief Society. Devotion flowed in the Shumway blood.
"I love the teachings in the scriptures about the Abrahamic Covenant. We served because of covenant, not necessarily because of the call," he said.
Elder Shumway's family also taught him the value of work. He was enlisted early in life to help with the Shumway family business, which remains in operation today. When Elder Shumway was a youngster he worked at the family sawmill, pulling two-by-fours off the green chain. At 16 he was driving an 18-wheel log truck down mountain roads. During the summer the family would gather almost every evening to picnic at a nearby stream. The Shumways would ride horses, cast lines in local fishing holes and enjoy small town life together.
"Our family was very strong, unified and very happy," Elder Shumway remembered.
Douglas was in high school when he first took notice of a classmate, Dixie Ann Jarvis. Douglas' and Dixie Ann's fathers had served together in the stake presidency. Their mothers were close friends.
"And she was the cutest little cheerleader you've ever seen," said Elder Shumway teasingly.
His interest in Dixie Ann aside, Douglas knew he wanted to serve a full-time mission. After high school he left St. Johns and enrolled at Brigham Young University. When he turned 20 he accepted a call to the Uruguay Mission. He was excited about the new assignment and quickly developed a love for Latin America that remains today. The Church in Uruguay was young then, but he enjoyed teaching and inviting others to accept the gospel. It was a time of dramatic personal growth and testimony.
"In retrospect, everything good that has happened to me in the Church since then can be attributed to my mission," Elder Shumway said.
Completing his mission, Elder Shumway returned to Arizona. Two months later he and Dixie Ann were engaged and soon married in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Both continued their studies at BYU. The Shumways remember their college years as being remarkably happy — despite living on a tightly cinched budget.
"I remember shopping at Safeway at BYU and having $15 to get us through the week," Sister Shumway said.
The Shumways both claimed business-related degrees at BYU, where they had their first of eight children. Then they headed back to Arizona to help operate the family business. For the next 35 years they called home the town of Eagar, another small community that offered the Shumway children a St. Johns-like upbringing of their own.
Elder and Sister Shumway said consistent family home evening, family prayer and family scripture study were priorities in their home. The Shumway children also supported one another, jumping in the car several times a month to cheer at one another's high school ball games.
"Our children kept busy and they worked hard," Sister Shumway said. "They didn't have to worry about getting into trouble."
Duty once again called the Shumways five years ago when Elder Shumway was called to preside over the Bolivia Santa Cruz Mission. Despite having to leave relatives and the family business behind, the Shumways call their three years of labor among the Bolivian people an unforgettable honor.
"We were blessed because the Lord sent us the very best missionaries in the Church," said Sister Shumway.
When you ask Elder Wilford Douglas Shumway what defines his family, it takes him about a split second to answer, “Loyalty.” Whether it is through the fourth generation working in a family business, or his daughter caring for his mother before her death, or his eight children caring for each other so he could serve as a mission president in Bolivia, Elder Shumway’s family is loyal to each other and to the gospel.
Unlike that Sunday School speaking assignment from his youth, Elder Shumway's call to the Seventy was unexpected. No matter, the lifelong servant learned from his father years ago to never shun a calling from the Lord.
Elder Shumway continued to serve in the Second Quorum of the Seventy until a
grateful Church in General Conference assembled released him with a vote of thanks in October 2009.