"A diamond in the rough" was how Flora Smith Amussen described Ezra Taft Benson before they were married in the Salt Lake Temple 63 years ago.
According to President Benson, the years since their wedding day - Sept. 10, 1926 - have brought him and his wife more riches than the wealth of the world's most precious gems.In preparation for their anniversary, President and Sister Benson posed for a Church News photo in a public rose garden.
During the photo session, President Benson commented on the fact that on their wedding day he and Sister Benson did not have time to have their pictures taken outside the temple. Soon after the ceremony, they were on their way to Ames, Iowa, home of Iowa State College, where he had been awarded a research scholarship in agricultural economics.
At the rose garden, when the photographer had finished taking their 63rd wedding anniversary pictures, President Benson kissed his wife. His face still seems to light up when he looks at her or talks of their life together. The tenderness exhibited between them is almost tangible.
"The time has been short; it doesn't seem like we have been married 63 years," he told the Church News. "These have been glorious, happy years - 63 wonderful years. They have been the happiest days of my life."
President Benson referred to his wife as "a choice companion for the journey of life. My loving and devoted Flora has been all I could ever ask for in a faithful and loyal companion."
Even before their wedding, Flora Amussen, a popular young lady from Logan, Utah, was faithful and loyal to Ezra Benson, who grew up on a farm at Whitney, Idaho. An example of that loyalty is recorded in President Benson's biography:
"Some who sensed marriage was inevitable for Ezra and Flora wondered what the young socialite saw in the rough-cut Idaho farm boy. `Why, she'll always outshine him. He's only a farm boy!' was the sentiment commonly expressed in hushed conversations. . . .
Everyone was amazed when they heard I was engaged to this farm boy,' Flora admitted,and thought it would never go through.' When one acquaintance questioned her decision, Flora was overheard to say, `This man I am marrying is a diamond in the rough, and I am going to do all within my power to help him be known and felt for good, not only in this little community but for the entire world to know him.' " (Ezra Taft Benson - A Biography, by Sheri L. Dew.)
Young Flora Amussen could not have known just how much her "diamond in the rough" eventually would shine.