After 25 years of driving 40 miles through a canyon every week to serve in the Logan Utah Temple, Arthur Shirley of Fish Haven, Idaho, was surprised at his home by the temple president and 25 workers who had driven through the canyon to help him celebrate his 99th birthday.
About 200 people, including Logan temple President Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, emeritus General Authority, temple workers and friends from his St. Charles Ward surprised him Aug. 15 with a party on his 99th birthday. Brother Shirley is representative of the many faithful, older temple workers throughout the Church.
"It was a dandy," he said. "I was overwhelmed."
Elder Featherstone said Brother Shirley always has an upbeat attitude and has served at everything from security work to the recommend desk.
"We usually have him at a post where he can greet the people," he said. "He also has a wonderful sense of humor."
One of those posts is to stop female temple-goers from accidentally entering the men's dressing room. One day, someone informed him he had accidentally let three women get by him into the wrong dressing room.
Brother Shirley replied, "Oh, they'll be right out."
The retired rancher has had rich rewards in centering his life around serving in the temple two days of each week. Until her death four years ago, his wife, Wenonah, accompanied him. When they were first called in 1979, they were concerned about being able to care for their livestock and yet fulfill their temple assignment. So, after consulting with their friend, President Arlin Pugmire, counselor in the temple presidency, they sold their sheep and all but 10 head of cattle. Later, they also sold the rest of the cattle.
He said that temple service has brought a sense of well-being for himself, his family and friends.
"The spirit that's in [the temple] you can't get anywhere else," he said.
In the summer, his family and friends provide rides from his home in Fish Haven, Idaho, on the shores of Bear Lake, 40 miles southwest through the winding Logan Canyon to the temple.
"My friends and relatives and neighbors have helped me so much," he said.
In the winter he stays in an apartment near the temple where he shows up on time, ready to work. Rarely does Brother Shirley, who has never been in the hospital, miss a day. He applies the same energy toward temple work that he uses to mow his large lawn and raise flowers.
The temple has "become my home now," he said. "I've met many good people there and made many friends through the years whom otherwise I never would have known."