I, Cleopha Thomas was born in a long cabin to Thomas Gomer Thomas and Joan Williams the 16th day of May 1897 in Malad, Idaho. I was the oldest of two daughters and one son. I was premature, born at seven months and weighed 1½ pounds. I was put on a warming oven in a little soup bowl, where I was wrapped in cotton and alcohol. No one thought I would live, and everyone was surprised when they found me still alive after several hours. I was so small that weeks after my birth, my father’s sister took her wedding ring off and slipped it over my hand and up to my shoulder.
When I was 8 years old, my mother died leaving father, myself, and my younger sister Naomi. My brother Lavern had died in surgery when he was about six months old of ether pneumonia, in Ogden, Utah. After mother died, Naomi and I went to live with my father’s sister, Aunt Annie, in Malad, Idaho. Aunt Annie’s husband, Uncle Lee, was a sheep herder and was gone much of the time. Aunt Annie’s children, Iona, Ruth, Amelia (Bill), Blanche and Don were just like our sisters and brother.
When I was seventeen I entered a newspaper subscription contest for the Salt Lake Tribune. First prize for selling the most subscriptions was a new home. My family, not thinking I could win, didn’t help me very much. I lost by only 50 subscriptions. I was quite a saleswomen! However, I did win second prize which was a big car. My father wouldn’t let me keep the big car and I had to settle for a smaller Maxwell car and $700. With part of the prize money, I bought a sewing machine and yards of taffeta and chiffon to make Naomi a dress. She would never wear the dress and it made me so furious that I never sewed again until I had to mend clothes for my small children. I was considered quite spoiled and hard to handle at times when I was young, and this was one of the times I let my temper get the best of me.
I lived in Malad until I was seventeen with Aunt Annie, then I quit school and went to keep house in Tremonton, Utah for my father and Uncle Brig Williams, who was my mother’s brother. My car was very useful, as I could spend time between Aunt Annie’s and father’s place. The only thing I ever hit was a pig, but the stories told by my relatives say there wasn’t a chicken, cow, or sheep safe when I was driving through the area. A friend once called father and told him that I was going to “land” in jail. Father’s only comment was, “Good, then I’ll know where she is for awhile.”
On October 9, 1918, I married LeRoi Orwin Lillywhite in Ogden, Utah. Roi was born July 27, 1900 at Riverside, Utah, to Lewis Lillywhite and Matilda Orwin, and he was their first born son. He weighed around 12 pounds when he was born. Because of his large size, the greatest share of chores and responsibilities on the farm were his. He loved athletics and was very good at most of them, especially basketball. He was all-state guard on his High School basketball team for two years and he continued to be as active as possible in sports even after we were married. His sister Pearl and brother Jess, were born in Riverside also, then the family moved to Provo, Utah. Roi’s sister Alta was born in Provo and Roi was baptized in the Provo Tabernacle, which is still used today. His grandfather Orwin’s home was in Provo and Roi was very proud of his heritage. Then, his family moved to Garland to live on a farm, and his sister Erma and brother Floyd were born there.
We met while Roi was going to high school in Brigham City, Utah. He didn’t finish his fourth year of high school because we got married, and he worked to support his family. Roi worked for Globe Four Mills in Ogden just after we were married. From our first home in Ogden, which was an apartment above the Orpheum Theater on Washington Street, we moved to Garland to farm with Roi’s dad. I remember his parent’s farm in Garland, and we spent many Christmases there when our children were growing up.
We had been married a little over a year when I went home to Malad at Aunt Annie’s to have our first child, Dahrl. The night she was born there was a terrible snow storm, and Roi who was coming by train to be with me, was snowed in until the day after she was born. Our first son, Roy Jr., was born in Garland, as were our other children Dorothy, Eyvonne and Verl. Verl was a very difficult birth, and we were never able to have any more children after he was born.
When Verl was little, we moved back to Ogden where Roi worked for Globe Mills and Safeway stores. This is where he got his start in the grocery business. We were then transferred to Kemmer, Wyoming for the summer months. We moved back to Ogden in the fall so we could put the children in school. Before school was out, we were transferred to Salt Lake as a manager, so we left Dahrl and Eyvonne with Aunt Sadie until school was out and then we went to Spanish Fork where Roi managed a store. I worked with him as a checker for a time. The depression was on it’s way and Roi always held two or three jobs to keep the family going and for the necessities. He worked as a carpenter during the day and in the Globe Mill at nights, and as a grocery clerk on Saturdays.
While we were in Spanish Fork, my father became very ill and we put him in the LDS Hospital. At this time, Safeway wanted Roi to go to Texas, but he wouldn’t go because of my father’s illness. Father died in Salt Lake and we took him to Malad to bury him by my mother and brother. After the funeral, we came back to Spanish Fork and found they had put in a new manager. We had made many friends in Spanish Fork, so we decided to stay and opened a small grocery store across the street from Safeway and put them out of business.
Roi and I had a choice experience of going to the Logan Temple to be sealed together, and to have our first three children who were born, sealed to us on September 27, 1923.
In 1933 we lost the small grocery store we owned in Spanish Fork, because we let so many of our friends and customers have groceries on credit—being the depression—and they couldn’t pay us back. We did own a truck, however, that Roi used to truck between Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Salt Lake City. So we put all our worldly possessions in the truck: beds, a lamp, a rug, a rocking chair, an old stove, bedding and our five children (four in the back one in the front) and moved to the Los Angeles area in California. We had just enough money for gas and food for the trip.
When we got to Nevada, we stopped for gas at a trucking stop. The family dog, Big Boy, and Verl were never separated, except for this time, and somehow Big Boy didn’t make it back in the truck when we took off. The four children in the back could see Big Boy following as fast as he could, but he got farther and farther behind until they couldn’t see him anymore. Verl was crying so hard that Dahrl and Roy Jr. climbed over the furniture to get our attention, but we couldn’t hear their cries for us to stop. They all cried themselves to sleep, and when we got to Barstow we found the whole family heartbroken. Since we didn’t have enough money to buy gas for a trip back, Roi left me and the children in a park in Barstow and he hitch-hiked back to the station where we had left Big Boy. Roi found him, and hitched another ride back to Barstow to have a happy reunion with the family.
Living in California was a growing time for our family in many ways. When we first arrived, Roi ran his truck from Salt Lake City, back to Los Angles with produce, where we lived on 97th street. Then, hating to be away from his family so much, he decided to try the grocery business again. He went to work for Safeway, and I worked with him as a clerk, until Dahrl graduated from High School.
We moved two more times in Los Angeles on 64th and 59th streets. Then we had a big decision to make as far as our future was concerned. We had a good secure job with Safeway when some men from the East approached Roi with a new concept for markets—open front markets staying open for 24 hours. He was making $35 a week as a manager for Safeway and these men offered him $50 a week. With a fairly young family to still support he was hesitant to venture into something that might ONLY work. I told him that I would keep my $15 a week job until we could see how things went. I told him that opportunities like this only come once in a lifetime, and even though Safeway offered him a supervisor position to stay, I felt he should take this one. So with his friend, Warner Clark, the first ranch market in California opened with the name of “Clarks Ranch Market” located in Venice. It was an instant success and we moved our family from Los Angles to Santa Monica, a beach town next to Venice.
A man named Roberts who owned just liquor stores, then bought “Clarks” and soon opened many more under the name of “Roberts Markets.” The markets turned out to be very successful and it was a good opportunity for our family to advance economically. While living in Santa Monica we started to build a home in Inglewood on an acre of ground so Roi could have horses. Dahrl was already married at this time, then Roy Jr. married also, but the three other children graduated from Inglewood High School. I became very ill during this time and required many transfusions. I took a long time to get better, along with a housekeeper the children helped take care of the responsibilities of our home.
After a few years, Mr. Roberts decided to sell the markets and Thrifty Mart bought them from him, with the understanding that Roi would come as part of the deal. He was made General Manager. We sold our Inglewood home and moved to Angeles Vista St., in La Mert Park. We also bought a ranch in Chino, where Roy Jr. worked and lived with his family. Roi then retired to the ranch at age 54 and raised cattle. He wasn’t happy being a rancher, after being in the business world so long.
He was very much in demand in the Grocery business, so he decided to go to work for Stater Brothers markets and worked for them for two years. After that time, he went as Vice President and General Manager for the Hughes Markets and was there for eleven years until he retired. Roi worked altogether in the grocery industry for 43 years, and was named “Man of the Year” in 1969 by all the grocery firms in California. He was hard working and very honest in all his dealings with people, and never made anyone feel that he was better than they were. He was loved and respected by all that knew him.
Roi “retired again” at the age of 68, but was not retired very long, when Mr. Hughes asked him to come back to work, which he did for three more years. We sold our home in La Mert Park and moved to the ranch in Chino. We loved Chino and the ranch, and our grandchildren still talk of the fun times our family had in Chino over the years. Roi was the first Branch President in Chino and he always had time for his church work. I was the Era subscription director in Chino, and got the chance to practice the salesmanship I used when I was 17 and won a car. I had a quota of 47 subscriptions and sold 138, to members and nonmembers alike. This placed me in the category to receive the “Hall of Fame” award.
Hughes employee’s missed Roi so much, he went back as a $1 a year man, as an advisor at their monthly meetings. We sold the ranch, which is a dairy now, and moved to Sherman Oaks and closer to the markets. We missed all our dear friends in Chino so much, but each move brought with it new experiences not to be gained otherwise.
From Sherman Oaks, we moved to Covina and really retired this time, where we both held many different jobs in the church. Roi was Ward Clerk and he taught himself to type in order to help him with his work. He loved the young people and did all he could to help them, being very generous with the missionaries and their families. We were able to help our grandchildren go on missions, and all of our grandchildren that went to Brigham Young University. Roi passed away January 10, 1973. Before his death he went on two African Safaris, and we traveled all around the world and all through the United States, having many wonderful experiences. I am grateful for those opportunities we had to travel together. Roi had a firm testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and bore it often. He loved the Los Angeles Temple, and assisted at the veil from the year 1969 until he passed away. We attended Temples in England, Canada, Arizona, all the Temples in Utah, Switzerland, Hawaii and New Zealand.
Roi worked long hard hours to achieve the goals he set for himself and made it to the top in his business and in every aspect of his spiritual life. Roi was ordained an Elder by this father, Lewis Lillywhite, May 21, 1923 in Garland, Utah, and ordained a High Priest in Chino, August 18, 1956, by William Alexander. Roi had many people come to him, young and old, for advice.
I am writing this story of our life together, in Chino, where I came to live after his death.
It is impossible to put down on paper all the experiences and feelings of life, both the sorrows and the joys which we shared. I am thankful, that through the gospel our lives do not come to an end, that we will always continue to grow. I want my children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren and all our posterity to know that only through living the Gospel of Jesus Christ may we truly be happy and have peace, as we journey through our mortal existence.
Matilda Orwin Lillywhite’s grandfather on her mother’s side. Matilda was Dorothy’s grandmother, making John her great great grandfahter. John came to Utah in 1868, and was one of Utah’s prominent men.
Dorothy’s great great grandmother, whose husband was Benjamin Lillywhite Sr. We do not have Benjamin’ story.
Joseph Lillywhite was severley wounded in this raid, which contributed to an early death.
Joseph Lillywhite and his family joined this mission, also known as the Hole in the Rock expedition.
by Cleopha Thomas Lillywhite
I was twenty three years old when I was baptized, May 6, 1920, in Malad, Idaho. I never had any missionary lessons, and when I was small I attended either the Presbyterian Church, the Josephites, or the Mormon Church. I was raised by my father’s sister, Aunt Annie Goddard, when my mother died just before I was eight years old. My mother was a member of the church and my father’s parents were members, but very inactive. My grandfather Thomas started going back to church later in his life, but Aunt Annie wanted us to choose for ourselves the church we wanted to join when we became adults.
When I was young I would go with my friends to the Mormon Church, and I would hear them talk about Temple marriage and I knew I had to be baptized and be married in the Temple and have my mother’s Temple work done for her.
I did marry a good Latter-day-Saint boy, but not in the Temple at first. We had three children when we went to the Logan Temple to be sealed and to have our children sealed to us. We had two more children born after we went through the temple.
All the time I was growing up I would pray that I might see my mother. I had my prayers answered when some neighbors were going to the Logan Temple and asked me if I would like to go with them to do my mother’s work. I told my father I was going, and he said, “Your mother will like that.” When we arrived at the temple, my mother was waiting for me and stayed by my side all through the session. When we came out to get dressed she just left. I felt so happy inside and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that the Church was true and I had much temple work to do. I loved it then, and I still do.
I had my parents sealed, and myself and my brother sealed to them. Since then I have had so many blessings and so many prayers answered in my life that I could never deny the truthfulness of the Church. This testimony I leave to my children, that they may know of my love for the gospel.
Cleopha Thomas Lillywhite wrote and signed this testimony January 14, 1976.
Can it really be Fifty Years has passed, since your Wedding of Yesteryear?
A day of joy, when dreams were dreamed, and goals were made, and held most dear.
As your Children—we like to think that you hitched your wagon to a special star, and the climb was not always easy, and sometimes the way seemed very hard and far.
But while there were some sorrows, there was also much happiness, and all the while on the uphill climb you were always deeply blessed.
It has been a long journey to this day, and you have taught us many worthwhile things.
Life has blessed you on your way, and you’ve reached your goals and dreams.
Today we pay you Honor and Tribute as your Children and closest Kin, because you taught us to walk upright and to be honest with our fellowmen.
Then what seems to be the very best of all, you gave us the courage to stand up tall.
We pay you this Tribute on your Golden Wedding Day, to Honor, and love you, for we will ever grateful stay.
We Honor Our Father and Mother, just as in that beautiful Commandment of old.
This is the Gift we give you, because it is far more precious than Gold.
May you remember this day always with fondest memories, and remember that special day of yesteryear, and the blessings you’ve received.
It would take an eternity of gratitude to return what you have given.
But in these Fifty Golden Years you’ve accomplished a “Heat of Livin.”
Accept our gift of gratitude for many unspoken things that you have done to build a life that is worthy of your early dreams.
So again we give our GIFT to you “To Honor our Father and Mother.”
We knew you would like this best.
Your children Honor and Respect you.
You’ve been found worthy — Yes! You truly have been blessed.
Your children: Roy Jr. and Lillie; Verl and Geri; Dahrl and Curt; Dorothy and Dan; Eyvonne and Cal.
Brother LeRoi Orwin Lillywhite, of 3773 Rancho La Carlotta, in Covina, California, passed away on Wednesday A.M., January 10, 1973, in the Lark Ellen Hospital, in Covina, from a heart attach.
Brother Lillywhite was born in Riverside, Utah, on July 27, 1900, the firstborn of his parents, Lewis and Matilda (Orwin) Lillywhite, who were early settlers in northern Utah.
Graduating from Box Elder High School, in Brigham City, Utah, he met and married Cleopha Thomas, daughter of Gomer and Joan (Williams) Thomas, of Malad, Idaho, in 1918. After trying unsuccessfully to establish themselves as farmers in Utah and Idaho, Brother and Sister Lillywhite took their family of five small children, in their bob-tailed truck, and moved to California. Starting as a Safeway man, Roi learned the business and in the early 1930’s was among the first persons in California to envision the possibilities which lie in the open-front, ranch style, self-service food market. From this time on, this ambitious, hard-working brother, climhed the ladder of success to become the president of the Western Association of Food Chains, and was named “Retail Man of the Year.” Brother Lillywhite retired as Vice-President and General Manager of the Hughes Markets in 1970.
The things in this life most dear to this man, were first, his wife and family, his church, and then his great love for the out-of-doors, and a great variety of sports. Having a son who excelled in high school, college and professional foothall, gave LeRoi and Cleo many exciting and happy times, while they, Verl’s greatest fans, traveled most everywhere that hoth U.S.C. and the “Forty-Niners”, played. Another son, bearing his father’s name, is ably following in his father’s footsteps with the Hughes Markets. All three of their daughters are doing their best toward LeRoi and Cleo’s progeny, as attested by their nineteen grandchildren, and their children.
The unique collection of expertly mounted animal specimens, obtained by Brother Lillywhite while on two separate safaris to Africa, attest of his great quest for excitement and devotion as a true sportsman.
After Brother Lillywhite’s retirement from business in 1970, he and Cleo at last had the opportunity to spend all the time their health and strength would allow, doing work for our departed relatives and friends, in the temples of our Lord. Having heen privileged to travel extensively throughout the world, they have performed ordinances for the dead in all of the L.D.S. temples, which were huilt when this was written, a work which brought Brother Lillywhite great satisfaction in life.