Life in Provo, Utah, USA
Yes, I have lived with my wife Pam in our home for 30 years—from November 1986 to November 2016, from age 39 to 69. And for most of those years we had one or more of our three sons (or other people) living here with us.
I write these reflections to remind myself, and perhaps a few others, of what living here has meant to me. My wife, of course, has her own experience and perspective.
In May 1983, I was fired from BYU and lived in poverty for the next seven months as I started doing freelance editorial work while I looked for another job. As business picked up in the first quarter of 1984, I decided that I really was self-employed. The next two-year period was a steep learning curve, learning how to be in business. In 1985 I had more business than I could handle alone and hired my first employees. In 1986, I added new accounts and felt confident that I would earn a good living in my work.
So, in May 1986, I sold our home in Provo at 1038 West 1060 North to the only person who could possibly have known it was for sale—our mailman.
When the sale was completed in June, we went hunting for a lot in North Provo and settled on this lot (it was Pam’s first choice; I never wanted to live on this corner). In June we moved out of the old home and rented a nearby Woodside condo.
In July 1986, I had to come up with a house plan. So I went to Day’s market and bought a plan book, decided on this plan within one hour (mostly because the plan fit this lot), and had neighbor Dennis Chapman modify the plan slightly the next day.
By August 10 we had a builder agreement, city permits and approval from the neighborhood committee, and so we started construction.
In just 15 weeks, this home was move-in ready (Thanksgiving weekend 2016). As a naïve first-time homebuilder, I learned some painful lessons during construction. Thankfully, the home was built on budget, and I worked to finish the 1,400 sf basement during the winter.
First 10 years, 1986 to 1996
Family: Pam and I moved into this home with Andy (age 11), Adam (age 3). Chris came along in 1989. At that time, Andy moved downstairs (age 14). And, in just three more years, he would move to an off-campus apartment to attend BYU. We enjoyed the childhoods of Adam and Chris. However, we nearly lost Chris in the open canal that ran through the neighborhood. Lynn Davis saw him floating in the water and fished him out.
Work: I was growing the business, managing accounts and people, and fighting with my biggest account, Covey Leadership Center, over royalties and rights. Finally, in 1995-96, I risked everything that I had worked for by buying Covey out of our publishing partnership, building a new office building in South Provo and changing the business from agency to publisher.
Church: Before moving into this home, neighborhood and ward, I had already served in the church as Elder’s Quorum President, Branch President (twice), Gospel Doctrine teacher, HP Group instructor, stake public relations specialist, and Bishopric Counselor (three times). Plus I had been a teacher at Provo High, student at BYU for six years and administrative staff in University Relations for four years. I felt that I had seen and experienced enough higher profile callings. Fortunately, during this 10-year period, I served in supporting roles as ward SS president, nursery worker, HP instructor, and MTC branch counselor (twice).
Second 10 years, 1996 to 2006
Family: During this time, Pam and I sent Andy on mission to Korea and Adam on mission to Germany. We had friends of our sons or young couples occupy the basement for part of this time. We enjoyed supporting Chris through Provo schools, seeing Andy married in the Salt Lake Temple and watching Adam dance.
Work: My business boomed during the late 1990s, bringing in about $3 million a year, but the recession of 2000 and reinvention of publishing cut income in half. I made three big mistakes: starting a retail store, building a second office building (we planned to go public), and betting on books and print magazines. By 2006 I was forced to sell my buildings and size down.
Church: I was dormant during most of this time, inexplicably without any calling in the church (but still “active” in attending meetings and then weekly temple visits). I volunteered as greeter, nursery worker, building custodian, and temple patron. Also, I distributed one of our print magazines, Personal Excellence, to the door steps of ward members every month.
Third 10 years, 2006 to 2016
Family: Adam married and moved into a small starter home in our old west Provo ward. Chris served a mission to Sweden. Andy left my business and supported Marie through medical school by working for the SEC and getting an MBA in Chicago. Pam and I were “empty nesters” for much of this time, and we have both had our share of health issues.
Work: My scaled-down business struggled in its new office condo location in Northwest Provo. Then, right at the start of the Great Recession in July 2008, I discovered the business affinity fraud that my employee and neighbor had been conducting for 18 months. For the next five years I worked just to settle debts (no take-home income). Fortunately Pam continued teaching 4th grade in Lehi. We managed until I sold what business assets remained and in January 2014 returned to doing editorial work in my basement office.
Church: I served on the ward activities committee, substituted in a few classes, and served as a ward missionary—pretty much out to pasture.
Today I’m anxious to sell this home and move, as I have been for the past 20 years or so. I’ve made three offers on homes in the past year, only to have Pam veto them or owners reject them. I really prefer to sell first before buying, but Pam is reluctant to sell until she sees something she wants more. Plus, it’s hard to buy into nice areas at an affordable price. Living here has stunted my growth. I need a new start and new roles in a new home. In the family, I’m the grandfather. In my work, I’m writing other people’s books. In the Church, I’m “almost dead”. My reason to live now is to love family and to be an influence for good on others.