Life After BYU

John P. Livingstone, Same Drum, Different Beat: The Story of Dale T. Tingey and American Indian Services (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2003), 121-38.

In the late 1970s Dale had been approached by some potential contributors who were not traditional BYU supporters. Some had been educated elsewhere in Utah or had allegiances at competitive institutions. This prompted Dale to help organize the Lehi Foundation in 1977 as a nonprofit entity not connected with BYU. This would allow him to solicit funds from people other than BYU supporters. The first donors were also the initial organizers of the Lehi Foundation. They were Michael Lee and Don Bybee of Salem, Oregon. They envisioned the Lehi Foundation as an avenue to deliver some health services to Native Americans, particularly the aged. Don Bybee was a health care administrator and could see the value of health professionals helping through a nonprofit organization. They did not want their donations going into the coffers of BYU, so they proposed to Dale, “We’ll organize it [the Lehi Foundation] if you’ll run it.” [1] Initially, the organization was founded with less than five thousand dollars in donations, but by 2002 contributions had grown into a two-and-a-half-million-dollar corpus whose investment interest provided the annual scholarship money for American Indian students attending institutions of higher learning.

This new organization did raise some concerns for both the BYU Development Office [now the LDS Foundation] and Continuing Education leaders prior to Dale’s retirement in 1989. On 11 September 1987 Dale recorded in his journal:

When I got back, I wasn’t too happy to find three memos from Dean Eddy. One was restricting our programs and also the use of the airplane in our programs. The second one, that we are not permitted to be involved with the Lehi Foundation anymore. The third, discouraging us from having our auction in Phoenix. I went right in and had a nice visit with him. He is very fine and cooperative. He said that he is just trying to protect us in the program and help us keep things right with the university. They are not pleased with some of the welfare projects we are involved in. Everything has gone academic, research, scholarship, publish or perish. [2]

His Continuing Education superiors were obviously a little nervous about his raising funds for another organization and may have been concerned that funds were being diverted from BYU, but Dale felt that he was up front and honest about all his activities and forged ahead comfortably. In his mind, the Lehi Foundation could help with smaller projects and other efforts that did not fall within the scope of BYU. It would seem that few of his colleagues had a feel for the kind of humanitarian effort Dale was putting forward.

Even in the 1980s, American Indians were not well understood by mainstream society, and reservation life was a bit of a mystery for most people. Racial stereotypes formed from either Hollywood pictures or glimpses of skid row were not necessarily a general problem at BYU, where the doors had been thrown open to Native Americans. It was more an issue of inexperience and incidents born of infrequent misunderstanding between cultures. Dale was like a switch-hitter in baseball, who could bat the ball equally well either right or left handed: he was comfortable among Native Americans and could relate well to either culture. Few of those around him could do likewise. While his BYU Continuing Education colleagues supported Church efforts among “Lamanites,” as Native Americans were known from Book of Mormon language, when American Indians actually showed up at the office or at BYU Indian Week, few knew what to say or how to even start a conversion that would seem meaningful to both parties. But Dale was not awkward in such settings and could relax and visit with his American Indian friends and openly offer whatever he had available to them. Offering service and assistance was a lifeline at times to his Native American friends who often felt intimidated by American society, which could seem hasty and judgmental at times. Whether in the classroom, on the reservation, or at the jail, Dale was the same. To his Native American friends, he was non-judgmental and reliable. He would come when called at any hour of the day or night. He could befriend the doctor and the drunk and everyone in between. And all seemed to feel his sincerity and sense of mission.

As he faced retirement, Dale was not without options. He recorded the following on 4 May 1988 (the day before his sixty-fourth birthday), when he had almost exactly a year before retirement: “Had lunch with Ray White and others who were members of the board to the United Indian College Fund. He is promoting this and asked if I might be interested in heading it up when I retire from BYU. I told him that right now it was too early to decide what I wanted to do. They did offer some financial inducements but I am just not particularly interested in the finances, I’m interested in how I might be able to help Indians more. That’s the thing I’ve got to give more study to, what will be the wisest thing to do after retirement.” [3]

Clearly, Dale’s ultimate concern (perhaps obsession would be a better description) was helping Native Americans in any way he could. And he often felt that administrative affairs and edicts simply got in the way of moving the work forward. Richard Henstrom, retired associate dean of Continuing Education and Dale’s immediate supervisor at BYU for many years, commented, “He saw the objective and the need and he moved to solve the problem. I don’t think he was trying to build a kingdom for himself; he just wanted to serve the people.” [4]

Sometimes trying to “serve the people” could be hazardous. In the fall of 1988, as he was drawing closer to retirement, Dale and Bill Kelly, his assistant, flew to Reno and drove up to Pyramid Lake Reservation for a presentation. As the sun was going down Dale decided to take a little walk down to the river while Kelly (Dale always called Bill “Kelly”) completed the seminar. As he approached the river, he heard men laughing and talking loud, and he decided to go over and get acquainted. He noticed that near the group was an old car with several partially opened cases of beer in the back seat. As he got closer he could see they were having a little drinking party around a bonfire. They called out, “Hi, Whitey! Come over and join us.” They were very amiable and happy and welcomed him to their group. He remembered there were eleven men. Four of them told how they had served in the elite Green Berets units of the U.S. military. And they looked like it. Dale noted:

The Paiutes are pretty large men, usually very heavyset. One called the other to “bring Whitey a beer out of the car,” and he responded by returning with a can of beer. He snapped it open and handed it to me and said, “Have a drink with us, Whitey.” I said, “I really appreciate your generosity, but I don’t drink.” I chatted with them and they asked what my reason for visiting the reservation was. I told them we were having a workshop with their kids, trying to teach them not to use alcohol and drugs. They thought that was a very funny joke. They responded, “Well, let’s drink to Whitey for helping our kids.” So, they all took a drink and I held my can at my side. They were a little irritated and one of them asked, “How come you’re not drinking with us?” and I said, “Well, I made a commitment not to drink and I just don’t drink with anyone,” and that was like lighting a fuse. All of a sudden, the good humor ceased and one of them said, “You think you’re too damn good to drink with an Indian, don’t you?” I said, “No, that’s not it at all. I just don’t drink with anyone. I’ve made a commitment and I’d just rather not drink. [5]

They continued to hassle him for several minutes until one of the men finally poured the contents of the beer can on his head. With beer running down his face, he could see they were getting serious. They were swearing and asking if he was “getting the picture.” They kept on drinking and threatening. He began to wonder if he could outrun these guys. They were pretty drunk, and he wondered what would ultimately happen if he didn’t somehow get away. Then one of them suggested that they knock him out and throw him in the river. They laughed about it heartily, but Dale was not seeing the humor. Two of the big former Green Berets grabbed him under each arm and lifted him in the air just to give a little warning as to how rough it was going to be. He tried to remind them that they could be in prison for the rest of their lives for something like that, but they responded, “You don’t understand, you will have drowned and no one will know the difference. We never tell on each other.” [6]

Dale was trying to move away from them and talk with one named Bing, who was a tribal councilman. He felt like the official might be his best hope. He told Bing that his words and actions could probably stop the fight. While they argued about which one got to hit him, Dale wondered if it was really worth getting killed for not taking one swallow of beer. He realized that the real issue at hand was that they just wanted to make sure he didn’t think he was better than they were by not drinking with them. Before they decided, he was able to get Bing to call them off. This he did to Dale’s great relief. He told them to leave Dale alone. He protested, “He’s okay, he’s here helping our kids and we ought to be grateful.” [7]

About this time, Bill Kelly came looking for him. Dale hailed him, saying, “Come on over, these guys want you to have a drink.” He told the men, “He doesn’t drink either.” They said, “Well, we won’t bother him, he’s our color.” [8]

Sometime later, Bing asked him how he was able to resist when so many people were pressuring him. He explained his commitment and determination not to drink. The councilman responded, “I wish I could do the same but it’s just not possible.” [9]

Dale ignored cautions regarding the use of a private airplane; administrative concerns regarding channels and protocol doubtless seemed more like formalities lacking substance than issues of right or wrong. He was happy to leave others to manage the details of rules and regulations while he simply ministered to Native Americans.

Stanley A. Peterson, former dean of Continuing Education at BYU, summed up Dale’s motivation through the years:

Dale never embarrassed the Church. His efforts would say, “I love you and I’ll help you.” Of course, some folks [he worked with at BYU] were offended at his spontaneity. And quite frankly, academia could hardly handle him. But he didn’t care. Dale is a man who knows he is right with his maker. I think he sleeps very well at night. I just don’t know how you couldn’t love him. I always defended him. I love his honesty and integrity. In my heart, I think he’s doing more good than most. He never did anything for personal credit or aggrandizement. I don’t think he ever even thought of it. He is pure gold. He really believes, like the hymn says, “The Lord our helper will ever be near.” [10]

Dale’s ninety-mile-an-hour way of doing things did not end with his retirement. Those who had contributed money, time, or influence continued to help afterward too. They were able to see even more clearly that his interest in Native Americans was not tied to his livelihood and that his drive to help where he could was born of a selfless desire to help American Indians get ahead. Stan Peterson said, “He is as near as a ‘Nathaniel of old’ as anyone I know. He is just ‘Dale’ and has given his life to Native Americans. He found his niche and did it. His sweet wife handled a home that was never empty. Indian people were in his home for dinner, or an overnight stay, or sometimes they stayed for a month.” [11]

No doubt Jeanette was sometimes surprised by the number of people Dale brought home for a meal or a bed, but over the years she just accepted the fact that their home was open to Native Americans, and her husband felt comfortable bringing anyone into his home whenever he felt it was necessary. Jeanette’s understanding, patience, and willingness to accommodate anyone impressed all who met her, including her children. The Tingeys’ daughter Diane joked that her father “would be a hard man to be married to” and praised her mother for being the ultimate supportive companion and standing equal with her husband in his service to American Indians. [12]

Many Native American youth stayed with the Tingeys over a semester or two while they attended school. Some stayed longer. On occasion troubled American Indians would simply drop in, knowing a kind hand and a free bed would be offered. Sometimes Dale’s American Indian friends would run into trouble with the law, and he would go down to the jail to try to help them. Neighbors and friends got used to seeing a variety of Native Americans at the Tingey home at all hours of the day and night. Some of Dale’s associates at BYU who were unfamiliar with Native American lifestyle admired his commitment to helping anyone who needed help but felt that they could never live like that. The extent to which Dale was willing to be personally and intimately involved in helping his friends was simply beyond what many of his colleagues and associates thought might be reasonable. But he clearly felt that anything that would help Native American people as a tribe, as a family, or as an individual was worthy of his time and attention, and he simply did not seem to give much regard to what others might have thought about his activities. He was not interested in attention or accolades—just in helping in whatever way he could.

After a few years, the Lehi Foundation rented space in a white building at 950 North University Avenue and began to hire Native American and Polynesian students to work part time. Dori Stone started working for the Foundation in 1992. Hal (Harold) Williams, who had organized and published the Buffalo Hide at BYU, also helped with a new publication, the Eagle’s Feather. When Hal passed away, the newsletter left off its newspaper style and developed into a desktop publication that the office staff could generate on their computers. Dale and Dori would write the stories initially, and then students who had some interest in journalism began to contribute. The newsletter went through various names until it finally became known as the Dream Catcher in the spring of 1997.

The golf tournaments, the Christmas gift shipments, and the soliciting of resources continued as they had at BYU, but this time Dale was responsible only to the board and not to BYU administrators. The somewhat limiting condition of being tied to a university with academic goals and functions was gone, and he became free to move the work forward with a board of supportive friends, most of whom were successful in their own careers and had contributed financially toward helping American Indian Services in the past.

[photograph: Hal Williams visiting with President Spencer W Kimball]

[photograph: Gene Fullmer, Bob Hope, and Iron Eyes Cody]

In 1990 the Great American Indian Shootout golf tournament went on as usual, with few donors or players noting a difference. Comedian Bob Hope returned with actor Iron Eyes Cody to promote the event. LDS boxing champion Gene Fullmer came too. The same advisory board functioned as the previous year and was referred to as the American Indian Services-Lehi Foundation Board. [13]

Hal Williams noted the movement of Dale from BYU to the Lehi Foundation in the Eagle’s Feather. Paul Ream, the outspoken food store owner, told Herald Journal reporter Mike Henneke that BYU “kind of abandoned their program [a] little bit,” and Dale was reported in the same article to have said, “That’s a little hard for me to talk about,” in reference to American Indian Services’ demise at BYU. [14] That seemed to have about the extent of any public comment about the transition of Dale’s activities from BYU to the Lehi Foundation at his retirement. Two years following his retirement, he formally changed the name of the Lehi Foundation to the one associated with him and his efforts at BYU for so many years, American Indian Services. [15] The university had indeed dropped the program and its descriptor from the Division of Continuing Education, and he felt comfortable in resurrecting the moniker. Bill Kelly and Howard Rainer continued to serve in Continuing Education in what became known as the Native American Educational Outreach Program, with Howard presenting workshops among Indians through the United States and Bill manning the phones. They continued to work with tribes to try to motivate students to stay in school and then go on to some form of higher education. Three-quarters of Bill’s time was also taken by Conferences and Workshops to help organize and facilitate special Continuing Education events on the BYU campus. He continued to prepare historical reports and administer about $16,000 in scholarships from the interest on the corpus developed during Dale’s tenure.

In the 1992–93 school year American Indian Services offered 343 scholarships to Indian students. [16] In 1996, 522 scholarships were granted. [17] Recipients were encouraged to repay at least half of the amount of their scholarships once they had steady employment. [18] By 2001, 1,284 scholarships were given in one year. [19] The goal for 2002 was 1,500 scholarships. More and more, American Indian Services activities focused on scholarships, and fewer projects were taken up that did not point to that end. An exception was a small Guatemalan housing project initiated in the early 1990s under the direction of board chairman J. Marvin Higbee (Dale’s former bishopric counselor and friend of many years), with the help of Randy N. Ellsworth, a Provo ophthalmologist and former missionary to that country. As a young missionary in Patzicía in 1976, Randy survived being pinned under a heavy beam after a devastating earthquake while sleeping in the Patzicía chapel in Guatemala. [20] His injuries necessitated his evacuation from Guatemala, and his return to the United States was well publicized in Church circles in Guatemala. Years later, after the Higbees had visited Patzicía and heard about Randy’s experience, Marv’s wife needed an eye specialist and arranged an appointment

[photograph: Guatemalan families in Patzicía working on housing project]

with Randy and asked him if he was the injured missionary. She told him about American Indian Services’ efforts and invited him to play a role in encouraging and facilitating the housing project. Randy was more than slightly interested, and with his assistance, seventy-five modest block-construction homes were erected in Patzicía for families who were willing to pay ten percent of their income in a modified mortgage payment. [21]

Forty-three American Indian Services supporters later joined Dale on a tour of Guatemala, visiting Patzicía to monitor the project as well as view ancient ruins in the area. [22] Jay Wadman was one of the participants who went with Dale to Guatemala. The experience endeared him to Dale and the cause of American Indian Services. Jay’s son Blaine had been involved with American Indian Services for several years previous to the tour, but it was the Guatemala trip that touched Jay and got him involved to the point that he ultimately became the chairman of the American Indian Services Board. He said, “We arrived in Patzicía on a Sunday morning, and we went into the Church where they were attending. This was the first time I had been this close to the native Indians. They sang some songs in their language; we listened to the story of Bishop Choc, who had lost most of his family in the earthquake a few years earlier that had leveled the city. As I listened to his remarkable faith in the face of such personal loss and sat next to and watched these people sing songs from their hearts, I was touched. They were so friendly and had a special openness.” [23]

Jay could now understand what motivated Dale to help Native Americans. He wanted to help Dale and American Indian Services and improve the organization if possible. He said, “When I first began serving on the

[photograph: Jay Wadman]

Board of American Indian Services, I had my own ideas and actually caused some consternation regarding finances and conservation of resources. I was upsetting the applecart to some degree. American Indian Services is really ‘Dale Tingey’ and he has his own way of doing things. Things don’t happen unless he really feels good about it. So our relationship became a little strained and I called to end things. We went to lunch and had a good talk. As a result of that, I learned that my ideas were not really essential. It is his program, so I decided to continue to try to help in anyway I could.” [24] Their relationship became closer, and Dale looked more and more to Jay for advice. Anything major facing the organization had the two of them talking and deciding together what should be done and how it could be presented to the board. It seems that Dale had the capacity to draw in men of means and help them to feel that he relied on them and needed them and that American Indian Services depended on them for not only financial help but also planning and counsel.

Dale had the ability to talk directly to people about his feelings and would try to correct them in their views toward Native Americans if he felt it was necessary. And he didn’t seem to be intimidated by wealth or prestige when making a point. One very wealthy land developer commented on the negative things some of his colleagues were saying about trying to help Native Americans. Dale responded with a three-page letter that “sandwiched” some direct counsel between expressions of appreciation and love. His ability to be direct without mincing words, yet couching his criticism in a caring atmosphere, must have caused his reader to think. After praising and thanking the developer, he said:

I would like to share with you some experiences I saw happen with President Kimball on different occasions. You know how everyone is anxious to tell a General Authority what’s wrong, but seldom do they tell them what’s good except to flatter them. There were people who were quick to criticize the Indian program at BYU, the placement program, and other programs he initiated with the Lamanites. Similar to what you mentioned, that Native Americans don’t have the ability to measure up, and they’re not persistent, etc., President Kimball would generally say to the person, in his gentle and kind way, “Could I please ask a favor of you?” Of course they would respond in a very positive way, “Oh yes, of course.” He would say, “Could I ask you not to ever repeat that criticism again? No good will ever come from talking negatively about the Lamanites. We need to be positive and have confidence in them.” [25]

Dale went on to say how unchristian some supposedly religious people can be when talking about Indians. He pointed out the narrow-mindedness of some individuals who were not directly involved in trying to help but stood at a distance and passed frequent judgment on Church and BYU efforts among Native Americans. It was not hard to feel the passion of his words. Yet they were not offered with bitterness or recrimination.

Some of Dale’s efforts have had international implications. Irena Kozminska, the wife of the Polish ambassador to the United States, had come to a women’s conference at BYU and asked her hosts about American Indians. They recommended that she talk to Dale. He and some of his staff met with her. She said, “Dale, I know you are a Mormon, but what are you two happy, radiant ladies? Do you happen to be Mormons?” They replied they were, and she commented, “I’m almost a Mormon because of the wonderful Mormon people. They are so interested in helping others. They have helped me with many programs for children and families.” She then asked if Dale could help arrange for some Native American children to come to Poland to dance and sing and show her countrymen more of the culture of Native America. [26] Arrangements were completed, and in July of 2000 Dale’s friend Millie Garrett traveled to Poland with nine American Indian students and entertained as invited. Another American Indian Services Board member and friend of Dale’s became well acquainted with Indonesian Islamic leader Abdurrahman Wahid, who would later become president of Indonesia for a short time. Hal Jensen of San Diego, California, had business dealings in Indonesia and offered to arrange for eye surgery in American for Wahid, who also had a personal interest in Native Americans.

[photograph: Dale Tingey with former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid]

Dale made arrangements for the Muslim leader to visit with the First Presidency while in Utah for the surgery. Native American gifts were given to Wahid and his party by American Indian Services, and a cordial meeting with Church President Gordon B. Hinckley and his counselors followed. [27] Dale’s close association with President Boyd K. Packer, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, facilitated the meeting and allowed the president of the largest Islamic nation in the world to become better acquainted with Utah and the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In September 2002 Wahid again visited with Church leaders as he attended the Navajo Tribal Fair with Dale and President Packer at the invitation of Kelsey Begaye, president of the Navajo Nation.

[photograph: Dale Tingey with Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid (front left) and wife Shinta, President Boyd K. Packer (back left), and Kelsey Begaye, former president of the Navajo Nation]

Dale seemed to take these high-level meetings in stride, never taking things too seriously or too lightly. He could also laugh at himself when occasion required, and he didn’t mind if the whole world laughed with him. In a letter announcing an American Indian Services Board Meeting in September 2000, Dale sent the following anecdote: “Enclosed is an experience I had. I wanted you to know that we all have our problems. My kids wanted me to write it up and I will share it with you.” Beginning in the mid-nineties, Jeanette suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, and Dale did his best to help her through her memory loss and occasional confusion. He titled the story “Trick or Treat at the Hilton”:

On August 18, 2000, Jeanette and I were in Los Angeles after having a Board Meeting in San Diego. We traveled to the Hilton Hotel in Long Beach, where they had a special for senior citizens. We like to stay there because the grandchildren can come and swim in their big shallow pool.

On the morning of the 19th, I helped Jeanette bathe and get into her [undergarments]. She went into the room while 1 was shaving and showering. When I was lathered up to shave, I called to see how Jeanette was doing when she didn’t respond. So I called again . . . no response. I peeked around the corner and she was gone. I rushed to the door looking both ways. I saw her just rounding the corner way down the hail in her [undergarments]. I know she was looking for Tasha, the dog she dearly loves.

I thought twice—if I had time to dress [he too was only in his underwear], get the lather off my face, or run and get her before she disappears. I ran out the door [and] when a few steps down the hall I heard the door slam. At that point I knew it had locked behind me. I hesitated for a moment, then ran down the hall passing people and finally catching Jeanette going down another hall looking for Tasha. She moved rather slow coming back and as people passed us and looked upon us, I’m sure they thought what a strange sight—both of these old

[photograph: Dale and Tasha the dog, comfortable at home]

people in [undergarments] and me with a full face of lather. So I said, “Trick or treat” or “We’re on our second honeymoon,” and passed on. Then they knew for sure that we were crazy.

When we arrived back at the room with the locked door, 1 ran down the hall to find a maid and asked if she would open the door. When she saw me she was half afraid and refused saying, “No, no, only security can open someone’s door.” But with Jeanette and I standing in the hall in our bvd’s, I apparently persuaded her to open it with a promise to give her a box of chocolates. She finally consented, shaking her head, wondering what in the world these two people were doing. It’s one of those challenging experiences that come in our lives and we will probably have more in the future. [28]

Unretouched stories like this endeared him to his board members and showed them that his life was an open book. It seemed that he had absolutely no compunction in relating personal dilemmas for the consideration of his friends.

His kind treatment of Jeanette was obvious to all as he continued to take her to events he thought might bring her some enjoyment. Whether it was to football games at BYU or plane rides southward, Dale often took Jeanette and tried to help her enjoy life to the very fullest. Even in her impaired state, Jeanette remained affable and gracious. Greeting others, smiling, and offering compliments came naturally to her, and many people had no idea she suffered profound memory loss. Dale did not make excuses or even explanations most times but treated her with appropriate dignity that belied her declining health.

Jeanette died at home on Saturday, 3 November 2001. About a week and a half earlier she had suffered a stroke and was hospitalized for a few days, but she seemed to regain some strength and Dale was able to take her home. All the children gathered, with some there the whole last week of her life. Dale was exhausted and really appreciated his children taking shifts through the night and staying with their mother at all times. When Jeanette passed on, Dale

[photograph: Jeanette Tingey a few months before her death]

gratefully recalled there was not a whimper—she went quietly and peacefully with her family all around her in the bedroom. They then had a family prayer and asked Dale if he wanted to be alone with her for a while. They all went out except for Dale and Jeanette’s little Maltese terrier named Tasha. He said Tasha tried to jump up on the bed but was not able to get up on the higher hospital-type bed. She scurried around the base of the bed, frantically trying to jump up from every angle. She was really upset. Dale said he finally put the dog up on the bed, and she immediately snuggled up to the body of her beloved mistress.

The family rallied around Dale and comforted each other. For several years, grandchildren had, in turn, lived at Dale and Jeanette’s to defray the cost of attending BYU. How Dale and Jeanette loved their grandchildren—and how the grandchildren loved them! Grandma and Grandpa seemed young at heart and fun to live with. Now the grandchildren became a great comfort and assurance, and the home was not so empty as it otherwise would have been following the funeral.

Jeanette’s death did not seem to paralyze or incapacitate Dale beyond a normal mourning and grieving period. Nor did he seem to hide or block his grief, He simply continued to move forward, graciously receiving condolences while assuring family and friends of his faith in the Lord’s plan of salvation. As he approached his seventy-eighth birthday, he did not show any signs of slowing down or relaxing from his determined efforts to help Native Americans. It was as if serving them since returning from being a mission president gave his life a richer background and a cause that fit him like a comfortable coat. Not one to seek attention and notoriety, he continues to seek those very things for the good of his beloved American Indians. Seeing them move forward, having improved chances for better education and living better lives seems to be the only reward he needs, outside of his love for home and family. His motives seem to have a purity and innocence about them that stirred appreciation and admiration in others. The whirlwind way he has crisscrossed America and tried to offer vision and help, putting the resource-rich in proximity

[photograph: President Gordon B. Hinckley, Dale T. Tingey and Kelsey Begaye, former president of the Navajo Nation]

with the resource-needy, seemingly able to juggle many balls in the air at once, has left many of his friends almost breathless at times. On occasion when he has shown up with the brother of a famous athlete, rather than the athlete himself, eyes have rolled and knowing glances have been exchanged, but Dale’s motives and desires are never doubted. His friends remain extremely loyal, and they love Dale Tingey and his Native American cause. They love his outrageous, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style, his infectious laugh, and the ever-present, fattening refreshments. They come to laugh and to share and to learn. They leave with hands full of candy and chips and a healthy realism that sticks to their ribs and their minds and tastes good all the way down. Even his former missionaries will slip from calling him “President” to “Dale” on occasion, underscoring his fun personal style that always means business—Native American business—and has become the hallmark of his success as a true humanitarian. Whether assisting alcoholics or Apostles, persuading prophets or paupers, he has remained true to his calling and tried to get each needed job done quickly and well. His breakneck pace and lively, fun way of working with people have endeared him to all.

In April 2003, when Dale was awarded an honorary doctorate by BYU, President Gordon B. Hinckley sent him a letter. It stated the feelings of many:

“You have spent so many years in the service of your fellow men, particularly the American Indians. So many have been blessed and strengthened through your efforts. What a legacy you have created for yourself in service to the Indian people.

“I encourage you to keep on working until your mission is complete. You continue to make a valuable contribution. I send my best wishes for many years of happiness and health.” [29]


[1] Tingey interview, 24 January 2001.

[2] Tingey, Dictated Journal, 11 September 1987.

[3] Tingey, Dictated Journal, 4 May 1988.

[4] Richard Henstrom interview, 13 February 2002.

[5] Dale T. Tingey, typescript journal entry from computer file, 18 September 2002.

[6] Tingey, typescript journal, 18 September 2002.

[7] Tingey, typescript journal, 18 September 2002.

[8] Tingey, typescript journal, 18 September 2002.

[9] Tingey, typescript journal, 18 September 2002.

[10] Stanley A. Peterson interview, 13 February 2002, interviewed by author.

[11] Peterson interview, 13 February 2002.

[12] Diane L. Toolson, Jeanette Tingey funeral address, Provo, Utah, 7 November 2001.

[13] “Advisory Board Named,” Eagle’s Feather, summer 1990, 6.

[14] Mike Henneke, “Successful Shootout Helps Indians,” Eagle’s Feather, summer 1990, 3.

[15] “Lehi Foundation Changes Name to American Indian Services,” Eagle’s Feather, summer 1991, 2.

[16] V. Jay Wadman, speech draft, dated 31 May 1994, in author’s possession.

[17] “522 Scholarships in 1996,” American Indian Services Newsletter, winter 1996, 1.

[18] “Scholars Volunteer to Help,” American Indian Services Newsletter, summer 1996, 3.

[19] American Indian Services Executive Board Meeting Minutes, 10 January 2002, in author’s possession.

[20] “Massive Task of Reconstruction Faces Saints in Guatemala,” Ensign, April 1976, 79.

[21] “Guatemala Project Nears Completion,” American Indian Services Newsletter, December 1995, 1.

[22] “Guatemala Trip,” American Indian Services Newsletter, April 1996, 1.

[23] V. Jay Wadman, “Some Recollections of Dale” (n.p., n.d.), in author’s possession.

[24] V. Jay Wadman interview, 20 June 2001.

[25] Dale T. Tingey, letter to donor, 29 January 2001, in author’s possession.

[26] Irena Kozminska, letter to Dale T. Tingey, dated 3 November 1999, in author’s possession.

[27] “Worldwide Interest in AIS,” Dream Catcher, summer 1999, 6.

[28] Dale T. Tingey, “Trick or Treat at the Hilton,” story included with minutes of an AIS Board Meeting announcement.

[29] Gordon B. Hinckley to Dale T. Tingey, 25 April 2003.