Those First Few Years of Marriage

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), 25-39.

A few days after Dale arrived in Centerville, Jeanette called to congratulate him on his honorable return from the mission field. He was touched by her kindness but just had to say, “I hear that you’re engaged.”

“Oh no, I’m not engaged,” Jeanette responded. “He likes to think that we’re engaged, but we’re not.” Dale determined right then and there to see her and made arrangements to drive up in the family’s white Pontiac to visit her in Ogden. As Jeanette stepped to the door in a pink suit with an effusive white collar, she presented a picture he would always remember. “Man, she was beautiful,” he would say. “And I was twenty-seven, out of the military, and off a mission, which made her even more beautiful.” She was a “good talker,” Dale said. And she was a good listener too.

He was ready to move on with his life, and marrying Jeanette seemed like the best thing he could ever do. His mother encouraged the relationship because she had liked the Ogden girl when he brought her home to meet the family before his mission. Jeanette’s parents welcomed him back and seemed impressed with his religious commitment as a returned missionary. A few months later, while both of them were seated in a large hammock-like swinging chair in her parents’ yard, he asked Jeanette to marry him. She said yes, and he felt like his life was complete.

Dale and Jeanette were married on 27 October 1950 in the Salt Lake Temple by Elder Joseph Fielding Smith, a friend of Dale’s father. They were flattered at the willingness of Elder Smith to perform their marriage, and as they departed for the Sun Valley Ski Resort in Idaho, they were filled with optimism for their marriage and for the future. Dale continued to attend the University of Utah while Jeanette taught first grade at the elementary school in Farmington. Between them, they had enough money to put a down payment on a new home in Salt Lake near the corner of 2200 East and 1300 South. Prior to getting married, Dale had started selling televisions part time for an old friend, Beech Adams, in his downtown store. In a family-career balancing act that would characterize their entire marriage, Dale was also teaching early-morning seminary. He loved it.

Seminary supervisors were obviously watching him. When a Cedar City seminary teacher began having difficulty with students in his classes, Dale was offered the opportunity to teach seminary full time. So at the Christmas break the Tingeys rented out their new home and moved south. Dale felt that taking over those seminary classes was the hardest thing he had ever done in his life. “How long do you think you’ll last here?” the students taunted the first day. “The other teacher made it for three months, and you won’t last that long!” But Dale taught there for three years, and it turned out to be a great experience. Teaching four subjects a day (this was before the correlated seminary curriculum) had him studying night and day just trying to stay ahead of the challenging Cedar City students. They grew to love him, and he loved them. Some of the secret to his success is found in a humorous account Dale recorded: “I think the worst kid I had in Cedar City was Bud Rosenberg. He was a big kid, around six feet two inches. He was always causing trouble or going to sleep in the back. I finally won his heart over by telling him, ‘Now, Bud, I’m going to make you controller over this class. I want you to take over and get things started.’ I’d give him the signal, and this big kid would stand up and say, ‘Now I want you kids to shut up and listen to Tingey, or . . . I’ll punch your lights out.’ Then he’d turn to me and say, ‘All right, start preaching, Tingey’ He was a great friend and we’ve kept that friendship for many years since.” [1]

Dale loved teaching and could see the difference it was making in the lives of some students. Dale remembers his first annual salary being $2,600. He felt they were barely scraping by on a net paycheck of about $160 a month, and he made sure he continued with his education. Picking up a few courses at what is now Southern Utah University, Dale qualified to graduate from the University of Utah in 1952. Dale and Jeanette’s two oldest children, Scott and Michael, were born in Cedar City. Then came a transfer to the seminary at Brigham Young High School (commonly called BY High) in Provo.

One of the blessings of being transferred further north was that Dale could begin work on a master’s degree in philosophy and Church history at Brigham Young University (BYU). Brigham Young High School was the location the seminary program chose to train new seminary teachers. In 1953 Dale and Leland E. Anderson became the trainers for new teachers coming into the seminary program of the Church. William E. Berrett, head of seminaries and institutes and vice-administrator for Religious Education at BYU, commented that new seminary teachers were trained “under the direct supervision of one of the best seminary men in the system.” [2]

It seemed like the best of all worlds—teach teachers and work on a master’s degree. When it came time to determine a topic for his thesis, Dale chose to research the return of the Jews to Palestine in light of the teachings of Latter-day Saint prophets. Together with his friend from the old Yellowstone fruit-hauling days, Spencer Hatch, he planned a trip to Israel for the summer of 1953. Dale was married, but Spencer was not. He was working on a law degree and was single and free for the trip. Because both Dale and Spencer were former military pilots, they were able to save money by flying in military aircraft. The beginning of their trip was uneventful until they left Memphis, Tennessee. Then things got interesting. Spencer recorded the following:

We took, off from Memphis at 16:30 with Cherry Point [North Carolina] as our destination. We enjoyed our food, socializing, and generally relaxing—not realizing that the excitement was soon to begin. It grew dark soon after the sun went down and then we could see big flashes of lightening north and east of us. The air became a little rough and (we learned later) radio communication became very poor. We could not contact Cherry Point. Our pilot began to steer a course a little south of the airway to avoid the storm. Heavy winds from the north blew us even farther off course. Then it happened!! The left engine began to sputter and pop. Forward thrust let up and we began to lose altitude; we were at 800 feet. The pilot increased the power setting on our right engine and throttled back on the left engine. This necessitated his trimming up the plane with the tabs. By this time everyone in the plane was working with his parachute harness—snapping the buckles and adjusting the straps. Then the pilot increased the power setting on the left engine. It began to backfire and pop as if it might blow a cylinder. Fire began leaping out of the exhaust. I could see it from where I was sitting through the window. Then the pilot cut the left engine all together and feathered the prop to keep it from wind milling. The co-pilot came from the cabin and gave the order: “Attach your chest pack parachute and stand by your seats ready to bail out.” Everything outside was black with the exception of an occasional flash of lightening. Our right engine was groaning under the extra burden of sustaining flight. Our left engine was dead and the prop standing idle in feathered position. The air was still a little rough. The passengers were calm physically and put their chutes on rapidly—but they were scared inside. The co-pilot shouted for attention and began issuing orders. “Now listen,” he said, “And get this straight. We might have to bail out. Remain calm, check your harnesses and be sure you have your chute on right. This is a chest pack. The snaps on the chute hook up onto these two rings on your harness. Be sure they are on right and stand by to bail out.” Then the co-pilot (Lt. [J. G.] Shoemont) went back to the cabin to see how things were coming. He returned with a deadly earnest expression on his face. He was concerned with the safety of all aboard. “Everything is fine,” he said, “we’re on one engine and holding our altitude. It’s going to be okay—but just in case we have to jump we want to be ready. We may be over water so put on your mae west.” The expression on his face told me things weren’t quite as “fine” as he would have us believe. “You’ll have to remove your harnesses and chutes and put your mae west on underneath.” He then began to demonstrate and we were all eager to follow. Off came the chutes and harness—on went the mae wests—and back on went the harnesses and chutes. “Now check your chutes again. Be sure the rip cord is on the right hand side. When you leave the plane—if we have to go—count three and then give the rip cord a hard pull—and for hell sakes be sure you pull it. Now stand by your seats and I’ll come by and inspect each of you.” The co-pilot finished the inspection; and as he came by my seat I asked him, “Shoemont, do we have two-way radio communication?” His answer was, “everything is okay.” His answer was evasive and I took it to be in the negative. My next question was, “are we going into Cherry Point?” His answer was, “We’re going into the first available field.” My purpose in asking these two questions was first to know if help would be on its way if we had to bail out, and, second to get an idea which way we’d have to walk if help would not be on its way—or at least to get an idea where we were.

Actually we were over the Atlantic and about 75 to 80 miles from shore with no radio communication. We didn’t know this until we got on the ground about 30 minutes later. The pilot and co-pilot knew it but the passengers did not. The co-pilot instructed the passengers on the use of the mae west and then began the long wait. A few attempts at humor were made but with little response. The co-pilot arranged us in our seats with the women marines to the rear of the plane where they would be the first ones out. Also a return veteran with a cast on his foot drew a seat near the exit. Then came another review of bail out procedure. “Like I said, everything is going to be okay—but if we should have to bail—we’ll have to leave in a hurry. And I don’t want anyone to hesitate at the door. Dive out head first count three and pull the cord. You’ll be well clear of the tail if you count three slowly. But leave the plane in a hurry—and damn it I mean it. If one of you should hesitate it may mean the life of this man up here in the front.” Dale and I were two or three seats from the front. Another wait and more conversation. Dale and I discussed our luggage. We didn’t mind bailing out. In fact, we’ve both had the secret ambition of bailing out sometime in our life. It would be a good experience, but we hated the thoughts of leaving our luggage and passports. We knew it would seriously delay if not postpone indefinitely our trip to Europe. It takes time to get a passport. Maybe we could take it with us? No, we decided, we couldn’t possibly hold on to it when the chute opened. We’d just have to leave it.

During the course of these events I had discussed the situation with the Lord in prayer—and I’m sure many others had. I was leaving our fate in the hands of the Lord.

Then came cause for more alarm. The co-pilot issued more instructions. “If we have to bail,” said he, “don’t count three like I said, but count one slowly and then pull the rip cord. You’ll clear the tail.” Then he checked again with the pilot and issued this instruction. “If we have to bail out don’t count at all—just dive out head first with your hand on the rip cord and pull it just as you leave the door.”

With this last instruction we knew we were low and probably getting lower. Things were getting tense onboard. The women marines were really worried. One said this was going to be her last airplane ride. . . .

It wasn’t long until we saw lights up ahead. The mood of the passengers became more jovial and the temperature began to lower. . . .

Later, on the ground, we learned the true picture. We had landed at Myrtle Field at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina—and not at Cherry Point. Radio communication at Cherry Point was out due to a terrific storm. Many lines were down and there was a two hour delay on telephone calls—even emergencies. The electrical storm had caused terrible radio interference in the plane making two-way communication impossible. We had “homered” on a thunder storm and then on a ship at sea. We came in on the ship at sea and then the pilot seeing we were over water reversed his course and headed for land. [3]

This would not be Dale’s last experience with near-disasters in an airplane, but it was a traumatic start to an exciting trip and these young men were determined to continue with the adventure and gather the information they needed. Both were military pilots themselves, and it was obvious that they were conversant with flying conditions and hazards.

They boarded ship to cross the Atlantic on 6 June 1953 in Montreal after an overnight train ride into Canada. After checking to see if there were latter-day Saint meeting times posted for Sunday services and finding none, the two returned missionaries arranged with ship authorities and had a notice posted for 11:00 A.M. the next day, which was Sunday. Six individuals besides Dale and Spencer came to the meeting, although none were Church members. Both Dale and Spencer spoke, and Dale entertained questions. Two young women borrowed a triple combination (Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price bound together) to read. [4] The following Friday Dale and Spencer held an information meeting about Utah, the Church, and Temple Square, and about eighty people showed up. Again, both of them spoke, and both answered questions, ending the meeting about seventy minutes after it had started. Over two hours later, they were still answering the questions of those who came up after the meeting. [5]

They reached the coast of Europe on 14 June 1953, and from there Dale headed for Paris and Spencer traveled on to Holland to check on mail and arrange tickets. They reunited three days later in Paris, where they began their travel toward the Middle East.

It became a “consuming passion,” according to Dale, to try and follow the footsteps of early Apostle Orson Hyde, who completed an 1841 mission to dedicate the Holy Land for the return of the Jews. [6] While traveling in Yugoslavia, they went through the town of Matujli (pronounced Mat-two-willa) which looked surprisingly like Tooele County in Utah. They thought they had heard rumors somewhere that Tooele had been named by Orson Hyde, and when they looked around, they felt sure he had named the Utah town after this area. [7]

The view was much like looking at the islands in Great Salt Lake. The coastline to our left looked much like the south coastline of Great Salt Lake bordering on Tooele County, The striking resemblance between the two was astonishing. That is, the Adriatic Sea, the islands, and the shoreline could almost pass for The Great Salt Lake, the islands, and the Tooele County shoreline. Dale and I were quite amazed and impressed with the purported naming of Tooele County by Orson [Hyde] after Mattuglie [sic] and the view of the Adriatic as seen by him there. [8]

They traveled through Turkey, stopping in Istanbul, where they attended a bazaar and watched an orchestra and belly dancers. Sunday morning, 28 June 1953, Dale and Spencer held a short church service for themselves and then attended the circumcision of a six-year-old Islamic boy. He was in a specially prepared bed surrounded with presents, including a fire-red pedal car. The boy slept after the ceremony, and family and friends partied into the night. Spencer noted, “I’m sure he felt better the next day than many of the guests.” [9]

From Istanbul, they caught a plane to Beirut, Lebanon (fare, $32.00), and from there made their way east to Damascus by a three-hour taxi ride (fare, $1.50 each). They found a street called “Straight” and remembered the experience of the Apostle Paul being struck blind on the road to Damascus. They noted carts, donkeys, and shouting street vendors that added color to their travels. As they left Damascus, they saw chocolate-colored soil that was very rocky and many fences made of stones gathered by farmers trying to work the land. Some stones were piled to look almost human—scarecrows, they guessed. They stopped and took pictures of families winnowing grain. Donkeys and camels were used in some cases to thresh the kernels. Fields of melons interspersed dry, dusty farmland. Virtually no trees could be seen, and Dale and Spencer were captivated by the Bedouins with their few cattle and meager possessions. When they arrived in Amman, Jordan, on Sunday, 5 July 1953, they held a small sacrament meeting in their hotel room and noted, “We had observed the fast.” [10]

The next day they arrived in Jerusalem and visited sites within the Arab partition. Both Spencer and Dale were deeply touched by the plight of the displaced Arabs and felt the anti-U.S. sentiment that pervaded the area as a result of American support for the new state of Israel. Several Arabic children gathered around them and one boy, about fourteen years old, asked them as they visited the traditional tomb of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, “Why do you come to Hebron?” Spencer responded carefully, “To visit the mosque, see the country, and to visit our many friends.” The boy replied, “To visit your many friends?” Spencer responded, “‘Yes. To visit our many friends.’ I motioned to the many boys and girls who were smiling and jabbering in Arabic as I gave the last answer. He replied, ‘You say it with your lips, but it is not in your heart.’ The boy no doubt had reference to the feeling in the Arab countries toward the United States and England.” [11]

They visited several refugee camps, asking refugees and leaders thoughtful questions about national and local politics, and asked what refugees thought about the future and what it held for them. They were appalled by the poverty in the camps and the dependency they could see becoming entrenched among Palestinians. One day they came upon a funeral and discovered that occasional sniper fire from the west was causing some attrition among Arabs as they tried to work their land near Jewish settlements.

When Dale and Spencer passed over into Israeli Jerusalem, they were impressed with the modernness in contrast to the squalor of the refugee camps they had visited. As they traveled outside of the city, they visited the communal farms called kibbutzim and were struck with how diligently Jews were trying to reclaim the land through the use of irrigation and careful husbandry. They stayed overnight at a few kibbutzim and interviewed kibbutz members and leaders for Dale’s thesis. They learned that in one project, at kibbutz Beit Ha’arava near the Dead Sea, salty soil had been flooded with water (and fish bred in the water) for four months, which leached saline from the soil and made it fertile. Though that particular kibbutz had fallen back into Arab hands, the young men from the land of the Great Salt Lake undoubtedly had ideas of potential land reclamation back home in Utah. [12]

At Kibbutz Tsora, Spencer chased a rat out of the well diggers cabin just prior to bedtime. The diggers had left for the weekend and Dale and Spencer were able to sleep in their quarters. The next day, Saturday, 15 July 1953, was the Sabbath and they were treated to a tour of the kibbutz and in the afternoon made a recording that would later be played on the local radio station. The half-hour interview focused upon learning about our impressions of the Middle East but mainly about the “Mormon” Church. The interview last[ed] about 30 minutes. They were interested in our beliefs, organization, and program for the youth. They asked how we differed from other churches; and near the end wanted to know Church organization, origin, womens part in the Church, and plural marriage all in about three minutes. We prayerfully did our best and a good spirit was present. They had many more questions after the interview. It was a marvelous opportunity and experience to put on wire recording information about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to be played to many Jews in the promised land of Israel. [13]

A few days later, as they were returning from the Mount Hermon area of northern Israel, Spencer took a seat on the bus ride back to Tel Aviv beside a man whose left forearm had a Nazi prison camp tattoo. He told Spencer about Germans killing twenty-five thousand people an hour in Auschwitz and how he worked there in a railroad-car-assembling plant. He now lived in Israel and vowed he would stay there for the rest of his life. Spencer was greatly sobered by the encounter. [14]

Earlier, when Dale and Spencer sat atop the Mount of Olives and quietly read Hyde’s prophetic dedicatory prayer, the State of Israel was barely five years old. Fascinated with the migration of the Jews to this tiny neophyte nation, little did Dale know he would spend a majority of his life with a people who, the Book of Mormon said, were cousins to the Jews and had left this same city over twenty-five hundred years earlier in search of a promised land. This interest in the house of Israel seemed to become burned into his psyche to the point that it would characterize much of his life’s work. Thousands of Native Americans would benefit from the vision begun when Dale and Spencer visited the Middle East and reflected on the history of ancient peoples whose descendants had spread throughout the world.

At the conclusion of the tour they departed from Tel Aviv and headed for Italy on the S.S. Jerusalem. Travel plans would separate them because Spencer did not need to get home as quickly as Dale, who would shortly begin teaching at Brigham Young High School.

Life in Provo was highlighted by the birth of Dale and Jeanette’s daughter, Diane, on 28 March 1955. She was dark-haired like her mother and added new light into the lives of her older brothers, Scott and Mike.

The completion of his master’s degree coincided with a transfer to Pullman, Washington, to initiate a Latter-day Saint Institute program adjacent to Washington State University. Because he would also work on a doctorate degree, Dale went on half pay and the Tingeys were allowed to live in a Church-owned house at 504 Campus Avenue, about three blocks from the University, where seminary and institute classes would also be held. Prior to his arrival, a Lambda Delta Sigma chapter had been established and students functioned under the Moscow Institute chapter at the University of Idaho, about fourteen miles away. Forty-two singles and thirty-six married students attended the first year. [15] Money was very tight, and Jeanette and Dale were happy to learn of a doctor in Moscow who would deliver babies for seminary teachers at no charge. With prolific family plans, no-charge baby delivery seemed a godsend. Richard was born on 18 November 1956 in Moscow, Idaho, while the family was in Pullman.

After arriving in Pullman in the fall of 1955 and getting to know members there, Dale realized that establishing an early-morning seminary was a possibility. While a 6 A.M. class was not the most convenient time for parents or students—and many did not think a seminary class that early would be successful—twenty-three students attended faithfully. One of those students—John M. Madsen—would later become a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He said:

Dale T. Tingey, whom I had never before seen, came into my Sunday School class the day before I was to begin my junior year in high school. . . . Brother Tingey announced to us that we were going to have seminary. I had never heard of the program and didn’t know what was involved, but on Monday morning my sister Patricia and I attended our first early morning seminary class with Brother Tingey. For the next two years, I never missed a day. It was during those early morning seminary classes that my personal testimony was strengthened, and I decided that I was going to serve a full-time mission, marry in the temple, and serve the Lord throughout my life. [16]

John would later marry Jeanette’s younger sister Diane, who lived with the Tingeys for a while in Pullman. Elder Madsen graduated from Washington State University with a major in zoology and a minor in chemistry. Originally, the Madsens planned to head for dental school, but he was invited to teach full-time seminary, so he changed his plans. [17] Dale encouraged John to forego dentistry for Church employment: “I told him that the Lord had enough dentists; what he really needed was more seminary teachers.” [18]

Working on his doctorate while teaching seminary for half salary made things financially tough for the Tingeys. Dale commented, “When we were there, we were so poor that my children would go and gather beer bottles. We lived in a house that was right by fraternity row. Our children would go back and forth gathering beer bottles. They were worth two cents a bottle at the time. Then we would put them in the basement because we didn’t want anyone to see us with those bottles—we were afraid that someone would get the wrong impression. Our garbage man was a Mormon, and so he came and took our beer bottles away and reimbursed us for them.” [19] A University of Utah check for $160, resulting from a registration overpayment four years earlier, was seen by the family as an answer to prayer when funds were particularly low. It represented a month’s wages at the time.

Dale felt that finishing his doctorate in two years was a great accomplishment for him. His schedule of summer study—listening to language tapes and reviewing the accompanying textbooks—was taxing on Jeanette and the little children. Daddy always seemed to be studying. But there were fun times too.

In 1957 Dale finished his Ph.D. in educational psychology. His dissertation was entitled “A Study of the Guidance Problems of Washington Junior College Students Transferring to the State Four-year Institutions in Washington.” He was comparing students who attended two-year schools prior to four-year colleges and universities to those who went into the four-year schools directly. He found that those who attended the two-year schools had a lower failure rate and a higher graduation percentage.

While Dale found school interesting, his heart was really in the establishment of seminary and institute in the Pullman area. His doctoral committee chairman, Dr. William H. Crawford, was one of Dale’s favorite people at Washington State University, and he seemed very interested in what Dale was doing with the LDS Church. Dale especially appreciated Dr. Crawford’s frank counsel in preparation for his dissertation defense when he cautioned Dale on speaking in absolute terms. While Dale spoke in such terms when thinking of Church and gospel, Dr. Crawford warned him that the defense committee might misinterpret such talk and give him an unnecessarily rough ride through his oral examination. While appreciating the timely counsel, it actually caused Dale to rethink his testimony and appreciate the value of knowledge that could be confirmed by the Holy Ghost. He wished he could share Alma 5:45–46 with his mentor:

“And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?

“Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”

The young husband, father, seminary teacher, and doctoral candidate was grateful that certain knowledge was available to mankind in ways not always understood by those held to be the wise and learned. He felt it was a great dividing point between the people of the Lord and those of the world. And he knew where he stood in relation to the world and its philosophies. He had a strong conviction of the truthfulness of the gospel, and serving in the Church was paramount in his life. Somehow, he could earn this advanced degree without compromising his beliefs or his standards of personal integrity and commitment to God.


[1] Tingey journal, 31.

[2] William E. Berrett, A Miracle in Weekday Religious Education (Salt Lake City: Salt Lake Printing Center, 1988), 87.

[3] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 6–13.

[4] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 31–33.

[5] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 41–42.

[6] Tingey journal, 32.

[7] John W. Van Cott, Utah Place Names (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1990), 372. Van Cott says the name Tooele is “in dispute.” Some say it is named after the Goshute Chief Tuilla, while others say it is named after the tule rushes in the area. Other evidence that Orson Hyde named Tooele has not been found.

[8] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 66.

[9] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 87.

[10] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 100.

[11] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 126.

[12] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 164.

[13] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 168.

[14] Journal of Spencer F. Hatch, 178–79.

[15] A. Gary Anderson, “A Historical Survey of the Full-time Institute of Religion of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (Ph.D. diss., Brigham Young University, 1971), 459.

[16] Gerry Avant, “Answered Inner Call: ‘Work with Youth,’” Church News, 22 August 1992, 6.

[17] Avant, “Answered Inner Call,” 7.

[18] Tingey journal, 33–34.

[19] Tingey journal, 34.