This second of three posts, covers Times and Seasons reader Last Lemming’s suggestions for Mormon of the Year for the years 1970 through 1989. We already posted on Monday his picks for 1950 through 1969 and on Friday morning we will list his picks for 1990 through 2007. I suspect as these posts get into more familiar and more recent territory, more of you will have comments and suggestions about who Last Lemming suggested and who should have been suggested instead.
As I mentioned on Monday, I received this unexpected and fun email message from Times and Seasons reader Last Lemming after we began selecting the 2008 Mormon of the Year. He had made his own selections for Mormon of the Year for each year since 1950!
I found the list fascinating, an entertaining look at Mormons in history over nearly 60 years, and really quite an impressive bit of work to pull together so much information. Last Lemming describes his criteria as follows:
I have generally followed a no-General-Authorities rule, except for McConkie (who was not acting in his G.A. capacity) and, arguably, Barbara B. Smith. Otherwise, I was very flexible. [Those selected] could be classified into three categories: 1) those influencing Mormon culture, 2) those representing Mormonism to the world, and 3) those influencing the broader culture in ways not necessarily linked to their Mormonism. I tried to limit [those selected] to people who were active at the time of their cited accomplishment. (Some, like Frank Moss, I would stand by even if he wasn’t really active because his accomplishment was easy to identify with his Mormonism.)
I have used my 20:30 hindsight when [making selections] (I can’t claim 20:20 hindsight when I can’t even fill all of the years). I have not attempted to guess who might have won had Times and Seasons been around to conduct a vote. Also, there are a fair number of people who could have won in any number of years. I generally picked them in a year in which they had some notable accomplishment and little competition.
I did not pick anybody twice, unless their contributions were in different areas. Thus, I gave George Romney two mentions (one for his business activities and one for his political activities), but gave Mitt Romney only one (nothing he did at Bain qualifies, and I treat his Olympics adventure as the beginning of his political career, not the end of his business career). With regards to businessmen, I generally cited them for giving away their money, not for earning it. Marriott is an exception, but the Books-of-Mormon-in-the-rooms phenomenon makes him different.
By posting this list, it is not my intention (nor that of Last Lemming, according to his email message submitting this information) to actually select anyone for these years. Rather, I’m posting this in part as a way for those of us who remember a portion of these people to remember, and for those who don’t to learn, and, undoubtedly, a something to be discussed.
I welcome your comments and suggested alternatives. On this particular portion, mostly before my time, I have a few alternatives to suggest. I’ll make my suggestions in the first comment. I’m sure others of you will have many more suggestions.
Like many of you readers, I have mixed feelings about some of the individuals mentioned here. But I can’t deny that all of them had a significant impact, and therefore could have been, at least in retrospect, Mormon of the Year.
1970: Frank Moss – for shepherding through Congress (in his capacity as chairman of the Consumer Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee) the Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act, which strengthened warning labels on cigarette packs and banned cigarette advertising on radio and television.
1971: The Osmond Brothers – for reaching #1 on the Billboard singles charts with One Bad Apple, while Donny reached #1 as a solo artist for Go Away Little Girl.
1972: Jack Anderson – for uncovering the ITT bribery scandal, thereby earning a place on Richard Nixon’s enemies list.
1973: Lester Bush – for publishing “Mormonism’s Negro Doctrine: An Historical Overview” in Dialogue.
1974: Douglas Wright & Lex de Azevedo – for getting Saturday’s Warrior staged at BYU, thereby putting it on the Mormon radar screen.
Runner-up: Wayne Owens – for voting for Richard Nixon’s impeachment as a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
1975: Lowell Bennion – for his humanitarian efforts in Salt Lake County. (Another lifetime achievement award that fits here because of a lack of competition.)
1976: Leonard Arrington, James Allen & Glen Leonard – the former for presiding over the Camelot years at the Church Historian’s Office; the latter for publishing The Story of the Latter-day Saints under the auspices of that office, official (but unwarranted) displeasure with which eventually led to the demise of Camelot.
1977: Barbara B. Smith and Sonia Johnson – the former (who was the General Relief Society President) for instigating the Church’s opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, leading to this year’s IWY Conference fiasco; the latter for organizing support for the same, leading to her eventual excommunication.
Runner-up: Donna Hill – for publishing Joseph Smith: The First Mormon.
1978: Joseph Freeman – for being the first person of African heritage to be ordained to the priesthood after the revelation announced in Official Declaration #2.
Runner-up: Glen Larsen – for introducing “Kobol” to the world through Battlestar Gallactica.
1979: Jack Welch – for founding FARMS.
Runner-up: Sam Battistone – for moving the Jazz to Salt Lake.
1980: Paula Hawkins – for being the first Mormon woman and the first Mormon of either sex from east of the Rockies (in her case, Florida) to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
1981: Rex E. Lee – for becoming Solicitor General of the United States, in which capacity he would argue 30 cases before the Supreme Court, winning 23 of them.
1982: William deVries and Barney Clark – the former for performing (at the University of Utah) the first artificial heart implantation; the latter for receiving said heart.
Runner-up: Jake Garn – for shepherding through Congress (in his capacity as Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee) the deregulation of the savings & loan industry, thereby facilitating the crisis of 1989 and subsequent federal bailout.
1983: Dale Murphy – for winning his second of two National League MVP awards.
1984: LaVell Edwards – for coaching BYU to a national championship in football.
Runners-up: Valeen Tippets Avery & Linda King Newell – for publishing Mormon Enigma: Emma Hale Smith.
Peter Vidmar – for winning multiple medals (including an individual gold and a team gold) in gymnastics at the Summer Olympics.
1985: Sharlene Wells – for winning the Miss America pageant immediately after the Vanessa Williams scandal.
Runners-up: Mark Hoffman – for achieving notoriety as a forger of historical documents and a murderer.
Jake Garn – for being the first Mormon and the first member of Congress to fly in space, where he established a new standard for motion sickness (which is now measured in fractions of a Garn).
1986: Orson Scott Card – for winning the Hugo Award for Ender’s Game and the Nebula Award for Speaker for the Dead.
1987: Carol Lynn Pearson – for publishing Goodbye, I Love You. (This is more of a lifetime achievement thing, as this book alone probably doesn’t merit the award).
1988: Evan Mecham – for being impeached as Governor of Arizona.
1989: Steven R. Covey – for publishing The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. (He would be a plausible winner in any year between 1989 and 1996, when he was named one of the 25 Most Influential People by Time magazine, but 1989 seemed to offer the least competition.)