Billy Wardle: written in 1983 for Uncle Norval’s book
I was born in Othello, Washington. Even though our family had lived in Othello for some time I was the first to actually be born in Othello, as there was a new doctor there and I was born in his office. Charlie was also born in Othello, in a new hospital three years later. I weighed in at eight pounds eight ounces on August 5, 1957. Mom says I was a beautiful baby with lots of black hair and when I was eleven month old I won a beauty contest. Mom has a picture of me that she won from the contest. Modestly speaking, I was a cute baby.
While I was a baby, Grandpa Charles James Wright (on my mother’s side) died. I was only eight months old and never had a chance to meet him.
As a family we left Othello and the farm when I was six and in the first grade at Hiawatha elementary School. As I was young I have few memories of Othello. I do remember playing football with Weldon, the big dog we had, the numerous cats, and a big canal by our house. Our old red pickup made a weird noise when it started. I also remember the potato plants, and the alfalfa and corn fields where you could go and relax, and hide.
From Othello we went to live with Grandma Wright. We did make a detour to Disneyland over Christmas vacation. This is the only time I’d been to Disneyland. It was also my first experience with seeing the ocean.
We stayed at Grandma Wright’s for the rest of the school year. While there I attended Lincoln Elementary School (where my mother had also gone to grade school.) I enjoyed living in Lincoln with Grandma, but did not enjoy school life. The demands were much different than my previous school, and the trauma of meeting friends was a bit too much.
At the end of school we moved to Cache Valley. We first lived in Providence for three months, and then moved to Hyrum into the house where we now live.
During the three years we lived there while my father returned to school I was closest to two friends, Todd Nielson and Denny McClain. The three moves with in a year’s time had affected my confidence. I attended Lincoln School in Hyrum for three years. While there I gained some confidence in my scholastic ability. When my dad finished school it again meant a move. This time we moved to Illinois. My dad took a position at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale as a librarian.
There I first attended Parrish Elementary; a new school not far from our house. The second year I attended Unity Point School, which had grade from kindergarten through eighth grade. Weldon also attended this year with Charles and me. Weldon played on the basketball team. I played some basketball, but not much. While in Illinois I was a player on the championship Little-league baseball team. My favorite friends were Dan and Don McKess. We had a good time our second year as we lived in an apartment complex close to a park. In the complex there was an abundance of kids with whom to play.
After two years in Illinois we moved back to Hyrum. I attended South Cache Junior High School the next three years and graduated from there. While there I participated in two musicals, ninth grade football and track, intramural wrestling and seminary. I participated in Scouts and among other badges; I earned my “mile swim” award.
From South Cache I went to Sky View High School. I finished my Eagle during this time. At Sky View I participated in Spanish Club, debate, choir, two musicals and one drama production. My favorite classes were creative writing, debate and Spanish. While playing Pony league, the summer before my sophomore year, in a tournament in Soda Springs, Idaho, I bunted the ball and broke my arm when I tangled with the first baseman. (The run scored as it was a suicide squeeze play.) It hurt a bit, but more importantly my athletic career at Sky View came to a quick halt. It is hard to play football with a broken arm and I never did get back into athletics. I graduated from seminary. During High School, especially my sophomore year, I was very reserved. I worked with the sports program in Hyrum. My favorite friends were Terrill Morgan, Dave Keeley, James Salvesen and Raeburn Ormond. Weldon went on a mission to England during this time.
During high school I toured Mexico with a group from our Spanish class. It was really a worthwhile experience. I spent a week with a family in Guadalajara, and also time touring Mexico City, including Teotihuacan.
From Sky View I went to Utah State. I continued with debate fall quarter. We only had two debate teams, but went to meets in Provo, Salt Lake and Pocatello. I also sand in the University Chorale, participated in the Saturday’s Warrior chorus and the opera “Amahl and the Night Visitors.” Winter quarter Weldon was back and we attended together. I was able to get in one year and a quarter before going on a mission. I worked at Del Monte to make money for my mission. During the time between high school and my mission, I spent time putting out a newspaper, Hyrum Crusader.
I served a mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina--Buenos Aires North Mission. I was in Buenos Aires and the suburbs the entire time of my mission. Buenos Aires was a spectacular town. The people there were truly great. The missionary life was hard at times, but the life for the most part was good. The emotions I had when I left Argentina were mixed. I cried as I left friends—tears of sadness—and again when I got home and saw family—tears of joy.
Upon returning home I took up the study of journalism. This was sparked by my publishing of the monthly (when finals weren’t in the way) newsletter Hyrum Crusader. I had enjoyed it and hoped to write for a community newspaper. I did write for the Utah Statesman and a local weekly during this time. However my second quarter at home things did not go well. I had done well the first quarter, but then things did not feel right. My grades weren’t what I wanted and my feelings inside said I had selected a career poorly. I determined to change majors next fall.
Upon returning to school I enrolled in anthropology courses. I studied several careers. I had decided to go into a people profession. I was interested in anthropology, psychology or social work. I had visited Machu Picchu in Peru on the way home from my mission and read about the Mexican pyramids. I had also done really well in the Intro to Psychology class. I interviewed people from each profession at school. Social work sounded best and also felt best, so this became my new major. This made the third time I changed my mind—journalism to anthropology to social work. As I changed to social work I also had time to major in Spanish. I also had enough credits to minor in journalism. During college I ran around with Dave DeBolt, Weldon, Barry Braithwaite and Jody Platt. I graduated “cum laude” in 1981. I also graduated from Institute. During school I worked at the Merrill Library and at the Language Lab.
As school came to a close, I debated between work and graduate school. Graduate school won out and I was accepted to the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Utah. I first lived with dad in Salt Lake, but later with Cliff Elmore, and still later at the Utah Boys Ranch where I worked for two years. (My mom and dad separated while I was on my mission, and divorced while I was in Salt Lake going to school.)
My first year at school Weldon and Sue lived in Salt Lake and I spent some time with them. Weldon did a graduate assistanceship for Coach Jerry Pimm of the basketball program at the University of Utah. When the assistant coaches resigned, he was the only assistant until they hired somebody else. I did a field placement at Children’s Service Society as an adoption worker. Between school work and my field placement I was pretty busy.
My second year I did a field placement in Roosevelt, Utah, working mostly with child welfare. While there I met a beautiful girl, Sheri Pohlsander. I had been confused about girls for some time; but Sheri seemed to wipe away my confusions. We met in April and were engaged in May—just before I ended my placement. The separation from May to our marriage in August was painful (and expensive). I had started searching for work—which was hard to find. I also finished my research project (on the Uintah Basin and Social Issues in a Rural Community) so I was sure to graduate. I did get a job. We had two offers in Roosevelt and Duckwater, NV.) We decided on Duckwater and I started working with the Duckwater Shoshone Indian Tribe a week before our marriage. Sheri and I were married August 11, 19983 in the Provo Temple. Sheri is from Bluebell, Utah (20 miles from Roosevelt). She was the neighbor of my placement supervisor in Roosevelt but I met her at her work. (She worked at Gales Office Supply, my Bishop’s store.) I had seen her once before (she turned my eye) but I really met her April 4, 1983. I was impressed with our first meeting and determined to ask her out. I asked Monty (my supervisor) about her as I knew she was from Bluebell. It took me two days to get the courage to ask her out. First date was a picnic in Altamont. We went to the musical “Man of La Mancha” in which I had a part. I was hooked from the start. It took me a while to convince her. She solved all my girl problems.
Sheri is from a large family (13 children). Her’s is a step family, but mostly her mom’s children by her step father. Sheri was born a Scoresby (from Iona, Idaho) and adopted a Pohlsander (of German stock). Her mother’s family is from Washington, close to Othello. From Sheri’s history I determined we lived within five miles of each other when I was in Idaho Falls. Life gave us both a few twists before we met. Sheri lived in Provo (after her parent’s divorce) and then in Wells, NV with her new father. They then moved to Bluebell about eleven years ago (1972). Sheri has two full brothers and a full brother who has died, a step brother, a step sister, a half sister, and seven half brothers. (That’s a lot of boys.)
Sheri and I have been living in Duckwater for nearly three months. I enjoy working with the tribe. It is a small group of Shoshoni Indians. Sheri has been doing volunteer work at the county school. She teaches three kindergarten students. The community is very rural and remote. We drive 60 miles to church and 73 miles to shop. The people, however, are very kind and willing to help each other. I do all types of social work. Mostly I work with the school. I have started publishing a newsletter. It seems I draw on all my talents as the community is small and if I tried to just do counseling all the time I would have little to do. Sheri and I feel we were inspired to be in Duckwater. We are good friends of our landlords, Jan and Ed Halstead and their children Emilie and Amie. We are now becoming a part of the community.
Life has been good to me in my first 26 years and some months. I have a great family, beautiful wife, chosen profession and am deeply blessed. My life experiences have been pleasing and now with Sheri should be even more so. I know the restored gospel is true, and try to do right. Sheri shares my convictions.