James Hutchinson Western was born in Deseret, Utah on 1st May 1898 to loving parents, Samuel Winsborough and Mary Alice. James was the sixth of twelve children. At the age of 22, Elder James H Western set sail for the British Isles to serve a full-time mission for the Church.
On arrival in February 1921, Elder Western was assigned to the Liverpool Conference. He was transferred to Wales in March 1922, and though just 23 years old he was set apart as the president of the Welsh Conference, under the direction of President Orson F Whitney, Apostle and President of the European Mission.
This was a time of dedicated service for President Western, one to which he gave his whole commitment, sharing his leadership skills and gospel experiences, providing training to both local leaders and missionaries in developing branches. He also continually cared for and encouraged the full-time travelling missionaries throughout the district, giving guidance and direction in spreading the gospel to many areas of south and west Wales.
After a very busy and gospel-promoting period, Elder Western was honourably released as president of the Welsh conference. He arrived in Salt Lake City on 20th January 1923.
Sadly, on Saturday 17th February 1923 surgeons operated to remove a tumour on James’ spinal cord, but to no avail. He died the following Wednesday with his parents at his side. Their beloved son, not yet 25 years old, had served his country and served a mission for the Church. Now they must part with him again until they reunite in the eternities.
President David O McKay wrote, “Sorrow made heavy every heart in the Welsh conference last Monday, when the announcement was received of the death of Elder James H Western. […] His labors were characterized by zeal, courage, and indefatigable effort; his daily life, by sincerity, undeviating integrity, dignified humility, and an earnest desire to make better and happier all who came within the radiance of his life. […] As a true servant of Christ, he has won the welcome: ‘Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’”
Though young, he accepted the mantle of leadership and with all diligence and commitment fulfilled his calling with love, dignity, and an ever-faithful heart to the gospel of Jesus Christ and the people he loved so dearly.
Are we not blessed to stand on the shoulders of those ‘giants’ who gave faithful and tireless service to the benefit of many? May we ever be thankful for the richness of our heritage, and may we always cherish the written word that has preserved this story.
From Millennial Star Archives