My grandparents were an incredible influence upon me and upon my desire for an education.. I share here an interview my then 9 year old son Seleck had with his Grandfather Max Weaver (Seleck is 25 today and working on his Masters in Accounting at SUU) and a piece I wrote about my grandfather in 2014. My grandfather Max sacrificed much for his education and my grandmother Ruth who graduated from Logan High School in 1936 and then attended two years at Utah State. However, Ruth notes in her personal history, " It wasn't until 1961 that I realized a life long dream when I graduated from Southern Utah University (then CSU and a branch of Utah University). Family folklore states that Ruth received her first C when she took a ceramics class from Max who at the time was the Chair of the Art department. Ruth then began her teaching that fall in Hillcrest Elementary School when her youngest child was in the 2nd grade. At this time Max was teaching art at BYU.
The following was from an interview by my then nine year old son, Seleck Rigby. The life of my grandfather, Max Dickson Weaver, was a lot different than yours or mine. He grew up going to school in a covered wagon, running to catch a train, and then finally a Model T Ford. The cost of gas in those days was 15 cents a gallon.
Max was born March 15, 1917. He was one of seven kids. There were six boys and one girl. He grew up on a farm in Layton, Utah. He loved it when his mother Sophia churned ice cream. He scooped himself a giant bowl. He didn’t have much time for playing baseball like I do. Instead he had to milk the cows, herd the cows, do his chores and pull the weeds in the crops. Unlike me, he played cowboys and Indians instead of the Wii. When my grandfather talks of the days of the depression, he cries. My grandpa was very poor.
Because of my grandfather's extreme allergies, he knew he must leave farm life behind and get and education. My grandpa went to Utah State University. He worked a janitor to pay for his schooling. It was a trade. He did not even have enough money to go to the dances they had back then.
My grandpa joined the ROTC so he could have warm clothes. For joining, they gave him 2pairs of pants, high top boots, and a utility jacket. My grandpa slept on the back porch of some friends’ home during his college days. It was cold.
He met his wife at a dance. The janitors were allowed to go to the dance free since they were just going to clean it up after the dance. At one of the dances, my grandma, Ruth Stoddard Kimball looked over and saw Max. She went home and told her mom, “I’ve met the guy I’d like to marry.” Once grandpa started going to the dances, his dance card was always full.
One day Ruth’s mother’s visiting teacher came over and told Ruth’s mom that if Max asked her daughter to marry him she would say yes! That put Ruth’s mother in a new competition. One day a man came over to Ruth and said that his son had a brand new automobile and that he would like to be your boyfriend. Ruth responded, “I’m sorry for your son, but I’ve got Max.” Once Max walked over to Ruth’s house (it was a 17 block walk) and said, “I’ve got no automobile, no mony to take you for a treat, but would walk to the dance with me?” Ruth responded, “I’ll walk anywhere with you, Max!”
One day Ruth’s mother’s visiting teacher came over and told Ruth’s mom that if Max asked her daughter to marry him she would say yes! That put Ruth’s mother in a new competition. One day a man came over to Ruth and said that his son had a brand new automobile and that he would like to be your boyfriend. Ruth responded, “I’m sorry for your son, but I’ve got Max.” Once Max walked over to Ruth’s house (it was a 17 block walk) and said, “I’ve got no automobile, no money to take you for a treat, but would you walk to the dance with me?” Ruth responded, “I’ll walk anywhere with you, Max!”
They were later married in the Logan temple on December 20, 1938. My grandpa served in WWII in the Philippines. Max and Ruth had 4 boys and 2 girls. Their names are Kimball, Kurt, Katherine, Scott Ruth Kay, and Wynn. Max worked as a school teacher teaching art. He taught at Helper High School, Logan High, Cypress High, CSU and BYU. My grandpa is 95 and still paints to this day.
Here are some of the qualities I admire about my grandpa. He was always willing to do what he was asked, he was hard working, he was never lazy, and he is a great painter.
And just in time for Valente's Day...Max's journey in education, love of art and Ruth At 94 years of age, Max Dickson Weaver’s life is a love story although an unconventional one. If you were to ask Max to rank God, family, country and art in order of importance, it would be a difficult task. For the majority of Max’s life, the four have been almost inseparable. Max is an artist and the world is his studio. He is also a retired art professor. Although Max spent the majority of his career at Brigham Young University, he also taught school at Helper, Cypress and Logan High schools and at the College of Southern Utah (SUU). To say that Max loves the red rocks of Southern Utah, would be an understatement. He has been drawn to the red hues of Color Country since the ‘60’s. That is a five decade love affair. On one of my most recent visits with Max, he sat close to the window observing the beauty of the freshly fallen snow on Cedar Mountain. He had sketch paper and pencil in hand and was working on a sketch of “Robber’s Roost,” Butch Cassidy’s hideout near Circleville. Nearby Max’s chair is a block of wood which will soon become a wood cut of his sketch. Max not only is a landscape artist (mediums include mosaics, oils, watercolor, monoliths, etchings, and woodcuts), but a ceramist, and a jewelry maker. He was a pioneer in art by establishing the “64 Monoliths Arches and Bridges” in Utah. Painting by Max Dickson Weaver part of the permanent collection of Southern Utah University. Max’s love affair with the beauty of God’s world is only part of this love story, and even it revolves around Kay. She supported, loved and exercised patience in behalf of Max and his art for 72 years. Her home was literally an art studio/museum. Together they danced, sang, played, and painted their way through life as theireir love expanded to six children, 37 grandchildren, 97 great grandchildren, and one great, great grandson. It was a bet with a fraternity brother that brought the two of them together. Max, handsome with twinkling blue eyes was dared by one of his fraternity brothers to kiss Ruth Mabel Stoddard Kimball Weave, or Kay as he called her. With confident arrogance Max placed the wager. After all, he had traded a few dances with Kay and was sure she was interested in him. But Kay was not a kiss on the first date girl. No, she made Max wait. So after a walk up the Logan River with Kay, he reluctantly placed 50 cents in his fraternity buddy’s hand. Max lost the bet, but won the girl. Dancing with Kay led to the bet, the bet led to a courtship and then an engagement. Max courted Kay during the poorest of poor days at Utah State. It was the 30’s and the great depression hit Utah hard. Max was a farm boy from Layton, son of David and Sophia Weaver with roots dating back to early Utah settlement days. Max was determined to get his education and put his farming days behind him. Kay was the daughter of Leo and Marie Kimball and granddaughter to the beloved Thomas X. Smith- a prominent Logan citizen in the early days. Kay carried herself with confidence, wore a smile and dazzled Max with her sparkling blue eyes. She in turn was quickly mesmerized by this darling farm boy. Max would walk 32 blocks to and from his apartment to court Kay. This had to be a mark of true love. Max and Kay had both grown up dancing and together they quickly found a rhythm. Max remembers with fondness dancing with Kay at the fraternity and sorority dances at USU. He even seemed to hum his favorite songs while we visited “… I’ll be seeing you in all the old familiar places…” and “… She kissed me once, she kissed me twice, she kissed me once again..” The two were married on December 28, 1939 in the Logan LDS temple on a very cold morning. Max took his first job at Helper High School teaching art. This was the beginning of his sharing many of the various art mediums with his students. Then he transferred to Cypress High School where he was teaching when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The following day a special assembly was held as the entire student body listened to President Franklin D. Roosevelt issue a declaration of war against Japan. This was a sober and reflective gathering. Many of the students were frightened. It was a given that many of the senior boys would be called to service sooner than later. Max’s call to serve his country came shortly thereafter. His love for his country was etched further into his heart. To this day, whenever Max sees “Old Glory” flying chills run down his back. He left behind his darling Kay and two young boys. The youngest of which would only come to know his father by his photograph. Max served for two years in the 1629 Engineer Corp where his unit earned two bronze stars as they served in the Liberation of the Philippines and the Occupation of Japan Campaigns. Not only was Max committed to his religion but to Kay. During his time in the Philippines many of his fellow soldiers went to enjoy some time with the local ladies during periods of leave, but Max remained in the barracks alone and missing Ruth. Their two children Kimball and Kurt were growing up without their father present and Kay… she was growing more beautiful. Max’s days aboard ship were crowded and noisy. He slept below the deck in a 7 hammock deep arrangement. Unfortunately for Max, his hammock was at the top of this formation. Night time was noisy with snoring soldiers and frequent nightmares from his shipmates. Max often sought solitude aboard deck. It was there he witnessed the great majesty of the sun rising and setting across the Pacific Ocean sky. It is a scene that has stayed with him his entire life. Upon Max’s return from the War, he and Kay added four more to their growing brood. Max took teaching positions at Logan high School, CSU, University of Hawaii at Honolulu, and Brigham University. At each institution, he expanded the art program and increased the number of those enrolled in the art department. Max also furthered his own education in art as he received his Masters in Art from Utah State University and took two different sabbaticals to the University of Southern California and Long Beach College. In 1982, after 21 years at Brigham Young University Max retired and served a mission to Nauvoo, Illinois with Kay and thus fulfilled a life long goal. The Great Depression had made it impossible for Max to serve God as a missionary in his earlier years. Life along the Mississippi for Max and Kay as missionaries deepened their love of God. They enjoyed working at the many historic sites and Max enjoyed sharing his craft with the visitors. Just imagine, an artist along the Mississippi River as the sun is setting, fireflies are chirping, steam boats are roaring and echoes of Nauvoo’s past settlers linger… heaven on earth. Service to his Church did not end with the mission to Nauvoo. During his lifetime he has served as a Stake Missionary for two years, and he worked in the Provo and Mount Timpanogas Temples for 20 years. Since his retirement and his mission Max has taken part in countless art exhibits both as part of a group and as the featured artist throughout the state of Utah. He has continued to pursue his love of art as he has continued to paint and “throw” pots. In the past few years, he may have slowed down a little, but he hasn’t stopped. Max has chosen to share his vast collection of art from his 40 years of teaching and creating with the state of Utah. He has donated paintings, prints and pots to every school of higher learning in the state including among others: Utah State University, University of Utah, Dixie State University, Brigham Young University, Southern Utah University and Utah Valley University. His paintings can also be viewed at the Huntsman Cancer Institute as well as hospitals, and government buildings throughout the state of Utah. Max concurs with the Indians who referred to this great state as the land of the sleeping rainbow. He believes that it offers much to the budding artist. It is through sharing his art that he hopes to fuel the dreams of novice artists everywhere. I found Max the carbon paper needed to complete his woodcut today. We also finished his memoirs. Max is my grandfather. He has shared with me his love of art since I was a tot. He showed me the beauty of mustard and mayo on a bologna sandwich, taught me how to make designs with my cheerios in my cereal bowl, showed me the beauty of a bare tree on a cold winter’s day, colored Easter Eggs with me (his were unimaginable master pieces), and took me on numerous drives discovering God’s beauty. An artist can’t seem to help but notice God’s beauty. For Max a thing of beauty is indeed a joy forever. And for my Grandfather Max, that love has transcended to his love for God, Country, and Family. He seems happy to be here, but I know that he wishes he were with her… Kay. You don’t just stop missing someone like that… not when your hearts learned to speak without words. I know he will be missing her “always.” I believe when Max returns home he will be met by Kay’s sparkling blue eyes and bright smile and together they will make their home on “Artist Street.” I held my grandfather’s hand the week before he died. The sun was setting and its beams were streaming through the windowpane. The music “Blue Moon” was being played. “This was my wife’s favorite song,” he said as tears streamed down his cheeks. Tears fell from my eyes too. Once again their love story sung to me. I happened to stop by to see him just hours before he passed. He did not know me: He always knew me. It seemed his spirit was trapped in his body and trying to go home. The only sensible thing he said was, “Do Good.” And so at age 38 I said good bye to one of the “constants” in my life, my grandfather. We buried him next to Ruth in the shadows of the mountains he loved. I stick a memory in my heart that warms me: It is a beautiful winter’s morn. I am walking with the both of them. I am young again. My hands hold each of theirs and grandpa is pointing out how the freshly fallen snow dances upon the bare branches. The world is beautiful as it glistens and sparkles. It hums the melody of their love story. It is recorded forever in my heart.