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Cicely Janet White – Marjorie White’s Aunt

Cicely Janet White was born February 18, 1887, in Northampton, England. At the time of her birth, her parents, John and Sarah Ann Holton White, were investigating Mormonism. After conversion and before arrangements could be made to leave for America, it was necessary that she and her brother Fred be vaccinated. Cicely's vaccination resulted in a long and trying illness, so serious in fact that her parents were warned by the doctor, relatives and friends that if the journey was not postponed she would most likely be buried at sea. However, the faith of her father and mother prevailed and regardless of her condition, they left for America on April 28, 1838. Cicely was fourteen months old. Upon arriving in Salt Lake City, Utah, May 18, 1888, nigh unto death, the child was given a blessing by Elder Charles J. Thomas, in which he promised that due to the faithfulness of her parents in accepting the Gospel and undertaking the journey, she would be spared and permitted to live and enjoy good health and fulfill an active career. She immediately began to improve.

The family stayed with Richard and Ellen Holton in the Seventeenth Ward, until a position could be procured for her father, at which time they moved to Apricot Street. From there they moved to First South, between Seventh and Eighth East Streets, in the old Eleventh Ward. Later, her father purchased a lot, and a home was commenced August 4, l890 - No. 225 Iowa Avenue.

Cicely was baptized by Elder Williams in March, 1895 and confirmed by Charles Livingston the following Sunday, in the old rock building at the corner of First South and Eight East. Her Church activities began in early childhood. From 1905 to 1906, as secretary of the Primary Department of the Sunday School; 1907, as teacher in that department; 1909, as teacher in the First Intermediate Class; July 1910 to January 1916, as Kindergarten teacher until her resignation to join the Theological Class that she might learn more of the Gospel, under the able leadership of Daniel Livingston, one who had a wealth of knowledge and was so imbued with the spirit that tears would come to his eyes as he took off his specs and twirled them around. This class met in the basement of the Chapel. In 1921 Cicely again resumed her teaching, this time in the Second Intermediate Class.

On October 3, 1922 Cicely was set apart as Second Counselor to Emma Teudt in the Y.L.M.I.A. On May 25, 1923 she was appointed as First Counselor to President Bessie Ramsey. When the M.I.A. was again reorganized, on December 29, 1925, she was made President with Thelma Weight and Carrie Parker as Counselors. Later, Myrtle Dean (Wentworth), Vilate McAllister (Frances) and Ida Bracken acted as her counselors. They were all released September 2, 1928. During this time, Irma Jensen and her sister, Florence White, were secretaries of the M.I.A. She had a very well organized Mutual, with such teachers as Mande May Babcock and Dr. George W. Middleton. Sister Babcock had an average attendance of ninety-two Gleaner girls. Dr. Middleton's class - Special Interest Group - filled the entire middle section of the Chapel, on Tenth East. Cicely loved all with whom she worked, including Presidents Lydia McKendrick and Bertha A. Sevenson, and the Stake Board. The Eleventh Ward Mutual was rated top in all ward and stake activity - anniversary celebrations, Stake Olympics featuring a downtown parade, Road Shows, Gold and Green Balls, Drama and Girls’ Chorus work under the direction of Ida Bracken, then the Recreational Leader. Her counselor Vilate McAllister was especially qualified in Beehive work, and with the assistance of Luella Scott and a corps of sustaining principally through proceeds derived from a weekly after mutual dance. The balance on hand at the close of the season was turned over to the Bishop. On the first Sunday of each month the Mutual had charge of the meeting. Cicely had the responsibility of arranging the program and seeing that it was published in a booklet containing the progress for each ward. She later arranged Sunday programs for Bishop McAllister.

In October 1928, Superintended Richard M Madsen, Jr., created a new office in the Sunday School, that of Special Feature Director. Cicely was appointed to this position, which entailed the direction, and often the writing of 2½ minute talks by the children, preparing special programs for Easter, Mother's Day, July 24th, Thanksgiving and Christmas, also writing a one page "Reverence Thought" to be read each Sunday by the Superintendent, with organ accompaniment. This idea was to bring to the service more reverence for the House of the Lord; it was read after the opening hymn. She continued this work under Superintendents W. Mont Timmins, Louis H. Callister, John Daynes, Karl McAllister and Raymond Eldredge. Largely through her efforts the Sunday School became very outstanding and drew people from different parts of the City.

Cicely was editor of the Ward Bulletin, and prepared the Annual Ward Reunion Programs. As a child she sang in the Sunday School Choir under the leadership of James Hood and Henry A. Tuckett. Later, she was a member of the Ward Choir directed by Horace S. Ensign Alex P. Anderson, and William Cox.

On February 22, 1924, Cicely received her endowments in the Salt Lake Temple and has since done considerable work for the dead. At one time, before high blood pressure made it difficult to climb the stairs, she attended the Temple sessions quite regularly.

Among those whom Cicely delighted to assign 2 ½ minute talks in Sunday School were Grace’s two boys – Laurance and Paul Cracroft. They were the two most outstanding little boys in the Ward. When President Grant or any one of the other General Authorities of the Church were coming, or when there was a specific program, it was usually they who were selected. The Superintendent would very often say, “Cicely, we want the best, what about Laurance or Paul!” Cicely was very gracious; she took the time to write a thank you note to most of the speakers who consented to speak in the Sunday School or Sacrament meetings, or performed in any way on her programs. They, in turn, very often acknowledged receipt to the Bishop, as did one who said, “It is a pleasure to see this unusual interest for all that takes place in your Ward. Your program director, Sister White, is one person out of thousands who attend promptly to her work, and the very kind way in which she has treated me is certainly complimentary in every respect. Will you please extend to her my heart felt gratitude.”

Cicely, as a little girl, was very obedient and energetic. Every Saturday her mother prepared a hot dinner, put it in a pail, wrapped it warmly, and handed it to Cicely, who cheerfully walked from her home between 9th and 10th East and 2nd South to town, that her father might have a hot dinner. After he had eaten it, she would walk back home, all alone. She was not paid for doing it; all she got was an orange or apple from the grocery store which her father charged to his account. She accepted responsibility early in life and was very helpful to her mother. During the first two years of Florence’s school life she couldn’t stand to have her out of her sight. When the recess period arrived, she would take time out to have an eye on her. Her two sisters recall the cute things she did, for instance, after they had gone to bed, she would slip a bracelet or a ring made of beads under their pillow. She was the “fairy” who put gifts under rocks after we procured “bows” from the children on the block. She had no money for such things, but would save coupons.

To earn money to enter the LDS Business College, she walked to and from Bank’s, Millinery Store to learn the business (as an apprentice she earned nothing) and did other things. Finally she made it! She loved Stenography and did so well that Mr. Funk, her typewriting teacher, placed her in several temporary jobs before she actually finished. These were happy days for Cicely. She was one of the “Rusty Dozen”, which met for meetings every Wednesday at 3:15 in Room 208 of the college. Following is a list of temporary positions which she held (note the wages): Presiding Bishop’s Office, 5 weeks, $46.50; Utah Light & Railway Co., 5 days, $7.50; City Directory, 4 days, $11.26; Carstensen & Anson Company, 1 day, $2.50; Utah Light & Railway Co., ½ day, $4.25. Her first steady position was at the YMCA. She was an assistant to Ada Wilson (Chamberlain), who she adored. Her employer, Oscar Cox, was a very stern person, and it took her a little while to feel at ease in his presence.

Here she met some very fine men, though none were members of our Church. It worried her parents when she went on dates with them, but they were all very gentlemanly and lots of fun. There was one, particular who she really loved, but they couldn’t agree on religion. The YMCA had a cafeteria which served excellent food in the basement in what is now the Public Safety building. Before going to the basketball game she (and occasionally Florence) would eat at this cafeteria. They were thrilling, especially since “Golden” was the director. She never loved any one so much. She continued to work at the Y until it closed its doors. She then went to work for Daynes-Beebe Music Company, as Colonel Daynes’ secretary. Here she acquired new friends who became very dear to her. Cicely left a few months before the Company “went broke”. She worked at the store from May 10, 1911 to January 15, 1929.

On September 1, 1929, (after having trouble with her hand, until she received a blessing from Richard W. Madsen in which he promised her that the condition could clear up) she decided to open up an office of her own. Richard W. Young, Jr., the employer of Florence, offered her the use of his library in the Vermont (now the Beneficial Life) Building, - at least it was, until torn down recently). One of her best accounts was the Union Pacific, whose General Chairman of Railway Clerks had his office adjoining hers. After a few years, he was released and J. R. L Grayson and Al stone occupied the office. They were very dear friends to Cicely, as was Karl Little. She had a very fine clientele, many of whom were presidents of stakes and bishops of wards. She was a fine stenographer and very dependable. Traveling men would very often save their work until they arrived in Salt Lake. During those first years she worked so hard. In 1946, Dr. L. A. Stevenson said she would have to slow down and take more rest. So, at his insistence, she resigned her position in the Sunday School, and did no more reporting for funeral services.

Aside from having high blood pressure, Cicely had very good health, but her troubles seemed to begin, when she injured her leg while digging with a pitch fork in the garden. Her foot slipped, causing a deep cut. Infection got in – this was May 24, 1943. Mother died in June. On June 12 and on June 13, Cicely attended the service of her mother and Uncle John on crutches. On July 26, 1946, after a gas attack, Cicely was placed in the LDS Hospital; it was thought necessary to operate for a non functioning gall bladder, but Bishop Ebenezer A. Child and her brother-in-law, Ralph Cracroft, administered to her, promising that it wouldn’t be performed, and it wasn’t. On September 17, of that year Cicely consulted Dr. Castleton regarding a lump on her neck. A complete examination disclosed lymph nodes in various parts of her body. On September 21st the node was removed from her neck at the Holy Cross Hospital. At the suggestion of Dr. Castleton, he consulted Dr. Wintrobe, who, on October 29, 1946, gave her mustard nitrogen treatments. Dr. Castleton advised her sister Florence of the seriousness of her condition, saying that without the treatments she had only a few months to live. Florence spent a week of her vacation in Cicely’s office, which wasn’t too easy, knowing of her sister’s condition. On April 23, 1948, she had a second series of treatments. On October 3, 1952 Cicely again went to the hospital for a series of X-ray treatments and to have her lung tapped. These extended into November. By this time her weight had decreased to 129 pounds. By November 6 she had had twelve therapy treatments. She went to Dr Curtis, who was close by, for heart dysentery and knee troubles, also for cough. She went down to 115 pounds. On August 1, 1954 Cicely fell in the bus and struck her leg on a steel plate in the floor. She also hit her head and her knees. Dr. Curtis said a blood vessel in her left leg had been broken which caused deep bruises. She put in a claim and was paid $325.00, because of the negligence of the bus driver. Periodically from 1946 Cicely had check up at the hospital and X-rays were taken and given. In 1957 Cicely’s cough was getting worse. In April she had some terrible nights – sat up in a chair for three nights. Then her eye became infected. Ralph Cracroft and Ques Larson administered to her. On April 19, 1957 she went to the hospital again for tests and treatments, including X-rays. On April 20 her bladder was cauterized. Bronchial pneumonia set in. Ralph and his son Paul administered to her. Bishop Joseph Wirthlin, Jr., and Brother Clark administered to her. She returned home May 6. Dr. Woolley came to the house every day for a week to give her penicillin shots. She was able to go to the office May 7, but couldn’t stay – too weak. X-rays were taken again. On June 27 she had an injection of nitrogen in the hands. She had chronic edema. On July 29, 1957 Cicely slipped in the rose garden, filling her legs with thorns. Our good neighbor Ralph Sylvester used his pocket knife to cut out the thorns. Between him and Florence the leg was soon free of pain and dressed. August 10, 1957 Dr. Frasier cut out five black things (he didn’t know what to call them) from her eye lids and treated both eyes for swelling. On April 20, 1958 Cicely turned sick as she was eating ice cream in Brigham City. But the real beginning of Cicely’s last illness was when she tripped in her office May 27, 1958. That night we celebrated Kay Cracroft’s birthday at their home. Cicely was so brave, although she was bruised all over and hurt dreadfully she didn’t let any one know. Her sister didn’t know until two days had passed, when she noticed her arm. She apparently blacked out while a client was on the telephone, though she wouldn’t admit it. This lasted for about a half hour – no once came to her rescue – although she said she screamed for help. Her knee swelled badly. Thinking it was a sprain she went to Dr Hawkins, shoe treatment seemed to worsen the condition. Dr. Burke M Snow examined her knee and called in another Dr. Orme, who said it was a previous condition and that Dr. Wintrobe had better take care of her. Shoes couldn’t be had which were large enough for her. Dr. Wintrobe was on a world tour, so Dr. Cartright and the other doctors examined her, and decided on X-ray Therapy July 9, 1958 – August 9, 1958. The treatments were so severe they not only burned inside but outside as well. She had a solid burn, which became raw, completely around her abdomen – about four inches deep.

During this time, the Doctor urged her to go to the office after each treatment. Each day was worse, but he said she just couldn’t give up, her condition worsen if she did. How sorry we all were to put her through this misery. Ashby D. Boyle, Florence’s employer, was so thoughtful and considerate. During that month he said Florence was to take all the time necessary to be with Cicely. So each morning, they took a cab to and from the hospital, and would leave for home about 4 o’clock. Most of the time she had to take a sedative and be propped up in bed – or sit up. All three pillows would be drenched. Several times her sister thought she was dying. Finally she could stand it no longer so she called Dr. Cartright, but he said he was not allowed to come out. She persuaded Cicely after two nights to return to the hospital. An ambulance came at 1 p.m. August 22nd. They started to work with her right away and she was finally convinced that her sister had done the right thing, and she was glad they had come. One quart of fluid was taken from her lungs and transfusions were given. The doctor finally decided the cause of all her misery was lymphocarcoma. A rate disease, and which doctors know very little about. There was a mass of tumor in the stomach, kidneys, and bowels. Even the doctors knew there was nothing that could be done for her, they insisted on experimenting, not for her sake but for the sake of humanity. Pleadings against it were of no avail. More X-rays were taken. We were called to the hospital on the 28th and 29th. As they lifted her to drain the lungs, her heart stopped. Emergency methods were used. They then drew four quarters of fluid. Her screams were terrible. From one end of the hospital to the other one could hear her screams of “Oh! Oh!” which she kept up almost constantly for days. She knew she was going to die, but said “I don’t want to leave you.” In fact, when her sister Grace slipped in to see her one night she said, “What are you doing here, I am dead.” Fred and Ruth stayed all night on the 29th. Ralph and Grace relieved them in the morning. We all wanted to stay of the 30th, but the nurse said they would call us – they did, after she died August 31, 1958. They will never be forgiven for that - she died alone!

The above is given to show the courage which she exhibited during those twelve, and more, critical years. Dr. Wintrobe often remarked that she was his “prize patient”, no one had ever responded to the treatments as did she. He and three others were the founders of this nitrogen mustard, developed after World War II, tiny drops of which when injected produced violent vomiting, which acted on the lymph glands. She loved life and it was her desire to keep this worry from others.

Cicely loved to travel. Her first trip was made alone when as a child to visit her Cousin Ellen Holton, who had moved to Woods Cross. She hadn’t been there more than two or three days when she became homesick. Without saying a word, she put her clothes in a cloth sack and informed Cousin Ellen that she was going home. Not expecting her, she had to walk from the depot, more than a mile home.

Many of her vacations as a child were spent with Cousin Jennie at Uncle Fred’s home in Brigham City. Jennie was older, but she was very fond of Cicely and took her with her wherever she went. Throughout life this attachment continued.

Cicely took her mother on her first trip out of the State, at a time when her mother was ill and needed a change. It was a thrill for them to see the ocean from California, and Cicely felt she was fully repaid, since it made a “new woman” out of her mother.
Throughout the years she enjoyed many nice trips – one with President and Mrs. John M Knight and the Western States missionaries, when they made a tour of the mission, including Chicago. Aside from that, all other trips were taken with her sisters and brother, mother, or brother-in-law, Ralph. Trips were taken many times to California, the Northwest, to Sun Valley, the southern Parks, Yellowstone, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, and various points in Utah with Fred, Ruth, Clif and Myrtle. While in California in July 1953, she had her first hair cut and permanent, much to the amusement of the operators and to the surprise of her family and friends. The later trips were more restful – at Carmel and Laguna - after her health began to fail, but she was still good company and it was wonderful to be with her.

Cicely was a person that everybody loved, respected, and admired. She had a host of friends – church, civic, business – in fact, she had no enemies. Her Mutual girls to whom she gave such motherly counsel and advice never forgot to remind her what she had meant to them. Scarcely a day passed that she didn’t have someone’s problem to solve. No one left her office without feeling cheered, consoled, and ready to face any problem that might present itself. Her smile and her laughter were contagious. She was the life of any group; she loved people. As one person said, “Cicely, it is holy to be at your feet!”

She loved poetry and beautiful thoughts, many of which were clipped for her scrapbook. Among the many “Reverent Thoughts” which she composed, and of which she left a volume on all subjects, is the following:

“We are told ‘a merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance, and also – God loveth the cheerful giver’. Have you ever stopped to realize what real joy comes from cheerful giving – even if your gift be but a smile! A smile costs nothing, but gives much. It enriches those who receive, without making poorer those who give. It takes but a moment - sometimes less - but the memory of it last forever. We bring it with us from the Eternal world on the day that we are born - We hold it in reserve until we have the physical power to pass it on – and usually it is the Mother who bore us that is the first recipient of that infant gesture. Could a child but realize how much that tender smile rewards her for the price paid that it might have life! A smile is a tonic thru life’s great way. No one is so rich, or so mighty, that he can get along without it - and no one is so poor but that he can be made rich by it.

“A smile creates happiness in the home – fosters good will in business and society endeavor – carries one over many a stormy path – and is the countersign of friendship. It brings comfort to the weary – cheer to the discouraged and much to the sad. It is something that has no value until it is given away. Yet, it cannot be bought, begged or stolen - it must be given through the soul of man. Some are too thoughtless to exercise this gift of giving, until they find the need of it themselves.

“So, let us be of good cheer, pleasant, helpful, and loving toward each other. Christ has said, ‘Love they neighbor as thy self’ can we better do this then by giving of our means of the poor, our comfort to the sick, our advice to the erring – our tenderness to the aged, our helpfulness to the child – our encouragement to the doubting - our obedience unto God.” By Cicely J. White

Written by Florence White

Florence and Cicely in 1947 at Iowa Street in 1946
Florence and Cicely in 1947 at Iowa Street in 1946
Cicely J. White
Cicely J. White