Uncle Cleon was one of those rare people who have had the opportunity to live multiple lives. Cleon was an outstanding FBI agent, working personally with J. Edgar Hoover.
Each night Cleon would gather our group together in a private lounge of the hotel, telling us the stories that took place in the locations we would be visiting the next day. Afterward he would invite Mark and me to his hotel room, where he would share with us some of the deep doctrines he had gleaned from his personal study of the scriptures. We felt a warm, tender spirit of love and truth in those private meetings. And the public tours were just as wonderful. I remember sitting on a rock wall overlooking the Sea of Galilee
while Cleon talked with us about the Savior’s Sermon on the Mount, explaining the importance of Christ’s invitation to those who were poor in spirit or meek or mournful, “Come unto me.” I noticed a man from another tour group leaning sideways to listen to Cleon’s talk, shuffling slowly backwards until he had reached the borders of our group and could hear all of Cleon’s words. Such was the power of his understanding of the scriptures!
While I admire all of Uncle Cleon’s contributions, it was his ability to bring the scriptures to life that has touched my own life most deeply. My first experience with reading the scriptures was a failure. Intrigued (and a little frightened) by what I had heard about end-days prophecies, I sat down at the age of ten to read the Book of Revelation. Needless to say, I closed the book after three chapters, utterly confused, and did not try reading the Bible seriously again for several years. When I did, it was with Uncle Cleon’s masterful “Thousand Year” series as a guide. Cleon had painstakingly gleaned the history from Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, and the prophets, and organized it into a chronological story that made historic sense. I read all three volumes straight through, finally understanding the history, the stories, the grandeur and the pathos of those great men and women who populate the books of the Bible. Now I am a teacher too. Whenever I teach the Old Testament, I use Cleon’s books to refresh my memory of the history, and the Bible itself to reinforce the doctrines. Together, they make a marvelous pair of resources.
I am grateful that Mark “imposed” on Cleon and Jewel’s hospitality each time our family visited Utah
I am also grateful for the books Cleon has written. Although our grandchildren may not have the privilege of meeting him face to face, they will be able to read his scripture guides and feel the magnitude of Uncle Cleon’s testimony that God lives, that the priesthood has been restored, and that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.