While Ann Madsen isn’t as well-known as her husband, Truman Madsen, she is a notable woman who has been described as “every bit the disciple-scholar” that her husband was. In a recent interview over at the Latter-day Saint history blog From the Desk, Ann discussed some of the events in her life, focusing particularly on a few interactions with Truman Madsen and Spencer W. Kimball. What follows here is a co-post (a shorter post with excerpts and some discussion).
Ann Madsen notes in the interview that Spencer W. Kimball “was like a father” to her and her brother. She explained that: “I grew up two houses away from President Spencer W. Kimball. Even though he was an apostle, I grew up calling him ‘Brother Kimball.’ My father and I would often come out of the house each morning just before President Kimball. He’d come out of his house and call down the street to my father, ‘Barnard, hold the bus!’” She went on to share a story from her childhood:
When I was about 10 years old, I was watching my 7-year-old brother when my parents went out. The last thing my mother said was: “Do not walk up to 21st East to get ice cream at Duffin’s. Do not do that.”
As soon as they left, my brother said, “I think we can go up there. We’d be alright. We only need a nickel for ice cream cones and we’ve got the money. So, should we go?”
And we said, “Sure. Let’s go. We can do it.”
We took Freckles with us—our darling little black-and-white Cocker Spaniel. Now, there are no sidewalks on 13th South, and Freckles was going in and out of the street running and playing with us.
He got hit by a car hard. The guy in the car just left. My brother and I both yelled at the top of our lungs. And Elder Kimball came running across the lot. He said, “I thought something happened to Robert.”
I told him, “It’s our dog.”
Brother Kimball picked up the dog, who was almost as big as he was, and carried her home with us. And then the dog tried to bite him because she was dying.
He put her down and asked, “Where are your parents?”
I said, “They’re out to dinner.”
“We better call them,” he told me.
So, we called them and they came home. That’s when I learned to obey. I loved that dog, and she was gone—all because we made a wrong decision. We made a wrong choice and disobeyed. I mean, if my parents hadn’t given us those instructions, it would be one thing. But they said it, and we didn’t do it.
This was a difficult way to learn, but Elder Kimball helped her through the incident.
She also shared another, happier story with Elder Kimball:
He’s the one who made sure we got married. Truman and I came to a place where we had to make some decisions. He’d been away to graduate school at Southern Cal for a year. I was wearing his diamond, but I was also getting tired of waiting.
He was saying, “Well, let’s fast and pray to see if we should get married this summer.”
But my decisions were different depending on when we got married. Should we get married in the summer because I was graduating from the university? And if I graduated, where was I going to teach and what was I going to do?
I remember going up to This Is the Place monument to break our fast and pray. It was quiet and nice.
And we came up with different answers. He thought one thing and I thought the other.
I was so upset. Not because Truman got an answer saying no, but because we didn’t both get the same answer. It felt like I hadn’t been in tune enough, and that the Lord had told Truman the right answer, but I got the wrong one.
I was crying as we drove back. I couldn’t explain it very well. But I tried to tell Truman: “I thought I knew how to pray. I thought I knew what was the right thing to do.”
Just before we got to my house, one of us said, “Let’s go in and talk to Brother Kimball.” So, we knocked on the door. Brother Kimball came to the door in the little house where he lived and he invited us in.
Afterward, I thought, “Oh, he thinks we must have fouled up, that we would come to him like this.” Because both of us knew him very well. But it wasn’t that. It was because we had gotten a different answer.
It took him about five minutes. He started asking Truman questions: “So, tell me, what are the reasons for this? And what are the reasons for that?” Truman started telling him and Brother Kimball stopped him. He said: “Truman, I want you to marry Ann in two weeks. I want you to get married in two weeks.”
Now, both of us would do anything an apostle said to us. So, suddenly, we had the same idea. That’s what we were going to do. I said to Brother Kimball: “I graduate from the university in two weeks. Could you make it three weeks?”
He said, “Yes, but not one day longer.”
And he lectured us not to live with either of our parents. “And if you find you have to,” he said, “Don’t. Come to me. I will give you the money to rent someplace else, because you need to start your marriage together someplace else.” Which we did.
We left and went down to my house. My father and mother were in the kitchen. We walked in. I’d been crying—and I looked like I’d been crying.
Truman said, “We just thought we’d come and tell you that we’re getting married in three weeks.” And my father said, “Well, Truman, it’s about time.”
I remember that so well.
It was an important moment in her life. And while it took a leap of faith, it did work out for the best. As Sister Madsen shared, about four years after they were married:
After he’d [Truman] finished graduate school and received his PhD. We had two children and I was expecting a third. And Truman got an appointment with Brother Kimball.
Truman went in and said, “I just want to tell you, I thought marriage was a shock to begin with. But I also thought I didn’t have much part in it because my dad and I had decided that I needed to be able to graduate and support a wife.”
There was extra gratitude because we were no longer able to have children. He told President Kimball, “Thank you very much. We now have three children that we would never have had if we’d waited four years.”
While they married sooner than Truman had expected, it allowed them to establish their family in a way they wouldn’t have been able to if they had waited.
For more insights and stories from the life of Ann Madsen, including three things Truman Madsen told her and some of her experience of being with him during the final days of his life, head on over to read the interview at the Latter-day Saint history blog From the Desk.