Preface: This is the story of two brothers who met for the first time when they were old men, with wrinkles and gray hair and grown children of their own. Against all odds, after decades of not knowing of the other’s existence, followed by years of searching, they found each other. Before that, they were part of a deep secret their mother carried with her like an iron weight for 63 years.
In the end, their story is a testament of forgiveness, faith and the irresistible yearning for family connections.
Clara Judd Hill passed away in December at the age of 89. Fortunately, thanks to her courageous decision to unburden herself of her secret, she lived to see the union of her sons, meet her long lost son for the first time since birth and experience the peace and happiness it brought to her and so many other family members.
Nathan “Skip” Dopp was 62 years old when he received a phone call from a stranger named Steve Orgill, who told him, “I think I’m your brother.”
Steve Orgill was raised an only child by Clara Judd, a single mother who moved with her baby from Utah to California to start a new life. She worked a full-time job to support her son and did her best to bring him up right.
“My mother made sure I was taught well and went to church,” says Steve. “She had a strong desire to do good and instilled it in me.”
For much of the boy’s childhood, it was just the two of them, mother and son. He rarely saw his father, but later, when Steve was serving a mission for the LDS Church, his father reached out to him, sending frequent letters of encouragement.
To provide a father figure for her son, Clara married when Steve was 10, but it was a difficult marriage and short-lived. Then it was the two of them again until Steve left home to attend BYU.
Steve studied zoology and business administration, but wound up becoming a general contractor (he is co-owner of Judd Construction in Draper). He married Pamela Meyers. They raised six children and brought Steve's mother to live with them.
Meanwhile, Nathan Dopp — “Skip” to everybody — was one of five children adopted by Nathan and Charlotte Dopp and raised in Logan. After finishing school, Skip taught welding and machine shop courses at Bridgerland Applied Technology College before moving into the school’s administration. He married Sandra Small and they raised three children.
His parents told him early on that he and his siblings were adopted. Skip was naturally curious about his birth parents, but his adoptive parents knew little about them except that his mother was from the Grantsville area.
“All my life I wondered what my mother was like and whether she was still alive,” says Skip.
About 20 years ago he searched for his parents on the Internet but failed to uncover any information. He contacted LDS social services, but he was told that birth records were closed. He went online and found a website that would indicate if someone was looking for him. He struck out again, but the website allowed him to register his name for anyone who might search for him in the future. Little did he know it would pay off many years later.
“In the back of my mind it’s always been there,” says Skip. “As my children have grown up, they have always wondered and have encouraged me to find my birth parents. I had given up. I figured my parents were deceased and it wouldn’t do much good to search.”
Steve of course was unaware of this. For decades, Clara held fast to her secret: She had borne two children with Steve's father, not just one — another son born four years before Steve.
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