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Reader voices: 30-plus years of ESTALAMI reunions

By Robert J. Williams

For the Deseret News

Published: Sunday, Sept. 29 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Autumn leaves in Rochester, N.Y. Cleora Williams serves a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Eastern States Mission based in Rochester, N.Y., beginning in 1940. She was later part of group that had reunions for about 30 years.

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My wife, Cleora, was called to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Eastern States Mission based in Rochester, N.Y., in the year of 1940.

Several of the lady missionaries who served in that mission decided to establish an organization to keep in touch with each other after returning home. At that time, most of the LMs called to serve were residents of Salt Lake City and Utah, so Salt Lake is where the meetings and officers were located.

The name ESTALAMI, which stood for Eastern States Lady Missionaries, met at least twice per year at the beginning and only annually in later years. After our marriage, Cleora was unable to attend the events because we lived in Kansas City and other places for many years.

In 1978, we moved back to Salt Lake City and she was then able to renew her friendships with the other sisters. Upon our return, the organization had started to invite husbands of members as well as men who also had served in this mission. Some of these men had served a part of their mission in Europe but were transferred back to the United States because of the war.

On Sept. 7, 1981, we were invited to the annual get-together, which was at the cabin of Elder George I. Cannon and wife, located up famous Emigration Canyon. He served his mission in the Eastern States after being transferred home from Europe. Previously he had served as the president of the Far East Area and later as president of the Salt Lake Temple. He was called to be in the Seventy in 1986.

The sisters who attended our gathering were asked to bring a covered dish and we enjoyed a potluck dinner.

These meetings always featured a speaker or speakers. Most of the time, it was a couple who had recently returned from a mission who spoke.

In about 1994, the ESTALAMI group decided it was getting too difficult to get together and voted to disband. Age had taken its toll!

Robert J. Williams lives in Richfield.

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