The people who conduct tours on Temple Square may come and go from the historic square but the spirit of the area never leaves them, the director of Temple Square said Wednesday night.

Ralph O. Bradley spoke briefly at a reunion and social honoring several hundred former guides and current missionaries who serve at Temple Square in Salt Lake City.The reunion began in the Assembly Hall, where a musical program was presented by the Doug and Linda Rich family of Provo, and ended with refreshments in the basement of the North Visitors Center.

Bradley, who has been director for about two years, said the work of meeting and greeting people from all over the world is going well at Temple Square, where attendance records are broken every year.

Officials at Temple Square, where tours are now conducted by 52 full-time women missionaries and about 20 couples (full-time service missionaries) called by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expect that the visitor count will pass the 4.6 million mark by the end of 1990.

The count through October was 3.8 million visitors, an increase over the first 10 months of 1989.

In his remarks Bradley told the guides who have been released from their callings they rendered important service in welcoming people, answering their questions and telling them about the history and teachings of the church.

"You laid the foundation" for an important continuing work on Temple Square, where the first visitors center was finished in 1902, he said. At that time there were 75 part-time hosts and hostesses on Temple Square, Bradley said.

Last summer alone, there were 69 full-time women missionaries at Temple Square, with about 30 of that number being bilingual, he said.

Bradley related an experience of a Park City skier who visited Temple Square last summer. The skier told workers there that he took a tour and that he was tired of attending drinking parties and wanted to make changes in his life. Bradley said missionaries obtained a referral for the man to be taught the gospel. The man visited Temple Square last Sunday to tell workers that he had joined the church.

With a spirit of love and understanding, workers at Temple Square were able to touch the man's life, helping him to realize that changes were indeed possible, Bradley said.

He said people's love for the Savior intensifies as they work and serve on Temple Square.

Ellis H. Oram, his first assistant who conducted the program, and Joseph Horne, former Temple Square director, expressed love for the guides and missionaries and appreciation for the work they do.

Oram told the Deseret News that there were about 1,500 volunteers when he and his wife, Vera, first began their service about 3 1/2 years ago on Temple Square.

The reunion attracted hundreds of individuals and couples who have served - some of them for 15 to 20 years - on Temple Square.

Sharon Whitehead, Orem, a guide on Temple Square from February 1987 to October 1989, told the Deseret News her experiences there were wonderful. She said she began work there shortly after she and her husband, Samuel W. Whitehead, returned from full-time service in the Pennsylvania Harrisburg Mission.

"Just returning home from a mission made it like a returned missionary's dream" come true . . . to be there and surrounded by people from all over the world. It was a very exciting, incredible experience," she said, referring to the thousands of people of different languages and cultures she met.

Don Sperry, who was a teacher, counselor and principal for 34 years in Granite School District before his retirement in 1982, related experiences that he and his wife, Lily, had beginning that year at Temple Square. They were released from volunteer and missionary service at Temple Square last Feb. 10.

Sperry, who lives in the East Millcreek area of Salt Lake County, said they were introduced to the service by a friend in the North Visitors Center. They met him there following a Tabernacle Choir broadcast.

Sperry said he and other guides met the mayor of a communist China city a number of years ago. He said the official and many other visitors, including high-ranking military personnel, many Russians and many educators from various parts of the world have been receptive and appreciative of the time they spent on Temple Square.

On the first day he worked at Temple Square, Sperry said he met a young California man who had received a copy of The Book of Mormon from missionaries in San Clemente, Calif. At the request of a Scout troop that had met the man but neglected to give him a book before they left California, the book was left at a home where the man was staying. After leaving the coastal community the boys sent the book to a mission president, who in turn assigned missionaries to locate the man.

"My wife and I met thousands of choice people from all over the world. I met the California man on the first day I worked at Temple Square. And every day was just about like that. Service at Temple Square was one of the greatest things I have ever done," Sperry said.


(Additional information)

Attendance up

The October visitor count was up 53,902 over the same time a year ago at Temple Square, and a new attendance record looks possible for 1990.

Director Ralph O. Bradley said 339,031 visitors came to Temple Square during October, compared with 285,129 during the same month in 1989.

The number of visitors through Oct. 31 totaled 3,839,469.