About the Collection
Alfred Walter Stevenson
by Jeffrey S. Hardy
Alfred Walter Stevenson was born on 6 October 1900 in Ogden, Weber County, Utah, to Alfred Stevenson and Merribel Bramwell, the first of four children. Although born three months premature, young Alfred grew rapidly and suffered no long-term consequences from his birth. He grew up in a strong Mormon family and was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on 11 October 1908. From an early age Alfred went by his middle name, Walter, and shortened his first given name to the initial A. He and his siblings raised chickens and grew fruits and vegetables to earn money for the family. Walter also developed a strong baritone voice in his youth and loved to sing. After attending Weber High School, he graduated from the Weber Academy in Ogden in 1918.
On 17 January 1921 Walter received a call to serve a mission to Great Britain. After eight farewell parties thrown by friends and relatives he was set apart for this calling by Elder James E. Talmage and left Utah on 4 May 1921. After arriving in Liverpool, England, Elder Stevenson was assigned to the Nottingham Conference. He faced great opposition and persecution while preaching and tracting in England and he even collected anti-Mormon newspaper articles. Several times he recorded being run out of neighborhoods and threatened with violence. On one occasion a man yelled: “If you didn’t have the law on your side, we’d kill you right here and you’ll get it if you don’t clear out.” Elder Stevenson held his ground, however, and after a long discussion they “parted the best of friends.” Another time while preaching in the marketplace a mob gathered, knocked over their stand, and Walter got hit “in the head just above the left eye.”
In June 1922 he became conference clerk, and on 20 January 1923 his mission president, David O. McKay, appointed him to preside over the Nottingham Conference. Shortly before his release from the mission field, on 3 June 1923, President McKay transferred him to the London Conference where he preached and researched his genealogy for just two months before embarking for home on 3 August 1923. On the last page of his journal he quoted the following scripture from 2 Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” Walter’s brother, Rulon, who served as a missionary in the Nottingham Conference four years later noted “how well remembered Walt was and how he was loved by the people in that area.”
Walter’s missionary zeal did not end with his mission. Shortly after returning home he visited a non-Mormon neighbor to preach the gospel. However, “it wasn’t long before Walt was put out…and told never to come near the house again.” During his first Sunday home in Ogden he was introduced to Effie Peck, who had moved to Ogden while he was in England. They started dating and on 4 February 1925 were married in the Salt Lake Temple. They made their home in Ogden and she bore him four children, a son and three daughters. To provide for his family Walter owned and operated an office supply store called Steve’s Office Supply. He was a member of Rotary International, and served as district governor for that organization in 1958 and 1959. Other civic posts held by Walter include county chairman of the American Red Cross, member of the Ogden Chamber of Commerce, and president of the Ogden Exchange Association and Ogden Executives Club. Always politically active, in 1960 he made a bid for congress on the Republican ticket and lost by a mere thirty-two votes.
In the church Walter served as a home missionary immediately following his mission to England, and then as a member of the 12th Ward Sunday School superintendency. Later callings included first counselor and bishop of the Ogden 12th Ward and counselor to three different stake presidents in the Mount Ogden and East Ogden Stake presidencies. His most important calling, however, came in October 1948 when he was appointed to be first assistant to the superintendent of the Young Men’s Mutual Improvement Association (YMMIA). In this capacity he became active in the scouting organization and was eventually awarded the Silver Antelope for his service to the Boy Scouts of America. He also helped develop and improve the church sports program during his ten years with the YMMIA.
In the early 1960s doctors diagnosed Walter with Parkinson’s disease to which he gradually succumbed. Alfred Walter Stevenson died on 27 November 1974 at the age of seventy-four. After his passing a close associate remarked, “Here was a man that was completely dedicated—dedicated to duty, dedicated to his family and dedicated to the Lord and His great work. Walt Stevenson was loved wherever he went.”
1 A. Walter Stevenson, “Diary, 1921-1923,” 7 December 1921, MSS 1574, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.
2 Ibid., 20 November 1922.
3 Ibid., p. 213.
4 Mitzi Stevenson Fillerup, A. Walter Stevenson: A Loving Tribute ([Tuscon, Arizona?: M. Fillerup, 2000?]), 7
5 Ibid., 4.
6 Ibid., 135.
Fillerup, Mitzi Stevenson. A. Walter Stevenson: A Loving Tribute. [Tucson, Arizona?: M. Fillerup, 2000?].
Stevenson, A. Walter. “Diary, photograph albums, and scrapbooks, 1900-1974,” MSS 1574, L. Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University.