Thursday, May 28, 2009

Truman G. Madsen, 13 Dec 26-28 May 09

13 December 1926 – 28 May 2009

“Oh, Joseph!”*

[* Truman’s tearful exclamation upon hearing the announcement about the rebuilding of the Nauvoo Temple.]

Truman Grant Madsen died at home on 28 May 2009 at the age of 82 in Provo, Utah after a courageous year-long battle with cancer. He faced that year with grace and good humor. A beloved husband, father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, he was also a distinguished scholar, speaker, and author.

Truman was born 13 December 1926 to Axel A. and Emily Grant Madsen, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the second of three sons. He graduated from East High School, received his undergraduate degree from the University of Utah, and his PhD from Harvard University. He served as an LDS missionary in the New England Mission, and he and his cherished wife Ann Nicholls were married in the Salt Lake Temple on 16 June 1953.

His family and the Gospel were his two greatest joys.

Truman was an honored teacher, retiring as an emeritus professor of philosophy and religion after 37 years at BYU, a professor and honors professor of the year, and a recipient of the Karl G. Maeser award. He also taught at Claremont College and Graduate Theological Union in California, at Northeastern University in Boston, and at Haifa University in Israel, and served as the director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies.

One of his greatest legacies was helping “millions [to] know Brother Joseph again” through two well-known and highly acclaimed lecture series and through various other lectures, books, articles, and DVDs. What he wrote of B.H. Roberts, could well be said of him: “All of a sudden he looked up and raised his hands up and said, ‘Brother Joseph, I have fought for you, I have defended you. I have loved you . . .’.” Defender of the Faith, p. 388.

Truman had the unique gift to speak fluently both the language of faith and the language of scholarship, and to build bridges between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and scholars of other faiths. As the first occupant of the Richard L. Evans Chair of Religious Understanding and as Director of BYU’s Religious Studies Center, he hosted symposia and edited and published comparative papers by well-known scholars in compilations including Reflections on Mormonism: Judaeo-Christian Parallels.

A prolific author, his published volumes include Eternal Man, Christ and the Inner Life, Four Essays on Love, Defender of the Faith: the B.H. Roberts Story, Joseph Smith the Prophet, The Highest in Us, The Radiant Life, The Presidents of the Church: Insights Into Their Lives and Teachings, The Temple: Where Heaven Meets Earth, and The Sacrament: Feasting at the Lord’s Table.

His audio and video works include Joseph Smith the Prophet, Jesus of Nazareth, On Sacred Ground: Reflections on Joseph Smith, and the forthcoming The Eternal Christ.
He has inspired a generation of LDS scholars, and touched countless lives throughout the world.

He was a devout member and a lifelong advocate of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, serving faithfully in many callings including as a bishop, president of the New England Mission, counselor in the Israel District presidency, stake president, Gospel Doctrine instructor, and most recently as a stake patriarch.

Perhaps less well known, he was a master at Frisbee, an avid lifelong BYU football fan, and made the best scrambled eggs, popcorn, and lemon ice cream on the planet. He was a hopeless romantic and loved Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, and Grieg as well as Cyrano de Bergerac, “Random Harvest”, and “An Affair To Remember.” He loved relaxing at the cabin the family built at Brighton, eating at Cardullo’s deli in Harvard Square, and walking the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He owned every recording jazz band leader Stan Kenton ever made – and his youngest daughter’s first sentence was, “Turn it down!”

He is survived by his devoted wife, Ann Nicholls, and their three children: daughters Emily Reynolds (Mark), Mindy Davis (the late Grant Davis), and son Barnard (Cindy); a Navajo foster son, Larry Watchman; 9 grandsons, and 5 granddaughters; 2 great-grandsons and 10 great-granddaughters.

He would wish to thank all those who provided loving, devoted, and extraordinary care during his illness.

Friends may call at the Sharon East Stake Center, 2400 N. 1060 E., Provo, Utah from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on 1 June 2009. A memorial service will be held 2 June 2009 in the Provo LDS Tabernacle, 90 S. University Avenue, in Provo, Utah beginning at noon. A podcast of the service will be available at Interment will follow at the Salt Lake City Cemetery, 200 N Street, Salt Lake City, Utah. Sundberg Olpin Mortunary is handling final arrangements. Friends may leave condolences at Those who desire may make a donation to the Perpetual Education Fund in his memory.


Blogger Cristin said...

Barney - I was so sorry to hear about your father. I only met him a few times, but I felt like I knew him from listening to him read his book about the Prophet Joseph during my mission. He will be greatly missed.

11:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...'s such a blessing that you had your dad in your earthly life for so long. And, to have such a wonderful library of his works for your posterity to enjoy, is a another tremendous blessing.

As you meet together with your family this evening, to welcome those who wish to pay their respects to this great man, Brent and I will be thinking of you.

Much love,

3:28 PM  

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