In 1918 Brother George Goates was a farmer who raised sugar beets in Lehi, Utah. . . . An influenza epidemic . . . claimed the lives of George’s son Charles and three of Charles’s small children—two little girls and a boy. In the course of only six days, a grieving George Goates made three separate trips to Ogden, Utah, to bring the bodies home for burial. At the end of this terrible interlude, George and [his young son] Francis hitched up their wagon and headed back to the beet field.
On the way they passed wagon after wagon-load of beets being hauled to the factory and driven by neighborhood farmers. As they passed by, each driver would wave a greeting: “Hi ya, Uncle George,” “Sure sorry, George,” “Tough break, George,” “You’ve got a lot of friends, George.”
On the last wagon was freckled-faced Jasper Rolfe. He waved a cheery greeting and called out: “That’s all of ’em, Uncle George.”
When they arrived at the farm gate, Francis jumped down off the big red beet wagon and opened the gate as [his father] drove onto the field. George pulled up, stopped the team, and scanned the field. There wasn’t a sugar beet on the whole field. Then it dawned upon him what Jasper Rolfe meant when he called out: “That’s all of ’em, Uncle George!” . . .
This man who brought four of his loved ones home for burial in the course of only six days; made caskets, dug graves, and even helped with the burial clothing—this amazing man who never faltered, nor flinched, nor wavered throughout this agonizing ordeal—sat down on a pile of beet tops and sobbed like a little child.
Then he arose, wiped his eyes, . . . looked up at the sky, and said: “Thanks, Father, for the love of these dear friends.”
Vaughn J. Featherstone