Gerald Hewitt Tolman
20 Aug 1919 – 24 Oct 2008
Son of Benjamin Hewitt & Emily Knowles Tolman III

Soon after Gerald bought a ranch and moved his family to Montana, he became very ill. As he prayed for the restoration of his health, he promised the Lord he would do all he could to spread the gospel if only the Lord would heal him. Well again he thought how could he be most effective —just one man. The thought kept coming to him to write an article to be published in the local newspaper — a thought he quickly dismissed since he had not gone to college and since English and spelling were his worst subjects in high school — in fact, he just plain failed those subjects. But the thought persisted, so he said to himself, “Well, I’ll just go talk to the editor and that will be the end of that!” So in he went and presented the idea to the editor, who responded, “Sure we’ll print your articles if you will pay for the space, get it in one week in advance of press time and let us edit.” “So,” said Gerald, “I had no excuse and began writing and have published a weekly article for 28 years in that newspaper.” The editor of another newspaper in the area asked if he could also publish his articles, so they are currently running in two newspapers, reaching 3700 homes each week (and he doesn’t have to pay for the second one). Altogether he has published his articles in five different newspapers and has received many favorable calls, resulting in investigators and baptisms.

Once each season he takes a bowl of raspberries from his garden to each minister in the area. Whenever there is something he feels would interest a minister in the Church News, he takes him a copy. Also, he has subscribed to the Church News for ministers in the area and now three ministers subscribe on their own. He prepared a handout,” THE PLAN OF SALVATION: THE ETERNAL PROGRESSION OF MAN’ to give with LDS scriptures. He said, “I’ve given several to ministers and they have accepted it graciously. I tell them I want them to know what we are teaching their people.”

Gerald build a rather unique home, designed by his architect son, on his 40 acres about 13 miles from Belt. (The church bought his ranch years ago.) People often want to see his home, so he ends the tour in what he calls his missionary room. On one long wall he has charts and drawings, etc. to explain the gospel plan. In the beginning he bought Books of Mormon by the case and gave them away, but now he gives his card with a toll-free number to call for free books. On his 40 acres he has developed 12 springs, 25 camping spots and made ponds and fountains stocked with fish. It is very lovely there.

One Sunday while sitting in Sacrament Meeting, he received a strong impression to leave and go meet a new black minister. He had read about the new minister coming to town. So up he got and went to meet him and became good friends with him. He wanted to see Gerald’s home so followed him home, got the tour and all. When Pres. Hinckley went to Africa, he took him that Church News reporting it. He is one of the ministers subscribing to The Church News. He had a convention in Salt Lake City and was asking Gerald all about the city and where he could stay that wasn’t so expensive, etc. Finally, Gerald said, would you like me to take you there and show you around? The minister said, “Would you do that?” They went two days early; Gerald got reservations at Motel Six, called ahead to see if they perchance had some black missionaries on Temple Square, which they did— two lovely sisters. This minister felt such an incredible spirit there and asked Gerald if he thought it would be all right for him to write to those missionaries.

Last August Gerald received a phone message for a neighbor. As he started out the door the Spirit said, “Take a gun.” Well, he has never packed a gun, never been interested in hunting and thought he must be dreaming and started out again —but there it was again, TAKE A GUN! So he grabbed his 22 and took off. And not far up the road there was this cougar—just looking at him. So to scare him out of the way, Gerald aimed and fired. And the cougar jumped and ran. Six days later, Gerald thought he would see if he could tell what happened to the cougar and he found it dead not far from where he had shot it. It was a full-grown female; so the Fish & Game people wanted to check it out, because everyone knows you don’t kill a big cougar with a 22 rifle. However, it smelled pretty bad by then so they allowed as how he must have shot it right through the heart. And Gerald gives the Lord credit for that incredible shooting. And I personally think that Satan wanted to stop this great missionary, but the Lord said, “Oh no, I’ll take care of my missionary.”

Visit FamilySearch to learn more about Gerald Hewitt Tolman. Visit the Thomas Tolman Family Organization to find out how you can get more involved in family history.

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