A few days back I received this email. After reading it a few times I managed a moment to just sit back and reflect on the life of one of our most beloved members. We all touch lives every day but do we strive to do it as well as Dallas Semones? But enough of this, let’s read a wonderful tribute.
Dear Elder Johnson:
I did not know who to address this to so I thought you would know and would pass this on. I wanted to send a personal testimony of how Vernon Semones forever touched my life.
I was in his 6th grade class at Chesterton Elementary in San Diego, California. My dad was in the Navy and either out to sea or serving in different countries while I was a child. My parents were both very conservative and raised their three children in a Christian home. In 1970, I was in the 6th grade. Girls were just obtaining the right to wear pants, and even blue jeans, however, my parents thought it more appropriate for me to wear dresses to school. This left me out of a lot of recess games and activities, especially those involving climbing. What I remember is feeling left out and sometimes ridiculed because I did not wear pants. But even more than the memory of that feeling, I remember the loving kindness of Mr. Semones. I remember he made me feel special, allowing me to pass out papers to “help” him. I remember specifically him telling me that I was smart. And he actually filled in the “father figure” blank with little encouragements that things would turn out for me and that he thought I was a good girl.
I went on to Christian High School of San Diego, about 30 miles from Chesterton. I was in the band and Mr. and Mrs. Semones would make the long drive to hear my concerts for the next 5 years. I moved on and lost touch but always remembered him as my favorite teacher. This morning, in my office at Klein High School, we were talking about our favorite teachers and what they meant to us and I Googled Vernon Semones and the Endowment report came up. I was thrilled to find it was my Vernon Semones, that he had lived a long and full life, passing on my birthday in 2010.
I know Mr. Semones was sent to me by God to give me that fatherly reassurance and direction in my life. Having experienced God’s love and kindness through him during a particularly difficult time in my life was no accident. God’s loving kindness and mercy have kept me. I have served the Lord as a missionary visiting many countries. I co-founded a school and trained Pastors in Russia from 1994-1998, and also was a church planter in Ontario Canada. I have taught many classes in the local church on missions.
Like Mr. Semones, I came to teaching as a mature adult. While I am a geography content expert, my goal is to show the Love of God to my students and fellow teachers and to encourage them to do good in the world. My theme is always, “Each of us has been given a gift for the earth, find that gift and exploit it to its fullest”. I can only hope my students remember me with the fondness with which I remember Mr. Semones.