It has been announced that registration for Roots Tech 2016 opens in about a month, on September 15, 2015. Roots Tech will be held Wednesday, February 3rd through Saturday, February 6, 2016. We want to encourage as many family members as possible to register and attend as their resources and time allows.

Roots Tech is the world’s largest Family History conference. Every major vendor and resource in Genealogical and Family History research is represented at the conference and there are dozens of classes on all kinds of topics related to family history research.

If enough interest exists we would like to sponsor a family gathering in advance of Roots Tech to discuss family history opportunities and strategies for getting the most out of Roots Tech. We would propose a gathering either on the weekend before Roots Tech or on the evening of Wednesday, February 3rd, the first day of Roots Tech.

We would really like to encourage those with teenagers to especially prepare for Family Discovery Day at Roots Tech, which is a free all-day event on Saturday, February 6th. There are speakers from Church leadership, usually a youth challenge related to family history and temple work, and plenty of learning activities for getting our kids involved in Family History. We think it might be awesome as well just to get as many of our young cousins together as we can.

The world of Family History is changing fast. We understand how daunting it is to just even start. We are willing to help any interested family member learn enough before Roots Tech to make attending this event in Salt Lake City worth their time and energy. Please contact us if you would like help or more information. The more we add and involve other family members the more fun and productive this work is.

Our devoted wife, exceptional mother, incredible grandmother and family historian extraordinaire died in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday, April 5th, 2015. Born Susanne Catherine Begich on January 11, 1943 – her father’s birthday – in Mt. Kisco, New York, she was simply Cathi, Mom or Nana to all who knew and loved her.

With her father deploying overseas during World War II from his station in California, Mom and her mother traveled by train when she was 6 months old with hopes of saying goodbye. But an unfortunate twist of fate had them arrive too late for their goodbye – never to see her father again. Alone with her young child in a state far away from any life she had known, our grandmother raised Mom with the help of her new husband, Pascal H. Caldwell – both nursing their heartache and war wounds with an addiction to alcohol. Mom’s childhood was difficult and trying. She rarely spoke about it.

It was in California while in high school that she discovered her love of journalism, honed her skills as a graphic artist with dreams of one day working as an artist for Walt Disney. It was in high school where she met our Dad, Kyle Westover whose strong family ties attracted mom for although her childhood was problematic to say the least, she had developed a strong, deep, long-abiding love for family.

Dad never knew what exactly Mom saw in him. And we have to admit, we’re not quite sure either because Mom was HOT and well…he was NOT! She had her pick of all the jocks, was the class valedictorian and yet, she got together with the gangly, nerdy kid who shared her passion for journalism, sang in the barber shop quartet and was president of the Pat Boone Fan Club. She has said that at first that she could not stand the sight of him. Fortunately, he was able to quickly change her mind. He introduced her to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and she was soon baptized. They were married on August 9, 1960- eloping at the young and tender age of 17. Upon arriving in Carson City, Nevada (as Las Vegas was just too “tacky”), they had to call her stepfather to come in person from California to give his consent since they were both underage. Our brother Jay arrived shortly after and along with their puppy Tinka, they started to build their family. Mom and Dad were later sealed in the Los Angeles temple on August 23, 1961. Through out their 55 years of marriage and the trials they shared, she was always passionate about her husband and also (in no particular order)- ice cream, fishing (especially, if she had a fish on the line), keeping the living room clean at all times in case she had visitors, ensuring the vacuum lines were straight and even, family history and her family.

Mom and Dad established their home in a little white house on Crawford Street in Concord, California and soon they had added Debbie, Jeff and David to their growing family. As Dad was finishing his schooling at UC Berkeley, we lost our own Nana, Mom’s Mother. The loss was devastating and it would be a burden our young mother would carry for the rest of her life.

After graduation, Dad & Mom moved their family to the Central Valley in what they called their “Camelot” in Lodi, California. There, the kids would be able to ride their bikes all over town without care, they could feed the ducks at the local park and they would routinely feast at their favorite eating establishments – Pizza Garden, Howard’s Delicatessen and Cottage Bakery – all places that never had an equal and to this day are regarded fondly by every member of the family.

Despite a doctor’s grim prediction that her child bearing days were over after an earlier life-endangering miscarriage, they welcomed their last child, Kristine at Christmas time 1971.

With their family complete, Mom & Dad began work together in the small upstairs office of the Lodi house on what would later become the training department for Longs Drug Stores. When it became apparent that the fruits of their labors were succeeding, they were on the move again – this time back to Concord, California to be closer to family and the general offices of Dad’s new job as the director of Training for Longs Drug. This time they decided to build their home from the ground up. Mom designed every part of the house – to the open layout downstairs, to the redwood chevron styled walls and the strategically placed “Mt. Diablo Window” by the stairs. With the help of Uncle Darrell Westover’s skilled hands in construction, Mom’s dream home was realized, built with the sweat of their brow, surrounded by her beloved rose bushes and where each of their children would round out their own childhoods.

With many of the kids grown & starting to leave home, Mom & Dad, along with their “caboose child” as Mom liked to call her started their very early daily grind in the Longs Drug general offices in Walnut Creek, California – Dad working the ins and outs of training with Mom at his side illustrating each training program with the powerful strokes of her very capable fingers and creative mind.

In the mid-1980s Mom would leave Longs and seek some independence with a short career as a front office manager for a local veterinary but it was with the birth of her grandson Matthew that she found her true calling as Nana. Already a grandmother to Darcy, Amy, Katy, Aubree, Nikki, Jessie and Ashley, Mom relished her role as Nana even if it was from afar. But with his mother returning to school and with the demands of being a single-mom weighing heavily on her mind, Debbie sought out Mom for help in caring for her son. Mom quit her job at the veterinary to care for Matt full-time. Mom had learned much during her tenure as mother that it paid off big dividends for her grandchildren who benefited from her years of experience. Being Nana was the reward for having survived her own little devils. Matt was the first benefactor of her love and guidance. And given her own little wicked sense of humor, she was his first influence in the art of sarcasm and wit.

Mom would build on to her repertoire as Nana with the additions of Abby, Enoch, Allie, Maggie, Madelyn and Emma. And in 1999, she would move to Utah to be closer to her grandchildren. Layton, Draper, Lehi and finally Pleasant Grove were places that Mom called home these past 16 years.

When Michaela, her granddaughter, came along in 2002, she was once again putting on her Super Nana Cape. With both of Michaela’s parents working and knowing that there was no daycare in existence that could provide their daughter the kind of influence that Nana could give her, Mom was once again working the bottle, changing the diapers and singing all the nursery rhymes with her own unique lyrics that only Nana could sing. Nana became an expert in all things Dora the Explorer and Franklin the Turtle. She was once again flexing her artistic fingers drawing Mickey Mouse, cutting out bats and ghosts for Halloween and snowflakes at Christmas – even though arthritis had set in and it was painful. It didn’t matter because Nana was doing what she did best. She was being A MOTHER.

When her son-in-law unexpectedly passed away in 2008, as they quietly drove away from her daughter’s home, Michaela’s small voice came from the backseat asking if her father was dead. True to “Nana Form” and never one to accept untruth and patronizing, Mom told Michaela that indeed her father was gone. A young orphan herself, Mom felt particularly protective of this young granddaughter knowing that the memories of her father would turn to foggy dreams at best. Keeping her father alive and fresh in her mind was something she took to heart and she approached this tender time with an experienced finesse that only she could be capable of.

Mom was forthright. When asked to describe their Nana in a word, Mom’s grandchildren say that she was caring, tough, vivacious, enduring, artsy, amazing, spunky, faithful and a sassy-pants. So true! Mom was all of those things and more.

She would tell her opinion of them- straight, honest and true. She could always be counted on to give them the unconditional love that only a Nana can give. At church, she had the uncanny ability to take any lesson or sermon and tie it back to family history… seriously any topic.

Despite the burden of new health concerns and surviving a stroke in 2010, Mom stoically faced what would become her most arduous trial yet – an active and vigorous spirit coupled with a body that was failing her. It was frustrating, exhausting and difficult to face. But she did so because her drive to stay with her family was strong. Enduring diabetes, liver & kidney failure, countless doctor visits, hospital stays and stints in rehab, Mom defied the odds and strongly and enthusiastically gave the proverbial middle finger to her health woes. This indelible spirit would serve her well these next 5 years until when at the close of 2014 she had decided she had enough of the doctors and hospitals.

Mom retreated to her home in Pleasant Grove with the company of her dog, Chewie and her loving and devoted husband – our father who dedicated every minute of his daily routine to her care. With meticulous notes and a tenacious effort, Dad tended to Mom’s every need much to her chagrin as time grew short. His only goal was to give her comfort, boost her spirits and keep her strength up for the daily visits with her son David, his wife Wendy and their children whom she had only in recent years gotten to know. Tasia, Porter, Amelia and Carson were new reminders of her very important role as Nana. Although unable to draw for them the pictures she had shared with her other grandchildren or sing for them her very uniquely Nana songs, she taught them the true meaning of enduring to the end – perhaps the most important lesson of all – that despite the trials and heartache one experiences in life, you approach them with bravery, you stick your chin out in defiance and you love deeply. Mom/Nana was teaching all of us to the very bitter end.

Mom died very much like how she lived – marching to the beat of her own drum, demanding that she’d go when she was darn well ready and that she wouldn’t go without every one of her loved ones knowing how much she loved them – for these were her last words – her final testament as our Mother. “I love you,” she repeated in a whispered voice, too weak to open her eyes. Yes, Mom. We know. We thank you for this final gift. What a wonderful Mother you are. What a teacher you have been. Mom, whether it was a cold glass of water to the face when we sassed you, cornflakes in our bed when we demanded our breakfast, tying us together until we got along, making us walk around the house naked because we refused to clean up our dirty clothes or the colorful metaphors that came from your mouth when you encountered annoying drivers – your influence will be felt for generations to come. You were a force to be reckoned with here and we hope Heaven was ready for you. Oh how we would have loved to be celestial flies on the wall when you got there!

Mom is survived by her husband, our father, Kyle Jay Westover Sr., children Kyle Jay Westover Jr. (Mary), Deborah Westover, Jeffery Westover (Sandy), David Westover (Wendy), Kristine (Westover) Fluck, 19 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren (with 1 more on the way), in addition to two “adopted” daughters Andrea Castiglione Waters (Mitch), Audra Castiglione Walburn (Ron) and cousins located in Pennsylvania, Minnesota, New York and Colorado. She is preceded in death by her parents, Carl P. Begich (Father), Winifred Caldwell (Mother), Pascal H. Caldwell (Step-Father), Elizabeth Sorensen (Great-Granddaughter), Michael Fluck (Son-in-Law) and her “babies” – dogs Tinka, Snuffles, Jenny, Molly and Mandy.

The family wishes to extend their sincere gratitude to the staff at First Choice Home Health and Hospice. Britney, Colette, MaKayla B., Mckayla F., Emily and Spencer, thank you for the love and devotion you gave to our mother. Our lives have been enriched by your selfless care and we look upon you as family.

We invite family and friends to join us in celebrating Mom’s life. Visitation will be at Larkin Sunset Gardens, Friday, April 10th from 6pm-8pm and Saturday, April 11th from 9:30am to 10:30am (memorial services begin at 11am) at the South Mountain 3rd Ward Chapel, 272 Traverse Ridge Rd in Draper, Utah. Interment will immediately follow at Larkin Sunset Gardens, 1950 E 10600 S in Sandy, Utah.

This obituary was written by daughters Deborah L. Westover and Kristine Westover Fluck.

A few of us are organizing a Westover family history journey to New England tentatively scheduled for the last two weeks of September 2016.

Our hopes are to explore the family history sites in Windsor/Simsbury,Connecticut and Sheffield, Massachusetts as well as other New England sites of relevance and importance in family and Church history, including a stop in Palmyra, New York.

Think of it — could we find the birthplace of Jonas Jr on September 20th, 2016 — the 352nd birthday of that beloved ancestor, the first of our grandfathers born in America? Wouldn’t it be neat to meet at the hill Cumorah on September 23rd?

This beautiful time of year should be ideal for exploring. If enough folks can make a commitment to go we may organize a family gathering in one of these special places.

My personal goals for such a trip would be many. I would love to track down cemeteries. It would be great to access local libraries and records. There could possibly be more pictures than my memory cards can store. I am greatly motivated at the prospect of such a trip.

Please contact us if you would be interested in participating in the journey and helping us to develop an itinerary. We do plan to drive New England, whether that means flying to somewhere central and renting vehicles or merely taking off from where we are.

But at this stage we’re merely starting to gather ideas and dates. Join us!

Ready to write some family history with us? Please participate in our effort to collect favorite stories, memories and histories of Moms and Grandmas.

Between now and the week of Mother’s day 2015 we will be working on submissions of stories from family members about their Moms and Grandmas. Then, during the week of Mother’s Day, we will publish what is shared here on the website. If we can get enough people to participate we think we will have added a wonderful new section to our family history archive here online.

We have very few rules for this: your story does not have to be long — it just has to come from you. It doesn’t have to be of your Mom…in can be a memory of a favorite grandmother or maybe a mother-like figure in your life. It can be a mother-in-law. Your mom or grandma doesn’t even have to be a Westover. Just tell us about someone special in your life who fills that mother role for you in some way.

It can be long or short. It can be funny. It can be sad. It can be anything you like, really. Just share it with us. Inspire us with the lessons you’ve learned, the laughs you have shared and the memories you hold dear.

You can even upload an image to share with your story. We’ll just collect it all and publish them just as they are written in a special section here on Westover Family History.

We encourage you to make this a family activity with your children. Everyone has a Mom! We want to hear from young and old alike from family members everywhere. The more who participate the more folks will benefit and be inspired.

Because it is possible that these stories may include living individuals we have chosen to publish these stories and make them available on to logged in registered users.

This is a great Sunday-afternoon activity. Please take the time to share a little something about your Mom or Grandma.

(That picture up at the top — that’s my Mom with her mother around 1965 — rockin’ the sunglasses).

I met a man at Rootstech named Frank Nielsen. He was there selling copies of something his father had given him years before — a map, dating back to his great grandfather in 1899 — mounted on a piece of wood. You can read his story on his website, pioneermaps.com.

Frank didn’t push his maps on me. Instead I asked him about it and heard the story from him. I have not figured it out but it dawned on me that there is a good possibility that we’re related. In just minutes of conversation with him it dawned on me how similar our stories are. He possesses the Spirit of Elijah. Like so many others he cannot tell the story of his family past without tears of gratitude.

That term, Spirit of Elijah, is one the traditional Christian world knows little of. After hearing the comments of Elder Allen F. Packer at Rootstech 2014, I’m convinced that very few Latter-day Saints get it either.

According to Elder Packer, less than 3 percent of Church membership is submitting names for temple work via Family Search.

That is a shocking figure. Consider this: the Church estimates that between 10 and 12 percent of Church members have gathered a year’s supply of food storage.

What that means is that roughly four times as many Church members have stored wheat than worked on their family history.

Why the disconnect? On the one hand you have guys like Frank Nielsen or the man I met in the wheelchair — pushing themselves to get family history work done — while on the others we have otherwise good, decent, faithful and active members of the Church who won’t even touch Family History. That’s amazing to me.

I’m one of the guilty. I have and used all the usual excuses.

There are three points I’d like to really make here:

1. We have a moral imperative as Latter-day Saints to get busy.
2. You don’t have to be LDS or a temple-worthy member to feel the Spirit of Elijah and get involved in this work
3. Nobody has YOUR family history — so it isn’t done

Once I’m off my soapbox about those three points I want to provide the very first steps EVERYONE has to take to get started. So please bear with me to the end of this article.

Our Moral Imperative as Latter-day Saints

This great work of family history was foretold by prophets anciently. In fact, the last verses of the Old Testament so confound the experts of Christianity they cannot make sense of it. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The Prophet Joseph explained that the proper translation of the word “turn” in this context is actually “bind” or “seal”. Said he:

And now, my dearly beloved brethren and sisters, let me assure you that these are principles in relation to the dead and the living that cannot be lightly passed over, as pertaining to our salvation. For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation, as Paul says concerning the fathers—that they without us cannot be made perfect—neither can we without our dead be made perfect.

That idea of “being perfect” is reminiscent of the Savior’s admonition to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48). Here the Prophet teaches that the word “perfect” was translated from the Greek word “teleios”, meaning “brought to its end, finished, completed”.

If that modern prophet direction is not enough, consider what President Wilford Woodruff said in 1894: “We want the Latter-day Saints from this time to trace their genealogies as far as they can, and to be sealed to their fathers and mothers. Have children sealed to their parents, and run this chain through as far as you can get it. … This is the will of the Lord to his people.”

It amazes me, and much to my own shame, it humbles me, that we can expend so much energy in trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ through service to our Church callings, through efforts to raise our children in righteousness, through obedience to countless commands and yet we fool ourselves into thinking this work is done or will be done by someone else or at another time. This work was held in reserve for THIS dispensation — just as we were held in reserve. It is ours to do.

This work is for EVERYONE

Some feel they are not worthy of the temple so they don’t have to do this work. Others are not members of the Church at all and see nothing of the vision of this time. Indeed, it has been observed that the two dominant online activities on the Internet are pornography and family history. While one leads to heartache and even destruction, the other leads to paths of knowledge, honor and even greatness.

The pull to work on family history, for many though unexplained, is natural enough. Alex Haley, author of Roots, said: “In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness. In every conceivable manner, family is the link to our past, bridge to our future.”

It is not only my hope but my promise that “turning our hearts” will lead to a change in our lives and focus. The exploration of family memories will lead to the creation of better family memories. Nothing but good comes from it, as generations of genealogists and family history enthusiasts will tell you.

Nobody has YOUR Family History

No two family histories are alike. When I was younger, I focused on the history of my father’s family, which was totally different than the history of my mother’s family. The two combined were my family history and I shared then the same family history as all my siblings.

That changed when I got married and had children. Now my family history includes my wife’s families — and it will change even more as each of my children marry and have children.

With that shifting dynamic comes ever growing responsibility. The work for family on all sides needs to be done. We have a saying in our family that we have used to try to teach our children — NO EMPTY CHAIRS. What that means is that we always come together as a family, no one is left out or left behind. That philosophy extends to our all of our family. And it grows in meaning and significance when it comes to the work of the temple.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson has taught:

Our anxiety to redeem the dead, and the time and resources we put behind that commitment, are, above all, an expression of our witness concerning Jesus Christ. It constitutes as powerful a statement as we can make concerning His divine character and mission. It testifies, first, of Christ’s Resurrection; second, of the infinite reach of His Atonement; third, that He is the sole source of salvation; fourth, that He has established the conditions for salvation; and, fifth, that He will come again.

With all of these imperatives, where do we begin?

Our simple first step is to merely register at Family Search and take a look.

Family Search contains not only links to what family is on record connected to YOU it contains an accounting of what temple work needs to be done. This “one world tree”, which has been in continual development since the coming of Elijah in 1836 and will continue through the Millennium, is the documentation of YOUR stewardship. It won’t show what Grandma did for you or what some other person did or is doing for you. It will show what YOU are doing. If you don’t log in and “thrust in your sickle” no one can or will do it for you.

If you already have an account at LDS.org your logon should work for Family Search. If not, registration is otherwise easy and free. Click here to learn how.

Family Search is completely free. It is smartly designed. It is intended for you to use over and over and over on a continual daily basis. Think of it as Google in the world of family history. It is essential to all other genealogical efforts you will make online.

You must learn it and become familiar with how it works. To some this will be daunting, especially those unfamiliar with computers or the Internet. But remember, you were held in reserve to come forth at this time for these purposes. You will get it — just push forward with it.

It always begins with yourself. Check the information there about you. Make sure it is accurate. Then do the same for your parents. Go step by step, generation by generation. Where you see work to be done — meaning the temple — that’s your priority.

If more information is needed before temple ordinances can be done, go get it. That might or might not be easy. It will require time. It may require money. It could, in some cases, require miracles.

All those things are possible and happening.

But if the information is had, and you put it into Family Search, then the temple work can be done.

There are many, many benefits of doing Family History. We will talk about those at length in the months and years ahead. But this is WHY we do it all — and it doesn’t get more compelling than as a commandment from the Lord.