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IRISH CONVERTS WHOSE JOURNEY OF FAITH TOGETHER LED THEM TO LEADERSHIP IN THE CHICAGO TEMPLE

In 1957, George Watson left his native Ireland to earn enough money to begin post-graduate studies and marry his girlfriend of two and a half years. After working in northern Canada for a year, he moved to Niagara Falls to continue his engineering work. He found comfortable lodgings in a well-located boarding house at an incredibly low rent. However, there was one non-negotiable condition; his widowed landlady, Flora Mouland, a newly baptized member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, expected him to give her a lift to church every Sunday. Considering the bargain price of the room, he was happy to do so. Flora also invited George to join her for dinner each Thursday evening, where she also fed two other hungry young men who were far from home . . . the LDS missionaries.

After a year, and numerous sets of missionaries at those Thursday dinners, one of the sister missionaries finally said to George, “You know it’s true. Do something about it!” He was baptized July 20, 1959 in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, virtually on the way to the airport to return to Dublin —”knowing that I would never meet any Mormons in Ireland and that the Church would lose track of me."

Later, George wrote the following in a letter to President Thomas S. Monson, who had been serving as mission president in the Toronto, Ontario Mission at the time of his baptism:  “I have no idea, President Monson, where you found my address in Dublin, but on the Friday after I returned, I had a letter from you welcoming me into the Church, and on the following Sunday at 9am there was a knock on the door and a President Lynn stood on the doorstep saying he had had a letter from President Monson in Toronto asking him to watch over me."

Apparently, President William R Lynn (known to his many friends as “Bob”) had made a visit to the address he had been given, but there was no-one there by that name. However, realising there was another street with a very similar name nearby, he went the extra mile (or perhaps five hundred yards) where he was able to track down the newest member of his branch.

President Lynn not only got one new branch member but eventually two when George’s girlfriend, Chloë Kilroy, started attending the Dublin branch.  George and Chloë had first met at a dance in the Sandford Parish church hall when Chloë was attending Alexandra Secretarial College and George was a student at Trinity College Dublin.  The two had written while George was in Canada and reconnected when he returned to Dublin.  After being invited to learn more about her boyfriend’s new church, Chloë met with the missionaries for six weeks and was baptised at The Mount in Belfast on May 22, 1960, as there was no font in Dublin at the time.  Of this Chloë later said, “Even though I didn’t know very much about the gospel, I knew joining the Church would be the very best thing for my future family’s happiness.” George and Chloë were sealed in the London England Temple in the spring of 1961.

Married now for 57 years, the Watsons live in St George, Utah. Their lives have led them to Billingham in England and then to Winnipeg and Calgary in Canada, and Naperville (Chicago) and Illinois in the United States. George had a successful career as an engineer with ICI, Acres, and then Amoco Oil/BP.  He and Chloë raised three daughters, Sharon, Ruth, and Miriam, and now have ten grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. All three daughters have been married in the temple, and all seven grandchildren over the age of 19 have served LDS missions.

Throughout their lives, they have also rendered consistent service in the Church. Chloë has served, among other assignments, as Relief Society teacher, ward Relief Society president and stake Relief Society secretary, and George as a Gospel Doctrine teacher, branch president, bishop and counselor in the stake presidency.

From November 1, 2000 until October 31, 2004, they were the President and Matron of the Chicago Temple.  Since then they have returned across the Atlantic where they served a two year mission in the London Temple. Nowadays, they both attend the St. George Temple where George is also a sealer.

According to George, “The church changed the direction of my life thanks to great people who reached out to us - especially the Lynn family.  They had us over almost every Sunday evening while we were in Ireland.  They basically loved us into the gospel.”

Chloë’s view is that, “Since we were both the first members of the Church in our families, fellowshipping was very important to us.  New members need support not only when they are baptised but also afterwards when they still have tender testimonies and are learning more about the gospel.  The Dublin Branch members really embraced us, loved and encouraged us.  They helped to build our testimonies.”

Both George and Chloë recognise that there have been, throughout their lives, people whose actions have changed the direction of their mortal journeys for the better: a landlady who quietly shared her beliefs; a mission president who thought to write a letter; and a branch president who went out of his way one Sabbath morning.

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