John L. Sorenson
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Family Life

part 7 of 8 Throughout his years as a scholar, John Sorenson was a husband and a father. Although he and Kathryn pursued different interests according to their different talents, they did many things together and gave each other love and support. While they lived in Santa Barbara, longing for the daughter that they could not conceive, the Sorensons took in Stacy, first as a two-year-old foster child and eventually as an adopted and sealed daughter. As the boys grew up and left home, they showed an independence of spirit sometimes painful to their parents, but the increasing covey of grandchildren lightened John's and Kathryn's lives. Following John's heart problem and retirement, the couple gave heavy priority to spending time together. Because Kathryn was diabetic, her future health was in question. She and John wanted to enjoy together what they could of their remaining good years. Money was no longer an issue, for their income was comfortable. A measure of the wisdom that comes with age told them both to relax and simplify their lives, and in response they managed to put some of their concerns about their children out of their minds as well. The flexibility of retirement allowed them to spend a month or so in the winter of 1989 on the lower Colorado River in Anzona. John took his computer and did some writing, but mainly they simply relaxed. The next year they spent a longer time at the beach in Carpinteria, near their beloved Santa Barbara. That respite was so pleasant that they wanted to repeat it. Arriving on New Year's Day 1991, they took a late walk on the beach and then retired. During the night Kathryn passed away of a heart attack, thus being spared the slow, painful decline from diabetes that she had always dreaded. All the children and many grandchildren gathered for a funeral in Provo that reflected the creativity, humor, service, and unselfish support to John that had characterized Kathryn's life. She was buried in a plot they had jointly chosen in the cemetery in Smithfield, near where their four parents lay and where John's father had planted many of the towering trees sixty years before. Immediately after the funeral, John traveled alone to Zion Canyon and Springdale, its gateway, one of his favorite spots. For weeks he walked the trails and climbed the ridges and found peace in that gorgeous place. Before long, however, he was back at work on his computer. Peace without work was hard for hom to imagine. In March 1993 John married Helen Christianson, a widow from his ward who had been a close friend of Kathryn and had spoken at her funeral. Their eighteen chldren (then ranging between forty-seven and fourteen years of age) are the backbone of a joint clan that now numbers more than seventy-five, including three great-grandchildren. The couple's loving relationship is a blessing not only to them but to hundreds of relatives and friends around them. John has continued his habit of hard work, and his health is excellent. Nearly every day he walks or buses from his and Helen's home on Canyon Road to his office in BYU's Amanda Knight Building on University Avenue, where he continues the same kind of research and writing that he long prepared to do. He believes life is good to him.
A Short Biography by Davis Bitton