Cleon Skousen: A Giant Has Died

W. Cleon Skousen died Monday, January 9. Skousen was one of the leading anti-Communists of the day. His nephew, Mark Skousen, editor of the just-released Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin (Regnery) and editor of the financial newsletter Forecasts and Strategies, has written this tribute about the man he calls “ a giant in the land.”

W. Cleon Skousen: 1913-2006

“There were giants in the earth in those days….the same became might men who were of old, men of renown.” (Genesis 6:4)

A giant has died! My uncle Cleon, age 92, died of natural causes Jan.9, 2006. He lived a vigorous life until the last two or three years. Ten years ago he had open-heart surgery, and recently had a pacemaker put in, but he had a keen mind right up until the end.

His official obituary from the family is given below.

For my own part, I owe my uncle Cleon a debt of gratitude on two counts. First, he was like a father to me and my family when my own father, Leroy (his younger brother), died in 1964 in Portland, Ore.. I was only 16 years old, and he left a widow with ten children. Uncle Cleon became a father to all of us, visiting us frequently and taking us places, giving us counsel and blessings as we grew older.

Jo Ann and I took a memorable trip to Israel on one of his tours… unforgettable spiritual highlight in our lives. He gave me a special “father’s blessing” near the Sea of Galilee….a blessing I treasure.

Second, uncle Cleon’s comments to me about Adam Smith completely changed how I wrote my book, The Making of Modern Economics, the story of the great economic thinkers.

Cleon influenced millions of people’s lives, as a member of the anti-Communist movement of the 1950s and 1960s; as a religion teacher and author of the famed Thousand Year books. He wrote over 40 books on political and religious topics. He was an FBI special assistant under J. Edgar Hoover, and chief of police of Salt Lake City, He was founder of the National Center for Constitutional Studies and had a lifelong interest in defending the U.S. Constitution, which he regarded as an inspired document. He was a husband, father, and friend to all, even his enemies when they got to know him.

Fortunately, right before he died, I sent him my latest book, The Compleated Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, which I compiled and edited. He loved Benjamin Franklin, and he told me just a week before he died how much he enjoyed listening to his wife Jewel reading it to him. (Jewel is indeed a jewel of a wife!)

All over the country, at various conferences, the most frequent question I am asked is: “Are you related to Cleon Skousen?” I always proudly responded, “Yes, sir!” He was a great man–a giant in the land.

Here is the official obituary from the family:

W. Cleon Skousen passed away at his Salt Lake City home on January 9 of natural causes incident to age, just 11 days shy of his 93rd birthday. He was lovingly surrounded by his wife of 69 years, Jewel, and many family members.

Known by millions for his devoted understanding and support of the U.S. Constitution, his love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, his insights into politics, religion, good government, and human nature, he leaves behind an exhaustive work of scholarship created over three-quarters of a century that covers dozens of specialties. Among the 46 books he wrote are the bestsellers, The Naked Communist, The Naked Capitalist, So You Want to Raise a Boy, The Making of America, The Five Thousand Year Leap, and Fantastic Victory about the Israel-Arab war of 1967. His books on religion, such as The First 2,000 Years, Prophecy and Modern Times, Isaiah Speaks to Modern Times, Treasures from the Book of Mormon, and Days of the Living Christ, reached millions of readers in the Christian, Jewish and Islamic communities. And his speech titled “A Personal Search for the Meaning of the Atonement” is perhaps the most widely distributed audio tape among members and missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — a fact that made him smile in astonishment. “I’ve had missionaries tell me that speech has been translated into Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, and French, and has been passed around on every continent where missionaries serve.”

Skousen served 16 years in J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI as an agent and the communications director during the waning years of the gangster era and WWII. He also was the editor of the nation’s leading police magazine, “Law And Order.” He was a popular teacher of several thousand students at Brigham Young University for 16 years, and a popular speaker across the country where he sometimes gave as many as 300 speeches a year. His devotion to America’s founding fathers and the Constitution led to the creation of The Freeman Institute that later became the National Center for Constitutional Studies, an organization through which his speeches and writings educated and united large segments of voters to elect senators, congressmen, governors and presidents who loved the Constitution.

Known for his untiring devotion to principle and integrity, he served as Salt Lake City’s chief of police and created what Time magazine called “A model police force.” After

Skousen served four years, the city mayor created a firestorm of protest when he fired him on trumped-up charges, an event the mayor later called the worst political mistake of his life.

Warmly embraced with the friendly honorarium “a living national treasure,” Skousen and his wife maintained a modest home in Salt Lake City that became a mandatory stopover for any person with political aspirations both in Utah and beyond. Friends and visitors included ecclesiastical leaders of all faiths, politicians from all major parties, students of all ages, and of course, local missionaries every Sunday night.

Skousen was born in Raymond, Alberta, Canada, on Jan. 20, 1913, and was educated in Canada, Mexico and the U.S. He served a two-year mission for the LDS Church at age 17. He earned his doctorate at George Washington University. He and Jewel are the parents of eight children, 50 grandchildren, and 67 great-grand children. He was preceded in death by three brothers and two sisters, his daughter Kathleen, two grandchildren, and one great-grand child. He is survived by his wife Jewel, and children David (Judy), Orem, Utah; Eric (Cheryl), Orem, Utah; Julianne (Glenn) Kimber, Alpine, Utah; Sharon (Russ) Krey, Washington; Harold (Anne), Riverton, Utah; Paul (Kathy), South Jordan, Utah; Brent (Myralynne), West Jordan, Utah.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday, January 14, at Parleys Stake Center, 1870 East Parleys Canyon Blvd. (a block and a half east of Highland High School) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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