We had a wonderful stake organization and a lot of good wards. [As stake president in 1920s Canada] I tried to put into practice what Bishop Harris had taught me so many years earlier about tolerance, understanding, and seeing beyond the smoke a cigarette and into the soul of a man. To illustrate this, I would like to cite the following experience.
We had for sometime been looking for a bishop for the Tabor Ward – Tabor being a ward about 40 miles southeast of Lethbridge – but we could not find the right man on the records. We were acquainted with practically all of them, so the three of us – my two counselors and I – got in my car and started for Tabor. As we were driving along we beheld a car approaching us in the opposite direction. I immediately recognized the driver and hailed him to stop. He stopped and got out of the car. He was smoking a cigar.
After exchanging pleasant greetings and talking for a time, I said, "Burt, we want you to be the Bishop of the Tabor ward."
He held up his cigar and asked, "Hell, with this?"
I answered, "Hell, no. Without it."
He threw it down on the ground, stepped on it, and said, "By hell, I'll try it."
He never smoked again and became one of the best bishops we had. In fact, he did away with cigarette smoking entirely in his ward. This was an incident in which we were not bound by the strict rules of the law but could forgive and utilize the abilities of men despite some obvious weaknesses.