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Paul Rolly: Ben McAdams and Sherrie Swensen save a marriage

Published December 4, 2013 9:28 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Riley and Rebekah (last names being withheld because of the embarrassment factor) were in a fix.

The couple were to marry Saturday in the Salt Lake LDS Temple and had everything arranged. They were to be at the temple by 7 a.m. to get ready for the 9 a.m. ceremony. All the family would be there for pictures on the temple steps afterward and then, of course, there was the planned reception.

There just was one problem.

They had waited until the last minute to get their marriage certificate from the Salt Lake County clerk's office and when they showed up Friday afternoon to take care of that necessary detail, they discovered that all the county offices were closed.

A few years ago, county employees opted to trade their traditional Columbus Day off for the day after Thanksgiving so they could have a four-day weekend.

Unfortunately, Riley and Rebekah didn't know that. They couldn't find anyone to help them and were facing the dire prospect of canceling everything planned for the next day.

Salt Lake County Clerk Sherrie Swensen carries emergency marriage-license packets with her at all times to be prepared for cases just like this one. She has used them before when couples needed a last-minute license.

She was home enjoying the day off, and Riley and Rebekah didn't know how to reach her.

Swensen leaves her contact information with the security folks in the north building of the Salt Lake County Government Center, but Riley and Rebekah didn't know that either and didn't think to ask.

As the night progressed and panic set in, someone got them the number of County Mayor Ben McAdams, who had Swensen's cellphone number. He gave it to the frenzied couple, who called the veteran county clerk and discovered, to their glee, that her Sandy address was just a few blocks from their Draper location.

She invited them to her home and performed the required formalities to issue the license. By then, it was about 11 p.m.

Riley and Rebekah showed up at the temple the next day, marriage license in hand, and everything went according to plan.

Utah's national clout • In 2015, Utah politicians will be heading several national organizations — not bad for a state with less than 1 percent of the nation's population.

Sen. Curt Bramble will be president of the National Conference of State Legislatures. Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker will be president of the National League of Cities. State Treasurer Richard Ellis will be president of the National Association of State Treasurers. Gov. Gary Herbert is running for president of the National Governors Association.

Also, state Sen. Wayne Harper is president of the national Streamline Sales Tax governing board; Senate President Wayne Niederhauser is on the governing board of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), former state Sen. Dan Liljenquist is a sought-after national speaker on state and local pension reform and former Gov. Mike Leavitt is recognized as a leading expert on health-care reform.

Speaking of notables • East High's Class of 1951 recently had a reunion to celebrate the classmates' 80th birthdays in 2013.

Here are some of those classmates:

Former U.S. Sen. Jake Garn; former U.S. Sen. Bob Bennett; former Rep. Jim Hansen; first counselor in the LDS Church First Presidency Henry Eyring; noted surgeon Gary Maxwell; former Dixie College President Doug Alder; and former Salt Lake County Commissioner John Preston Creer.

The classmates celebrated posthumously late Utah Supreme Court Justice Dan Stewart and beloved BYU and Utah Valley State College professor Eugene England.

East must have had some good teachers that year.

prolly@sltrib.com