Junius F. Wells Award - 2014: Donald L. Enders
The Mormon Historic Sites Foundation was pleased to present the 2014 Junius Wells award to Donald L. Enders for nearly five decades of service in preserving and restoring Mormon historic sites. This recognition was made November 13, 2014 at a banquet held in his honor at the Joseph Smith Memorial building attended by family, friends, historians, and LDS Church dignitaries including Bishop Dean M. Davies of the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Marlin K. Jensen, Emeritus Church Historian and Recorder. The master of ceremonies for the evening was Glenn Rawson, noted filmmaker, writer, and television producer.
Known within historical circles as “Mr. Historic Sites,” Don’s “restorative fingerprints” are all over major sites of importance to the Latter-day Saint people such as: the Smith family log home in Palmyra, New York; the Smith frame home in Manchester, New York; the Newell K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio; the Deuel log home outside the Church History Museum in Salt Lake City; the Brigham Young home in Nauvoo, Illinois; the Browning home and gun shop in Nauvoo; the E.B. Grandin press (where the Book of Mormon was first printed) in Palmyra, New York; the sawmill and ashery in Kirtland, Ohio; and Cove Fort in Utah.
In tribute, Elder Jensen commented that “the Lord touched him somehow with a desire to qualify himself to be such a valuable tool when it comes to putting the history of the Church back together. . . He became a historian. He became an archaeologist. He became a woodworker. He became a stonemason. ” Jennifer Lund, Brother Enders’ successor as current director of the Historic Sites Division, said, “Sometimes I jokingly say it now takes ten of us to do what Don Enders used to do alone. Now that’s quite an exaggeration … but in a way that is an accurate statement, because Don was the sole individual who was assigned full time to historic sites, and I think probably more than most of the rest of us he left an impact on the historic sites program and helped build it in a way that now takes ten of us full time to do much of that same work that he was working on for all those years.”
Don’s passion for LDS historic sites was born in 1963 when following his service in the Eastern States Mission, he drove a car home to Utah for his mission president. On the trip he spent time in Nauvoo, the “City of Joseph.” It was there that he first felt the desire to return some day and help restore many of the sites. His dream was realized from 1965 to 1971 as he worked as a member of the archaeological team in one capacity or another for Nauvoo Restoration, Inc.
It was during the Nauvoo period of Don’s life that he married his great supporter, Loretta Anderson. They have four children: Amy, Jenny, Tim, and Sarah. Following his years in Nauvoo, Don worked for the LDS Church Genealogical Library, earned a master’s degree in history, and began a long tenure spanning over several decades with the Arts and Sites Division (later the Historic Sites Program) in the LDS Church Historical Department.