Editor's Note: My wife and
I met at the LDS Church Financial Department in 1963 right after I returned
from Japan at the end of my first mission. Sister Rosenhan worked in the
same office. We have fond memories of her kindness and great devotion.
100-year-old Salt Lake woman completes LDS temple work for more than 400,000
names, By Valerie Johnson, LDS Church News, Published: Friday, Feb. 13 2015
11:30 a.m. MST
Rosenhan, of the Forest Dale 1st Ward, Salt Lake Granite Stake, has spent
most of her life working on researching the names on her family line.
Getting the records in the first place on the eve of World War II required
faith, courage and more than a few miracles.
1938, no sisters were being called to serve missions outside the United
States. Tensions between European countries were strained with threats of
war and violence, especially in areas around Germany.
But Sister Rosenhan, the seventh of nine children born to German immigrant
parents, felt the desire to serve in her family’s homeland, especially after
her older siblings had served their own missions.
Additionally, she had received promises in her patriarchal blessing telling
her she would do the work for her ancestors.
“ ‘Your kindred dead need the work for them done in order for them to be
saved in the kingdom of God.’ ” Sister Rosenhan said, recalling the words of
her patriarchal blessing. “ ‘True happiness consists in making other people
happy.’ And that was what I was supposed to do.”
of this, she had a strong desire to go to Germany and find the necessary
During a period of peace, one of the sisters in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir,
which Sister Rosenhan was a part of, was called to Berlin, Germany, on a
mission. “And I thought, ‘Oh, maybe now I can go to Germany.’”
After waiting another year to save up more money, she approached the Church
Mission Secretary, Harold G. Reynolds. Brother Reynolds had been one of the
missionaries that found, taught and baptized her parents back in Germany.
told them that I wanted to go to Germany on a mission,” she said. “This man,
when he found out who I was … then it was easy. They figured it out where I
could go to see the relatives and everything.”
Soon enough, she received her call to serve in Germany, specifically in
areas where she would be able to do family history research. While there, “I
hired a German researcher to go to this town,” she said of Heidelberg,
Germany, a town where her grandmother’s family lived. “He got me a lot of
names and it turns out in this town I had dozens of ancestors.”
The researcher ran into an obstacle. However, several months later she
obtained a history of the village, starting at the 1600s.
August 1939, war officially broke out in Europe. “I [had served] ten months
when president Joseph Fielding Smith and his wife, Jessie, were supposed to
come to the town I was in, and we were supposed to meet him,” Sister
Rosenhan recalled. “And instead of meeting him the war started and we got a
telegram: Leave immediately for Amsterdam.” All American missionaries needed
to be evacuated.
had a dress at the cleaners,” she said. “I never got that back. I think a
member wore it.”
For the next two days, Sister Rosenhan and the branch president rushed to
get her out of Germany and into Holland. In the middle of the first night,
the mailman delivered military summonses including one for the branch
president who was to report for duty the next day. Despite disagreements
with policemen over border stamps and a taxi driver about carrying her trunk
when gasoline was already being strictly rationed, the branch president and
Sister Rosenhan prevailed, and she had passage to Amsterdam whose borders
were already closing.
landed in Holland all alone without a penny,” she said.
Through a prompting of the Spirit, she found a Dutch missionary assigned to
meet the American missionaries coming out of Germany.
Two months later, Sister Rosenhan was transferred to the Southern States
Mission, specifically Brunswick and Savannah, Georgia, where she finished
When she returned, she began working for the Church again in the Financial
Department. During this time, she began working on the names in the
histories she had gathered on her mission.
“Everybody thought I worked for the Genealogical Society,” she said,
“because I’d go over at noon and then stay late at the office and use their
She still has the book with the 500 years of history of Heidelberg. “I have
written out that village, plus another village over the hill that was
recorded. It’s taken me, I guess, about 45 years,” she said. “This was on my
extra lunch hour and what have you.”
According to her nephew, Dan Mackintosh, she has completed the temple work
for more than 400,000 names.
Today, Sister Rosenhan takes the bus from her home in Sugar House, a Salt
Lake City neighborhood, to the Family History Library in downtown Salt Lake
City to continue her family history research three days a week. She will
celebrate her 100th birthday on Feb. 28.