Donald L. Enders

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Courtesy Deseret News/Kenneth Mays

Donald L. Enders was senior curator at the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City. He was awarded the Junius F. Wells Award by the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation (now Ensign Peak Foundation) for a half-century of service in preserving the historic sites of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served much of that time as director of the Historic Sites Division of the Church History Department. He retired in 2010.

A few of the projects he worked on include: the Smith family log home in Palmyra, New York; the Smith frame home in Manchester, New York; the Newel K. Whitney Store in Kirtland, Ohio; the Browning home and gun shop in Nauvoo; the E. B. Grandin press building in Palmyra, New York; Cove Fort in Utah.

In the early 1960s, after completing his missionary service in the Eastern States Mission, he was tasked with driving a car to Utah for his mission president with the president’s son. Along the journey, he stopped at Nauvoo, Illinois and the original Nauvoo Temple site. “It was there that I had the impression—and it was almost like a voice; basically the message to me was, ‘You can be used here if you stay focused and behave yourself.’”[1]

He worked from 1965 to 1971 for Nauvoo Restoration, Inc. From 1973 to 1977, he worked with the Church Genealogical Department.

In a tribute video of him, these observations were included:

Elder Marlin K. Jensen, former Church Historian and Recorder said, “He acquired an amazing array of skills that enabled him to be sort of Mr. Historic Sites for the Church over the past quarter-century. He became a historian. He became an archaeologist. He became a woodworker. He became a stonemason. And in that way, he qualified himself to be such a valuable tool when it comes to putting the history of the Church back together.”[2]

“Don Enders was the man who not only researched our historic sites, but he was the one who figured out how to take these historic sites back to the period,” said Richard E. Turley Jr., assistant Church historian and recorder. “He was the one who would look at the structures and decide what needed to be done in order to restore historic sites or to take the sites as they still existed and peel off the exterior that had been added and take them back to the way they were at the time.”[3]

Enders is also the author of several articles, including “Return to the Sacred Grove” (with Richard Neitzel Holzapfel, Larry C. Porter, and Robert F. Parrot), “Return to the Joseph Smith Family Farm,” “The Joseph Smith, Sr., Family: Farmers of the Genesee,” “Excitement on the Subject of Religion: Controversy within Palmyra’s 1819 and 1820 Preaching District,” “Myths on Palmyra’s Main Street” (with Jennifer L. Lund), and “Faithful from the First.” He coauthored Joseph and Lucy Smith’s Tunbridge Farm: An Archaeology and Landscape Study.

Enders was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1941. From Brigham Young University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in history and archaeology, a master’s degree in history, and a Master of Library Science degree. He and his wife, Loretta, have four children. He and Loretta have served as historic sites Church-service missionaries.