Thursday, August 21, 2008

More than just an ice-cream flavor

After years of forward-thinking leadership, former BYU President Merrill J. Batemen was awarded one of his highest accomplishments: a concoction of almonds, berries and chocolate ice cream was lovingly named by the BYU creamery, “Merrill’s ABCs.”

Now an emeritus General Authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Elder Bateman recalls what he envisioned when he started as BYU president.

“I saw the BYU of the future as a digitized campus in the sense that you would be able to access the materials in the library from your dorm,” said Elder Bateman.

Elder Bateman was in his 60s when serving as BYU president, but an old and experienced mind didn’t hold him back from modern thinking. Elder Bateman strongly influenced the technological advancements at BYU.

During his tenure, the University was ranked among the top 50 of Yahoo! Internet Life’s “Americas Most Wired Colleges.” BYU showed 100 percent of its dorms and 60 percent of its classrooms Internet wired.

It may be difficult to realize that Bateman’s early life began with a father who worked for a dairy and a mother who owned a beauty parlor. When he was only 12, his father was in a car accident that kept him out of work for 2 years. Bateman worked every night cleaning his mother’s beauty parlor, for it was the family’s only source of income.

“I really learned how to put a beauty shop back together.”

The hair styling and cosmetics industry, however, did not keep him from becoming an academic scholar. Elder Bateman went on to receive a Ph.D. in economics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He later became an executive for Mars Inc., which gave him an increased appreciation for Mars candy products.

“My kids always loved going to the Bateman’s house,” said neighbor Virginia Galland. “The Batemans stayed loyal to the Mars company where President Bateman worked and they always had a great supply of candy at their house.”

With an endearing legacy of hard work and progressive “sweet” thinking, it is only natural that an ice cream flavor be named after Elder Bateman.

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