Sunday, September 16, 1973

Moscow 1973: Unintentional Missionary

Original writing: 16 September 1973
Latest update:10 December 2009

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My first trip to Moscow during a window of opportunity called "detente'" was for three weeks in September 1973, during which I represented several clients as president of the Northwest-Soviet Liaison Corporation. My primary objective was to pave the way for a trade mission for the state of Oregon.

I had formed this company with the help of John R. Howard, president of Lewis and Clark College, who introduced me to Oregon Governor Tom McCall and who functioned as board chairman. The impulse to do this came from a visit I made to the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco during which I met with Consul General Alexander Zinchuk and Vice Consul Vladimir Sinitsin and knowing of former newspaperman Governor McCall's public embarrassment at having earlier foreign trade initiatives with the Soviets fail to deliver as publicized.

During my meeting with Zinchuk I sang a Ukrainian folk song and mentioned the disproportionate, but largely unappreciated influence of the Mormon Church on our country in political and social terms. It was not until I mentioned the relationship between former U.S. President Lyndon Johnson and Mormon Church President David O. McKay that his attention became focused. When I told him the story of Johnson's 1965 inauguration, where after the ceremonies, the three American flags that flew over the presidential grandstand were given to three men for their personal memoir's: President Lyndon Johnson, Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Mormon Church President David O. McKay. It was then that he and Sinitsn suggested that I put together a liaison company that they could refer to. It didn't take a genius to realize a business opportunity when I heard one!

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