BRIGHAM CITY -- What gift can a son give to his father for his 84th birthday?
Joe Markland hopes to reunite his father with the boy he saved from drowning in the Weber River 58 years ago.
Ben Markland celebrates his birthday on Feb. 24. For many years his only son, Joe Markland, never knew his father had rescued a drowning 12-year-old from the Weber River.
"Dad never spoke about it, and the first time I heard about it was in 1980, when it ran in the 25 years ago today column," Joe Markland said.
That small article in the Standard-Examiner referred to an article that ran on June 28, 1955, in the same newspaper. The article was 6 inches long and ran inside. It named Ben Markland, but did not name the boy, only saying the boy was from Bountiful.
Joe Markland said he has been thinking about a gift he could give his father. Then he and his father had gone fishing this fall in almost the same spot where Ben Markland saved the boy from drowning. The two talked about it and Joe Markland decided it would be nice if he could find the boy, who would be almost 70 years old now.
Ben Markland is a retired golf superintendent who worked for 39 years at local courses, including White Barn, Ben Lomond and Brigham City.
Ben Markland was 26 years old in 1955, married and at that time living in Ogden on Taylor Avenue.
He, a friend and a nephew had decided to go fishing just west of Henefer on the Weber River on that June day in 1955. No big freeways ran through the canyon, just the old road that wound with the river.
At one point, Ben Markland and his nephew decided to fish at a different spot and were walking back to the truck when they heard a woman yelling for help.
"There was no 911 back then," Joe Markland said.
"I ran through the bushes and there was this woman yelling that her son was in the water," Ben Markland said. "The boy was laying flat on a rock, holding on with one hand and the other hand he held onto his fishing rod and tackle box."
Ben Markland said he was surprised the boy had found a rock to hold onto, "because it was the only rock I could see. I'm sure God put it there."
If the boy had let go of the rock, he would have been swept down the river where it was faster and deeper, Ben Markland said.
Ben Markland said he ran up the river bed above where the boy was and where the water was calmer, and jumped in. A strong swimmer, he got to the boy and helped him get to the shore.
"He kept saying, 'I owe you my life,' " Ben Markland said. "I should've asked him his name, but I didn't."
Ben Markland said he hadn't really thought much about the boy until recently and has wondered what happened to him.
"I wonder if he got married, or what he has done with his life," Ben Markland said.
Joe Markland enlisted the help of his sons and have posted notices on Facebook and on Twitter, but so far no one has responded.
If anyone knows who the boy is, they can call Joe Markland at 801-376-7562 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.