This article originally appeared in Vol. 65 No.1 (2018) of Pioneer Magazine
by Joseph B. Romney, grandson.
In his role as the young stake president of the Juarez Stake in Mexico, Junius Romney is the central figure in the last great Mormon exodus. It follows in the series of exoduses, which began in Kirtland, Ohio, and continued through Missouri and Nauvoo to the Great Basin. He, with many others, lost virtually all of their material possessions in that final exodus from Mexico in 1912.
Romney’s life exemplifies the lives of pioneer Latter-day Saints who made the desert blossom as a rose. Bom in 1878 in St. George, Utah, he moved with his family to Mexico in 1885 where they contributed to the founding of Colonia Juarez. This was one of nine Mormon colonies founded in the states of Chihuahua and Sonora.
He attended school in the Juarez Stake Academy, with some additional studying in Salt Lake City. Junius began his career as an educator, but later he became a successful businessman. He held several callings in the Church in the colonies before being called as president of the Juarez Stake when only 30 years of age. The last two years of his tenure as stake president were during the Mexican Revolution, As the religious leader of the colonists, he was also their de facto political leader. As such, he played a central role in the colonists’ struggles during the Revolution, which eventually led to the members of the entire stake evacuating their homes in the summer of 1912.
After the exodus, Junius’ family lived in El Paso,Texas, for several months, then moved to Los Angeles, California, before finally moving to Salt Lake City. He and his wife Gertrude raised a family in Salt Lake City of six children— three boys and three girls.
Junius was known for his sense of humor and respected for his integrity. He was a successful businessman, and a generous provider for his immediate family, his extended family, and others who were trying to find their way after the exodus from Mexico. Junius died in 1971 at the age of 93.
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