By Rachel Trotter, Standard-Examiner Correspondent
OGDEN – It’s not every day that someone in the construction business works on a building that they plan to visit regularly, but Carl Turner got to do just that for a little longer than three years.
Turner was chosen as the superintendent for Big D Construction for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Ogden Temple project and since April 4, 2011 worked at least 12-hour days until the job was complete before the open house. He also completed a few more finishing touches after the open house began.
Turner said this was the biggest job he ever led, as well as the most rewarding and challenging.
Turner is from North Ogden and grew up with the Ogden Temple in his backyard. He and his wife both took out their endowments there, his parents and siblings were sealed there and he has taken countless trips there to do work for the dead.
“It is a special place for me and means something very personal to me,” Turner said.
Since the open house began, Turner has been speaking in sacrament meetings, firesides and youth conferences to share his experiences working on the inside and outside of the temple and tabernacle.
“I gained a greater testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel,” Turner said of his experience. “Satan was fighting so hard to stop this project. We had problems upon problems which makes me know how important it was,” Turner said.
At one point he was blaming himself for the problems, thinking he was doing a terrible job because nothing was going right. Problems with having the right amount of stone and some flooding issues were a great frustration. One day he was talking with one of the service missionaries and expressing his frustration when that person told him it had nothing to do with him.
“They told me it was Satan trying to stop this work. Since then I realized that was true. I was glad we had that conversation,” Turner said.
Turner said officials didn’t push the date back of the opening when problems arose, but they just worked through it. “We knew our contract date of when to have the job done. We didn’t know the dedication date or open house dates until it was announced by the church,” Turner said.
Turner was able to get to work on the project soon after the temple was closed in 2011 and before it was “decommissioned” by the church because he holds a current temple recommend. The temple closed the first week of April, but construction workers didn’t start with the demolition until the end of May, but Turner walked through with the plans and started working details out before that time.
About 250 to 300 construction workers were on site on any given day and about 3,000 underwent safety training and worked on the temple in all. While Turner had other superintendents with him, he oversaw everything.
Turner wasn’t able to talk a lot about the project while it was in construction because of an agreement with the LDS church, but now enjoys answering questions, like about the Angle Moroni. It’s the same Angel that was on the original Ogden Temple. Big D had to put the spire and angel up early in the process because of the large cranes it took to lift both the spire and angel on to the temple.
“We needed to get close to the building and if we had waited, it wouldn’t work,” he said. The spire itself weighed 66,000 pounds. By comparison, the angel only weighed 800 pounds. “I took him off and put him back on,” Turner said with a laugh.
Turner’s wife, Tiffany, was impressed with how hard her husband worked. “He has always gone to work early, but he would head out around 5 a.m. and not get home until 5:30 or 6 at night most days,” Tiffany Turner said.
Toward the end of construction, those 12-hour days turned into 20 hour days sometimes. She kind of viewed the job in three different ways, spiritually, business and from a mom’s perspective.
“Initially I thought it was cool from a spiritual standpoint that my kids and grandkids would be able to say their dad and grandpa worked on that,” Tiffany said. It makes her happy to think of the legacy it has left for her family. Carl Turner agrees, but also feels humbled by it as well.
“From a business standpoint, it was the biggest job in the state at the time and I felt he deserved a huge pat on the back,” the wife said.
But she said the mom perspective was the hardest. She is the mom of six children and one was serving a full-time mission during most of the time the temple was constructed. “I don’t know if I would ever want him to do it again. Toward the end, my kids would go days without seeing their dad,” she said. But at the same time she knows it was worth it.
Both admit the experience has given them extra love for the Ogden Temple. “We always say that the project belongs to the owner but in some ways I am the owner of the project,” Carl said with a laugh. “I don’t mean because I pay my tithing or anything, but because this is my temple and I love it with all my heart,” he said.