Dives Furniture Store

Dives Furniture began on March 23, 1920, when Veurlam Dives leased the
local Stohl Furniture Store in Malad. Located at 17 Bannock Street, the three-story
brick building had a mortuary in the basement. The new business was named Dives
Furniture. Veurlam Dives put the store in the names of all three of his sons, with
Tom as the manager; Tom Dives eventually bought the stock from his brothers and
became the sole owner.

Tom Dives suffered from ill health for most of his life. He survived two
bouts of diphtheria, once at age 4 and again at 14. He worked on the Dives ranch in
Daniels until 1919 when he came down with the deadly 1918 Spanish flu, which
made it impossible to work on the farm.

Even with his precarious health, Tom was able to run the furniture store,
which was more of a general merchandise store that offered a wide variety of
items. As more stores opened in Malad, the furniture store specialized in furniture,
carpet, linoleum, and appliances.

In the basement of the store, Earl Johnson operated a funeral parlor and sold
caskets. He used a horse-drawn hearse to deliver caskets to homes where viewings
were held before an official funeral home was built. In 1927, Guy Benson became
the local mortician. He bought Tom Dives’s half of the mortuary business in 1954
and moved the business out of the furniture store.

In 1924 Tom needed a bookkeeper, and he had his wife, Ruth Thomas
Dives, who had always been good at math, come to the store to help him. For a
woman to work outside the home was not the norm in 1924, but it became a
lifetime experience for Ruth. She trained with an accountant in Salt Lake City and
learned to manage finances.

Ruth worked alongside her husband for over 46 years until he retired in 1970
due to poor health. Her son, Ren, took his dad’s place at the store and continued to
work on the ranch in the summers. As a businesswoman, Ruth was recognized in
several newspaper articles for her many years of operating the same business. In
an article written by James B. Clifford, she was asked what had helped her to have
a happy life. Her advice to the younger generation was to “work hard and take
responsibility.” Ruth Dives was named Malad “Businessperson of the Year” in
1988 by the Malad Area Chamber of Commerce. She was honored for her honesty,
hard work, trust, and being a friend to everyone.

On March 15, 1990, Ruth, along with her son Ren, were recognized for
owning and operating Dives Furniture for 70 years. However, by the end of 1990,
Ruth, now age 95 and with declining health, decided to close the store. The
building was sold in February 1991.