The Miller Eccles Board of Directors consists of Russ & Christie Frandsen (hosts in La Canada Flintridge), Morris & Dawn Thurston (hosts in Villa Park), Steve and Daryl Eccles (hosts in Texas), Armand & Ruth Mauss, Phil & Marilyn Bradford, Lael Littke and Rob Briggs. Below are biographical sketches of our directors.
I was born in Gunnison, Utah (Sanpete County, 15 miles southwest of the Manti Temple, for those who think Utah ends at Payson). I grew up loving farm work, math, physics, politics and the Book of Mormon.
I served in the North German Mission. I continued to study math and physics, but decided to go to Duke Law School. For some reason, the most brilliant girl that I had ever met consented to marry me and go to Duke with me. She enrolled in classes at Duke Divinity School and I completed law school.
We moved to Los Angeles with a two-year-old daughter and one about to me born. Over the next 20 years, we had 10 more children, raising nine of them to maturity.
I have practiced business and tax law in Los Angeles, and now in Pasadena in my own firm.
I was born in Havre, Montana, the nearest hospital to the Indian Reservation where my father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. That was my home –growing up on Indian reservations. It had more advantages than you might think. In school, the teachers told me to go somewhere by myself and read–and I read and read and read. My mother then had to essentially supplement and home school me along the way. My mother and father created a little Celestial world wherever we lived.
In my teenage years, I attended Globe High School in eastern Arizona–copper country. In high school, I stuttered badly–but it proved to show the power of God. I was valedictorian, but I prerecorded my speech and played the flute as my speech was played aloud. My teachers could not believe I would turn down the University of Arizona scholarship to attend BYU.
My life changed when I went on a semester abroad to Israel after my freshman year at BYU. I decided to study ancient scripture, Greek and Hebrew. Although my Greek and Hebrew have waned, my enthusiasm for study and ancient scripture has not.
When I was nineteen years old, I left my Southern California home to serve a mission to Norway. It was a turning point in my life. Before then I had been a serious underachiever, coasting through high school and my freshman year in college. Being plopped down in a strange country was a jolt to my system. I arrived in late September, so my first six months were cold and appallingly dark. Convert baptisms were a rarity in Norway and rejection was the norm. Nevertheless, I returned two and a half years later a better and stronger person than when I left.
A few months after my return I met and soon fell in love with Dawn Parrett, a beautiful and intelligent freshman, and we were married the next year. I went on to obtain a BA from BYU and a JD from Harvard Law School. I returned to Southern California in 1970 to accept a position with Latham & Watkins, where I spent my entire legal career, retiring in 2004 as a senior partner specializing in trademark and copyright litigation.
I was born in Southern California to parents who grew up together in Redondo Beach, attended the same high school, and married shortly after my father returned home from the Navy at the end of WWII. I spent my childhood in Los Angeles and Orange counties. My family joined the Church in 1960 after a neighbor sent the missionaries to our house—a true missionary success story.
After I graduated from high school in Fullerton, we moved to Ventura (about two hours north of Los Angeles), and it was there I met Morrie. I was 18 and he was 22 and had just returned from his mission to Norway. We courted when we were students at Brigham Young University and were married when I was barely nineteen! Within a year, we moved to Boston, where Morrie attended Harvard Law School, and I worked as dorm mother at a private girls’ college. We became parents in our own right before he finished law school, and returned to California after his graduation with an 18-month-old son.
I earned a degree in English from UCLA in my late 20s, after I’d had a second son and then a daughter who was born premature and lived for only ten days. We later lost a four-month-old daughter to crib death. We ended up with four living children, three boys and a girl, who are now grown, and three delightful grandchildren. While my children were in their teens, I returned to college for a master’s degree in communications and soon after began working as a freelance writer for a public relations firm, ghosting for their corporate clients.
Steve & Daryl Eccles
We are both natives of Southern California; Steve was born in Los Angeles at what was called the French Hospital, and Daryl was born in Altadena. Our paths crossed in 1966 when Daryl’s stake put on a production of Oklahoma at the San Gabriel Mission Theater. Steve was in the cast and Daryl did his makeup. We wrote to each other while Steve was serving a mission in the New Zealand South Mission from 1967-69, and were married in June 1970. While Steve was in New Zealand, Daryl continued her schooling, eventually attending BYU for a year. We are the parents of six children, one residing in Virginia, three in California, and one in Texas. Our second oldest son died of a brain tumor in 2005.
Steve started attending the Mormon History Association after being invited to their meetings by Gary Smith. In 1981, Steve and Ron Miller started the Miller Eccles Study Group when they had Leonard Arrington come to talk to some friends they invited. The group met four times that year and has been meeting regularly ever since. Steve was the Membership Chairman for the Mormon History Association in 1989 and is delivering his first MHA paper at the 2010 meeting in Kansas City.
We moved to the Dallas, Texas, area in 2002 and have resided there ever since. We started a smaller version of the Miller Eccles Study Group that meets at our Texas home. We plan on retiring to Eugene, Oregon, by the end of 2014.
Armand & Ruth Mauss
We were married in April of 1951, so we have been together six decades. We met in Japan, where Ruth was serving in the uniform of the Women’s Air Force. Armand had come to Japan just after a mission to the New England States (1947-49). A few weeks after his mission, Armand’s father had been called by the Church as mission president over all the Far East, based in Tokyo, so Armand accompanied the whole family. During 4½ years in Japan, Armand was a student, a military employee during the post-war US occupation, and also a member of the U. S. Air Force when the war in Korea broke out. Eventually he graduated from Sophia University, an esteemed Jesuit University in Tokyo, and with Ruth started a family. Of our eight children, the first three were “made in Japan.”
On returning to the U. S., we settled in the California East Bay area, where Armand had originated before his mission. During a dozen years of various jobs (including school teaching), a lot of church work, and more children, Armand finally earned his Ph.D. in sociology at UC-Berkeley and entered university teaching. After a brief stint at Utah State University, our family moved to Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, where for three decades Armand was professor of sociology and religious studies.
I was born in Logan, Utah, after which we immediately moved to Pomona, California, where I was raised with two brothers. Sports were all important in my life, and I played baseball and basketball through high school. After graduating, I joined the Army Reserve to avoid the draft and realized I wanted more education. I applied to and was accepted at BYU, where I studied hard with the goal of proving to my old high school counselor that I could indeed succeed in college. After two years, I interrupted my studies to serve a mission in Brazil. When I returned, I applied to dental school and was accepted by the University of Southern California, graduating in 1967.
After dental school I started a dental practice in Corona, California. Shortly after, I met a beautiful young lady at church while attending M-Men and Gleaners. We fell in love and married. We raised four children, two boys and two girls, and are blessed with ten grandchildren, with two more on the way. Marilyn and I will celebrate our fortieth anniversary this year.
I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, and my family moved to California when I was seven years old. I grew up in Alta Loma with four very noisy brothers. Being the only girl meant I did all the dishes. Definitely not fair.
After high school, I attended Chaffey College, where I became a Registered Dental Assistant, and worked for two years before going to BYU. Just before leaving for BYU I met a handsome young man at a church dance. After asking me to dance, we introduced ourselves and I told him I was a dental assistant. He then told me he was a dentist. I thought that was the corniest “pick-up” line I’d ever heard. We fell in love and I decided after a year at BYU that love was definitely more important for me so returned home and got married. We have raised four beautiful children and enjoy our grandchildren. One of our favorite things to do is visit our families, two of whom live in Arizona.
While raising our children, I spent many years working part-time for Phil in his dental practice, and after we retired, we began working for Community Health Systems as a dental educator and assistant. We provide dental education and dental sealants to under-privileged children in Riverside County. I have been active in Church, serving in five Relief Society Presidencies, three Young Women Presidencies, two Primary Presidencies, and various other positions. I enjoy reading, cooking, walking and traveling. Phil and I especially enjoy cruising. My favorite thing to do is to spend time with my family.
As a farm girl growing up in Mink Creek, Idaho, I had three dreams: to become a writer, to live in New York City, and to date Cary Grant. Two of my dreams came true (Cary Grant eluded me). After graduating from Preston High School (years before Napoleon Dynamite made it famous), I enrolled at Utah State University in Logan, majoring in education and English. Upon graduation I realized that teaching school in a small Utah town wasn’t included in my dreams, so I set off for Denver to join a girlfriend already working there and obtained a secretarial job. It was in Denver First Ward that I met George Charles Littke and found that he was one of the most like-minded guys I’d ever dated. Who needed Cary Grant?
Four months after we were married, George was offered a fellowship to complete his Ph.D. work at New York University, as well as a full-time job at the Tax Foundation whose offices were in the RCA Building. We set off for the Big Apple, where we spent nine memorable years. We both worked full time and attended classes at night, George at NYU and I at City College of New York, where I found a fine writing teacher. I made my first sale during those years, to the old Relief Society Magazine, and then broke into the national market with sales to Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Ladies’ Home Journal, and Seventeen.
I was born in San Francisco and spent my first two years in Oakland. Then our family moved to the East Bay suburb of San Lorenzo. After high school and a year of college, I served a mission in Guatemala and El Salvador. Fascinating experience. Returning to school, I graduated from BYU with a B.S. in Poly Sci. Along the way, I met Linda Nielsen of Portland, Oregon, and we were married in the Oakland Temple.
A few years later, I graduated from Pepperdine Law School and began practicing law. Most of the past 30+ years I’ve spent with Booth, Mitchel & Strange LLP, handling all types of civil litigation. When I began there in 1981, Gary Smith and his investigator, Steve Eccles, introduced me to the Miller Eccles Study Group and the Mormon History Association. I’ve been a follower and supporter of each for nearly 30 years.
Linda and I have four kids, Becky (married, with five kids); Ryan (married, with five kids, doing structural engineering in Las Vegas); Erik (married with two kids, working in IT); and Jared (sophomore in college and a good kid to have around).