People in the Church


LaVinna Sorenson, 85, recently received the 1993 Jefferson Award presented by the American Institute for Public Service. She received the award, which is presented to individuals who perform outstanding public service to benefit their local communities, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. "Vinnie," as she is known to her family and friends, is a member of the Mountain Home 2nd Ward, Mountain Home Idaho Stake.

C.H. Meyer, president of the Pietersburg Branch, Pretoria South Africa Stake, has been invited to be a member of the South Africa Prison Conference. As a member, he is permitted contact visits with prisoners. Members of the conference counsel individuals as well as small groups, and are invited to conduct special church services for prisoners.

Dean Sallee of the Sedalia Ward, Columbia Missouri Stake, has received a national volunteer award from National Industries for the Severely Handicapped (NISH). Brother Sallee, who was disabled after a car accident, earned the award for volunteering about 30 hours a week at the Ewing Vocational Center. His work consists of supervising employees who assemble first aid kits under a government contract.


Brent Laycock, bishop of the Oakridge Ward, Calgary Alberta Stake, has been elected to the council of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, along with eight other Canadian artists. He is the only Alberta artist elected. Bishop Laycock, who has a master's degree from BYU, is a landscape painter. One of his watercolors was presented to Queen Elizabeth II in 1986, and two paintings were used on Canadian postage stamps.


Michelle Caswell, a 17-year-old senior at Orem (Utah) High School, was the national winner in the "Lincoln and You" essay contest sponsored by the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies. She received a $2,500 scholarship check and a trip to California to receive the award. There were 5,000 entries from 12th-grade students across the country. The essays were required to be no longer than 267 words - the number of words in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Michelle, a member of the Northridge 1st Ward, Orem Utah Northridge Stake, sings and performs in local theater productions.


Pearl Melissa Blackburn of the Clearfield 20th Ward, Clearfield Utah Stake, celebrated her 100th birthday on March 15. She was born in Colonia Diaz, Mexico. As a child in the Momon colonies of Mexico, she observed first hand the destructive raids of Pancho Villa during the Mexican Revolution. She married Joseph Dyle Lillywhite in 1917 and they had five children. She now has 17 granchildren, 67 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great-grandchildren. In 1947, she married William Jasper Blackburn. She teases that the secret of her longevity is "eating chilies every day."

Nellie Sorensen Nelson of the Enrose Ward, Mesa Arizona Central Stake, celebrated her 100th birthday on Feb. 28. She was born in Lago, Idaho. She married W. Henry Weedop and had six children. After his death, she married J. Leo Nelson. She now has 87 direct descendants. Sister Nelson worked in the Mesa Temple clothing department until she was 92 years old.

Lewis L. "Monte" Pilkington of the Kaysville 2nd Ward, Kaysville South Stake, celebrated his 102nd birthday on Jan. 15. His wife, Genevieve, supported him on a mission to Australia in 1924-26, and he helped build a meetinghouse in Hobart, Tasmania. He started a journal at age 93 and typed 700 pages before he could no longer see well enough to continue.


Sherri Conover of the Centerview Ward, Mesa Arizona Stake, is a two-time all-American as a member of the Yavapai (Prescott, Ariz.) Community College women's cross country team. As a sophomore last season she also was named Arizona Collegiate Road Racer of the Year, earned all-region and all-conference honors, and was team captain. Along with all-America recognition her freshman year, she was also all-region and all-conference.

Tyler Cornaby, a priest in the Farragut Ward, Knoxville Tennessee Stake, recently won the Tennessee state high school wrestling championship at 112 pounds. He had a 35-1 record during the 1993-94 season as a junior at Farragut High School.

Emily Allison of the Almaden Ward, San Jose California South Stake, was recently named the top female cross-country runner in the Central Coast Section of California. A sophomore with a 3.8 grade-point average at Leland High School in San Jose, Emily won two cross-country invitationals, had the fastest time ever on two cross-country courses, and shaved 30 seconds off a 23-year-old record at the Artichoke Invitational hosted by Half Moon Bay High School. She achieved all those accomplishments in her first year of cross-country competition.


Roy Anthony Valencia Malit, a second class petty officer in the U.S. Navy, recorded a perfect score on recent written examinations for promotional advancement. The test was administered at the Naval Amphibious Base, Coronado, Calif. He was the only one to get a perfect score on the test. Since enlisting in the Navy in 1988, he has been "Sailor of the Month" several times and also was recently named "Sailor of the Quarter." He was among the first of the U.S. military to arrive in Somalia for a humanitarian tour of duty. Brother Malit is a member of the Bonita 1st Ward, San Diego California Sweetwater Stake, and served in the Manila Philippines Mission before joining the Navy.


Gary Grigg of the Naples Ward, Fort Myers Florida Stake, has been elected vice president of the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) during the association's recent annual meeting. Brother Grigg is superintendent at the Naples National Golf Club. The GCSAA has 13,000 members and is dedicated to promoting the principles and techniques of responsible golf course management. Brother Grigg has been a member of GCSAA for 23 years and has extensive experience in the construction and maintenance of several golf courses throughout the country. He earned a bachelor's degree at Utah State University and a master's degree at Michigan State University.

Claron L. Oakley of the Pasadena 2nd Ward, Pasadena California Stake, has received the California Medical Association's 1994 Award for Distinguished Service. It is the highest award given by the association to someone who is not a physician. The award was given to honor his work in continuing medical education. Through Audio-Digest Foundation he has been the voice and producer of audio and video recordings for more than 10,000 programs that help doctors stay current with their education. He has also been selected to receive one of BYU's 1994 Emeritus Association Special Recognition Awards because of his selfless service to his community, BYU, and to the medical profession. Brother Oakley is the multi-region director of public affairs in Southern California for the Church.

W. Ray Luce, Young Men president in the Columbus Ohio East Stake, is the new president of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. Brother Luce, who serves as Ohio's state historic preservation officer, is chief of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, a division of the Ohio Historical Society. The national conference represents historic preservation officers in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Its purpose is to support the National Historic Preservation Act and provide a forum for historic preservation programs at the state and federal levels. Formerly, Brother Luce was historian for the National Register of Historic Places for seven years.


Aida S. Mattingley, of the Cherrywood Ward, Salt Lake Hunter South Stake, is the first Filipina appointed by Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt to his Asian-American Advisory Council. She was also elected vice chairman of the council. Sister Mattingley, who is director of Filipino Performing Arts of Utah, has served on several different boards in the Filipino-American community. She has been with the Spanish-Portuguese cataloguing team of the Family History Library since 1975 and is a member of the Utah Library Association.


Melissa D. McDaniel, Laurel class president in the Marsing Ward, Caldwell Idaho Stake, is a 1994 National Merit Finalist. A senior at Caldwell High School, Melissa is president of the Key Club service organization. She is also active in volleyball and track at her school. She is planning to attend BYU this fall and major in zoology.

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