His father's legacy: devotion to Church, kindness to others

When Elder Eran A. Call was a boy in the Mormon colonies in Mexico, the Church was everything, and everything was Church.

"The Church was center of life," Elder Call remembered. "All activities centered in Church. We went to school in the meetinghouse for the first eight years, then we went to the stake's Juarez Academy for the last four years. It was a wonderful childhood."He was the youngest son of Anson B. Call, a bishop for nearly 29 years, and Julie Abegg Call. His mother died when he was 7. So it was left to Bishop Call, in the warmth and wisdom of his later years, to rear the boy.

Elder Call, 67, was sustained April 5 to the Second Quorum of the Seventy, the latest of a group of leaders with roots in the gospel sod of Colonia Dublan and Colonia Juarez, the most prominent of Mexico's Mormon colonies. The silver-haired, 6-foot tall educator and businessman emanates warmth and kindliness mellowed over a lifetime of serving others.

He and his wife, Katherine Groesbeck Call, are the parents of nine children, all bilingual. All of the sons and one daughter have filled missions. Devotion to their family is a lifelong trait of the Calls, a trait he learned well from his father.

His father, Anson B. Call, was almost a legend in his own time, serving as bishop of the Colonia Dublan Ward from 1915 until 1943, during peaceful and turbulent times shortly after the 1912 Mexican Revolution. But the turbulent times ceased before his youngest son, Eran, was born Dec. 2, 1929.

Elder Call described his father's service:

"He'd greet the Saints as they came into Church, take the tithing, look at it carefully and put it in his right pocket. After Church that evening, he'd go home and with a coal-oil lamp in the winter time, put the money on the table and write out everyone a receipt. I remember that vividly.

"My father had a very keen mind and he was very devout," continued Elder Call. "Although 66 years my senior - when I was going though my teen years, he was in his mid-80s - there was no generation gap between us. He was very close, very personal, very interested."

He described an incident in his early teens to illustrate his father's way of disciplining:

"One hot summer Sunday in the chapel, which was was on the second floor of the meetinghouse, the deacons were making their way to the exit. When no one was watching, a deacon slipped through the big, old double flapping doors. Father was [on the stand], and he was studying that situation. I watched as my turn to leave came. The speaker was going full strength in the long, afternoon sacrament meeting. I leaned forward to make my exit, and just as I was leaving, Father said, in a voice like a lion: `Eran, sit down!'

"I sat down.

"When I got home there was no scolding, nothing. He slipped a gentle arm around my shoulder and asked, "Son, how was Church today?' I said Fine.' He said,Wonderful, my boy. Wonderful!' "

The message came through.

After graduating, he attended BYU and was soon called on a mission to serve in Mexico under Pres. Arwell Pierce.

After his mission, he returned to BYU but was drafted in 1952 by the U.S. Army - he retained American citizenship from birth. The Army trained him to be a radar specialist, and he expected to be sent to Korea during the conflict there. Instead, a batch of orders were lost and his group was sent to Panama.

"In Panama, [a small group of LDS servicemen] were very active in the Church," he said. "By divine guidance I was called to be assistant to the Lutheran chaplain, who was command chaplain for the Caribbean.

"It hadn't been a year since I was on my mission. We had three or four [LDS servicemen] who spoke Spanish," he explained. The servicemen began teaching the gospel to local San Blas Indians from a nearby island chain who worked on the U.S. bases in Panama and had lots of free time. Eventually the LDS servicemen met the San Blas Indian chief who listened to the gospel message and gave permission for his people to join the Church.

The first of these was Jose Coleman, who was interviewed for baptism by President David O. McKay, on his way to Salt Lake City from South America. Eran Call was translator.

After completing his tour of service, he returned to BYU. In August 1954, he was invited to take part in a leadership training week, where he met Katherine Groesbeck, from Springville, Utah, and the two began dating. A year and 15 days later on Aug. 24, 1955, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.

Two years after their marriage, they traveled east where he attended and received a master's degree in business administration from New York University. He was hired as manager of Taylor's Department Store in Provo, Utah, in 1960 and was active in many civic organizations.

During this time, he and his wife had six children in eight years, and he was called as bishop's counselor. One winter, on a blizzardy Sunday when the children were still very young, he stopped off at home before sacrament meeting.

His wife was "seated on the couch with a fire in the fireplace," he recalled. "One child was asleep on the couch and another asleep in her arms. I kissed her and said, `Don't come to Church today. The weather is terrible."

"She whispered back, `I'll be there. I don't want anyone to ever say that I don't support my husband in his calling.' "

When the service began, she was there with the children.

"Other sisters see when women don't support their husbands, and it is demoralizing," she explained. "I didn't want to be that kind of a wife."

The Calls have been deeply involved in many ongoing service projects among the peoples of Mexico. One of the most touching was when they helped arrange for the Provo High School band to travel to Cuahutemoc, Chihuahua, Mexico. While there, the youths also performed for an orphanage.

"The joy of the orphans was beautiful, and it had an effect on members of band," he said. "As they were playing, tears were coming down their eyes. It was a wonderful experience."

As Elder Call describes this and other joys of the gospel, one can almost hear the gentle voice of his father, "Wonderful, my boy. Wonderful."

His father's legacy of devotion to the gospel is in good hands.


Elder Eran A. Call

Family: Born Dec. 2, 1929, in Colonia Dublan, Mexico, to Anson Bowen and Julie Sarah Abegg Call. Married Katherine Groesbeck, Aug. 24, 1955, in the Salt Lake Temple. Parents of nine children: Robert E. (Suzanne); John G. (Ann); Katherine Ann (Robert Hymas); Steven E. (Sue Ellen); Christine, (Guy Golightly); Thomas G. (Hilary), Denver, Colo.; and Matthew A. (Maria), Julia (Daniel Doxey) and David A.; 25 grandchildren.

Education: Bachelor of arts degree from BYU, 1957; master of business administration degree from New York University, 1958.

Military Service: U.S. Army, assistant chaplain at Fort Amador, Panama, 1952-54.

Employment: Manager of Taylor's Department Store, Provo, Utah, 1960; a coordinator at BYU Continuing Education, 1973; coordinator of Church Schools, Seminaries and Institutes for Mexico, 1980; and coordinator of international internships at the Kennedy Center for International Studies, BYU.

Church service: Sustained to the Second Quorum of the Seventy April 5, 1997; director of the Mexico Missionary Training Center, 1995-96; president of the Mexico Mission, 1970-73; patriarch; sealer in the Provo Temple; stake president's counselor twice; high councilor; bishop and bishop's counselor; district president; elders quorum president's counselor; and missionary to Mexico.

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