When Mark Bragg was 14 years old, friends from his Little League baseball team — Rob and Lane Peterson — introduced his family to the Church. Mark was baptized and his mother, who had been a member of the Church in her youth, was reactivated.
“It changed our lives,” said Elder Bragg, sustained April 2 as a General Authority Seventy.
Mark Allyn Bragg was born April 16, 1962, in Santa Monica, California, to Donald E. and Diane Bragg.
His father was an all-American basketball player at UCLA, playing for legendary basketball coach John Wooden.
Supported by their father, Mark and his two brothers led an active, sports-filled youth.
Although he did not join the Church when Mark was baptized, his father “was always supportive” of his son’s commitment to the Church, including Mark’s decision to attend the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah, and serve a mission.
Elder Bragg was called to serve in the Mexico Monterrey Mission under the direction of mission president Roy H. King and his wife, Darlene O. King.
Elder Bragg immediately loved President and Sister King. He didn’t know then, however, that their spiritual influence would bless his life for decades.
When Elder Bragg completed his missionary service, he began dating his mission president’s youngest daughter; he married Yvonne King in the Los Angeles California Temple on March 17, 1984.
The couple lived in Utah until the untimely death of Elder Bragg’s father. Donald Bragg, a seemingly healthy former athlete, died at age 52 of a heart attack.
The couple returned to California to start a career in the banking industry (he completed his career as senior vice president of Bank of America) and to be close to Elder Bragg’s mother.
It would be seven years before children would join the Bragg family.
“At times we felt out of place, even in our family,” recalled Elder Bragg. “It was tough. We wanted [a family] so much.”
Then — “on the best day in the world” — Sister Bragg gave birth to the first of four children. “I remember … thinking there couldn’t be anyone happier than I was at the moment.”
As additional children joined the family, the Braggs’ joy in family life increased. “It was just wonderful to see how the Lord blesses you and expands your capacity to love,” he said.
Elder Bragg also found his capacity to love increase as he served in various Church callings; members of his ward and then his stake became his family.
Life has not always been easy for the family, however. The day after he was sustained as a bishop in the ward where he grew up, Elder Bragg’s mother — who had remained active in the Church since his conversion — was tragically killed during a car hijacking. Hers was the first funeral over which he would preside as bishop.
“It was tough on all of us,” he said.
Yet the outpouring of support from the same ward that had nurtured Elder Bragg’s testimony as a youth, sustained his family. “The Relief Society was there for our family every day,” he recalled. “That is one of the most powerful images I have, [that image] of the Relief Society in our home.”
Elder Bragg also found strength by remembering an experience from his mission when a beloved convert was murdered. Then a young Elder Bragg had turned to Ether 15:34 — “Now the last words which are written by Ether are these: Whether the Lord will that I be translated, or that I suffer the will of the Lord in the flesh, it mattereth not, if it so be that I am saved in the kingdom of God.”
The lesson was profound. “It doesn’t matter what happens in this life as long as we are saved,” he said. “When my mother passed away that same scripture came back to me and provided that same comfort.” That is one of the important lessons that would also guide Elder Bragg through his future service in the Church — as a bishop, stake president, Area Seventy and a temple ordinance worker.
“We see the Lord’s hand in all things that have happened,” he said. “This has allowed us to reach out and help others in their troubles. We have gained empathy we would not have had.”
The very week Elder Bragg’s mother died, he had the opportunity to minister to a family in his ward who lost a loved one under similar circumstances.
Goodness, he explained, “can come out of tragedy.”
Besides the few years he spent on a mission and away from home while attending the University of Utah, Elder Bragg has always lived in the Westwood 1st Ward. “The Saints are strong and loving and caring and they do such great work in the community,” he said.
Now the Braggs will leave that ward to engage in the service of the Lord. It is a path Sister Bragg has been down before when she accompanied her parents to Mexico — where her father served as mission president to her future husband.
Elder Bragg said he is grateful for his “goodly parents-in-law” and their righteous example.
“We know we are in the Lord’s hands right now,” Sister Bragg said.
Family: Born on April 16, 1962, in Santa Monica, Calif., to Donald E. and Diane Sims Bragg. Married Yvonne King on March 17, 1984, in the Los Angeles California Temple. They are the parents of four children.
Education: Attended the University of Utah, majoring in marketing and Spanish.
Employment: Worked in the banking industry, where he completed his career as the senior vice president of Bank of America.
Church service: Served as an Area Seventy, temple ordinance worker, stake president, bishop, high councilor, and full-time missionary in the Monterrey Mexico Mission from 1981 to 1983.