Happy 88th birthday to President Oaks

As a Utah Supreme Court Justice on April 6, 1984, Dallin H. Oaks was eating dinner at a restaurant in Arizona when he received a phone call from President Gordon B. Hinckley, then of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That phone call marked the beginning of a dramatic change to his life. A few hours later, when returning President Hinckley’s call, Dallin Oaks heard the Church leader tell him that the Lord had called him to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Elders Boyd K. Packer, center, James E. Faust and Dallin H. Oaks serve on temple and genealogy executive council June 6, 1987.
Elders Boyd K. Packer, center, James E. Faust and Dallin H. Oaks serve on temple and genealogy executive council June 6, 1987. Credit: Church News Archives

He and President Russell M. Nelson were sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on the same day.

Today, President Dallin H. Oaks, now first counselor in the First Presidency, turns 88 years old and has been serving as an apostle for 36 years.

In honor of his birthday, here’s a brief look back at his life and ministry:

Early years

President Oaks was born on Aug. 12, 1932, in Provo, Utah. He was the first child born to Lloyd E. and Stella Harris Oaks and has two younger siblings.

When Dallin was just 7 years old, his father died of tuberculosis. After his father died, Stella Oaks sent her children to live with her parents for a short time on a farm in Payson, Utah.

President Dallin H. Oaks with his mother, Stella, brother Merrill and sister Evelyn. President Oaks' father died when he was 7 years old, and his mother raised three children on her own.
President Dallin H. Oaks with his mother, Stella, brother Merrill and sister Evelyn. President Oaks’ father died when he was 7 years old, and his mother raised three children on her own. Credit: Courtesy Dallin H. Oaks

After a bit of schooling, Stella became a teacher and moved with the children to Vernal, Utah.

After working his first job sweeping out a radio repair shop, Dallin developed an interest in radio and obtained a radiotelephone operator’s license before turning 16 years old. He went on to work as both an announcer and a transmitter engineer.

Later, while attending BYU and working as a radio announcer at high school basketball games, Dallin met June Dixon, who was a senior in high school at the time. A year and a half after they met, the young couple married in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of six children.

Career

After graduating from BYU, Dallin attended the University of Chicago Law School. He worked as a clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren of the U.S. Supreme Court for a year before working in private practice for a time and then eventually returned to Chicago where he taught law school.

In 1971, he became the eighth president of Brigham Young University where he oversaw the creation of the J. Reuben Clark Law School and the Graduate Business School.

In June of 1981 Justice Dallin H. Oaks speaks to an issue before him. The case was a Utah Power and Light probe of misuse of campaign contributions.
In June of 1981 Justice Dallin H. Oaks speaks to an issue before him. The case was a Utah Power and Light probe of misuse of campaign contributions. Credit: Deseret News Archives

When his time as president of BYU came to an end, he was appointed to the Utah State Supreme Court by Gov. Scott M. Matheson. He served there for just three and a half years before being called as an apostle in 1984.

His wife, June, passed away on July 21, 1998. President Oaks met Kristen M. McMain, and the two were married on Aug. 25, 2000.

Ministry

Known for his bold teachings on religious freedom, the doctrine of the family and gender equality, President Oaks has always focused his teachings on the doctrines of the gospel during his time as a General Authority.

From 2002 to 2004, he and Sister Oaks lived in and presided over the Philippines Area of the Church. And his 36 years of service have taken him all over the world.

President Russell M. Nelson the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sits with his councilors President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, (left) and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor (right) at a press conference in Salt Lake City Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018.
President Russell M. Nelson the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sits with his councilors President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor, (left) and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor (right) at a press conference in Salt Lake City Utah on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

On Jan. 14, 2018, President Oaks was set apart to serve as first counselor to President Russell M. Nelson.

Since that time, President Oaks has continued his faithful service to the Lord and His Church around the world, often traveling with President Nelson and presiding over various events.

In 2019, President Oaks rededicated the Oakland California Temple. And earlier this year, President Oaks spoke at the BYU Church History Symposium and shared what he has learned from 50 years of writing about the Prophet Joseph Smith.