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Dallin H. Oaks - First Counselor in the First Presidency

President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency

Dallin H. Oaks is a General Authority of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and was set apart as the first counselor in the First Presidency on 14 January 2018. He was sustained in a Solemn Assembly on 31 March 2018. He serves with Russell M. Nelson, president of the Church, and Henry B. Eyring, second counselor. Oaks and Nelson were both sustained as members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 7 April 1984. As second in seniority, President Oaks would be designated President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, but with his call to the First Presidency, Elder M. Russell Ballard, who is third in seniority, was called to act in his place as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Dallin Harris Oaks was born on 12 August 1932, in Provo, Utah. He attended both Provo High School and Brigham Young High School. His father died of tuberculosis when he was only eight years old, and three years later he began working to help his mother. His first job was to sweep at a radio repair shop. It was this first job that led the young boy to gain a keen interest in radios. Before his sixteenth birthday, he had earned his radio/telephone license and landed a job working for a radio company. Soon after, he began working regularly as an announcer. It was while he was announcing a high school basketball game that he met June Dixon. They later married on 24 June 1952, while both were attending college at Brigham Young University.

President Oaks worked steadily to earn a degree in accounting and later attended the University of Chicago Law School. His wife recalls him saying that although there were plenty of students at the law school who were smarter than he, none of them worked any harder than he did. He graduated with honors and earned the opportunity to serve as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court. At the completion of this internship, he and his family moved back to Chicago, where he entered into a private law practice.

In 1961, Dallin Oaks was called to be the mission president of the Chicago stake and was also offered the opportunity to teach at the University of Chicago. Two years later he accepted a calling as the second counselor in the Chicago South Stake Presidency. Along with his responsibilities in the Church, President Oaks had many responsibilities in other areas of his life. He was well known in his profession and had served as the assistant state’s attorney for Cook County, Illinois, as the acting dean of the law school, as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, as a legal counsel to the Bill of Rights Committee for the Illinois Constitutional Convention, and as an executive director of the American Bar Foundation.

In 1970, he was asked by the Church to be the new president of Brigham Young University. While serving as the president, he focused on academic excellence and became a spokesman for private colleges and universities nationwide as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.

On 1 January 1981, Dallin H. Oaks was sworn into the Utah Supreme Court, and he continued to be offered many important federal jobs. At the April 1984 General Conference, when he was sustained as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Gordon B. Hinckley also announced: "With reference to Dallin Oaks, I should like to say that while we nominate and sustain him today, he will not be ordained to the apostleship, nor will he be set apart as a member of the Council of the Twelve, nor will he begin his apostolic service, until after he completes his present judicial commitments, which may require several weeks. He is absent from the city, and necessarily absent from the conference. We excuse him." When he received this calling, he resigned from the Utah Supreme Court, so that he would be able to focus all of his attention on serving in the Church. This strong desire to serve has never wavered. Just after his calling was announced, the Washington Post’s Supreme Court reporter called him because he was a likely candidate for the United States Supreme Court. The reporter wanted to know if his new calling in the Church would mean that he would no longer be available for the position in the Supreme Court. He affirmed that he was no longer available. He further explained that even an appointment in the Supreme Court did not take precedence over the service he had just been called to give.

President Dallin H. Oaks was married to June Dixon from 1952 to 1998 when she passed away. He married Kristen Meredith McMain in 2000. His daughter is a renowned violinist, Jenny Oaks Baker. He has four grandchildren - Laura June Baker, Sarah Noelle Baker, Matthew Dallin Baker, and Hannah Jean Baker.