Newsmaker: Forty Children Call Her Mom

Morning devotionals are a long-standing tradition in the home of Aaron and Bonnie Card, members of the Pleasant Grove Sixth Ward, Pleasant Grove Utah Manila Stake. Over the years, a total of forty children have enjoyed 6:30 A.M. hymns, scripture reading, and family prayers in the Card home. Ten “homemade,” twelve adopted, and eighteen foster children comprise this unusual family, including children from seven different races and children with physical or mental disabilities.

This willingness to welcome a diversity of children into her family is one of the reasons Bonnie was named USA Mom of the Year for 1993. Nobility, keen intellect, and an intuitive nature are some of the positive qualities her children cited as they described their mother. They also mentioned her willingness to listen. One daughter, Robin Campbell, described Bonnie as a good example for her children—always loving, sometimes firm and sometimes fun-loving, but always teaching.

Bonnie, who serves as Relief Society Spiritual Living teacher, has been active in her local PTA and the Utah County Family Living Council, and she is a board member of HOPE of Utah, an organization that helps orphans and parents throughout the world. She has always had the support of her husband as they have worked together to rear their unique family.

[photo] Photo by Jed Clark

Primarily Teaching

Robin Lenora Diller of the Columbus Fifth Ward, Columbus Ohio East Stake, frequently observes the young men administering and passing the sacrament, and she is pleased to note that most of them were members of her CTR class years ago. “I remember my early days of teaching the children as if it were yesterday,” she reminisces.

Sister Diller has taught the CTRs for seventeen years, despite her poor health. Robin is the kind of teacher who knows how to add flair to a lesson. For example, when her failing eyesight required her to wear a patch temporarily, she decorated the eye patch colorfully to match the seasons. On St. Patrick’s Day, she put a bold green shamrock on her patch, and the children loved it. She had worried that the patch might cause undue concern for her among the children, but it turned out to be just another Sister Diller delight.

She says, “The Lord provides a way for us, and I just serve the way everyone else does—the best way I know how.”Pauline Morello, Gahanna, Ohio

Heartfelt Volunteer

“If there were more Bob Pottengers in the world,” says the principal of Washington Elementary in Prescott, Arizona, “the American education system would be infinitely improved. Bob’s heart is in the right place.”

After surgeons completed four bypasses on it last year, Brother Pottenger’s heart is still in the right place, and he is back in the classroom. Retired from the aerospace industry, Bob is a widower who volunteers his time and energies to children who need individual tutoring. He has done it eight hours a day, five days a week, for seven years.

A member of the Bradshaw Ward, Prescott Arizona Stake, Bob works with children from kindergarten through fifth grade in all subjects, but his favorite is math. “I like to encourage them and let them know they can do it,” he says affectionately. “They just need to know you believe in them, and they begin to believe in themselves. It’s all part of the gospel—gentleness, patience, love unfeigned, you know.”

Children benefit from the kind of attention Bob gives. For example, one boy who came to him for tutoring has Tourette’s syndrome, a disorder that causes involuntary twitching, jerking movements, and various noisy outbursts. The longer the boy worked with Bob, the less of a disturbance he became back in his regular classes, and “his ability to concentrate seemed to increase, too.”Giles H. Florence, Salt Lake City, Utah

Desk to Saddle

Jay Platt is a gentleman rancher. He was practicing law and living in Mesa, Arizona, when his father died and left the ranch to him. Jay feels that because of the low population densities among ranchers and farmers, rural folks go without adequate representation in government. “We’re the true minority in this country,” he says. He also has strong feelings about the high percentage of federally owned land in Arizona and Utah. As a result, he is as much an advocate of rural rights as he is a rancher.

Members of the St. Johns Second Ward, St. Johns Arizona Stake, Jay, his wife, Tricia, and their five children run two ranches—one in St. Johns, Arizona, and one in central Utah. In all, they own some 1,500 head of cattle.

“I like the combination of the outdoors, hard work, and adventure to go with the more typical contemporary family life,” Tricia says. “The biggest draw to St. Johns for our family is the meaningful, constructive work that ranching gives us. Our kids love ranch life and have learned how to be capable workers.”

Her Flavor of Faith

As a professional cook, Judith Munhoz surprises people when she says she knew nothing about cooking or homemaking before joining the Church. The claim is difficult to imagine, since Judith teaches cooking classes in forty firms throughout the state of Sao Paulo, in her native Brazil.

“Relief Society taught me much of what I know,” she insists, “not just about cooking, but about being a self-sufficient woman.”

Sister Munhoz sees self-sufficiency as the Brazilian woman’s greatest challenge and works hard to help others understand that “they can find creative ways to earn money, cook on a budget, and acquire their food storage.”

Her most recent project entailed working with ward priesthood leaders to encourage every family in the ward to work on their food storage, a task she found gratifying because “we can touch many homes when we work together with the priesthood.”

Judith believes that the greatest advantage the gospel gives us is the opportunity to have the Spirit guide our lives.Elizabeth VanDenBerghe, Salt Lake City, Utah

Bravo!

Patrick Biggs never tires of singing, though his body may become weary. Confined to a wheelchair since 1982 with multiple sclerosis and degenerative arthritis, Patrick, with his wit and warmth dancing round him constantly, tells jokes, snaps one-liners, and engages in lively repartee with everyone he meets.

He may seem to be a born comic, but his greatest fondness is for singing. A dramatic tenor, he has appeared on radio and TV many times and has sung in numerous concerts and stage productions, including singing for eleven years with the San Diego Opera Company. Because his physical problems keep Patrick from performing as much as he would like, he supplements his income by working with computers.

“I’m not bitter about my disease,” says Patrick, a member of the San Diego Twelfth Ward, San Diego California North Stake. “The Lord has given me some absolutely wonderful blessings. He has honestly and truly answered my prayers regarding this. And with that knowledge comes a wonderful peace from within that keeps me going day to day.”

Patrick, who is proud of his Irish heritage, has been an integral part of the annual St. Patrick’s Day festivities in San Diego for more than a decade. He is featured in the flag-raising ceremony, where he sings “The Star Spangled Banner” in English and the Irish national anthem in Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland.

Three years ago, Patrick received an added thrill when the Irish Congress of San Diego proclaimed him the 1991 San Diego Man of the Year. Patrick was honored at a breakfast and rode in the eleventh annual St. Patrick’s Day parade.Robert McGraw, San Diego, California

[photo] Photo by Robert McGraw

In the Spotlight

  • Charlotte Warr Andersen, a member of the Kearns Seventh Ward, Kearns Utah South Stake, won first place in the International Competition for Quilt Makers held in the spring of 1993 in Paducah, Kentucky. Her quilt, which incorporated traditional quilt blocks as well as sections of original design, was created for the Relief Society sesquicentennial and was displayed at the entrance of the sesquicentennial exhibit in the Museum of Church History and Art in Salt Lake City, Utah.

  • In March 1993, Ray Close, from the Rosetta Ward, Belfast Northern Ireland Stake, won the European super-middleweight boxing title.

  • Judge Bode Vale serves as the lead judge over the juvenile division of the Family Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. He is the first Samoan to serve as a judge in Hawaii. Brother Vale serves as a high councilor in the Honolulu Hawaii Stake.

  • Larry D. Kump, a member of the Martinsburg Ward, Winchester Virginia Stake and a registered labor lobbyist, has made significant contributions for union members in both Indiana and Maryland. He has become a watchdog of ethics in government.

Hooked on Histories

“If my house were on fire, the first things I would run for are my diaries and records,” says Ruth Zollinger, an 80-year-old family history buff.

Ruth, a member of the Thatcher-Penrose First Ward, Tremonton Utah South Stake, has compiled forty-eight history books, many of them nine inches thick, and has sent them to the archives of the Church Historical Department, where they were microfilmed.

The books include the history of many stakes, wards, and towns. One book is the compilation of fifty years of Ruth’s diaries.

“I got ‘hooked’ at age twenty-one when I began writing in a tiny five-year diary,” Ruth says.

She later switched to using large books for her diaries.

“It’s a sad situation when no records are kept,” Ruth explains. “Some people don’t write so much as a note about themselves! And then what records have they got?”

But Ruth’s diaries don’t just include the important events of her life—they also contain a detailed history of her family, including her fifty grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. In the front of each diary, she records each family member’s name, age, date of birth, mission, wedding, temple sealing, and death.

“If anyone forgets a birthday, they know who to call!” laughs Ruth.

In the back pages of her diaries, Ruth records the stake and ward news, her budget, and the interesting experiences of her seven children. Every year she makes a little book listing events in her children’s lives and gives each a copy for Christmas.Amy K. Stewart, Pocatello, Idaho

Fostering Love

Surely, Almina and George Frandsen could not have known where their generous offer would lead. With their own children reared, the Frandsens invited their niece’s four young children to stay with them temporarily while the niece was in the hospital. That simple invitation began twelve years of caring for foster children—often for a year or more at a time.

At last count, they had housed thirty-five foster children, not to mention the seven children they helped raise for Almina’s widowed brother.

Sister Frandsen explains that these comings and goings have been both sad and rewarding. One special child came to them when, in 1969, they took in a two-year-old blind foster child named Peter.

In the loving environment of the Frandsens’ Kearns, Utah, home, Peter blossomed. However, no one could be found to adopt him. The first application for Peter’s adoption, therefore, was signed by George and Almina Frandsen. The entire Frandsen family loved him.

When George Frandsen died in 1984, Peter asked if he and his mother might qualify to serve a mission as a couple. A one-year mission call was extended to them to serve in the Illinois Peoria Mission, at Church historical sites.

Elder Frandsen learned the script even faster than his mother, and they served together giving tours through the Carthage Jail, then the John Taylor home in Nauvoo.

Now home from their mission, Almina is a member of the Pleasant Green Second Ward, Magna Utah Stake, and Peter attends the Thirteenth Ward, Salt Lake Central Stake.Nihla W. Judd, St. George, Utah