Making the Most of Life

Just 30 minutes after Lea Rosser was interviewed by the mayor and shire councilors of Auburn, New South Wales, Australia, she received an offer for a job as general manager of the Auburn Shire Council.

Sister Rosser’s new job is noteworthy because she is probably the first Church member in New South Wales to serve in such a senior local government position and because she is one of only five female general managers among the 177 local government authorities in New South Wales. Sister Rosser’s new position involves heavy civic government responsibility for the 2000 Olympic Games. The Auburn Shire Council has within its boundaries the suburb of Homebush, principal location of the Olympics.

“Even if women don’t have the opportunity to marry and rear children, they can still make the most of their lives,” Sister Rosser says. “Because of my present career position, some may assume that I’ve made the choice not to marry. If they did, they’d be wrong.”

While working full-time, Sister Rosser earned two bachelor’s degrees in librarianship, business, and government administration. She worked at the Parramatta library for 12 years and was later employed by several local government councils. She recently completed her MBA thesis.

Sister Rosser serves as Young Women president in the Sydney Australia Greenwich Stake.Alan Wakeley, Cherrybrook, New South Wales, Australia

Centered in Family History

When Mardean Peterson Steinmetz was 12 years old in 1932, she sat her Grandmother Peterson down at the kitchen table and interviewed her about her life. That was the start of a lifetime of involvement in family history work. Since 1983 Sister Steinmetz has served as director of the family history center in St. Louis, Missouri. She and her staff of 50 volunteers help patrons find their ancestors in a modern facility filled with hundreds of books, dozens of microfiche and microfilm readers, and seven computers.

With her husband, Henry, who passed away in 1984, Sister Steinmetz helped start St. Louis’s family history library more than 24 years ago. “We were really excited about having a genealogy library here, although we didn’t have much to start out with,” she recalls. All they had was a small filing cabinet and two old microfilm readers.

Sister Steinmetz remembers the arrival of the center’s first computer in 1990, just before the center was expanded. “There wasn’t any room at the Church, so they set it up in my basement,” she says. “I said I was too old to learn a new language, but I found I could learn how to run the programs. I still don’t know much about how computers work, but I can run one!”

In addition to doing family history work, Sister Steinmetz mothered a son and two daughters. She has fulfilled many other Church callings, including ward Primary president and stake Relief Society president. She has 9 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, with another on the way.

When asked how many hours a week she devotes to her calling, Sister Steinmetz said, “Well, the center is open 43 hours a week, and then there are classes and seminars—heavens, I don’t know.” But her motivations are clear: “Every time I or anyone else finds a name, it gives me the same feeling I get when someone is converted to the gospel. It’s truly missionary work for the dead. People know genealogy is not just a hobby. It’s a spiritual thing.”Nancy Pekny, St. Louis, Missouri

Brush and Canvas

“Very few of the people who come to my shows ask me if I’m a Latter-day Saint—they already know I am,” says successful painter Kent R. Wallis. “They know about my devotion to my family and to the Church. They ask many questions concerning the Church’s lifestyle and family orientation.”

A former businessman, Brother Wallis knew nothing about art when he first picked up a brush 22 years ago. Today his unique and colorful paintings, which usually depict architecture surrounded by nature, appear in prestigious magazines, galleries, and art shows across the United States. He supports his family through his art, but his family also helps him. His wife and seven children help with such tasks as handling telephone calls and shipping paintings. “They frame the paintings and stretch the canvases,” Brother Wallis says.

For Brother Wallis, the brush and canvas are mighty tools for expressing the light he feels within, which in turn helps others experience feelings of the Spirit. “People tell me, ‘Your paintings bring me joy. It’s like having a ray of sunshine in our home,’” he says.

Brother Wallis serves as a Sunday School teacher in the River Heights Ward, Providence Utah Stake.Barbara J. Jones, Salt Lake City, Utah

Wheels That Work

“I teach people that it’s OK to be in a wheelchair,” says Michael Schlappi, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a shooting accident as a 14-year-old. “You can still live a good life.”

Brother Schlappi is indeed living a good life. As a cocaptain of the U.S. wheelchair basketball team that competed at the 1996 Paralympic Games in Atlanta, he helped bring home a bronze medal. He also played on the undefeated wheelchair basketball team at the Barcelona Paralympics in 1992 and on the gold-winning team in Seoul in 1988. In addition, he is an accomplished wheelchair tennis player with two national championships.

But Brother Schlappi sees himself as more than an athlete. He earned a master’s degree in business administration and health care from Arizona State University and works as manager of disability services at a large health care provider. As part of his job, he helps establish community programs such as the Wheelchair Sports Foundation. He regularly speaks to school and business groups about how to prevent accidents such as his. He emphasizes four lifesaving tips: always wear a seat belt in vehicles; always wear a helmet when skateboarding, bicycling, or in-line skating; never play with guns, even when you think them to be unloaded; and learn to like yourself, because feelings of low self-worth are a serious disability.

Brother Schlappi and his wife, Susan, have three children and live in the Hidden Oaks Ward, Sandy Utah Lone Peak Stake. Brother Schlappi is secretary in the ward Young Men presidency and often teaches Aaronic Priesthood lessons.

In the Spotlight

  • Leatufale Roy Brunt, high priests group leader in the Faleula Ward, Apia Samoa West Stake, was elected to a five-year parliamentary term representing the Sagaga-Le-Falefa constituency. Brother Brunt has been appointed parliamentary undersecretary for the Ministry of Transport and is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and the House Committee.

  • Michael R. Linzey of the Portsmouth Ward, Chesapeake Virginia Stake, was named United States Coast Guard federal engineer of the year. He received the award through the National Society of Professional Engineers for his outstanding work on a vessel traffic system developed for the Coast Guard. Brother Linzey serves as ward mission leader.

  • Ross Gibb of the Taber First Ward, Taber Alberta Stake, was the first person inducted into the new Canadian Credit Union Hall of Fame. His pioneering efforts in the Canadian credit union industry included helping start Canada’s first independent credit union organization.

  • Mark Killian, a teachers quorum adviser in the Sunny Mesa Ward, Mesa Arizona Kimball East Stake, has served in Arizona’s House of Representatives for 14 years. For the past four years, he has served as Speaker of the House. Governing, a national political magazine, recently named him Public Official of the Year.