• Brent Cuevas is from Houston, TX and now lives in Gilbert, AZ He is a widower and father to 2 amazing sons. Brent studied at BYU. He will be leading an Open discussion on Parenting with Kristine Russell.

    "Ideas for Widows & Widowers with Children Still at Home"

  • Toby & Lexine Severtson are both native to Arizona and grew up in Mesa not very far from each other. Lexine was married to Rodney Clark for 14 years with 4 children. Toby was married to Cindy Porter for 19 years with 4 children. After losing their spouses they met each other at widows gathering even though they had many of the same friends waiting to set them up. They were married in October of 2010. They were blessed to raise 3 girls and 5 boys together over the last 7 years. Their 4 oldest children have served missions 2 daughters served in Chile and France. 2 sons in Argentina and one coming home in 1 month from Chile with 3 more sons to serve. Their 3 girls have earned their person progress and 4 boys have received their Eagles with the last one just finishing his project. Their 2 oldest  children have recently been married in the Gilbert temple. They had their first granddaughter born this past October with another one due this June. Toby is currently serving as the Temple prep teacher and Lexine is ward organist and just release from teaching primary for the last 5 years. Toby is the CEO of his father’s business of making movie screens for all over the world including many temples. Lexine is a busy mother to 8 children and also teaches piano and whenever possible travels with Toby wherever business takes him. Together they have been to Russia, Spain, Australia, Brazil, Hong Kong, main land China and all throughout Canada and the states. Their favorite thing to do is cruises where they can disconnect from the world (and kids  [😊] ) to rest and relax. One of their main goals is to serve missions once the kids are gone and married.  "Pressing Forward With Faith and His Timing!"

  • Francelle Mortimer has done extensive family history research for her late husband and for others. This pursuit began in 1993 after marrying her husband, Tony Mortimer, who converted to the church while attending BYU Provo. Lacking any knowledge of his family relations, besides his mother and her adoptive parents and siblings, (all first generation immigrants) Tony and Francelle had their work cut out for them. He knew it was his responsibility to teach his family the gospel. At the time of Tony's death in Jan 2008, despite years of searches, little more was known. His father was still missing, and his maternal side, full of mysteries. Together, Francelle and Tony had done temple work for his adoptive grandparents and great-grandfather. In Feb 2008, her Stake was made a test site for the development of FamilySearch software. Francelle became a test user. That, and her study of doctrinal teachings about "the life beyond" launched her on a road to discoveries that were surprising and comforting. Francelle is from Phoenix and has five children, three will soon be full-time missionaries She works for Phoenix Public Library, has presented family history programs for the public, and has served as ward family history consultant. 
    Friday class:  "Applying doctrines of the spirit world to heal the grieving"
    Saturday class:  "Building your family together on both sides now"


  • Trent Allen - Keynote Speaker Brother Allen is married to Rachelle Allen and they are the parents of 8 children, four girls & four boys. He enjoys spending time with his family more than anything else. His  hobbies include reading, snowboarding, going on dates with his wife, playing all sports, photography, teaching the gospel, and spending more time with his family. He grew up in Mesa Arizona and attended Westwood High School. He served his mission in Osaka, Japan. He received his BS from Arizona State University and his Masters Degree from Northern Arizona University. He has taught for the seminary and institute programs of the church for over 18 years, and is currently the principal at the Combs Seminary.
    -Finding JOY and HOPE in the Journey
    Life is a beautiful journey filled with joy and heartache. How do we embrace the JOY and use the heartache to Come to the Savior? John indicated that the ‘truth will set us free’. Together we will experience the Scriptures in a way that will ‘set us free’, and help us find JOY and HOPE in the journey. 
    -Unlocking the Scriptures for a Deeper Understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ
    Using the scriptures to unlock a deeper understanding of Grace and how the Savior can lift us. Learn how to rely on the teachings and Atonement of Jesus Christ from some of our heroes in the scriptures. God gives us the Rely Blueprint in His holy word. We will dive in and notice these important patterns.

  • Anne ‘Marie’ Wilson Payne Gallacher was born and raised in Mesa, Arizona. When she was 20 years old
    Marie was married her best friend, Harry L. Payne in the Mesa Arizona temple. They were blessed with
    5 beautiful children, 4 boys and 1 girl. They shared 11 wonderful, happy years together. On September
    9, 1987, Harry died suddenly in his hotel room while he was away on a business trip. Marie was left a
    widow at age 31. Their baby was 2 at the time and their oldest son was 10. After 18 years of being a
    widow, Marie ventured out into the singles world. The last 15 minutes of a singles dance, Marie met
    Douglas L. Gallacher. They became fast friends and were married in 2006. In May 2016, she was
    diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. This experience has only increased and intensified her faith in the Lord
    Jesus Christ. Marie has had a lifetime of learning opportunities in which to put her trust in the Lord, to
    trust the Father’s perfect plan, to accept His will and to learn the lessons He would have her learn.
    "Becoming Acquainted with God, His Way"

  • Grant Gunnell was born and raised on a farm in Northern Utah. At age 16 family moved to Mesa, Arizona. Unfortunately, his Dad was killed in a tragic automobile accident just 4 months after their move. Grant graduated from Mesa Union High School in 1944 and enlisted in the US Army Air Corps. He dated Alice Petersen his senior year of high school and before he was sent overseas they decided to quickly get married. They were married in the Arizona temple. Together they have 3 children, 11 grandchildren, and 31 great grandchildren. In 1966 they moved their family to Northern California where he began a retail tire business. It was a successful business, but moved back to their roots in Mesa in the year 2000. His Church experience includes Stake Missionary, Bishop's counselor, Bishop, Stake President, Mission President of the Accra Ghana Mission, and the first temple president in an all-black nation, The Accra Ghana Temple. He counts the service he and Alice were called to, as the stake young single adult advisor couple, after their mission, one of the greatest of all callings they enjoyed together. His sweet Alice preceded him to the Spirit World 7 ½ years ago after 65 years of marriage of a severe Cardiac Arrest. He currently serves as a sealer in the Mesa temple and recently celebrated his 91st birthday. 
    "Your Life's Story"

  • Gary & Holly Banford- Gary was raised in Sandy, UT and served a mission to Chicago, IL. He has owned his own HVAC business for the past 25 yrs. Gary and his wife Tammy raised their 5 kids in Grantsville, UT and loved living there. He lost his wife Tammy to Huntington's disease in April of 2016. Holly was raised in Cottonwood Heights, UT and served a mission to Baton Rouge, LA. Holly was a hair stylist as well as an instructor for 25 yrs. She and her husband Cory and their 6 kids lived throughout Davis County. Cory passed away in January of 2016 due to complications in surgery. Holly has now gone back to school at Weber State University to study Health Promotion. She was awarded a scholarship for single moms and also got a full grant. She will graduate with her bachelors degree in the fall of 2018. Gary and Holly got married on May 18, 2017 and have 11 kids between them. They feel very lucky to have been led to each other and they are very happy. They have had some amazing spiritiual and life-changing experiences over the last 2 yrs and look forward to sharing with everyone how you can launch into your new wonderful lives, whatever that may look like for you.

           "Launching Into Your New Life

  • Brent Ellsworth- I have never been a widower and hope to never be one, but I deal with death and surviving spouses regularly in my legal practice, which is primarily estate planning (wills, trusts, probate, estate and gift tax planning) and adoptions.  I like Martin guitars, hiking, bluegrass music, Netflix documentaries, American history, history of the modern Arab/Israeli conflict, and making chocolate chip cookies with grandchildren.  I am also a board member of the Thomas J. Beatson, Jr. Foundation, which is devoted to funding leading edge research to find a cure for Type 1 diabetes.

    "Legal Issues Urgent/Not So Urgent after Death of Spouse"


  • Michael Carter - Aerospace Design engineer working on top military defense systems in SLC for Northrop Grumman. Widowed for almost 5 1/2 years since his wife passed of a brain tumor. Served a Spanish speaking mission to Southern Florida and Puerto Rico. Presently, serving as the Ward Mission Leader in West Jordan, Utah. Michael has presented at both the Arizona and Idaho W/W conferences on the Atonement. He has dedicated his life to understanding and receiving the blessings of the Atonement above all else!

           "Trusting in the Savior Makes Us Mighty in Hope, Faith and Charity"

  • Stan Lockhart- Over the past 30 years Stan married and raised three children,  became involved in politics and government and helped grow Utah’s technology industry. He served as Chair of the Utah Republican Party, a member of the Utah State Board of Education, President of the largest Boy Scout Council and Chair of the Provo City Council. His wife Becky served for 16 years in Utah’s Legislature and became Utah’s first female Speaker of the House. His life changed forever November 2014 when Becky began complaining of vertigo. Bit by bit over two months she lost cognitive ability and motor skills until she died of CJD, a rare and always fatal disease.Stan felt he was so unprepared for his wife dying. He’s gone through the grief and pain of losing his wife, to entering the world of dating, to making lots of new mistakes, to taking dance lessons to be less awkward on the dance floor and to being often humbled. Through it all, he kept turning to God and pressing forward with faith. This learning experience gave him more understanding of mortality and the spirit world, more empathy with others who have lost a spouse, more love for the Savior and more Christlike attributes in his life.  In July 2017 Stan married Michelle Rhodes and they are living happily ever after
    "Back to the Future: A New You"

  • Lisa DeWitt Ashby- Arizona Native. Has lived in Mesa all her life. Graduated from Westwood H.S.  Lisa was married to Danny DeWitt for 30 yrs and raised 5 children. 4 girls and 1 son and has 5 grandchildren. The last 10 years, she has been working in the Dental field.  Her youngest son Stetson has just recently returned home from a mission in North Dakota. 
    In November of 2015 Lisa and her children were devastated by the loss of their husband and father to suicide. It was a very difficult and tender time for their family.
    In February of 2017 Lisa married Fred Ashby also of Mesa.  Between them, they have blended 13 wonderful children and 27 grandchildren.  Lisa quickly discovered when one door closed, another one opened up. She recognizes the Lord's hand in her life and is so grateful for His tender mercies.
    “Healing after suicide; A Complicated Journey of Grief”


  • Brad Perkinson - Sealer in the Mesa Temple; Brother Perkinson was born in Illinois and is a graduate Illinois State University. He has lived in AZ for more than 50 years. He was drafted into the US Army during the Korean war and spent 19mos in Japan. Brother Perkinson and his wife served together in the Washington DC Mission. Brother Perkins has worked in the Mesa Temple for the past 20 years, currently working as a sealer.

    "How Do We Overcome Life's Challenges?"                

  • Michelle Lockhart- She became a widow in May of 2015 when her husband of nearly 30 years died of metastatic melanoma at the age of 53. Becoming a widow at the age of 49 was not in her plans. She had a year to prepare for his death, but nothing really prepares you. Michelle has been a Registered Nurse for 31 years, spending 20 of those years in trauma and ICU. She then spent 12 years in education. Her youngest child graduated from high school and left for college just months after her husband passed away. She was left alone. She had spent her life taking care of other people. She was overweight, unhealthy and emotionally drained. She was in great need of taking control of her life. She moved from Virginia to Utah, joined a gym, changed her diet and became passionate about self-care. A year after her husband’s death, she enrolled in classes to become a certified personal trainer, a nutrition councilor and a health and wellness coach. Gaining the knowledge to take control of her life put her in a place where she was ready to meet and marry her amazing husband, Stan Lockhart. As she has been able to work with clients this past year, it has brought her great joy watching them take control of their lives and seeing them truly thrive.

         "The Big Four: Nutrition, Exercise, Stress, and Sleep"

  • George D. Hickman has worked and taught in the Information Security field for many years. He has a Bachelor Degree from BYU and a Masters in Information Systems from SDSU. He is ABD-PhD in Technology Management - Digital Communications from Indiana State University.

    He is a Tenured Associate Professor at Utah Valley University, where he has taught for 21 years and started the Information Security program there. He has also taught as an Adjunct Professor for Information Systems at BYU, where he has taught graduate classes in Information Security and Computer Forensics for the past 3 years.

    His wife, Dellyce, passed 2 years ago, just before their 30th Anniversary. They are the parents of three children: Richard, 29; Michael, 27; and Angela, 20.
    He lives in Payson, Utah by himself, but is considering getting a dog.

      "Avoiding Identity Theft and Staying Safe Online"

  • Diana Hammond Thurber- I have spent most of my life in Arizona. I met my sweet husband, Paul while
    attending NAU in Flagstaff and we were married in May of 1978 in the Mesa, AZ Temple. In 1981 we moved to Phoenix, and in 1986 bought a home in Mesa where I still live. Paul passed on to Heaven in December of 2006 after many years of serious health challenges and complications. We are the proud parents of 7 married children
    and currently 13 beautiful grandchildren. Through many years of trials with Paul’s health as well as many of my own, I have truly learned that we do not walk this journey alone. Our Savior, Jesus Christ is there with his hand reached out to take ours and walk with us if we just invite him to do so. I have learned that with each trial we face, we are given the choice to turn to our Savior and Heavenly Father or to turn away from them. As we choose to turn towards
    them, we are given their Light and power and hope as they walk with us through eachtrial. It is our choice.

           "Finding Strength Through Christ and Choosing Faith and Hope

  •  Richard Crum- Born in Lordsburg, NM and raised in Farmington, NM,  Brother Crum now lives in Mesa, AZ. He has been widowed and is a "Papa" to 30+ grandchildren. He earned a Bachelor's of Language Arts and a Master's of Education. Married to Donna Perkins Crum

           "Seventh Inning Stretch - Increasing Levels of Understanding and Reducing Pain Through Mental Flexibility"

  • Justin & Jenn Eller- Keynote Speakers Born and raised in Sacramento, California. Justin served in the Alabama Birmingham Mission. He then graduated from the University of Utah, and is a High School English Teacher. He lost his wife to lung cancer in 2015 with whom he had 3 children. In July, Justin was married to Jen Johnson Eller who brought 4 additional children into his life. Dating brought many challenges as they lived two states away from each other. They also have a unique perspective of blending families as he relocated his family from Lincoln, California to join Jen and her family in South Jordan, Utah which is where they now reside with 5 of their 7 children still living at home. Jen has lived in Utah all of her life. She has been blessed to be a stay at home Mom for over 19 years. She has served over the youth and young women of the church most of her adult life. Suddenly in March of 2016 she lost her husband of 20 years to suicide leaving many unanswered question for her and her 4 children. Through the LDS widows/ widowers site she met and married Justin Eller and together they have 7 amazing children and reside in South Jordan, Utah. Their children suffer from trauma and some unique emotional and mental challenges that have been a learning experience as parents. But in addition, blending families although hard has been a wonderful, healing new beginning. "Blending Families and Mending Hearts"
    Key Note- "Prepare for the Hard, but Plan for Happiness"


  • Kristine Russell lives in Mesa, AZ with her 7 year old daughter Madison. Her late husband died of complications of a brain disorder in June 2017. She has her doctorate in Pharmacy and works as a pharmacist in Chandler, Arizona. She is a convert to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and having gone most of her life without it, has a great passion for living and sharing the Gospel with others.

  • Patti Angus- Sister Angus is originally from Pennsylvania and a long-time convert to the church.  After nearly 37 years of marriage to one of the missionaries who taught her family the Gospel, she became a widow 3 ½ years ago when her husband died of an unexpected heart attack. 

    Patti received a Bachelor of Science in biology from Arizona State University and a Master of Arts in Education from Ottawa University, and she taught many years for Tolleson Unified High School District. Currently Patti is retired and enjoys working on her small crochet business, researching genealogy, and traveling near and far to spend meaningful time with her six children and 18 grandchildren.   Patti loves teaching the children in her life about God’s love for them and all His wondrous creations, for in Alma’s words, “…all things denote there is a God (Alma 30:44)”.

    "Finding Peace – Be Still and Know that I am God" (Psalms 46;10)

  • Marie Ricks is a psychotherapist specializing in Grief and Loss.She is certified as a Compassion Bereavement Care Provider, meeting the needs of those suffering traumatic loss.  She has her Masters in Counseling (ASU) and Bachelor’s in Psychology (BYU) Marie works with clients who are dying or who have lost children, spouses, and other family members as they struggle through the grief trauma, anxiety, depression or marital conflict. She is a professional organizer, personal coach, author, and motivational speaker.  Her hope is to help others seeking improved mental and emotional health and more fulfilling lives.
    "Grief and Loss Recovery after the Death of a Spouse"  She will discuss the emotional devastation that often follows the death of a spouse.  Challenges of all-consuming grief—where there seems to be no comfort or release from the darkness. Grief risk factors and complications, grief’s impact, and the processes of grieving.   The path to grief recovery, what to avoid, what to encourage, and what to practice in order to find a way back to a productive, emotionally healthy life.
    "Recognizing and Responding to Grief and Loss in Children and Adolescents" She will discuss how and why children and adolescents have unique responses to grief and loss.  Explore how to recognize and respond to young people who are grieving, what actions to avoid, what responses to encourage, and what methods to practice to successfully encourage a healthy response to grief and loss.