Dallin H. Oaks was born in Provo, Utah on August 12, 1932. His father died of tuberculosis when he was only eight years old. Just three years after his father’s death, Elder Oaks began working to help his mother. His first job was to sweep at a radio repair shop. This first job led the young boy to become interested in radios. Before he was sixteen years old he had received his radiotelephone license, and he got a job working for a radio company. Soon he was working regularly as an announcer. It was while Elder Oaks was working, announcing a high school basketball game, that he met June Dixon. They later married on June 24, 1952, while both were attending college at Brigham Young University. Elder Oaks worked with steady effort to get his degree in accounting and then attended the University of Chicago Law School. His wife recalls him saying, “There are a lot of guys over there at the law school who are smarter than I, but none works any harder.” Elder Oaks graduated with honors and won the opportunity to serve as a clerk for Chief Justice Earl Warren of the Supreme Court. When this internship was completed, Elder Oaks and his family moved back to Chicago where he entered into a private law practice.Elder Dallin H. Oaks was called to be the stake mission president of the Chicago Stake in 1961, and was also offered the opportunity to teach at the University of Chicago. In 1963 Elder Oaks accepted a calling as second counselor in the Chicago South Stake Presidency. Along with his responsibilities in the Mormon Church, Elder Oaks also 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, Elder Dallin H. Oaks was asked by the Mormon Church to be the new President of BYU. While serving as the President, he focused on academic excellence and became a spokesman for private colleges and universities as the president of the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities.
Elder Oaks was sworn into the Utah Supreme Court on January 1, 1981, and continued to be offered many important federal jobs. In May of 1984, Elder Oaks was announced as a new member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. When he received this calling, he resigned from the Supreme Court, so that he could focus all of his attention on serving in the Church. His strong desire to serve has never wavered. Just after his calling was announced, the Washington Post’s Supreme Court reporter called Elder Oaks, because he was a likely candidate for the United States Supreme Court. The reporter wanted to know if Elder Oaks’ new calling would mean that he would no longer be available for the position in the Supreme Court. Elder Oaks answered he would not, and explained that appointment in the Supreme Court did not take precedence over the service he had just been called to give.