1,300 pay respects to Owen Allred

Cars jam Juab town for the funeral of polygamous leader

Deseret Morning News/February 20, 2005
By Leigh Dethman

Rocky Ridge, Juab County -- Nearly 1,300 friends, family and well-wishers paid their respects Saturday to the leader of a prominent Utah polygamous group.

Owen Allred, 91, died on Valentine's Day, just 10 days after the leader of the Apostolic United Brethren church broke his hip when he slipped and fell in his Bluffdale home.

Cars and trucks lined the streets of this tiny Juab County town, causing a traffic "nightmare," but the turnout was overwhelming, his son, Carl Allred, said.

"We have a lot of people here who love Owen that had nothing to do with (the AUB)," Carl Allred said. "He was just a God-fearing man who loved his fellowman."

Owen Allred never wanted the responsibility of leading the 5,000-member church. But after his brother, Rulon, was murdered in 1977 by followers of polygamist Ervil LeBaron, Owen Allred shouldered the responsibility and did the best he could, Carl Allred said.

The funeral was closed to the media to "preserve the privacy and reverence for the family," he said.

Six of Owen Allred's sons served as pallbearers for the funeral, with his last surviving brother, Clarence E. Allred, serving as an honorary pallbearer. Over his lifetime, Owen Allred raised 23 children with "more than one wife," Carl Allred said.

Owen Allred was born on Jan. 15, 1914, in Blackfoot, Idaho, where he loved to hunt, fish and enjoy life's beauty in the outdoors, Carl Allred said. He had six brothers and four sisters.

Owen Allred was also an advocate of following all of the laws of the land, except for one - polygamy.

"We are not secretive about our beliefs," Carl Allred said. "We consider ourselves just like every other U.S. citizen. Just because we believe a little differently than other people, we get spotlighted."

In the summer of 1998, Owen Allred called a press conference to denounce abuses within polygamous cultures and distinguish his group from others. The then-84-year-old leader wrote letters to newspapers and members of the Utah Legislature, lauding efforts to raise the minimum marriage age from 14 to 16 and reasserting the group's adherence to all laws.

"For 50 years now . . . the rule among our people has definitely been that girls should not even start courting until they are at least 17 years of age," Owen Allred wrote in a letter to the Deseret News.

Five years later, in March 2003, Owen Allred made headlines again when a 4th District Court judge ordered him and the AUB to pay back thousands of dollars to a woman who accused him and other church members of stealing $1.54 million in a 1989 real-estate transaction.

The church's presiding council selected J. LaMoine Jenson two years ago to succeed Owen Allred as leader of the AUB. Jensen has been a member of the presiding council for 36 years, said council member Dave Watson.

The 91-year-old had been "quite frail" and confined to a wheelchair for the past 1 1/2 years and was unable to leave his home without assistance, Carl Allred said.

"He wanted to go. I don't think one single day passed by that he didn't say he wanted to go home," Carl Allred said. "Even though we will miss him, it brings us happiness because he is at peace."

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