Grampa Bill's General Authority Pages
Joseph C. Muren Joseph C. (Carl) Muren

1936 - 2009

  • Born 1936 Richmond, California
  • Baptized 1957
  • Mission to Argentina 1958-1960
  • Married Gladys Smith 1963, Los Angeles California Temple; six children
  • President of Costa Rican Mission 1977-1980
  • Second Quorum of Seventy 1991-1996
  • Died 2009, Layton, Utah

This biographical sketch is adapted from the "News of the Church: Elder Joseph C. Muren of the Seventy" published in the Ensign for May 1991 on the occasion of Elder Muren's call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Joseph C. Muren and his wife, Gladys, are first-generation members of the Church. “Without growing up in the Church, we have often found ourselves asking each other, ‘Are we doing this right?’ ” Joseph Muren says with a grin, adding that he thought that being a convert to the Church probably would be useful in relating to other converts, especially now that four times more people join the Church each year than are born into it.

Born in Richmond, California, on 5 February 1936, Joseph grew up in a Catholic home with a mother of Italian descent and a father of Yugoslavian descent. Sister Muren, formerly Gladys Smith, was brought up a Methodist, in Colusa, California.

Joseph attended San Jose State University, where a roommate invited him to institute classes. “I became interested enough to take the discussions, but I promised my parents that I would wait until I was twenty-one to be baptized,” he explains.

An avid reader, Joseph devoured every book or pamphlet the missionaries gave him. Near his twenty-first birthday, he was baptized, not only giving up any hope of inheriting his father’s business but also creating strained relations with his family, who felt that to leave the Catholic church was to leave the family.

As a young man, Joseph had given thought to becoming a priest. “I wanted to serve God with my life, but I also wanted a family,” explains Elder Muren.

Within a year of his baptism, he served a mission in Argentina, adding to his Italian a knowledge of Spanish. Following his mission, he taught high school math and language while earning a master’s degree at San Jose. About this time, Gladys started attending institute classes with her roommate and was soon baptized. The Murens were married in 1963 in the Los Angeles Temple. The next year, Brother Muren began doctoral work at the University of Southern California, which he completed in 1969.

“It was at El Camino College that I began teaching in the institute program,” he remembers. A fourteen-year career with the Church Educational System followed, leading the growing Muren family from Long Beach State to Stanford to Weber State College. They lived in Costa Rica from 1977 until 1980, while Joseph served as mission president there, and where the Murens’ sixth child, Natasha, was born. The family then moved to South America, where Joseph served as director for temporal affairs (DTA) for the Church in Peru, then in Argentina, then in Sydney, Australia. A DTA works under the direction of Area Presidencies, administering the temporal aspects of the Church in the area.

The Murens’ five other children include Cynthia (Bassett) of Houston, Texas; Michael, age twenty-two; Michelle, age twenty; Tricia, age nineteen; and Marshawn, seventeen. Marshawn and Natasha live in England with Brother and Sister Muren, where Elder Muren has been serving as a DTA since 1989.

To those close to him, Elder Muren’s qualifications to serve and lead are quite separate from either his DTA work or being a convert.

“He is a man of great faith who has taught us how important it is to rely entirely on the Lord,” Sister Muren says. “And as I’ve watched him give counsel—as a father, a bishop, or a teacher—I realize he has an uncommon gift.”

“Dad is quite intense and leaves an impression on you when he talks to you,” adds Michelle. “He is the most understanding man I’ve ever talked to.” She describes the family dinner hour as “long and wonderful. All of us learned more in those discussions, probably, than in all the classes we ever attended.

“Everything from world events to personal feelings would come up. What an influence he’s been on our lives and on the lives of many other people!”

Beginning at the family dinner table, continuing outward as he taught institute and Education Week classes and then managed temporal affairs, Joseph C. Muren has shared his witness of Jesus Christ. Now that he is a member of the Seventy, that influence will continue to be felt throughout the Church.
Elder Muren served the duration of his five year call to the Second Quorum of the Seventy with distinction and was honorably released October 5, 1996.
Elder Joseph Carl Muren, who served as a member of the Second Quorum of the Seventy, passed away at his home in Layton, Utah, on July 27, 2009. He was 73.

Elder Muren served in many capacities in the Church, including: mission president of the San Jose Costa Rica Mission from 1977-80, temple sealer, counselor in a stake presidency, stake mission president, high councilor, stake Young Men president and bishop.

Elder Muren was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy in 1991. He served in the Presidency of the Europe Mediterranean Area and as president of the Central America Area. He was given an honorable release in 1996.

At the time of his call to the Seventy, he was director of temporal affairs for the Church in the British Isles. Prior to that he was an administrator in the Church Educational System in California and Utah and the Church's director of temporal affairs for Ireland and Africa. Before retiring, he again worked for the Church in the Human Resource Department.

Elder Muren met missionaries and joined the Church at age 21 while attending San Jose State University in San Jose, California. He told the Church News about his conversion in an article published in 1991.

"The Spirit of God came into my body as a fire. . it left me physically exhausted but totally assured that the Church was true. Now I knew for myself.

"As the years have passed, I have recognized more fully that it was not just a spiritual experience of the moment, but rather I was the recipient of a testimony, a gift from Heavenly Father, that when nourished and cherished would have lasting effects upon me every day of my life."

Elder Muren was born Feb. 5, 1936, in Richmond, Calif., to Joseph F. and Alba Maria Cairo Muren. He grew up in San Francisco, where he spent a lot of time with his grandfather, an Italian immigrant who taught him a great respect for God and the importance of attending church.

A year after he was baptized, he served a mission to Argentina. Upon returning home, he earned a master's degree in history from San Jose State and a Ph. D. in education administration from the University of Southern California.

During his college years he met Gladys Smith, a student who was investigating the Church. She was baptized and a year later they were married in the Los Angeles Temple. They have six children and nine grandchildren.

He is remembered as a gifted teacher who showed students his love of teaching and learning from the scriptures.

Funeral services were held Saturday, Aug. 1, 2009, in Layton, Utah. Elder Charles Didier of the Seventy and Elder Claudio R.M. Costa of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke and read a letter from the First Presidency honoring Elder Muren during the services. Also in attendance were Elder Spencer J. Condie and Elder Kenneth Johnson of the Seventy, and Bishops H. David Burton and Keith B. McMullin of the Presiding Bishopric.

"News of the Church: Elder Joseph C. Muren...," Ensign May 1991 (principal source)
Julie A. Dockstader, "He Encourages Tie to Ancestral Past," Church News Archives, May 11, 1991
"Nine Members of Seventy Released," Church News Archives, Oct. 12, 1996
"Truly converted: 'I knew for myself'," Church News, August 29, 2009
2005 Church Almanac, p.89

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