Mesa Arizona South Stake                   Not an official website of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints                     830 E 2nd Ave, Mesa, AZ 85204

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Memories of ISC - Written by W. Dea Montague

• In 1967, I was courting Marcia Lindblom and made my first visit to Mesa in June. Her father, Jim Lindblom invited me to join the Mesa 9th Ward softball team for a game at the ISC. I was impressed that the Church had such a nice facility and really enjoyed participating. 

• After marrying Marcia, we moved here in 1968, and like so many others, enjoyed playing with the Mesa 8th Ward Basketball team at the ISC. Having three games at a time was a first for me, and I marveled at the size and utility of the facility. 

• The Maricopa Stake held conferences and a variety of activities at the ISC. Every December in the late 1960’s, President Harold Wright and the Stake presidency would host the Annual Christmas Dinner and Program in the auditorium and all Stake leaders were invited. As a counselor in the Elder’s Quorum presidency, We were invited in 1969. Before that time I was only aware of the gymnasium. Again I was impressed with the magnitude and flexibility of this great facility. 

• Some time in the early 1970’s I was invited to help at the ISC as children were brought from various Reservations to participate in the Indian Student Placement Program. My memory is that many volunteers helped with the process of receiving the children, making sure that they were medically and physically able to begin their school year, feeding them a meal and matching them to their assigned families. This seemed to happen during the days over a relatively short time at the beginning of the school year. 

• Another similar memory came from helping serve meals to families who came from Mexico and South America by bus to attend the Mesa Temple. I remember this as a sweet experience that came through an invitation from Darl and Erma Andersen, members of our Ward who were Temple Ordinance Workers for Spanish speaking patrons. 

• A most memorable ISC Stake Conference of the Maricopa Stake came in April, 1976, when I was sustained as President of the Stake, succeeding J. LaMar Shelley. Because the ISC lacked a cooling system and the sound system was not fully adequate, most conferences were not held there. Sometimes we would rent the Westwood High School auditorium or do split sessions for conference; however, in 1979, we made some major changes to our boundaries within the Stake and held the meeting at the ISC because all of those affected could gather together. It was an emotional and spiritual time as major changes were proposed and sustained. 

• In 1979-1981, I served as the Boy Scouts of America, Mesa District Chairman. During some of that time we had our monthly District Commissioner’s meetings and the Round Table training meetings at the ISC. It was centrally located and had a lot of room for us to divide into smaller groups. The Scout Council also used the ISC for the annual Scout-O-Rama, a huge show and tell event that used the entire building and attached fields for displays and activities!

• In 1986, upon my release as Stake President, I became a member of the Temple Christmas Lights committee and learned that the auditorium was used for storing, preparing and repairing many of the Lights and other decorations. Along with hundreds of other volunteers, I helped replace bulbs and strings of lights. Wow, what a magnificent project that was facilitated and staged from the ISC!

• In 1987, I became the Assistant Chairman (to Craig Cardon) of the Easter Pageant, and served as the Chairman from 1988-1992. Of course, the ISC was a very integral part of the pageant. Costumes were created, repaired and stored there. I remember going in to the sewing room where many women were busy creating such beautiful costumes and where the actors would come to be fitted for their exact part. It was magnificent!

• In April 1992, I was called as one of the Regional Representatives and given the assignment to oversee Church Sports in Arizona. The Mesa South Stake was the Agent Stake for the Inter- Stake Center and for Ellsworth Park. For many years the Church and the City of Mesa had worked under a very cooperative joint-use agreement for the Softball fields. In addition to the main field with bleachers at the SE corner of the property, the Church built three more fields along the north edge of the acreage. Two were designated for girls and women, the main field was for adult men and Coed teams, and the NE field was mostly used by the older Young Men. The City provided and paid for the lights and also did the irrigation, grooming and preparing of the fields for play, including striping the fields. Under this arrangement, the City leagues played on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The Church used all fields on Wednesday and Saturday. This arrangement was reaffirmed in the early 1990’s and continued for 10 years. It was a great benefit to both entities. In 2004, it was time to renew the “lease” and the City had some new directors negotiating, and the Church Headquarters in Salt Lake City wanted to have more involvement. President Milton Turley of the Mesa South Stake asked me to negotiate, but cautioned me not to do such a good job that the City withdrew and we got it all to our own use. We were able to reach agreement on the same terms as had been in place for nearly 20 years and I prepared a simple document to memorialize the deal. Unfortunately, the Church Real Estate department inserted themselves into the process and returned a multi page contract with a lot of “wherefore’s” and “whereas’s” included, placing more requirements and restrictions on the City than the City was willing to accept and the City totally withdrew from the joint-use of the parks and fields. 

• In 1992 or 1993, Elder Mack Lawrence, our Area President, brought a discussion forward about the ownership and use of the ISC. Some members of the Area Council proposed that the Church divest itself of the facility and give it to the Mesa Public Schools or the City. He asked for my opinion and passionately encouraged him to recommend that the Church keep the facility because if we lost it, there would never be a replacement of such a venerable and historical facility. I also recommended that the gymnasium needed a cooling system that would allow it to be used throughout the year. Large floor fans were the only relief at the time. He agreed with my recommendations, although felt that the cost of a refrigerated air system was too expensive, so several large evaporative coolers were installed. It was a great blessing.  I knew that it was working when one day during a June Volleyball Tournament, a lady said that it was too cold for her and she had to go outside to recover. 

• In 1994, many of our Area Young Women were participating in Club Volleyball. A problem arose when their tournaments began being scheduled on Sundays because there were not enough gyms available for non-Sunday play. I approached Elder Lawrence and received permission to offer the ISC for tournaments on Selected Fridays and Saturdays if the organization would not play on Sunday. With four courts at a time, it proved to be a wonderful alternative for avoiding Sunday’s and continued for many years. 

• After my release as a Regional Representative in 1995, President Turley asked if I would assist Brother Steve Smith in scheduling the ISC. I did this for another 10 years until 2005 (when we left for our 3-year mission to Colorado). We scheduled Volleyball for participating Stakes in the Fall and Spring, and had basketball for Men and Young Men during the Winter. Softball took place throughout the year. There were 10-15 Stakes that participated. An example of the popularity is that during basketball season, there would be 108 games per week scheduled on the three courts in the gym. Each court would have four games per evening, and there were 5 3-hour sessions on Saturday. 

• In 2001, I was serving as the Maricopa Stake Young Men President. A Dance Festival was proposed for our Stake and we scheduled it for the ISC. This was a wonderful experience and was attended by hundreds of people who enjoyed the unique facility and the participants (some secretly) enjoyed this new experience. 

• Also, in 2004, we had another Dance Festival for five West Mesa Stakes that attended Westwood High School. Although it was held at the Westwood football field, rehearsals for the Priests and Laurels were at the ISC. This was a happy time that allowed great social interaction as friendships were strengthened. 


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