La Vell E. Saunders was born in Logan UT on July 6, 1937 to Earl M. and Mildred Carlson Saunders. The family later moved to Brigham City and lived in a home that faced the elementary school. The school burnt in an accidental fire one afternoon when he was home sick, but he could watch the excitement from bed and he cheered on the blaze from a front row seat. The school site is where the new Brigham City LDS temple is now under construction. The family later moved to Elwood, UT where La Vell grew up, graduating from Bear River High School in 1956.
As an active member of the LDS faith, he served in the Australia Brisbane Mission from 1957-1959. He served in several bishoprics, enjoyed teaching gospel doctrine classes, and served in many callings at the ward and stake levels.
La Vell attended Utah State University, earning a bachelor and masterâ€™s degrees in Sociology. While attending USU he met and married his eternal sweetheart and advisorâ€™s daughter, Janice Roskelley, through the medium of music. La Vell loved to sing and performed in many choirs throughout his life. La Vell and Janice were married in the Logan Temple on August 10, 1961.
After La Vell and Janice simultaneously graduated from USU in 1962 with degrees from the Sociology Department, La Vell and his family earned his doctorate in Family Sociology from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. He taught at the College of St. Catherineâ€™s while working on his doctorate. In 1969, the family moved to Corvallis, OR where La Vell taught Sociology at Oregon State University.
La Vell returned to Utah State University on September 5, 1978,both teaching and serving in administrative capacities. He retired on June 30, 2004 as an Assistant Vice President for Student Services. While at USU, La Vell developed or enhanced programs which helped thousands of USU students to have a positive and successful college experience. These included the Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration (SOAR) program, the Western University Exchange, the Academic Advising office supporting student research skills, and Student Survival. He also directed the Summer Citizens program, which brought mature students into classes during the summer session. He recruited internationally for the university. Dr. Saunders was honored by professional organizations, students, and peers for his diligent efforts to improve education and student experience at USU.
Beyond his profession, La Vell was a loving and hard working family man, raising seven children. He and Janiceâ€™s home also welcomed over the years many foster children who came from difficult situations and found love, support, and a guiding hand which continued even after those children had moved forward. He is survived by wife Janice, children Richard (Carrie), Chris (Ila), Catherine, Suzanne (Tarlton), Sherri (Charles), Pat (Lissa), and Doug, 22 grandchildren, and siblings Earl (Arlene), Robert (Judy), Mearritta (Sid), and Sheila (Joe), and foster children Robert and Jeni.
A family-only funeral and burial service was held on Thursday, April 21st. A memorial service involving friends and colleagues will be held on Saturday, April 30th at 11:30 am at the North Logan 13th Ward building, 1850 N. 400 E. North Logan, please enter at the south doors. All are welcome to attend the memorial service. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at Allen Mortuaries.