SHORT AUTOBIOGRAPHY BY JOHN E. ENSLEN
(as of March 2019)
Born in 1946, I am a seventh generation Elmore County, Alabamian and a retired courtroom and real estate attorney from a small county seat town called Wetumpka.
In my small high school, where I graduated in 1965, I was a member of the National Honor Society and co-valedictorian. I played five sports (football, basketball, golf, tennis, and track), quarterbacked two consecutive undefeated football teams, and served as President of the Student Government Association.
I earned a degree in political science from Clemson University where I played football and freshman basketball. I was the scout team quarterback in both 1965 and 1966 when Clemson won the ACC. I retired from college football and became a varsity cheerleader my junior year. I served as chief prosecutor on the student honor court and in the student senate. I was a distinguished military graduate of Clemson University and commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1969.
In 1972, I became an Order of the Coif graduate from the University of Alabama School of Law where I served as an editor of the Law Review and a justice on the student honor court. I studied at the Institute of Mediterranean Studies in Rome, Italy, as a scholarship recipient from my law school. While in law school, I quarterbacked two undefeated intramural football teams.
I served my country as a first lieutenant in the United States Army. My stateside tours of duty during the Viet Nam War were at Ft. Bragg, NC, and Ft. Benjamin Harrison, IN.
Over a 35-year career as an AV-rated attorney, I tried more than 75 jury trials, argued more than 20 cases before the Alabama Supreme Court, and won a case in the United States Supreme Court by Denial of Certiorari. I was elected by my fellow attorneys to serve as bar commissioner of a three-county circuit, president of the county bar association, and President of the Montgomery Federal Bar Association. I was instrumental in founding the Alabama Chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society.
I was the first Republican elected to the position of Probate Judge of Elmore County, Alabama, where I served a six-year term (2013-2018). I did not solicit or accept a single campaign contribution in my quest to be elected probate judge.
I have been civically active, serving as president of the Rotary Club (selected as a Paul Harris Fellow), president and co-founder of our local chamber of commerce, and president (twice) and co-founder of our local children’s home. I was a co-founding director of the Joe Sewell Award. I served on the board of directors of our local YMCA and the community foundation, as well as serving as a volunteer for the Boy Scouts, youth baseball, and youth football.
I hunt, fish, and play tennis. I used to play golf. I used to throw a football and still shoot a basketball for fun. I play the piano and harmonica by ear. I try to sing and dance—but mostly only at home. I cook, specializing in sweet potato pies, pancakes, and sausage gravy and biscuits. I like to eat grits, pork BBQ, coleslaw, and cornbread in my buttermilk.
I drive an old pickup, grow a garden, clean up after hurricanes with my two 20-inch Stihl chainsaws, feed my cows home-grown hay, cut down trees and saw logs into boards on my sawmill, raise catfish in my pond, and bush-hog with my tractor between rows of planted pines.
I was happily married for 46 years-plus to sweet Dianne Brown of Hartwell, Georgia. She died in 2015 of pancreatic cancer. We met and married while both of us were undergraduates at Clemson University. We are the parents of six children, and grandparents of 19. I have learned some of life’s most important lessons from our autistic son, for whom I personally constructed a home in which he lives.
I am currently happily married to Robinelle Lamb who was born in Ft. Hood, TX, and reared in Holliday, UT. She is the mother of four children and the grandmother of eight grandchildren. She is a retired paralegal and we live in rural Elmore County in a 1,000 square feet cottage on our small farm and recreational property.
I was an active Baptist in my youth, participating in primary, Sunday school, Royal Ambassadors, Training Union, Vacation Bible School, and Bible Sword Drill Contests, winning the state-wide contest at age 11 in 1958.
Since age 26, I have been an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, being the first person in my town, and also my family, to embrace “Mormonism.” My wife Dianne and I joined in 1973 as I was commencing a new law practice. Because of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have a bright testimony of the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ, His perfect life, love, justice, and mercy, His atoning blood, His redeeming power, His glorious resurrection, and His promise to return and put all enemies under His feet. I long for and wish to receive a rewarding hereafter reserved for those who genuinely love and serve Him.
I have served as a branch president twice (Wetumpka and Siem Reap, Cambodia), one of the seven presidents of a stake seventy’s quorum (a now non-existent position), a counselor to a stake president for eight years followed by stake president for nine years (Montgomery, Alabama—set apart by Elder Russell M. Nelson in 1986 and released nine years later by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland), a counselor to four different mission presidents for more than ten years (Alabama Birmingham Mission), and as a senior full-time proselyting missionary in Cambodia and a full-time service missionary at the Church History Library in Salt Lake City.
I read and write, especially about early Alabama Mormon pioneers and the Book of Mormon. I authored a book, The Bible and the Book of Mormon, Connecting Links, and I keep a personal journal daily which has continued uninterrupted since August of 1976, now in its 148th volume. I wrote a history of the Wetumpka Branch of the church that was placed in the cornerstone of the Alabama Birmingham Temple. I speak a little Spanish, a little Cambodian, and a whole lot of southern English because I can’t help it.
With a high degree of passion, I watch Clemson and Alabama and BYU football. I have won state gold medals in the Senior Olympics in men’s singles tennis in both Alabama and Mississippi, and a silver medal in Georgia. My wife Dianne was known to say that I work hard, play hard, fight hard, and sleep hard. I love people of every type and persuasion and enjoy taking the time to serve a few of them. In short, I love life, but the effects of longevity are overtaking me.