Sister Barbara B. Smith, former Relief Society general president, remembered as a friend

Published: Monday, Sept. 20 2010 5:51 p.m. MDT

Family members and friends celebrate the life of Sister Barbara B. Smith, former Relief Society general president, during her funeral held Monday at the Ensign Second Ward chapel.

Gerry Avant

SALT LAKE CITY — Family members and friends celebrated the life of Sister Barbara B. Smith, former Relief Society general president, during her funeral held Monday at the Ensign Second Ward chapel.

During the service, President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as Elder M. Russell Ballard, of the Quorum of the Twelve apostles, and Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, spoke.

"I've never heard an unkind word spoken of Barbara," President Monson said. "I've never heard her speak an unkind word of anyone else. ... Everyone was her friend."

President Monson spoke of Sister Smith's great ability to lead as she served in callings in the church. He said that she had the capacity to meet leaders throughout the world and still be herself.

"She never turned anyone away, she never shirked her duty," he said. "She preferred the kingdom of God and his righteousness and was an example for all of us."

Elder Ballard cited the great impact Sister Smith had on issues related to the family.

"No one has more influence over boys and girls, young men and young women, and families of the church, even of the whole world, than do the sisters of the church," Elder Ballard said. "Barbara had a mothering, mentoring nature that was unparalleled, in my judgment. Barbara had the gift of a gentle love and caring and at the same time the strength and courage to be firm in the cause of righteousness."

Sister Beck, who is a relative of Sister Smith, spoke of their association that spanned many years, beginning when Sister Beck was a young mother and ward primary president. Sister Beck said she learned about the great vision of Relief Society from her connection with Sister Smith.

"I was told that some of her final words were expressing a concern for the sisters of the church," Sister Beck said. "(Sister Smith) said, 'Please take good care of the sisters, be gracious and kind to them, they deserve your respect and love. Always honor them.' What a tremendous legacy she has left us."

Smith's son, V. Lowell Smith, told of the legacy his mother left for her family.

"She was the same in her private life as she was in her public life," he said. "She was beautiful, intelligent, witty, wise, a great counselor, a great friend, a great mother. ... She associated with kings and queens and leaders throughout the world, and she treated her family just the same as she treated them."

Family members remember Sister Smith as an example of unwavering faith, saying she lived the gospel right up to the end of her life.

Lowell Smith remembered a recent experience involving his mother after she had moved to a new residence. He said that one of the first things she asked was for someone to walk with her to the ward meetinghouse so she could make sure she was in good enough shape to walk the distance to attend her three-hour block of church meetings each Sunday.

"My mother had a great desire to be with the saints, to learn, to feel the spirit, to take the sacrament and to do all that her Heavenly Father wanted her to do," Lowell Smith said. "She was a shining example — no one doubted that she had an absolute sureness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and knew that by following the precepts and teachings of the gospel, we would receive eternal joy and happiness. She taught that to her children."

Sister Smith was remembered for her service as the 10th Relief Society general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During her service, she was instrumental in establishing the Nauvoo Monument to Women and restoration of the Sarah Kimball home, where the concept of Relief Society was first formulated.

She was also president of American Mothers, Inc., and worked in the community and government on issues such as family, women and the ongoing fight to eliminate child abuse.

She was born January 26, 1922, to Dan Delos "Dee" and Dorothy Helen Mills Bradshaw. Sister Smith is preceded in death by her husband, Elder Douglas H. Smith, who served as a member of the First and Second Quorums of the Seventy. Together, they had seven children, 39 grandchildren and 84 great-grandchildren.

e-mail: mholman@desnews.com

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