Former LDS Young Women president Ruth Funk dies at home

Published: Sunday, Feb. 6 2011 11:14 p.m. MST

Ruth Funk, who served as Young Women General President in the 1970s, passed away Saturday.

august miller, Deseret News Archives

SALT LAKE CITY — Avid pianist, choir leader, high school music teacher and former LDS Young Women General President Ruth Hardy Funk, died at her home on Saturday, nearly a week before her 94th birthday.

Funk, who led the young women of the LDS Church from 1972 to 1978, was an esteemed pianist who taught lessons and accompanied many throughout her years. She also led hundreds in choirs and classes at East High School from 1969 to 1972.

She was born in Chicago and raised in Salt Lake City, her father often encouraging her to learn tough pieces to play on the piano. According to a 2010 interview with The Mormon Women Project, Funk said she mastered Mendelssohn's Rondo Capriccioso at age 14, and it became her "signature piece."

She later played in her home for esteemed guests like Helen Keller, and took lessons from Leopold Godowsky.

Funk served as a student-body officer at both East High School, when she was a student there, and at the University of Utah, where she graduated with a degree in music in 1938. After marrying Marcus C. Funk in the Salt Lake Temple that same year, the couple moved to Chicago where he attended dental school at Northwestern University.

Upon returning to Salt Lake City, then-LDS Church President Harold B. Lee asked Funk to head the general board of the young women's Mutual Improvement Association. It was under her direction that the organization became an auxiliary to the priesthood for a time and changed its name to the Young Women program of the Church.

Funk was also instrumental in rewriting many lesson manuals and developing the YW's Personal Progress program. She served with Hortense Hogan Child Smith as her first counselor and Ardeth Greene Kapp, as second counselor in the presidency.

In 2009, President Thomas S. Monson honored Funk for her service at a special Church luncheon. Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, said this about Funk: "Always an optimist and with an incredible zest for living, she has shared that zeal with countless children and youth. She is known for her love of music and youth and those two loves were often combined during her service."

Funk was also a member of the Utah State Board of Education from 1985 to 1992, where she served as chairman for a year. She also served as the chairman of the Governor's Commission on the Status of Women in Utah and as a board member for Bonneville International Corporation.

Funk was preceded in death by her husband, parents, three brothers and a grandson, and is survived by her four children, 19 grandchildren and 39 great-grandchildren.

A funeral will be held Friday, Feb. 18, at 11 a.m., at the Parley's 3rd Ward, 2625 Stringham Ave. A viewing will be held Feb. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m., at Larkin Sunset Mortuary, 2350 E. 1300 South.

e-mail: wleonard@desnews.com

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