Granddaughter of two LDS Church presidents turns 100

Published: Thursday, April 11 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — The granddaughter of two LDS Church presidents turned 100 this week.

Florence Smith Jacobsen, the granddaughter of Joseph F. Smith and Heber J. Grant, former general Young Women president and church curator, turned 100 on Sunday, April 7. Jacobsen celebrated her birthday with family members at the Salt Lake Country Club on Friday, April 5.

"The coolest part about turning 100?" Jacobsen said. "I hope it is that my family appreciates me and what I’ve done in my life."

Born in 1913, Jacobsen grew up in a devout LDS family. She graduated from the University of Utah in 1934 and married Theodore (Ted) Jacobsen in the Salt Lake Temple in 1935.

The couple had three sons, Stephen, Alan and Heber. Alan passed away in 2004. Their posterity includes nine grandchildren and 19 great-grandchildren, with two more on the way.

Among her many life accomplishments, Jacobsen led the YWMIA (forerunner to the church's Young Women program) from 1961 to 1972.

She was instrumental in rescuing the Lion House from demolition and spearheading the restoration of it and the adjoining Beehive House.

As church curator, she directed the interior restoration of the Manti Utah Temple and supervised restoration of such landmarks as Promised Valley Playhouse in Salt Lake City; the E.B. Grandin Building in Palymra, N.Y.; the Brigham Young home in St. George, Utah; and the Newell K. Whitney home in Kirtland, Ohio.

While serving as YWMIA president and as a member of the church's Arts and Sites Committee, she assisted with the restoration of several structures, including the Brigham Young and Wilford Woodruff homes in Nauvoo, Ill.

Jacobsen also proposed to LDS Church President Spencer W. Kimball that a museum be built to house and display the church's historic treasures. That led to construction of the Museum of Church History and Art, now called the Church History Museum, located west of Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

Jacobsen's husband, Ted, was the president of Jacobsen Construction Co., founded by his father, Soren, which builds many temples and other church facilities. He also lived to the age of 100 before he passed away in 2009. For her vast work in preserving LDS Church historic sites and artifacts, the Mormon Historic Sites Foundation honored Jacobsen with the Junius F. Wells Award in 2010. On that occasion, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson said "mediocrity" has never been in Jacobsen's vocabulary.

"You've never known it, and you never will," the prophet said.

When asked what she attributed her long and healthy life to, Jacobsen didn't hesitate.

"Living the principles of the gospel," she said.

Krissie Bushman, a granddaughter, greatly admires her grandmother.

"I feel very blessed to have a grandmother that has such a great heritage and that has such a strong testimony of the gospel," Bushman said. "I just can't express enough about how appreciative I am of all that she has done for me and the great example she is to me. ... I only wish I can live up to a part of what she has done."

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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