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Ruth Wright Faust

Ruth Wright Faust, the widow of President James E. Faust of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died of causes incident to age Sunday morning at her home surrounded by her family. She was 86.

Her death comes exactly six months after her husband died.

"Surely his almost storybook romance is among the sweetest in the annals of the church," said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, at President Faust's funeral. "Ruth Faust adored James E. Faust — everything he did and said, every act or deed or gesture melted her. He felt the same way about her, and they were 'melted."'

Ruth Wright Faust was born April 11, 1921, in the Millcreek area of Salt Lake City, the sixth of eight children of Elmer Wright and Elizabeth Hamilton Wright.

Sister Faust graduated from Granite High School in Salt Lake and attended the University of Utah. While attending school, she worked as a secretary and modeled clothing for a local department store.

She met her husband-to-be while they were students at Granite High, but the two did not date until President Faust returned from his mission to Brazil and after he was called into the military service in 1942.

The former classmates finally reunited when Sister Faust was working for her husband-to-be's uncle in the fingerprint bureau at the state Capitol.

"Uncle Jim, I am sure, influenced his nephew, Jim, to pay him a visit at the office in order for him to become better acquainted with me and to see if he wanted to ask me for a date," she said.

"I must have passed the test because I was invited to the Faust home for Sunday dinner for some of Father Faust's famous Dutch oven chicken."

The meal must have worked. The pair later married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 21, 1943, while President Faust was on a brief military leave.

President and Sister Faust raised five children: James H. Faust; Janna (R. Coombs); Marcus G. Faust; Lisa (A. Smith); and Robert P. Faust. Sister Faust spent her life raising her children and supporting President Faust in his church assignments.

Sister Faust served in many church positions including ward and stake Relief Society president in addition to traveling the world with her husband in his callings. President and Sister Faust were among the first official LDS Church representatives to visit the People's Republic of China when they accompanied a performance and goodwill tour of the Brigham Young University Young Ambassadors in 1979. She traveled by his side, met dignitaries, and loved and encouraged church members in whatever circumstances she found them.

The Fausts shared a deep love admired by both church leaders and their five children.

"The Fausts were one of the church's great love stories," said Olsen. "President Faust won her away from many suitors. When they came into the same room, the world stopped and for a few moments, it was just the two of them, as they communicated through a glance or greetings. If you were in President Faust's office and she called, he not only always took the call, but also made it clear that she was his number one priority. The heavens are richer and the world poorer with the change of residence of Ruth Wright Faust."

"My dad has always made it very clear how much he loves my mother and respects womanhood," daughter Lisa said in a 1995 church magazine article. "He has always treated her with a sweet tenderness."

Granddaughter Nicole recalled his reaction at Christmastime 1994, when the family gathered to watch President Faust open a portrait of his wife they had urged her to have taken as a gift for his office. As he unwrapped it "he pumped his fist in the air as he let out a Portuguese expression meaning 'wonderful!' Then family members became absolutely silent as he continued to look at the picture, and then he began to shake as tears rolled down his cheeks. He was so touched he couldn't speak."

It was his love for his wife, Ruth, and their family that held sway in his heart.

"With all my heart I want to thank Ruth Wright Faust for letting me share her life and giving me the hope that we can share eternity together," President Faust said in 1973 when he was called as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. "She is more than a wife and a sweetheart because she has become part of my very being."

"They were partners in life," President Thomas S. Monson said at President Faust's funeral. "They will be partners through all eternity."

E-mail: ldethman@desnews.com