Magnificent service rendered by former Relief Society leader
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President Thomas S. Monson lauded Barbara Bradshaw Smith as a woman who "stood with the leaders of the world and had the capacity to be herself."
Sister Smith, who served as the 10th Relief Society general president, from October 1974 to April 1984, died Sept. 13. She was 88.
President Monson was among those who honored Sister Smith's life during a memorial service Sept. 20 in the Ensign 2nd Ward, Salt Lake Ensign Stake. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and Sister Julie B. Beck, current Relief Society general president, were among participants in the service. A son, Lowell V. Smith, paid tribute to Sister Smith. A grandson, Joshua Faulkner, and a granddaughter, Allison Alldredge Soderberg, offered prayers, and Dallin Hanson, a grandson-in-law, performed a medley of hymns on the violin, accompanied by Sid Thornton. The service was conducted by Bishop L. Lionel Kendrick. Barbara Cramer served as chorister and Helen Wells as organist.
President Monson said, "I can testify that Barbara Smith became president of the Relief Society through the inspiration of the Lord, and she served magnificently in that calling."
He said that he has known Sister Smith's family — the Bradshaws — "as long as I can remember. She grew up in a humble home and I can testify that home was filled with love and the Spirit of the Lord."
He said he never heard Sister Smith say an unkind word about anyone. "And I never heard an unkind word spoken of Barbara. … Everyone was her friend."
President Monson said, "Funerals are times we reflect on life.… We can learn from those who served so well, as did Barbara, and emulate her example. She never turned anyone away. She never shirked her duty. She put first the kingdom of God and His righteousness as an example to all of us."
Elder Ballard spoke of 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 declared.
He said Sister Smith had the gift of gentleness, love and caring, yet had the courage to be firm in the cause of righteousness.
Sister Beck reflected on her association with Sister Smith, a relative. She related that when she was serving as a young ward Primary president her mother, Geraldine Hamblin Bangerter, encouraged her to visit Sister Smith to seek counsel. She said she went reluctantly, but Sister Smith welcomed her warmly. When Sister Beck was called as general president of the Relief Society, she had many visits with Sister Smith who, she said, shared with her the vision of Relief Society.
"I was told that some of her final words were expressing a concern for the sisters of the Church," Sister Beck said. "Barbara 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."
Lowell V. Smith, one of Sister Smith's sons, said people often has asked what it was like being the son of Barbara B. Smith, well-known as Relief Society general president. "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.…
"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."
During her tenure as Relief Society general president, Sister Smith had keys roles in establishing the Nauvoo Monument to Women and the restoration of the Nauvoo home of Sarah Kimball where the concept of Relief Society began.
She also served as president of American Mothers, Inc. and within the community and government on issues such as family, women and the fight to eliminate child abuse.
She was born Jan. 26, 1922, to Dan Delos "Dee" and Dorothy Helen Mills Bradshaw. She was preceded in death by her husband, Elder Douglas H. Smith, who served as a member of the quorums of the Seventy. They have four daughters and three sons, 39 grandchildren and 84 great-grandchildren.