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Mary Ellen W. Smoot

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Mary Ellen W. Smoot
13th Relief Society General President
April 5, 1997 (1997-04-05)[1] – April 6, 2002 (2002-04-06)[2]
Called byGordon B. Hinckley
PredecessorElaine L. Jack
SuccessorBonnie D. Parkin
Personal details
BornMary Ellen Wood
Ogden, Utah, United States
Home townClearfield, Utah, United States
Spouse(s)Stanley M. Smoot

Mary Ellen Wood Smoot (born August 19, 1933) was the thirteenth Relief Society General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) from 1997 to 2002.

Personal life[edit]

Mary Ellen Wood was born in Ogden, Utah, and raised in Clearfield, Utah. Her parents, Melvin G. and LaVora Wood, had both been LDS missionaries. Her mother went on a mission to California in 1915, her father served in Texas.[3][4] Her father managed a canning factory, her mother hired all of the female workers.[3] She was born fifth in a family of six daughters.[5][4]

In 1952, she married Stanley M. Smoot in the Salt Lake Temple. Smoot and her husband are the parents of seven children.[5] The family lived for many years in Centerville, Utah, before moving to Kaysville, Utah.[6] She sits on the advisory board of the West Ridge Academy.[7]

Smoot holds a Juris Doctorate from Brigham Young University, a master's degree in Management Science from Stanford University, a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Utah State University, and an associate degree in Arts and Sciences from Ricks College.[8]

Career in church leadership[edit]

In 1983, Smoot and her husband moved to Ohio, where he served as president of the church's Ohio Columbus Mission, and, later, of the Ohio Akron Mission.[3] The Smoots served as the directors of church hosting for VIPs that visited Temple Square and LDS Church headquarters in Salt Lake City, Utah.[9][3][10] In 1998 she was given the Exemplary Womanhood Award by Brigham Young University.[10][11] The Smoots helped fund construction of a replica of the original Brigham Young building, which burned to the ground in 1884, at This Is the Place Heritage Park in 2004.[12]

At the church's April 1997 General Conference, Smoot was accepted as the Relief Society General President, with Virginia U. Jensen and Sheri L. Dew as her counselors.[13] Smoot succeeded Elaine L. Jack, who had served since 1990. Smoot was the first president to call an unmarried woman (Dew) as a member of the general Relief Society presidency.[3] Smoot was succeeded in 2002 by Bonnie D. Parkin.[14] In her role as an LDS leader, she has traveled throughout North and South America, and to a long list of countries including India, Russia, Nigeria, and Japan.[5]

The purpose of the Relief Society, according to Smoot, is to "make sure the needs of the women within the boundary of our congregation (members of the LDS Church) are cared for."[15] Under her leadership the Society participated in international humanitarian efforts, such as making and sending over 38,000 thousand homemade quilts to relieve the suffering of refugees fleeing the Kosovo War, families left homeless by the 1999 İzmit earthquake, and elsewhere.[16][17] She has been politically active in family-related causes, serving in leadership positions in the World Congress of Families, to promote Christian family values.[18][19] Nevertheless, the focus of her presidency was on the helping the Relief Society's 4.4 million members share insight and inspiration with one another.[20]

Under her leadership, the Relief Society was the fastest growing women's organization in the world.[5] The Relief Society, which had 3.9 million members when she became president in 1997, had 4.4 million by 2002.[9][20] In 1999 she introduced a new mission statement for the Relief Society, the Salt Lake Tribune described it as emphasizing women's role in, "strengthening testimonies of Jesus Christ, seeking inspiration from the Holy Ghost, rededicating themselves to home and family, performing community service, sustaining the faith's all-male priesthood and worshiping in the church's temples."[17]

Smoot is profiled in the 2011 book Women of character: Profiles of 100 prominent LDS women. In 2016, she headed a committee that produced a history of Centerville, Utah, entitled,Centerville Utah: Our American Hometown.[6]


  • Mary Ellen W. Smoot and Mary Ellen Edmunds (2000). Sweet is the Work: How Relief Society Helps Bring Women to Christ (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft) ISBN 1-57345-790-6

See also[edit]


  1. "New Leaders Called, Three New Quorums of Seventy Formed", Ensign, May 1997.
  2. "New General and Area Authorities, Relief Society Presidency Sustained", Ensign, May 2002.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Stack, Peggy Fletcher (27 September 1997). "3 Diverse Members of Mormon Church's Relief Society Presidency Share Same Goal: Strengthening Their Sisters". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Allene Wood Whitesides (obituary)". Standard-Examiner. 22 February 2017. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Ellig, Tracy (12 April 1999). "MORMONS REACH OUT TO WORLD WOMEN'S RELIEF SOCIETY FOCUSES ON FAMILY BY HELPING SICK, NEEDY". The Spokesman-Review. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Family history that might be lurking in local lore". Deseret News. 15 September 2016. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  7. "West Ridge Academy Advisory Board". West Ridge Academy web site. West Ridge Academy. Archived from the original on 2009-09-08.
  8. "Mary Ellen Smoot". byui.edu. Brigham Young University, Idaho. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "New LDS Hosting Directors Named". Salt Lake Tribune. 17 May 1997. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Pres. Smoot receives award for exemplary womanhood from BYU". Deseret News. 17 July 1998. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  11. "Mary Ellen W. Smoot Wins BYU Award as `Exemplary' Woman". Salt Lake Tribune. 19 July 1998. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  12. Moore, Carrie A. (22 July 2004). "Replica of academy is dedicated at park". Deseret News. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  13. Stack, Peggy Fletcher (28 September 1997). "LDS Relief Society Leader: World Awaits Our Example; Relief Society Leader: Women Can Alter World". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  14. Smith, Hillary Grootage (7 April 2002). "Parkin to Head Relief Society". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  15. Bertagnoli, Lisa (13 February 2002). "Perceptions of Mormon women miss the mark, some experts say". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 12 August 2018.
  16. Bock, Linda (13 September 1999). "Quilting together help for victims". Telegram & Gazette. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  17. 17.0 17.1 Newton, Catherine Reese (26 September 1999). "New Mission for 'Spirit Daughters of God'". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  18. "World Congress of Families; Amsterdam Selected for World Congress of Families V". Women's Health Law Weekly. 31 August 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  19. Stack, Peggy Fletcher (16 November 1999). "LDS Prominent at Pro-Family Talks". Salt Lake Tribune. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Clark, Daphne (8 March 2002). "Latter Day Saints mark special event". Cobourg Daily Star (Ontario). Retrieved 13 August 2018.


The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titles
Preceded by
Elaine L. Jack
Relief Society General President
April 5, 1997 (1997-04-05) – April 6, 2002 (2002-04-06)
Succeeded by
Bonnie D. Parkin

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