Harriet Reich Uchtdorf,
in the words of her husband, Dieter F. Uchtdorf
A rare photo of Dieter and Harriet Uchtdorf early in their marriage. Photo from LDS Living.
“I [am] married to the woman I [have] loved ever since I first saw her.”
“She is the sunshine of my life.”
-While trying to win over Harriet’s heart, Dieter F. Uchtdorf would frequently ride his bike to her house, hoping to give her a ride to a church function. She was usually unavailable, but Harriet’s mother would take the ride instead. “Actually, looking back,” he says, “I recognize that it doesn’t hurt at all to be on good terms with the mother of the girl of your dreams.”
-President Uchtdorf frequently shares interactions he’s had with his wife in his talks. Always he depicts his wife with brightness and humor. From his talk on pride, "Pride and the Priesthood," "When I told my wife that this would be the topic of my talk, she smiled and said, 'It is so good that you talk about things you know so much about.'"
One Sunday the missionaries brought a new family to our meetings whom I hadn’t seen before. It was a mother with two beautiful daughters. I thought that these missionaries were doing a very, very good job.
I particularly took notice of the one daughter with gorgeous dark hair and large brown eyes. Her name was Harriet, and I think I fell in love with her from the first moment I saw her. Unfortunately, this beautiful young woman didn’t seem to feel the same about me. She had many young men who wanted to make her acquaintance, and I began to wonder if she would ever see me as anything but a friend. But I didn’t let that deter me. I figured out ways to be where she was. When I passed the sacrament, I made sure I was in the right position so that I would be the one to pass the sacrament to her. . . .
Years later, after I had finished my training as a fighter pilot in the air force, I experienced a modern miracle in Harriet’s response to my continued courting. One day she said, “Dieter, you have matured much over these past years.”
I moved quickly after that, and within a few months I was married to the woman I had loved ever since I first saw her. The process hadn’t been easy—there were moments of suffering and despair—but finally my happiness was full, and it still is, even more so.
President Uchtdorf kisses his wife's hand prior to a fireside. Photo from Deseret News.
Interaction between them (from “Dieter F. Uchtdorf: On to New Horizons”)
“She is the sunshine of my life,” Elder Uchtdorf says with a smile.
“Yes, and on occasion his thunderstorm too,” Harriet laughs. They are so conspicuously in love with each other that it is a joy to be in their presence.
When Harriet prepares a meal, it’s a masterpiece. Her cuisine is as wide-ranging as the world, and she frequently prepares dishes from countries we have visited. The presentation of the food is awe inspiring. In fact, it often looks so beautiful that it seems a crime to eat it. It’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the sense of taste.
But sure enough, no matter how perfect everything is, looks, and tastes, Harriet will apologize for something she thinks is imperfect. “I’m afraid I used a touch too much ginger,” she will say, or, “Next time, I think it would be better if I used a little more curry and one additional bay leaf.”
Let me contrast that with the way I cook. For the purpose of this talk, I asked Harriet to tell me what I cook best.
Her answer: fried eggs.