Latter-day Saint Life

The Wives of the Prophet and Apostles: A Brief Look at These Remarkable Women


We know the First Presidency and apostles sacrifice much to serve the Lord and members around the world, but sometimes we fail to recognize the women who travel with them, stand beside them, and sacrifice just as much for our Church. Learn a little more about the wives of the apostles.

Wendy Watson Nelson

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Raymond, Alberta, Canada

Married: April 6, 2006

Education: Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Hawaii; master’s degree in marriage and family from BYU; Ph.D. in family therapy and gerontology from the University of Calgary

Career: Marriage and family therapist

Wendy Watson Nelson had a flourishing career as a marriage and family therapist before she married President Russell M. Nelson. She blessed the lives of families for more than 25 years, and she passed on her wisdom through teaching. Over the course of her career, Sister Wendy Nelson has written numerous articles and presented at over 200 national and international scholarly conferences. In addition to her scholarly works, she has written multiple uplifting books, including Covenant Keepers, Change Your Questions Change Your Life, Rock Solid Relationships, and What Would a Holy Woman Do?, among others.

Dantzel White Nelson

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Perry, Utah

Married: August 31, 1945

Died: February 12, 2005

Education: Bachelor’s degree in education and secondary teaching certificate from University of Utah

Career: Teacher in Salt Lake City and Minneapolis until the birth of her first child

The late Dantzel White Nelson was blessed with a beautiful voice; she was a soprano soloist and the leading role in multiple theatrical productions, one of which changed the course of her life. While performing as the lead soprano in a university play, she met a fellow cast member who would later become her sweetheart, Russell M. Nelson. Sister Dantzel Nelson continued sharing her talents with others and joined the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in 1966, where she sang for 20 years. In addition to her musical talents, she enjoyed needlework, sewing, and quilting.

Kristen McMain Oaks

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Married: August 25, 2000

Education: Bachelor’s in English and master’s in special education from the University of Utah, Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from BYU

Career: Educational consultant and professor

Kristen McMain Oaks grew up in Salt Lake City in a home of daughters, the oldest of four. Much of Sister Kristen Oaks’s life has been spent teaching, whether that be in schools, for training programs, or even on a mission, which she served in Sendai, Japan. Sister Kristen Oaks has also worked for 15 years in publishing as an educational consultant and has even published a few of her own books herself. One of her books, A Single Voice, details the struggles and insights that came from being a single adult in the Church.

June Dixon Oaks

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Hometown: Provo and Spanish Fork, Utah

Married: June 24, 1952

Died: July 21, 1998

Education: Bachelor’s in sociology from BYU

Hobbies: Running, gardening, refinishing furniture, sewing, knitting, writing music

The late June Dixon Oaks was a woman who would not give up easily. June attended BYU but left after her first year when she married Dallin H. Oaks. She chose to stay home and care for her family, but that didn’t keep her from finishing her degree. After years of personal sacrifice—which included toting her young children to Provo for summer classes while her husband stayed in Chicago—and 14 years after her freshman year at BYU, June finally completed her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She applied that same tenacious devotion as she served in many Church callings and as she lovingly raised her children. President Oaks said of her, “She made every sacrifice possible for every professional, church, and a family goal we pursued.”

Sister June Oaks passed away after battling cancer for more than a year.

Kathleen Johnson Eyring

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Image retrieved from, taken by Gerry Avant of the Deseret News

Hometown: Palo Alto, California

Married: July 27, 1962

Education: Bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California

Hobbies: Writing, learning foreign languages, playing tennis

Kathleen Johnson Eyring is a woman who puts her all into whatever she does—whether that be her faith, her education, or her family. In grade school, Sister Eyring attended an all-girls’ school in California. While there, her teachers challenged her faith, but she stood strong for what she believed and continually shared her testimony. Despite the trials school offered, Sister Eyring remained diligent in her studies and was the assistant editor of the yearbook and even served as the student body president one year. After high school, she attended the University of California, where she received her bachelor’s degree in political science. During her college years, Sister Eyring spent a summer at Harvard, where she met Henry Eyring. In 1962, they got married in the Logan Temple.
Despite her many interests as a young woman, above all else, she is a mother. She was a talented writer, even writing a book that received a state-wide prize in young adult literature, but she put any authorial aspirations aside because she wanted to focus on her six children. She continually shares her love with others and is a joy for all to meet.

Barbara Bowen Ballard

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Married: August 28, 1951

Education: University of Utah

Barbara Bowen Ballard met her future husband while attending the University of Utah. While at the Hello Day Dance, M. Russell Ballard was introduced to her and danced with her for a total of 30 seconds. He was so stricken by her that he continued to pursue her until they got married on August 28, 1951. Over the course of their 50-year marriage, they have become the parents of 2 sons, 5 daughters, and their family has grown to include 41 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Sister Ballard has also lived a dedicated life of service, serving in the presidencies of the Primary, Young Women, and Relief Society organizations. And on March 28, 2002, she was honored as the Exemplary Woman of the Year at Brigham Young University–Idaho.

Patricia Terry Holland 

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: St. George, Utah

Married: June 7, 1963

Education: LDS Business College, Dixie College, the Julliard School

Hobbies: Playing piano, singing

Patricia Terry Holland was born with a talent: the gift of music. From a young age she began playing the piano, and by the third grade, she was already accompanying her classmates’ singing. She continued to share her gift, accompanying all kinds of performances throughout high school and college. While attending Dixie College, Sister Holland broadened her musical talents when a professor recognized her beautiful singing voice and cast her as a lead in his musical, The Boy Friend. But Sister Holland didn’t stop there. She expanded her musical horizons and attended the esteemed Julliard School while her beau, Jeffrey Holland, was serving his mission. When he got back, the two were married in the St. George Temple. In addition to perfecting her musical talents, Sister Holland applied her sharp intellect while serving on the boards of ZCMI, Deseret Book Company, and the Primary Children’s Regional Medical Center. Sister Holland has also written the book A Quiet Heart as well as co-authored To Mothers and On Earth as It Is in Heaven with her husband, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

Harriet Reich Uchtdorf

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Frankfurt, Germany

Married: December 14, 1962

Education: Bachelor’s degree in business administration

Career: Worked with the Frankfurt public transportation department prior to her marriage

Harriet Reich Uchtdorf grew up in Germany while it was recovering from World War II. She lived a meager lifestyle, but those humble circumstances helped lead her to the Church. When Sister Uchtdorf was a little girl, a U.S. soldier gave her a stick of gum. That simple moment stuck with her, and years later, the memory of that kind deed gave Sister Uchtdorf the confidence and desire to invite the American Mormon missionaries into her home. She was baptized at 13. She met Dieter Uchtdorf through the Church’s Mutual Improvement Association, and the two were sealed December 14, 1962, in the Bern Switzerland Temple. According to her daughter, Sister Uchtdorf loved track and field and did the best cartwheels. Her daughter and her friends would even challenge her to cartwheel contests (Sister Uchtdorf would win). She has also authored the book The Light We Share, in which she details the impact of the gospel in her life and how we can share that light with others.

Susan Kae Robinson Bednar

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Afton, Wyoming

Married: 1975

Education: Bachelor’s degree in elementary education from BYU

Career: First-grade teacher

Susan Robinson Bednar has been a dedicated individual since her youth. Growing up in the small town of Afton, Wyoming, she would drive miles to pursue her passion—piano. Her piano lessons were in Rexburg and Idaho Falls, Idaho, and required quite the commitment to drive across state borders. Her determination paid off, however, and she participated in several competitions and later taught piano lessons. Sister Bednar met her future husband, David Bednar, at a BYU football game, and they were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1975. She and Elder Bednar have raised three sons.

Mary Gaddie Cook 

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Garland and Logan, Utah

Married: November 30, 1962

Education: Utah State University

Mary Gaddie Cook was the epitome of an involved student. In junior high, she was elected student-body vice president along with the student-body president, Quentin Cook. She and her fellow student politician and future husband were also in debate together. In high school, she became the senior-class president and he was a student-body officer. After grade school, Sister Cook attended Utah State, where her ambition followed her. She became valedictorian and scholar of the year. Mary and Quentin were married in the Logan Utah Temple on November 30, 1962. When their children were born, Mary decided to stay home with them, and she sees that as a great blessing.

Katherine Jacob Christofferson 

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Washington, D. C.

Married: May 28, 1968

Education: Bachelor’s degree in child development from BYU

Career: Aerobic dance instructor and instructor trainer

Though she was born in Washington, D. C., Katherine Jacob Christofferson was raised in Utah and Southern California. For college, she attended BYU and danced as a Cougarette, which led her to the love of her life, Todd Christofferson. Katherine graduated with a degree in child development and later became an aerobic dance instructor and instructor trainer. While she raised five children and traveled with her husband, she still managed to make time to volunteer as a grade school art teacher and with the PTA in Mexico and Maryland.

Kathy Williams Andersen

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Hometown: Tampa, Florida

Married: March 20, 1975

Education: BYU 

Hobbies: Piano

Sister Kathy Andersen grew up in Tampa, Florida, and went to BYU for school. While at BYU, Kathy met a young man campaigning for student body office—Neil Andersen. She was stricken.She recalls, “I thought he was the most remarkable man I had ever met, and that holds true to this day and forever.” Kathy was eager to help with his campaign and would even wake up at 4 a.m. to hand out fliers, hoping she would see him. Their first date was on her birthday, and they were later married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 20, 1975. Elder Andersen has said that after marrying her, his standards were lifted by her strong and devoted faith. Sister Andersen helped raised a family of four children and has faithfully followed her husband wherever he has been called, including Bordeaux, France, and Sau Paulo, Brazil, among others.

Melanie Twitchell Rasband 

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Moved around a lot

Married: September 4, 1973

Education: University of Utah

As the daughter of a career military officer, Melanie Twitchell Rasband is no stranger to being uprooted and replanted. However, the faith of her parents, especially her mother, helped keep the family strong in the Church despite their many moves. In college, Sister Rasband was a “dream girl” for the Delta Phi fraternity and helped with their different service activities, which so happens to be how she met her future husband, Ronald Rasband. Sister and Elder Rasband were married in the Salt Lake Temple on September 4, 1973. In 1996, her husband was called to be the mission president of the New York New York North Mission, and she faithfully followed, calling on her ability to pick up and move. Though the work was challenging in New York, she found it invigorating, and in addition to her missionary service has served in many different Church and neighborhood organizations. Throughout her many years of service and living all over the world, Sister Rasband has loved the opportunity of getting to know diverse groups of people and has shown her love to them.

Lesa Jean Higley Stevenson 

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Hometown: Arroyo Grande, California, and Idaho Falls, Idaho

Married: April 20, 1979

Education: Bachelor’s degree in home economics education from Utah State University

Career: Home economics education teacher before becoming a full-time homemaker and mother

Lesa Jean Higley Stevenson grew up in Arroyo Grande, California, and Idaho Falls, Idaho. For college, she moved to Logan to attend Utah State University, from which she graduated with a bachelors in home economics education. While at Utah State, Lesa attended an Old Testament course, which was where she met her future husband, Gary Stevenson. The two were married back in Lesa’s hometown in the Idaho Falls Temple in 1979. Post-graduation, Lesa worked has a home economics education teacher at a high school. She later transitioned into her role as a full-time mother and homemaker, raising four sons. But being a homemaker did not keep her homebound. Lesa was an active participant in many community groups, including acting as a board member of American Mothers, Inc., PTA president, and committee member of the Governor’s Coalition on Families.

Ruth Lybbert Renlund 

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Image from Mormon Newsroom

Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah

Married: 1977

Education: University of Utah, University of Maryland

Career: Personal injury trial lawyer

Salt Lake City native Ruth Lybbert Renlund had her whole life figured out. After she graduated from the University of Utah and married Dale Renlund, she planned to teach until her husband finished medical school, and then she would raise their medium-sized family and eventually go back to graduate school. But before she could actualize this plan, her life took a turn. When she was only 25 and had a baby girl, Ruth was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, causing her to reevaluate her future. Fortunately, the cancer was caught early, and Ruth was cured—but her life would never be the same. Heartbroken at the sudden halt to growing her family, Ruth felt impressed to begin a new path and become a lawyer. For the years following, she balanced her roles as lawyer, wife, and mother, continually seeking ways to touch the lives of others. After years of serving individuals through personal injury cases, Ruth’s life took another turn when her husband was called to the Seventy in South Africa. But she faithfully left her industrious career to serve the people of South Africa because of her commitment to her faith and her church. She and Elder Renlund just recently co-authored the book The Melchizedek Priesthood.

Susan Lindsay Gong 

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Image retrieved from, taken by Jeffrey D. Allred of the Deseret News

Hometown: Taylorsville, Utah

Married: January 1980

Education: Bachelor’s degree in English literature and master’s degree in creative writing from BYU

Career: Chinese teacher and professor

Hobbies: Gardening, reading, hiking

Sister Susan Gong has dedicated much of her life to the learning and teaching of Chinese. Sister Gong served a full-time mission in Taiwan, speaking Mandarin Chinese. When she got back, she continued to foster her love for the Chinese language. After completing her education at BYU and her certification to teach Chinese, Sister Gong went on to teach Chinese classes at BYU and Provo High. She was also the co-coordinator for the Chinese immersion program that was implemented in Utah elementary schools, and she edited the Step by Step series, which is a set of illustrated readers for children learning Mandarin. Sister Gong has served in the Church alongside her husband for years and has loved being among the members in every place they’ve gone.

Rosana Fernandes Morgado Soares 

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Photo from the LDS Church News, taken by Marcos Escalona of BYU

Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil

Married: October 1982

Education: Degree in Portuguese and literature

Sister Rosana Soares is well acquainted with patience. As a young girl, Sister Soares was introduced to the Church by her neighbors who were members. Sister Soares desired to be baptized, but her parents wouldn’t allow it. For years, she faithfully attended Church meetings, patiently waiting for her opportunity to enter the waters of baptism. Finally, on her 17th birthday, her father gifted her his permission to be baptized. She later went on to serve her mission in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. After her mission, she dated Ulisses Soares, whom she married in the Sao Paulo Brazil Temple. Sister Soares’s next righteous desire was to begin their family, but again, she had to wait. After many years of doctor’s appointments, surgeries, and other hardships, she delivered a son, and later two daughters were born. Sister Soares has dedicated her life to her religion and to her family–both on earth and in the spirit world—as she has served in Church callings, done family history work, and cared for her loved ones.


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