On Pauline Smith
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This talk about what it means to give Christlike service. Given on 10 March 2011 at Pauline Smith's funeral, in the Ashburn, VA Stake Center.
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On Pauline Smith
A Talk Given at Pauline Smith's Funeral Service
in Ashburn, Virginia
By D. Calvin Andrus
10 March 2011, Version 1.0
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Dear friends and family of Pauline Smith. My name is Calvin Andrus. I am a friend of the Smith family. I had the great honor and privilege to serve in the Church with Pauline. I would like to reflect for a moment on what that has meant to me and others.
Our family has known the Smith family for 26 years. When we first moved to Sterling our backyard fence had a gate that opened up on to the Guilford Elementary school yard. It turns out that straight across the school yard, the Smith's had a backyard fence that also had a gate that opened up on to the school yard. We could walk back and forth the Smith's pretty easily.
I have been assigned to be the Smith's home teacher several times over the years. Early on, my older two boys, Stan and Ryan, would go with me across the school yard to visit the Smiths. I felt like a good home teacher, because every time I would go home teaching, Christie would have a boyfriend there waiting for us to give a lesson. I later learned that Christie just had a boyfriend over all the time and it had nothing to do with us as home teachers. As home teachers, we were proud of Rob and Mike for going on missions . . . and, that Robin married a magician.
Sister Andrus teaches piano in our home after school. For a number of years she hired Jessica to tend our two daughters, Brooke and Chelsea, in the afternoons before I got home from work. Our daughters just loved being with Jesse in the Smith home. She introduced them to cheerleading as well as arts and crafts.
During that time, the Smiths got a dog named Bear. Soon after getting the dog, Scott brought the dog over to our house to show us the new prize. One of the pictures in our family photo album is a picture of Scott, the puppy Bear, and our sons Stan and Ryan standing in front of our garden. A few years later, Scott was a scout when I was a scoutmaster. Having Scott in my troop lead me to conclude that if Isaac had been a scout, it would not have been a sacrifice. We were very pleased when Scott went on his mission, though he couldn't leave without breaking his arm first.
More recently I was their home teacher again. This time, I would take our youngest son, Trevor, with me. Trevor loved going to the Smiths, in part because they had a pet ferret. The Smith home was a place my kids liked to visit. I appreciate the atmosphere of warm love that exists in that house and made my children feel welcome.
If you have ever spoken to one of the Smith kids, you will notice something striking. They are always smiling. That doesn't happen by accident. The are happy people because they had a mother who taught them, by example, how to be a happy person.
Pauline served as Relief Society President for about five years. She was called by Bishop Craig Hale, with whom she served for about a year. She then served with me during the first four years while I was Bishop. Five years is a long time to be a Relief Society President, especially when she had also spent five years as the Primary President.
Bishop Hale now lives just south of Logan Utah. He wrote me a short note this week about Pauline. What he remembers most is the blessing that it was for Scott to have his mother be the Relief Society President. It was during that time that Scott decided to go on a mission. Serving a mission set the stage for Scott's marriage in the Bountiful Temple, which Bishop Hale attended, and fondly remembers the sweet spirit in that ceremony.
As Pauline served with me, one of the least visible assignments she received as the Relief Society President was to fill out food orders for those in need. When I asked Pauline to visit a sister to fill out a food order, I also asked her to do an inventory of the food and kitchen supplies. That is, I asked Pauline to do an in-home visit and specifically look in the kitchen cupboards of the sister who was to receive assistance. As stewards of the Lord's Storehouse, it was important to get a first hand view of the situation to be sure we allocated the right amount of food to the family.
No woman wants another woman inspecting her kitchen cupboards. No woman wants to ask another woman to look in her cupboards. It is a very socially difficult task. I know it took a lot of courage for Pauline to fulfill these assignments. Nevertheless, Pauline was able to do so with love, humility, grace, and cheerfulness. On a number of occasions, Pauline found the cupboards quite bare, and made sure the sister received more food than was originally planned. In every case I know, the receiving sister felt the deep love and concern Pauline had for her.
Another less visible assignment of the Relief Society President is to tell the Bishop things no one else will tell him. Pauline was always respectful of the Office of Bishop, and always kind to me personally. We would meet on a regular basis. She would always come in with a list of sisters in the ward that needed attention of one sort or another. After going over the entire list, I would ask, "Is there anything else?" There were a few occasions where she would say "yes, there is something else." She would then mention some things I had said, or decisions I had made, that could have been said or done better to help move the kingdom forward. I had complete trust that she had the best interests of our ward at heart, and I always felt better when she left than when she had come in. She knew how to lift my spirits, even in delivering a possibly unwelcome message.
The whole time Pauline was the Relief Society President, Sister Phyllis Mitchell was her counselor. Sister Mitchell was subseqently called to be the Relief Society President in our ward. Phyllis and Pauline had known each other since the days they were young marrieds in the Arlington Ward. I asked Phyllis for a few words about Pauline. Here is what she had to say. Begin quote:
Ever since I have known Pauline, one thing has stood out: her lovely alto voice. It was a pleasure to sit next to her in the choir, because she always was "on" the part.
When I was called to be Relief Society President, I was very grateful for all the years I served as her counselor, learning from her; it made the transition almost easy. One very unique thing about that Presidency was that we all worked full time. Pauline was fortunate to work for a member of the Church, so was able to take emergency calls during the day.
As Relief Society President, Pauline emphasized a couple of areas. One was Visiting Teaching. She was very good at staying on top of keeping the assignments up-to-date, and seeking inspiration for who should be partners, and who should visit whom, and motivating the sisters to be good Visiting Teachers. It was her idea to hold the Visiting Teaching Conference on a Sunday, and to get the brothers to cover Primary and Young Women, so that all the sisters could attend.
Pauline also emphasized continually training ourselves to carry out our callings correctly, and be led by the Spirit. At first, when we were figuring out what we were supposed to be doing, we read the Handbook at all our Presidency meetings. That practice continued even after we had covered it all, and we felt like we knew what we were doing. It was very useful to study it again; invariably, we learned something new, something we needed to tweak to make it better, or were reminded of our duties. It helped keep the purposes and objectives of Relief Society in mind as we made plans and decisions.
For a long while, until Pauline became ill again, she held a weekly craft group at her house (one of those Enrichment special interest groups). For people who are sort of craft-challenged like me, it was very nice to have someone who knew what materials to use, had the right tools, was willing to teach us how to do it, and patiently help to get it to come out right. It was a favorite activity for many sisters in the ward, for the chance to get together with other sisters in a casual setting. She was also willing to help one-on-one when needed. Thanks to Pauline, I have several decorations around my house, some of which were gifts she made for me, and others she helped me do myself. Pauline saw the potential and the good in people, and was successful on many occasions in getting them to rise to that potential.
To sum Pauline up, she was kind, willing, humble, conscientious, unpretentious, and caring. She was a great role model for me, and a good friend.
End of quote.
Another one of Pauline's close friends is Linda Andros. Linda and Pauline grew up in the same Stake in Wyoming. During the time Pauline was our ward Relief Society President, Linda was the Stake Relief Society President. Linda can't be here today because she is serving a mission in Greece. Upon hearing of Pauline's passing, Linda sent me some reflections which I would like to read on her behalf. Begin quote:
Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies…” Pauline Smith exemplifies that woman described in Proverbs 31. She is such a loving woman, always looking for the good in every person and every circumstance (and she has faced some difficult challenges in her life). Her rich alto voice, her artistic talent, her industry, her kindness, her faith in Jesus Christ are all hallmarks of Pauline and these and many other talents, she shared freely with others, as she constantly served her sisters, her friends and her family.
As Relief Society President, Pauline was humble, willing to learn, and eager to serve the sisters and to do things right. She had a gift for recognizing the talents of others and an ability to bring together many sisters with varied talents for the benefit of all concerned. Whether it was a funeral dinner, an enrichment meeting, or visiting teaching conference it was carefully planned to meet the needs of those involved. Each Relief Society event that she planned was lovely and uplifting and always had Pauline’s special touches: delicious food, a carefully carried out theme with programs, invitations, decorations, etc. and most importantly: sisters who Pauline had loved into attendance. Many times I have been the beneficiary of one of Pauline’s handmade favors that became keepsakes. I counted myself lucky to have her as my Relief society president. I was often away on stake business or family visits, but whenever I attended our ward, she always welcomed me with a warm hug and loving words that let me know I had been missed! While she was Relief Society President, she did something each week that was extremely meaningful to the mothers in the ward with young children. Each week, they were invited to bring their children to Pauline’s house. While the kids played in the yard, the mothers enjoyed learning a craft from Pauline and visiting with each other. Afterwards they would eat a potluck lunch together. I know that the young mothers treasured this time together with Pauline.
One thing that comes to mind that exemplifies the way Pauline did things in her life was actually something she did after she was released as Relief Society President. We were planning a stake Humanitarian Aid service project. As part of that, we wanted the sisters to be able to tie a quilt to be placed somewhere in the world where a sister needed to be warm and to feel loved. I asked Pauline if she would buy the material and have it set up for the sisters to tie that evening. She willingly accepted and was enthusiastic about the assignment. I had asked her because of her expertise in knowing what kind of supplies to buy and how to set up a quilt. I was thinking of the most simple tied quilt—a twin sized sheet on the front, some batting, a sheet on the back—set up on some frames for the sisters to tie. But Pauline did something amazing, and this is typical of Pauline: She carefully chose some beautiful and colorful matching fabrics and pieced together the most beautiful queen-sized quilt! The many hours she willingly spent on creating the intricate design reflected her willingness to share her love and talents with even an unknown sister. The night of the service project, the sisters tied the quilt, then Pauline took it home and bound it and the finished product was one any sister would have been proud to have on her bed! Today, somewhere in the world, a sister who needed love and warmth and some beauty in her life is enjoying Pauline’s beautiful creation.
End of quote.
Linda's husband--and missionary companion--Bob Andros also sent me a note which I would like to read. Begin quote:
As you know, Pauline and Bob were called and set apart as temple ordinance workers in the Washington, DC temple. They had a Friday night shift assignment which is one of the busiest shifts at the temple and, due to Friday night rush hour traffic, one of the most difficult to staff at the temple. When she began her Chemo therapy, she had every reason to be released. I was serving as a Recorder at the time. Both she and Bob asked me to request they not be released despite the rigorous treatment program and the fact that she would undoubtedly miss some evenings. After talking with the shift coordinators and a member of the Temple Presidency, it was agreed that despite the anticipated absences, they could continue to serve on Friday nights whenever she could muster the strength to do so. On occasion, I would see Bob there even when Pauline was unable to come. It was always so touching for me to see her there, knowing full well that she had every reason to be excused but she wanted to serve the Lord despite the difficulties and inconvenience her condition imposed on her. Her service in the temple is something most people would never know about but to me it defined her love for the Lord and her desire to serve despite the obstacles.
End of Quote.
Before going to the Garden of Gethsemane to suffer the Great Atonement, Christ prayed, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent." (John 17:3). We come to know God, by being Christlike in all we say and do. We will miss, so much, our friend Pauline, who was such a great example to us, of being Christlike in all she said and did. Her companionship helped us come to know God, as we engage in our common quest for life eternal.
In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.