Helen Spencer Williams led young Mormon women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by some). Helen was an LDS woman leader who was asked by Heber J. Grant (the living prophet of God) to lead the young Mormon women of the Young Ladies’ Mutual Improvement Association (YLMIA) which is presently called the LDS Young Women’s organization (a global organization for female youth) (Caroline H. Benzley, “134 Years Young!”, New Era, November, 2003).

Mormon Women Leading the Young Women’s Organization

mormon-teensMormon women have equal but complimentary roles within The Church of Jesus Christ. Helen blessed the lives of many Latter-day Saint women and was called as a member of the YLMIA General Board for 12 years, the Primary General Board (divine organization for children), and the Young Women’s General Presidency. She served in her local congregation’s Sunday school, Primary, Relief Society (global women’s organization) and choir (Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, [1936], 271).

From 1937-1944, Helen served as a YLMIA counselor with several Mormon women such as the LDS women’s leader Lucy Grant Cannon (the third young women’s president from 1937-1948) and her counselor Verna Wright Goddard, who later replaced Helen as the first counselor. She was involved in the YLMIA organization of the Golden Gleaner awards, Sunday evening firesides (1940), and the Big Sister program (1944, for young women and mothers who needed work during the war) (“Presidents of the Young Women Organization Through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45).

As one of the key individuals responsible for the restoration of the beautifully decorated Beehive House, Mrs. Williams again reflected the love she held for her heritage (“Mrs. Helen Spencer Williams”, Deseret News, Aug. 11, 1965).

Mormon Women: Biography of Helen Spencer Williams

Helen was born on November 29, 1896, in Salt Lake City, Utah, to John D. Spencer and Clarissa H. Young. Helen married Rex W. Williams (Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, [1936], 271) and was a mother to at least one son, whose name was John Daniel Williams (“Obituary: John Daniel (J. D.) Williams”, Deseret News, September 21, 2007).

Helen sought a higher education, worked as a writer, and served those around her. She attended the L.D.S. University, the University of Southern California, and the University of Utah (Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, [1936], 271). She served as the student body vice president at the University of Utah, where she was awarded the Distinguished Alumnae Award (“Mrs. Helen Spencer Williams,” Deseret News, Aug. 11, 1965).

During her school career she participated in many dramatic, debating and journalistic activities… Under the name of Harriet Page she served as a member of the editorial staff of The Deseret News, and conducted a period over radio broadcasting station KDYL” (Andrew Jenson, Latter-day Saint Biographical Encyclopedia, Vol. 4, [1936], 271). Brigham Young University named one of the residency buildings of Wymount Terrace after Helen. “Helen Spencer Williams, often called Helen S. Williams, was… a writer and columnist, writing for the Deseret News, the Improvement Era and the Relief Society Magazine” (“List of Brigham Young University residence halls,” Wikipedia.org).

Although not much information is known about Helen, she was a Christ-like example up until her death on August 10, 1965 (Deceased Page: Helen Spencer Williams, NamesinStone.com).

If one were to make just a list of titles that properly would fit after the name of Mrs. Helen Spencer Williams, who died Tuesday at 68, the list would be long. For she was a wife, mother, authoress, actress, teacher, writer and editor, artist, executive, researcher, builder, and leader. In short, hers was a life of service (“Mrs. Helen Spencer Williams,” Deseret News, Aug. 11, 1965).

Mormon Women Leading Today

The Young Women’s organization taught me the importance of getting a higher education and serving my community. As an LDS youth, I volunteered making hygiene kits, quilts, and dinners for families in need. I may not have honorary accomplishments or be a published author, but I have the means to build up my community and help others. As the ancient American prophet, King Benjamin said, “…when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17, as recorded in The Book of Mormon).


About Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.

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