Bertha Stone Reeder led young Mormon women for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (inadvertently called the “Mormon Church” by some). Bertha was an LDS woman leader who was asked by the living prophet of God (George Albert Smith) to lead the young Mormon women as the fifth president of the Young Women’s Mutual Improvement Association (YWMIA) 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
From 1948-1961, Bertha served as the fifth Young Women’s president with several LDS women leaders such as Emily H. Bennett (first counselor) and LaRue C. Longden (second counselor). Bertha succeeded Lucy Grant Cannon as president, and when her second husband died in 1961, Florence S. Jacobsen took her place as the subsequent young women’s president (Bertha S. Reeder, Wikipedia.org).
During her presidency, she accomplished a lot and blessed the lives of many Mormon women. Bertha began individual awards, a series of posters titled “Be Honest with Yourself”, and an “Era of Youth” section in the Improvement Era. During the beginning of Bertha’s presidency, the young women groups were realigned as the Beehives (ages 12–13), Mia Maids (ages 14–15), Junior Gleaners (ages 16–17), and Gleaners (ages 18–24). Toward the end of her presidency, in 1959, the Gleaners class was renamed Laurels and young women classes are still known today as the Beehive class (ages 12-13), Mia Maid class (ages 14-15), and Laurel class (ages 16-17) (Bertha S. Reeder, Wikipedia.org). Bertha was humble and credited her success to others:
I can’t say enough for the counselors who worked with me and the general boards… We worked together thirteen and a half years and we never had a cross word. Never [did] any of the workers ever [feel] like they were criticized; we never felt we had to get after anybody. They all seemed to want to do everything they could do and we just loved each other.
A president never works alone, and she’s only as good as her counselors and the workers she’s with. The general president isn’t good unless she gets the support of the wards and stakes. We felt we had the support of the wards and stakes because they were allowed to work on their own and a lot of them would come and ask to initiate a program (Janet Peterson, “Lessons from the Lives of the Auxiliary Leaders-The Priciple of Presidency,” Meridian Magazine, August 14, 2008).
Biography of Mormon Woman Bertha S. Reeder
Bertha Julia Stone was born on October 28, 1892, in Ogden, Utah. She attended Weber Academy. In 1912, she married Christopher Aadnesen and bore two children. In 1934 (four years after Aadnesen died in a hunting accident), she married William Henry Reeder, Jr., whose previous wife had left him with a son. She was a church missionary for seven years in Massachusetts and her husband the president of the New England States Mission. William died in 1961, and she married I. L. (Lee) Richards, who died in 1981. Because of her several marriages, her name is unusually long: Bertha Julia Stone Aadnesen Reeder Richards. She died at the age of 90, in Pocatello, Idaho, where her daughter lived (Bertha S. Reeder, Wikipedia.org).
Bertha had a love for nature and God’s creations. She said:
Nature does indeed renew those who keep close to her. . . . If I were in my teens, I would take time to come close to nature. . . . I would realize again more fully the infinite variety in God’s creation. I would learn to feel the difference in the seasons and to love each for what it gives to me. I would know that rain and sunshine are both important in God’s plan (“If I Were in My Teens,” Improvement Era, June 1954, 470) (“Presidents of the Young Women Organization through the Years,” Ensign, June 2008, 40–45).
Mormon Women Leading Today
As a Mormon youth, I attended Young Women’s camp and learned for myself about God, His majestic creations, and my identity as a child of God. I still love escaping busy life to witness the quiet and calming peace found outdoors. A modern apostle of Christ said, “Our Heavenly Father created the universe that we might reach our potential as His sons and daughters” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “You Matter to Him,” Ensign, October 2011).
Read another article about other LDS women leaders: LaRue Carr Longden
Visit the LDS website about “God’s Plan for You”
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.