Louie Shurtliff Smith

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Louie Shurtiff Smith in her wedding dress

Louie Shurtliff Smith, from Ogden, Utah, came to live with the Joseph F. Smith family so she could attend the University of Utah, which was located across the street from the Smith home. She was the same age as Joseph Fielding Smith but focused on her studies. It took some time before Louie and Joseph became friends, and began to court.

Due to school demands and economics, their courtship consisted mainly of reading together in the family parlor, taking walks together, and attending Church socials. She was an accomplished pianist and he enjoyed listening to her play. By her second year at the university, Louie and Joseph were in love, but wanted to wait to see if he would receive a mission call.

The processing of mission calls was done entirely through the office of the President of the Church. A young man never knew when he might find a mission call in the mailbox.[1]

So the couple waited and did not impose on the fact that he was the son of a counselor in the First Presidency. Louie graduated from the university in 1897 and moved back to Ogden where she taught school and worked in her father’s store on the weekends. A year later, with no mission call in hand, they decided to move ahead with their wedding. They were married on April 26, 1898, by his father Joseph F. Smith.

When a call came to Joseph on March 17, 1899, Louie decided to live with her parents, which would help her manage her loneliness and would give her a way to earn money to fund his mission by again working in her father’s store. He completed his mission two-years later and returned home on July 9, 1901. They spent a few days together at her parents’ home and then returned to Salt Lake City where he accepted a position in the Church Historian’s office. Their first child was born in September 1902 and they moved into their first house ten months later. Her second pregnancy was difficult and they had a second daughter in 1906. During the early months of her third pregnancy, she suffered a severe illness, diagnosed as “pernicious vomiting,” and died on March 30, 1908. Joseph wrote:

During this month which has been one of constant anxiety and worry for me, I have passed through trials and experiences of the deepest and most painful kind. And through it all I have depended on the Lord for strength and comfort. After suffering most excruciating pain for three or four weeks and after an illness covering a period of nearly two months my beloved wife was released from her suffering . . . and departed from me and our precious babies, for a better world, where we patiently and in sorrow await a meeting which shall be most glorious.[2]

Her daughters were aged five and two at the time of her passing.