Nellie Rasmussen Hunter
Nellie Marie Rasmussen Hunter was born on May 30, 1885, in Mount Pleasant, Utah. She was the only daughter born to Martin and Nicoline Rasmussen. She was only two-years-old when her mother suddenly became ill and died before her husband could return from his work in Colorado. In his absence, Nellie’s mother had asked her half-sister to care for Nellie. She lived with her Aunt Cecelia until she was ten years old. While on a train platform with her aunt and family, waiting for the train that would take them to live in Colorado, Nellie’s father arrived and took her home with him. Nellie lived with him and his second wife and their children. Here she was not allowed to go to school and was required to help care for the children and work around the house. After about three years of this treatment, her father decided to send her to his mother’s home, where she lived until 1900 when her grandmother died. For the next six years, she lived with various family members in different cities.
Her fragmented upbringing created in her a desire for a stable home. While living with an aunt and uncle in Boise, Idaho, Nellie met John William “Will” Hunter. Nellie worked for the Mountain States Telephone Company at the time. When he proposed marriage in 1906, she hesitated because he was not a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She traveled to stay with her Aunt Cecilia in Colorado while she considered his proposal. While there, another young man proposed marriage. After she declined his offer she made her way back to Mount Pleasant to continue to think and visit family. Will met her there and convinced her to marry him. They were married on December 3, 1906.
They settled in Boise, Idaho, where Nellie bore their two children, Howard W. Hunter, who later became the fourteenth president of the Church, and Dorothy Elaine Hunter. Although her husband did not join the Church for many years, he supported Nellie in her commitment to raising her children as active members of the Church. He often attended Church with them. It wasn’t until Howard’s 46th birthday that Will and Nellie were sealed in the Mesa Arizona Temple. Howard was president of the Pasadena California stake at the time, and he was participating in a stake temple trip to the Arizona temple. His parents surprised him by joining him at the temple. He was also sealed to his parents at that time.
Nellie served in many ways in the Church, including as ward Primary and Young Women president. She loved people and they loved to be around her. She lived close to her grandchildren and enjoyed their visits. She enjoyed good health until she broke her hip in 1967. She died on November 11, 1971, from pneumonia.
Leonard Arrington, Susan Arrington Madsen, and Emily Madsen Jones, Mothers of the Prophets, rev. ed. (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2009).