Ora Pate Stewart
Ora Pate Stewart was a well-known author, composer, lecturer, and entertainer. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Stewart was born on August 23, 1910, in Bates, Idaho, and reared in Randolph, Utah. She graduated from Brigham Young University. While at BYU, she was a charter member of the Public Service Bureau and performed in a group called “Potter, Paulson, and Pate.” She served a full-time mission in the Eastern United States. She gave music lessons at the Long Island Conservatory of Music and met her husband, Robert, in Newark, New Jersey. Her husband, who was in the U.S. Air Force, moved their family of all over the United States and into North Africa, Italy, and Guam. (They had a seventh child that passed away.) When he retired from the service, they settled in Utah. Stewart and her husband served two LDS missions, to England and Michigan.
She wrote twenty-nine books, some of which were bestsellers. Titles include Pages from the Book of Eve, Branches Over the Wall, God Planted a Tree, A Letter to My Son, and A Letter to My Daughter. Her book Gleanings was honored by a New York publishers’ organization as the “Best Poetry Book in the Nation.”
She wrote a wide variety of music, including symphonic works, choral arrangements, and pop and children’s music. “To a Child,” a religious selection, was published in seventeen languages and sold more than 1 million copies. U.S. presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson honored her for her achievements in music, writing, genealogical research, and entertainment. The World Congress of Poetry named her poet laureate. In 1982, she was awarded the first Composer of the Year award presented by the International Composer’s Guild. She was first runner-up to California Mother of the Year. She was honored as “Most Outstanding Military Wife” by General Hap Arnold, Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. BYU honored her numerous times and she received seven honorary doctorate degrees.
For thirty-five years Stewart was under contract with the International Artists and Lecturers Bureau. She gave thousands of lectures on her writings and music in wide-ranging locations, such as Oxford University, schools, conventions, service clubs, and church groups. She was the first woman invited to speak at Westminster Abbey.
Stewart was a biblical and technical adviser to director Cecil B. DeMille on “The Ten Commandments.”
She passed away on February 10, 1990.