Virginia Farrer Cutler was an educator, author, lecturer, philanthropist, and advocate for women and homes. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
She was born on December 17, 1905, in Park City, Utah, when her father was a coal miner. Later he worked at a smelter and farmer on six acres in Murray. Education was a high priority for her and with a four-year scholarship, she earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah. She taught home economics at high schools in Manti and the Salt Lake Valley. Three years after her graduation she married Ralph Cutler and two years later—in 1931—she was widowed. She had one son and soon discovered she was expecting a second. After her son was born, she taught for one year then began graduate studies with a scholarship to Stanford University, earning her master’s degree in 1937. She also attended sessions at Vassar and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. During this period of time, she also fractured her spine in an automobile accident.
For almost eight years she worked as a home demonstration agent for the University of California Extension Service. She moved her family to Ithaca, New York and earned her doctoral degree from Cornell University in 1946. That same year she was appointed professor and head of the home economics department at the University of Utah. During her eight-year tenure there, she established the Family Home Living Center.
With her sons grown, in 1954 she set off to Southeast Asia as an education advisor for the United States State Department’s International Cooperation Administration. She organized instruction programs in schools and workshops in Bangkok, Thailand for two years and Djakarta, Indonesia for five years. She filled short assignments in Cambodia and South Vietnam and visited Laos and Malaysia.
In 1961 she returned to Utah and became the dean of the College of Family Living at Brigham Young University. She left BYU for three years with a Fulbright Fellowship to teach at the University of Ghana. She was a distinguished professor for her last two years at BYU.
When her older son died unexpectedly in 1962, she helped her widowed daughter in law relocate her family of five children to Utah to pursue a degree from BYU.
She was the author of articles on home economics in the United States, Ghana, and Indonesia. She also wrote articles for the Latter-day Saints Instructor, and Improvement Era.
After her retirement in 1970, she spent five years as the chairman of a consumer action panel for the major appliance industry and served on the U.S. White House Consumer Committee.
She received many accolades during her life, including United States delegate to the World Forum on Women, Brussels, 1962; Joseph F. Smith Family Living Award, Brigham Young University, 1962; American Association of University Women, woman of the year in 1966; first distinguished professor at the Brigham Young University, 1967; appointment by President Nixon to the Consumer Advisory Council, 1972-1975; Utah Mother of the year, 1972; member of Utah Governor's commission on the Status of Women, 1972; distinguished service awards from the University of Utah and Cornell University; Abraham Smoot Public Service Award, Brigham Young University, 1982; Outstanding Home Economist, Ricks College Home Economics Department, 1984; and Beehive Hall of Fame, 1986.
Cutler established scholarships at eight universities, raised funds for a monument to motherhood created by Avard Fairbanks, and contributed to church and philanthropic trusts.
She died on May 20, 1993.