LaVern W. Parmley

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Martha LaVern Watts Parmley served as the fifth general president of the Primary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1951 to 1974, during a time of rapid Church growth.

During her administration, the Boy Scouts of America lowered the age of admission to eleven, and the Primary received permission for women to oversee scouting activities for 11-year-old Scouts. The Primary expanded into Cub Scouting and in 1967, Parmley became the first woman member of a national scouting committee and later served on several scouting boards. She received the highest honors awarded by the Boy Scouts of America, including the Silver Beaver award.

Parmley adapted the Primary organization to the needs of a growing worldwide membership. She doubled the members on the Primary general board and set up committees for new activities, including an annual Sacrament meeting presentation by the children, a reverence program, and special needs Primary. She served as editor of the Children’s Friend Magazine and transitioned the format of the magazine from an instructive magazine for leaders into a children’s magazine.

The responsibility for Primary lessons was transferred to the Church Correlation Committee A major challenge during her administration was the need to accommodate the Primary program to the correlation process implemented in 1961 to place all Church programs under the authority and direction of the priesthood. As part of the process, responsibility for Primary lessons was transferred to the Church Correlation Committee. In a spirit of cooperation, President Parmley helped merge the goals and programs of the Primary into a larger Church-sponsored program for children.

Parmley encouraged the Primary children to donate to the Primary Children’s Hospital that was completed in 1952. Also during her administration, CTR rings were introduced (1970).

Prior to serving as general president, she served as a counselor to general presidents May Green Hinckley and Adele Cannon Howells.

She was born on January 1, 1900, in Murray, Utah. She and her husband, Thomas Jennison Parmley, were the parents of three children. She passed away on January 27, 1980.