We just heard the news tonight of Ardeth Greene Kapp’s passing. Most will remember her as the Young Women’s General President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for 8 years, or the author of 20 books, or when she and her beloved husband Heber served as mission leaders of the Canada Vancouver Mission, or when she and Heber served as president and matron of the Cardston Alberta Temple. All these things are so noteworthy. Her life was stellar and she excelled in whatever she did. But I will always remember her as just “Ardie,” as one of my dearest friends and a true cheerleader and mentor in my life.

I had the assignment once to take a young missionary from the Language Training Mission to Church Headquarters to meet with one of the leaders in the missionary department. While I waited for him in his meeting, I sat alone outside the office and who should come along and sit down by me, but Sister Ardeth Kapp. I knew who she was (then a counselor in the young women’s general presidency), but what bonded me to her for life was that she wanted to know who I was and everything about me. In those brief ten minutes we became fast friends.

She suggested that we stay in touch and so we have remained close friends for these 48 years. And with Ardie’s great capacity to love, she also adopted Maurine and so we agreed to be her children and she has sent no less than a dozen notes to us on our mission and no less than 70 or 80 letters and notes to us over the years. Most of the notes were hand-written in beautiful penmanship and clearly thought through and so very personal. And what’s even more impressive, I know a number of people who also have a stack of personal notes and letters from Ardie and they were just as personal. She truly had a gift to give love and encouragement.

When I was at BYU, I had the immense privilege of working for and with Ardie (who was on the BYU faculty) for my senior year. She taught me so much about leadership and stewardship, planning, finding direction and giving direction and interpersonal skills. She taught me how to notice and to celebrate the gifts in others. She was extremely bountiful in the gift of happiness and radiating love to others. She had a vibrance about her that was palpable and powerful.

Ardie and I were close enough that we often talked about the pain that she carried in not having children. The depth of this loss was hidden inside of her, but she came to accept this as the Lord’s will and she dedicated her life to blessing and lifting all around her and she truly thought of all the young women of the Church as her daughters. Her deep love for them was instrumental in inspiring her to formulate the Young Women’s Personal Progress program that was in place for many years and blessed the lives of countless hundreds of thousands of her precious “daughters.”

I remember once we sent Ardie a Christmas card that had a picture of our family all spread out—all eleven children—on the dock at our brother and sister-in-law’s cabin in Idaho. Ardie loved that picture so much and she wrote us a note back saying, “I’m going to show that picture to the Lord some day and say, ‘This is what I want.’

Ardie was our constant cheerleader. When Maurine and I wrote our first book together in 1991, Witness of the Light, we got a long letter from Ardie not only congratulating us for the accomplishment, but going into detail about specific things she loved about the book and clearly showing that she had carefully read the entire book. She commented on photographs and writing. I don’t know if she ever knew how much each note of encouragement meant to us. Whether she did know or not, doesn’t matter—she just kept lifting us and loving us.

She wrote us nine years ago and said,

Dear Scot and Maurine,

With all the accomplishments and contributions that you two have made and continue to make in so many remarkable ways, it is truly inspiring. The breadth and scope of your vision and the ability to make it accessible is such a blessing to such a vast audience. I want to stand up and shout “I knew them when they were just kids with miles to go…”

Love and very best wishes to you both

Heber and Ardie

Everyone needs a cheerleader like that.

We wrote her a note once asking her how Heber was doing. She said they had been to the doctor and he gave him a very sure diagnosis of his problem: Heber has TMB. We were taken back for a moment, wondering what dreaded disease this was. She then said with a chuckle: TOO MANY BIRTHDAYS. We laughed and laughed. We added that acronym to our own marriage culture. It wasn’t long after that that Heber passed away.

We took the opportunity to go visit Ardie shortly before we left on our mission. I’m so glad we did. It was one of the sweetest two or three hours of our lives. Each time we even moved our eyes or a muscle towards the door, she would start a whole new direction of the conversation. “Let me read to you a letter that Heber sent me.” She pulled out a whole notebook of letters and she did read some really tender ones.

“Ardie Darling, I love you more, by far, than your mortal mind or heart will ever know or have the capacity to believe…”

Now that’s a love letter!

“Did you know that Dallin Oaks signed my BY High Wildcat yearbook in 1949?” “No, we did not know that!” She showed us the note. “You have a wonderful soul,” he wrote. “That is your most prized possession. I hope you will always remember.” (signed) “Digger” Dallin Oaks (see photo above).

One of her favorite sayings was inscribed in her office:

How are you?
Better than I was, but not
As good as I’m going to be.

What are you doing?
Trying a little harder
To be a little better.

That is so Ardie.

We gave her a beautiful pendant from the country of Jordan in our last visit to her. It had a deep navy-blue aventurine stone in it. We said to her, “Ardie, this is a very special stone from Jordan in the Holy Land. If you hold it just right in the light, it’s as if you can see into the entire universe, as if it is filled with stars. That is how we feel when we think about our friendship with you.” She has written us at least eight times thanking us for that necklace and that stone.

Ardie, this is my last note to you.

Dear Ardie,
You can now look into the real universe and see worlds without number. And Ardie, you are a covenant daughter of Abraham and Sarah, and that picture of our family on the dock in Idaho is a speck compared to the endless posterity you and Heber will have, worlds without number.