Louise Yates Robinson’s life of service shows us that all women can be extraordinary, no matter how ordinary they are.
“Go where you’re needed,
do what you can.”
You have probably never heard of Louise Yates Robison (1866–1946), and that would most likely please her. In the Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Janath R. Cannon tells us that Louise was quiet, plain, and down-to-earth. Although she was an ordinary woman who did ordinary things, she was called to serve as the general Relief Society president during the Great Depression, one of the most difficult periods in United States history. Though she probably never fully realized it, she had a great impact on those around her as she served and developed programs to help struggling families.
Louise married when she was 17, and she eventually had six children. Marrying so young meant that she could not finish her studies at Brigham Young Academy, but she loved reading and continued to learn all she could throughout her lifetime.
Along with education, music was also important to Louise. She knew that the power of music could ease burdens. She would sing or whistle as she went about her work at home and was known to say that “a singing mother makes a happy home.”
In 1928, Louise was called to be the general Relief Society president. When she received this call, she was sure it was a mistake. Her daughter said, “She was afraid she wouldn’t be the example that the women of the Relief Society would expect in a leader.” When she went to the office of President Heber J. Grant to be set apart, she said “I’m just a humble woman!” President Grant responded, “Sister Louizy, 85% of the women of our Church are humble women. We are calling you to be the leader of them.”
The Great Depression started soon after Louise’s call to the presidency. To help mothers provide for their families, Louise opened a shop where women could sell homemade goods.
“Go where you’re needed, do what you can” was Louise’s motto. She stressed volunteering, often serving outside Church programs. When asked what was most important to her, Louise said, “There is no human power which can give an account of the deeds of loving kindness performed by our Relief Society members.”
Like Louise, who served lovingly but still felt inadequate, many women do not realize how much their service blesses others. Let us all thank the ordinary extraordinary women around us.
Read Janath R. Cannon’s short biographical sketch about Louise Yates Robison.
Source: Encyclopedia of Mormonism
—Carissa Burton, Mormon Insights
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