Kathleen Johnson Eyring Profile Photo
1941 Kathleen 2023

Kathleen Johnson Eyring

May 11, 1941 — October 15, 2023

Bountiful, UT

After consecrating her life, talents and great spiritual maturity to her family and the gospel of Jesus Christ, Sister Kathleen Johnson Eyring, 82 — the wife of President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency — died Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023, in her home in Bountiful, Utah, surrounded by her family.

“Everything I’ve done in the Church, my marriage to Hal, any call I’ve accepted, I have done with deep conviction that Joseph Smith is a prophet, the Church is true, the Church is led by prophets, and the priesthood is restored and is upon the earth,” Sister Eyring said when her husband was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

Throughout their 60-plus years of marriage and President Eyring’s close to 40 years of full-time Church service, Sister Eyring remained her husband’s biggest support, counselor, and confidante.

President Eyring — who has served in the Presiding Bishopric, as a General Authority Seventy, as the Church commissioner of education, in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and in the First Presidency — often paid tribute to his wife’s defining influence in his life. “I have become a better person as I have loved and lived with her. We have been complementary beyond anything I could have imagined. … I realize now that we grew together into one — slowly lifting and shaping each other, year by year. As we absorbed strength from each other, it did not diminish our personal gifts,” he said.

President Eyring recalled their first date to play tennis. He thought he’d show off and won the first set. As they changed sides, he tried to say something funny or witty, but she didn’t look up. “She just walked past me and went to the other end of the court and began to tap her racket,” he recalled.

Thinking she was irritated, he thought, “she’ll get worse.” Instead, she “just took me apart.”

That was one of the first things he learned about her: “When things get tough, she gets better.”

Soon after they were married, the two moved into the guest house on a hilltop on her parents’ property along the coast of California. President Eyring described it as the nearest thing to heaven he’d ever seen.

Ten years later, President Eyring received a phone call from Elder Neal A. Maxwell, who was then Church commissioner of education, asking him to be the president of Ricks College (now BYU–Idaho). The family — which by then included three young boys — moved from their idyllic house on the hill in sunny California, to a single-wide trailer near the Rexburg, Idaho, campus. President Eyring remembered that the snow would blow under the door and across the floor of the trailer.

But Sister Eyring never complained. “Because the Lord had already told her, ‘Live so that when the call comes, you can walk away easily.’ So she knew she was on the Lord’s track, and it was OK.” Many of her fondest memories were from those years in Rexburg, where part of her heart always remained.

Sister Eyring was born in San Francisco, California, on May 11, 1941, the daughter of J. Cyril “Sid” and LaPrele Lindsay Johnson. Her deep conviction in the truthfulness of the gospel was forged in the home of her parents. Growing up, she excelled at sports and loved the outdoors. She attended a girls’ prep school, where she became captain of the tennis team, student body president and valedictorian. She spent time studying at Sorbonne University in the heart of Paris and the University of Vienna, where she learned to speak both French and German.

While attending the University of California at Berkeley, she and a friend decided to do a semester of summer school at Harvard University in Boston in 1961. There she met Henry Bennion Eyring.

Henry “Hal” Eyring caught sight of an auburn-haired young woman in a red and white seersucker dress walking through a grove of trees during a Church activity and was struck with the thought, “That’s the best person I’ve ever seen. If I could be with her, I could be every good thing I ever wanted to be.”Of their meeting Sister Eyring said, “I knew Hal was someone special. He thought about important things.” They were married on July 27, 1962, in the Logan Utah Temple by President Spencer W. Kimball. They have six children — four sons and two daughters.

Throughout her life, Sister Eyring strove to serve the Lord by serving others. One of the Eyrings’ bishops once told her husband: “I’m amazed. Every time I hear of a person in the ward who is in trouble, I hurry to help. Yet by the time I arrive, it seems that your wife has always already been there.” Added President Eyring: “That has been true in all the places we have lived for 56 years.” 

Described by her family as an “intensely private and modest” person, Sister Eyring taught her greatest sermons by example and, often, with great wit and humor. Her son Henry J. Eyring recalled when he and his brothers stayed up late on a Saturday night watching a “tawdry comedy show.” Without making a sound, Sister Eyring went behind the TV and cut the cord before gliding from the room.

“For the most part, Mother leads through quiet example,” Henry J. Eyring said. “However, she is also inspired and fearless. Mother’s assertiveness has been a great blessing to her children and grandchildren.”

A gifted writer, Sister Eyring wrote a novel but chose not to publish it. Instead, she chose to focus her life — wholeheartedly — in cultivating a rich environment where her loved ones could flourish. “She literally put [the novel] away so that she could get on with what she considered her most important work,” explained her son John Eyring.“She had the very best mix: a very calm and quiet heart and the ability to express herself with and through the Holy Ghost in a way that made all the difference in our home and in our lives growing up,” he said.

In recent years, President Eyring made mention of his wife’s declining health. President Eyring said that although she could no longer speak, she would sometimes offer a smile, as if to say, “We’re still in this together.” President Eyring said he would sing and pray with her every morning and night, but not because it’s a nice thing to do. “It’s because I want to be there,” he said.

Throughout their marriage, President Eyring said, he always felt that his wife’s first priority was to try to do what the Lord wanted.

Funeral services will be held at 11:00 a.m., Saturday, October 21, 2023, at the Mueller Park 5th Ward Chapel, 1320 East 1975 South, Bountiful, Utah. A viewing will be held Friday evening from 6:30 - 8:00 p.m. at Russon Mortuary, 295 North Main, Bountiful, Utah. (There will not be a public viewing prior to the funeral services at the church.)  Interment - Lakeview Cemetery, 1640 East Lakeview Drive, Bountiful, Utah.

Seating at the funeral service will be extremely limited.  Please feel welcome to participate virtually.

Services will be streamed live by the ward at this link:  https://mywebcast.churchofjesuschrist.org/funeralservice

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Kathleen Johnson Eyring, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services

Viewing

Friday, October 20, 2023

6:30 - 8:00 pm (Mountain time)

Russon Mortuary & Crematory - Bountiful

295 N. Main St., Bountiful, UT 84010

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Funeral Service

Saturday, October 21, 2023

11:00am - 12:00 pm (Mountain time)

Mueller Park 5th Ward Chapel

1320 E 1975 S, Bountiful, UT 84010

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