Throughout my life, I’ve been close to many part-member families, or families where the parents have varying degrees of church activity. While many of these amazing mothers are confident in their ability to raise their children in the gospel, I’ve known many others that are plagued with insecurities that their children are somehow at a disadvantage because of their marriage. It can be hard to find a model for what it means to be a successful mother in a part-member home, in large part because it will mean something different in every family. I’m always blown away by the way these women are able to receive revelation how to guide their family in ways that the Lord would have them go.
Nellie Marie Rasmussen Hunter is one of these many mothers in part-member homes that I admire. Her husband did not join the church until her children were grown, but she raised her two children in the gospel, and one of them would grow to become the 14th president of the church: Howard W. Hunter.
Nellie did not grow up in a stable home environment. Her mother died in 1887 when she was two years old, and she spent her youth moving between the homes of six different families of relatives. When she was 21, she met Will Hunter and fell in love with him. He proposed, but she hesitated because he was not Mormon. She left for Colorado for a time to clear her head (where she received additional suitors and another proposal – so much for simplifying things), but when she returned to Mount Pleasant and met Will there, they boarded a train to Manti to register for a marriage license that same day, and were married that evening. Her aunts had quite the ordeal getting her wedding dress sewn in time.
Nellie made conscious efforts to raise her children in the gospel. She arranged for the branch president to give Howard a name and a blessing when he was five months old. She persuaded Will to come to sacrament meeting with her on occasions. She served faithfully in a variety of demanding callings. She compromised when needed – her husband didn’t want the children to be baptized at age 8, wanting them to wait until they were old enough to decide for themselves, and she agreed (Howard convinced his father to let him be baptized when he was twelve). But most importantly, she taught her children the power of prayer, and how to form a personal relationship with God.
I’m grateful for the example of women like Nellie, and the many women I have known that have worked so tirelessly to teach their children the gospel.
Mothers of the Prophets, Leonard Arrington, Susan Arrington Madsen, Emily Madsen Jones