The following is a Sunday news release from Church Newsroom. The full release can be found here.
Kathleen was born in San Francisco, California, on May 11, 1941, to J. Cyril and LaPrele Lindsay Johnson. She is remembered by family and friends as an outgoing and fun-loving young woman who excelled in sports and academics, serving as captain of her high school tennis team, the student body president and valedictorian. After high school, Kathleen continued her education at the University of California at Berkeley, where her testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ and commitment to her beliefs deepened.
In 1961, while attending summer school in Boston, she attended a devotional where she was noticed by a young Harvard student, Henry Bennion Eyring. He later said he was immediately impressed by her goodness and recalls thinking, “If I could only be with her, I could be every good thing I ever wanted to be.” They met the following week, began dating and were later married on July 19, 1962, in the Logan Utah Temple.
The young couple’s married life started in Palo Alto, where Henry was on the faculty at the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. During their early years of marriage, Kathleen’s faith and understanding of spiritual matters grew as she regularly worshipped and sought peace in the Oakland California Temple. Kathleen and Henry spent nine years in Palo Alto, and their family expanded with sons Henry, Stuart and Matthew.
In 1970, as her husband was serving as a bishop and enjoying tenure at Stanford, Kathleen encouraged him to prayerfully consider the direction of his career. While initially ruffled at the suggestion, he heeded her counsel and received the impression to carefully consider new job opportunities with an open mind. Less than a week later, Henry was offered the position to be president of Ricks College, now BYU–Idaho, in Rexburg, Idaho, which he accepted. The family grew closer together during their time in rural Idaho, and Kathleen and Henry enjoyed skiing, golfing and playing tennis—even winning the Ricks College doubles tennis tournament together in 1975.
The Eyrings moved to Utah in 1977 when Henry was named deputy commissioner of Church Education for the Church. The family grew to eight with the addition of another son, John, and two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary. Kathleen’s primary efforts continued to be supporting and offering counsel to her husband and focusing on motherhood, a role her family says she was completely devoted to and viewed as her most important responsibility.
“Mother is extraordinarily talented and ambitious,” said her son Henry J. Eyring. “But her overriding concern has always been to serve our Heavenly Father and His children.”
Kathleen’s daughter Elizabeth Eyring Peters remembers praying with her mother every day before she left home. “Daily prayer was a clear evidence of her desire for us to be connected to heaven; because we are so spread in age it meant a separate prayer for each child.”
Kathleen served faithfully in many formal Church responsibilities, teaching lessons at church, serving as a visiting teacher and producing a newsletter for her congregation for many years. But she is also remembered for powerfully ministering to others in quiet, less formal ways. Her son Matthew J. Eyring reflected, “Her most important service was quiet compassion for those who had experienced difficulty and sadness in their lives. She would always seek out ‘the one’ without fanfare and help that person feel her love and the love of the Savior.”
Kathleen was a gifted writer and offered editorial counsel to Henry throughout his career and Church service, later taking formal minutes for the monthly meetings with other wives of General Authorities. Kathleen also recorded family memories, wrote scripts for family events and helped co-publish a monthly family newsletter. She wrote a young adult novel and won a statewide prize for young adult literature in 1979.
Henry B. Eyring was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in 1995, and Kathleen provided support and companionship during his long recovery from cancer surgery in 2005 and when he was called to the First Presidency in 2007. During this time, Kathleen began suffering from memory lapses, which her father had experienced as he grew older. As her memory continued to fade, President Eyring cared for Kathleen, often bringing her to his office to read and rest on a reclining chair while he was in meetings. While the disease was a challenge for the family, they recall Kathleen’s loving spirit grew sweeter, and a greater connection with the divine became apparent as she grew older and the memory loss progressed. President Eyring has said, “Kathleen has always been a person that made me want to be the very best that I can be.”
A woman who believed in the importance of education and faith, Kathleen often taught in public addresses and in private teaching moments with her children that the most important thing to be learned in this life is how to return to the loving arms of our Heavenly Father. Kathleen will be remembered as a bright, faithful and modest woman who valued her role as a mother and enjoyed a true partnership with her husband and eternal companion.
Funeral arrangements are pending.