“Newly Called Sisters Love Youth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 106–7
Newly Called Sisters Love Youth and the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Although the new counselor in the Young Women general presidency and the members of the new Primary general presidency are different in many ways, they do have two things in common—a great love for youth and an enthusiasm for their new callings.
“Oh, how I love children!” said Sister Patricia P. Pinegar shortly after her new calling as Primary general president was announced. “What an opportunity to be part of this organization.”
Sister Pinegar, who has served as second counselor in the Young Women general presidency for the past two years, recalls serving as a Primary organist when she was a preteen.
“I’m sure I was a terrible organist,” she remembers now. “But I knew the Primary leaders loved and trusted me. And I knew that if they felt that way, then my Heavenly Father must love and trust me, too. What an important thing to learn at a young age.”
Sister Pinegar was born on 3 February 1937. Her father “liked to experience life and new things,” observed Sister Pinegar, and the family moved several times. Patricia spent time in Utah, Hawaii, and California. “Some of my best childhood memories are of the time spent in Hawaii,” she says.
After graduating from Glendale (California) High School, she headed to Brigham Young University, where she met her future husband, Ed, at freshman orientation. “Our eyes caught, and that was it,” she says.
They married in the Salt Lake Temple on 28 March 1956, and Sister Pinegar later embarked on her favorite career, that of a mother. “My greatest joy and happiness is my family—my children and my husband. And now I have seventeen grandchildren,” she adds. “Most of them are Primary or pre-Primary age. They’ll help me in this new calling.”
The Primary program is well established. A great amount of work has recently been done on new Primary manuals, Sister Pinegar observed. “We’re committed to doing everything we can to help children learn and live the principles of the gospel.”
As first counselor in the Primary general presidency, Anne Goalen Wirthlin feels like she is “home again.”
“Children have always been the favorite involvement of my life,” she says. She earned a degree in elementary education, and her callings in Primary were some of her favorite responsibilities.
Born 26 April 1939, Anne Goalen grew up in Salt Lake City and attended the nearby University of Utah. She married David Wirthlin in the Salt Lake Temple on 25 April 1961. After spending a year each in Minneapolis and Albuquerque and three years in Idaho Falls, the Wirthlins returned to Salt Lake, where they brought up their six children.
“We did leave for three years when David was called as president of the Germany Frankfurt Mission,” she says. “And those were some of the happiest years of my life. I felt insecure in my capabilities as a mission president’s wife, and I didn’t think I could do all that I’d need to do. But I came to understand how the Lord makes you capable of fulfilling whatever he asks you to do. That’s how I feel about this new calling.”
As a grandmother of three, Sister Wirthlin wants to help young children gain their own testimony. “When I attended Primary as a young child, I can remember entering the chapel and feeling reverent. My Primary teachers were so wonderful and loving. Primary was a nice, warm, safe place, a place where I could go and feel loved—by teachers and by Heavenly Father. I want Primary children all over the world to know those feelings.”
As second counselor in the new Primary general presidency, Susan Lillywhite Warner has a strong conviction that the gospel can change lives. She has seen it happen.
“I grew up in Anaheim, in southern California,” she explains. “Most of my Primary teachers were converts, so we learned the gospel together. I can remember watching the gospel change their lives. It was almost a physical change; it was so real to me.”
That early exposure to the power of the gospel stayed with Susan and was reinforced as she continued to experience the Spirit. As a young girl, she attended general conference with her family and clearly remembers President David O. McKay giving a blessing to the congregation. “At the time, I thought it felt like heaven,” she recalls. “I would like all children to have an opportunity to feel that same Spirit.”
Born 19 January 1940, Susan graduated from Anaheim High School and studied at BYU, where she earned degrees in elementary education and psychology. She taught school for a year in Provo before marrying Terry Warner in the Los Angeles Temple. The couple spent four years in New Haven, Connecticut, and then returned to Provo. There they reared their ten children who, together with their six grandchildren, are the delight and joy of their lives.
“I love children. I’m thrilled to be working with people who love children,” she observed. “It strengthens my testimony when I meet wonderful, devoted Saints who sacrifice to serve in the kingdom.”
As the mother of four sons, Sister Bonnie Dansie Parkin feels that, in a sense, she has just added thousands of daughters to her family with her calling to serve as the second counselor in the Young Women general presidency.
“I look forward to having conversations with young women about their lives, what’s making life good for them, what they’re having a difficult time with. In many ways, being a youth today is so hard. Adults must be a resource for young people,” said Sister Parkin.
Sister Parkin was blessed with many adult resources in her childhood. Born on 4 August 1940, Sister Parkin recalls that her parents were pillars of strength in her young life. In addition, she has treasured memories of a loving youth leader who also touched her life.
“Our ward in Herriman was small,” Sister Parkin explains. “And this lady really took each one of us under her wing. She talked to us about the gospel and shared things with us. You really knew she cared about you. I’ve thought often of things she shared with us.”
After graduating from Utah State University in elementary education and early childhood development, Bonnie taught school for a year and then married University of Utah medical school student James Parkin in the Salt Lake Temple on 1 July 1963.
Her testimony took a giant leap forward when the family traveled to Seattle, Washington, where Brother Parkin completed his internship and residency. “That was when my own quest for gospel knowledge truly began,” Sister Parkin remembers. Now she hopes to continue sharing her testimony with the young women of the Church.