Thursday, September 16, 2010

Barbara Bradshaw Smith

On national television and newspaper front pages, she was the well-dressed, soft-spoken woman who became the face of LDS Church opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.

But while Barbara Bradshaw Smith helped lead the faith’s fight against the failed constitutional amendment, she also sought to expand women’s roles, saying she supported additional rights but not the ERA.

The former LDS Relief Society president, who suffered from pulmonary fibrosis, died Monday at age 88 in Salt Lake City.

Smith was remembered by friends Tuesday as a loving and considerate person who presided over the women’s organization within the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from 1974 to 1984 — a tumultuous period for women in U.S. history and in the Mormon Church.

“Barbara took her church responsibility very seriously,” said friend and confidante Aileen Clyde, who served in the church’s Relief Society general presidency during the 1990s. “On the other hand, she felt she had to represent women.”

Smith was appointed in 1974 by then-LDS President Spencer W. Kimball and counseled him on the future role women could play within Mormon culture, according to Lengthen Your Stride, the Presidency of Spencer W. Kimball, by his son, Edward L. Kimball.

Church leaders adopted the position that the ERA could threaten the family and women. At the same time, they held that women deserve more rights.

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