Elaine Jack remembers fondly the determination and love for women demonstrated by Aileen Clyde — once a counselor to her in the general presidency of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — who died Tuesday at age 93.
For example, Clyde traveled from her home in Springville to church headquarters in Salt Lake City no matter how bad the weather.
“I would say you don’t need to come when it’s snowy. She always came,” Jack remembers, adding that Clyde also jokingly proclaimed the fast lane as her own so she could serve others more quickly. “She was always positive and not deterred.”
Jack said Clyde volunteered in the community, and around the globe.
“She brought an additional perspective that perhaps we did not have,” Jack said. “She was particularly aware of the circumstances in the community and in the world. She was a learner. She was very much up to date on politics, civics and community efforts. She was a champion of women.”
Kathleen Flake, a longtime friend of Clyde and chairwoman of Mormon studies at the University of Virginia, said Clyde “was a progressive in the finest sense of the word. Always looking to the future with hope, fiercely committed to social justice and equality and with a talent for leadership, she catalyzed change in the high positions she held in church and state.”
She added, “Many lives were bettered by the success of her efforts — as many women were inspired to follow her example.”
In sermons, Clyde talked about women around the world she met who overcame long odds with the help of the church and its women. She taught that giving such mutual help was a primary purpose of the Relief Society.
“The aim of this society to build testimonies, bless individuals, exercise charity, strengthen all families, and find joy in our sisterhood turns on the fulcrum of Christ’s love,” she taught in 1992. She added in 1996, “We have the opportunity to serve in a time when many among us are lonely or addicted, abused or abandoned, sincerely seeking or full of faith.”
Clyde served in the Relief Society general presidency from 1990 to 1997. She also served as a member of the Young Women organization general board and as a ward (or congregation) Relief Society president.
She graduated with high honors from Brigham Young University, and later taught English there for 10 years.
She and her husband, Hal M. Clyde, were parents of three sons, and have 12 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. She also became a certified construction flag person for the family business and was surprised by the uproar that came by having a woman in that job.
She was active in civic affairs — that included being a founding member of the Utah Women’s Forum, serving 12 years on the Utah State Board of Regents, chairing the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice for five years and heading the Utah Task Force on Gender and Justice.
She was a member of several nonprofit boards of directors, including the board of the University of Utah Hospitals and Clinics.
Also, the University of Utah’s Aileen H. Clyde 10th Century Women’s Legacy Archive was named in her honor. It works to document and preserve the history of women whose lives and work helped create social and cultural change.
She was also awarded an honorary doctor of humanities degree from Southern Utah University in 2000.