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Service, activity foster good health

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Last spring, Elna Williams stood in front of her ward during sacrament meeting and performed a solo in her rich alto voice. "Inspiring" was how one ward member later described it.

Obviously, Sister Williams' concerns before singing were unfounded. The 90-year-old had hesitated when ward music chairman Pam Smith asked her to sing. Sister Smith had replied, "None of us knows the voice you used to have, but the voice you have now is the one we love."

And members of the Cedar Hills (Utah) 10th Ward certainly love her voice — whether teaching a gospel principle or singing in the ward choir. For years, Sister Williams was a Relief Society teacher and was released only in the past year. Now she is the Relief Society accompanist, a visiting teacher — and has been for some 65 years — and crochets hats, tropical bandages and other items for Church Humanitarian Services.

And she doesn't stop there. She's a member of the Madsen Memorial Chorus in Provo, Utah, and joins other chorus members in performing in rest homes and senior centers. She also attends the temple three days a week, taking family names gathered by her son-in-law, Howard Wattleworth.

"I think if you follow the Savior you have to serve," Sister Williams, in her quiet voice, told the Church News. "That should be our goal all the time to serve others. I feel sorry for people whose health prevents them, but if you have health you need to keep going."

Sister Williams, who is quick to express gratitude for her good health, believes "people who try to stay active are healthier."

Her life seems to depict activity — both physically and spiritually. The former Relief Society president and her husband, Glen R. Williams, who died in 1977, have seven children, five sons and two daughters.

She also makes seven or eight hats and/or bandages for the humanitarian center each month. And Relief Society enrichment counselor Annette Olson said of the nonagenarian: "When the Relief Society teachers get a substitute, they get Elna because she's such a great teacher. Talk about endure to the end. Elna is the symbol of endure to the end."

From time to time, the Church News will feature members who are 80 years of age or older who serve in their wards, stakes or communities. Readers are invited to send submissions to Julie Dockstader Heaps, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110; or e-mail:julied@desnews.com.