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Jeff and Pat Holland arrived in Provo, Utah, to attend Brigham Young University as former high school sweethearts who possessed little more than their love and some big emotions.

“We went to BYU with everything we owned in a secondhand Chevrolet,” wrote Sister Patricia Holland in one of her books. Sister Holland died Thursday, July 20, at the age of 81.

“We were not uneasy. We were not frightened. We were terrified,” she wrote. “We were little hayseeds from St. George, Utah,” which then had a population of about 5,000.

Sister Patricia T. Holland, former general officer and wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, dies at age 81 after faith-filled life
Sheri Dew: A tribute to Sister Patricia T. Holland, a woman for the ages

Their apartment cost $45 a month and had two rooms and a shower. There would be a moment of deep crisis, a crossroads. That moment is my favorite story about the Hollands’ marriage, because it exemplifies their love and teamwork. First a little context:

As Pat Terry reached high school age, her parents moved the family to St. George, where Jeff Holland was a football and basketball star. She was a cheerleader who would study voice and piano at Juilliard. They dated for two years beginning when he was 17 and she was 16.

She immediately, and for the rest of their lives, had a powerful impact on Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.

“Pat came from a very missionary-oriented family,” he said after he was called as an apostle in 1994. “And from the beginning of our courtship there was no question in her mind that I would go on a mission. I was already planning to go, but my desire was also fostered by Pat. By the time I was 19, wild horses could not have restrained me from going.”

They married in the St. George Temple on June 7, 1963.

During their first semester after marrying, they were, as she wrote, “two vulnerable, frightened, newly married BYU students ... fighting back the tears and facing the future with all the faith they could summon.”

“We had absolutely no money. Zero,” Elder Holland wrote in one of his books. “For a variety of reasons, neither of our families was able to help finance our education. We had a small apartment just south of campus — the smallest we could find: two rooms and a half bath. We were working too many hours trying to stay afloat financially, but we had no other choice.”

One day in August 1963, they were walking up the hill past the Maeser Building on the BYU campus between the old president’s home and the Brimhall building. Elder Holland suddenly felt overwhelmed, he wrote, “with the challenge I felt — new family, new life, new education, no money and no confidence.”

He fought back tears. They had plans not only for undergraduate degrees but for graduate school. It felt insurmountable, he wrote.

“Do you think we can do it?” he asked her. “Do you think we can compete with all these people in all these buildings who know so much more than we do and are so able? Do you think we’ve made a mistake? Then I said, ‘Do you think we should withdraw and go home?’”

He told her he could make a good living without a degree. She said no.

“She grabbed me by the lapels and said, ‘We are not going back. We are not going home. The future holds everything for us,’” Elder Holland wrote. “She stood there in the sunlight that day and gave me a real talk. ... So we laughed, kept walking and finished up sharing a root beer — one glass, two straws — at the then newly constructed Wilkinson Center.”

Elder Holland finished multiple graduate degrees, and they went on to stand side by side at the Marriott Center podium to give devotionals together while he was BYU’s president and at podiums around the world during his apostleship.

There are many tributes to Sister Holland and her achievements now circulating, including this Church News story and a personal remembrance from Sister Sheri Dew. But years later, as illustrated that day on a BYU sidewalk, Sister Holland recognized one of her strengths in her complementary partnership with Elder Holland.

“I feel that I am at the pinnacle of my creation when I am comforting and consoling my husband,” she said. “Nothing is more rewarding or brings me more joy. The sweetest sounds I hear are spoken when Jeff whispers to me, ‘You are my anchor, my foundation, my reassurance. I could never do this job without you.’”

Sister Holland’s funeral is open to the public. It will be held on Friday at 11 a.m. in the Conference Center Theater in downtown Salt Lake City. The service will be broadcast online here.

About the church

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles served as the Grand Marshal of the Days of ’47 Pioneer Day parade in Salt Lake City on July 24, which is Pioneer Day in Utah. He was joined by his wife, Sister Kathy Christofferson.

See the first rendering of the planned Cleveland Ohio Temple here.

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Elder David A. Bednar honored outgoing BYU-Idaho President Henry J. Eyring and told graduates to both “believe and see” and “see and believe” during the school’s graduation ceremonies last week.

See photos of this year’s Nauvoo Pageant celebrating the church’s history in Illinois here.

The church filed suit against the planning, zoning and adjustment board in Cody, Wyoming, to seek a ruling on whether the board had approved the site plan for the proposed Cody Wyoming Temple. The suit is a placeholder petition that protects the church’s future options. On June 15, three of five present board members voted to approve the site plan for the temple. One voted against and one abstained. The board chair later threw out the approval because he said four votes were needed, since the board has seven members. The church believes the law recognizes a majority vote of members who are present and is asking a judge for a ruling. The board remains divided; on Tuesday, board members took three separate 3-3 votes on the church’s application, Cowboy State Daily reported.

What I’m reading

Deadly extreme heat is killing more people at U.S. national parks, CNN reported. This is a thorough story with strong reporting. Having been at Death Valley National Park last month, the heat is real, and the story is right that the park says it can’t come rescue you if you get into trouble there. Temperatures in Death Valley soared to the 120s last month. Tourists flocked there to try to experience a new record, even as some argue over whether the record is 130 degrees or 134.

Behind the scenes

Hannah Russell receives a Book of Mormon for the British House of Commons Library from the Hollands in 2018.
Hannah Russell, head of Operations and Engagement at the British House of Commons, receives a Book of Mormon for the House of Commons Library from Sister Patricia Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Palace of Westminster in London on Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2018. | Simon D. Jones, IRI
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and Sister Patricia Holland wave after a session of general conference on Oct. 6, 2013.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Patricia Holland, wave as they leave the stand at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City following the Sunday afternoon session of the church’s 183rd Semiannual General Conference on Sunday, Oct. 6, 2013. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
Sister Patricia Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland pose at their home in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
Sister Patricia Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pose at their home in Salt Lake City on Thursday, April 14, 2022. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Sister Patricia Holland and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, talk at the One Utah Summit 2021 in Cedar City, Utah, on Oct. 5, 2021.
Sister Patricia Holland, left, and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, chat backstage following a presentation titled “Life of a Small Town Boy: How Growing Up in Rural Utah Shapes a Life,” part of the One Utah Summit 2021 held at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. | Nick Adams, Deseret News
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