Service brings her greatest satisfaction

The value of one's life is measured through service.

So believes Edyth J. Romney. "If I'm not serving in the Church or not serving someone, my life is of no value," she explained.And she has lived by this belief throughout her 87 years. Until recently, Sister Romney of the Thirteenth Ward, Salt Lake Central Stake, was a volunteer with the Church's Historical Department. Her main responsibility was typing Church history materials from hard-to-read handwritten manuscripts.

During her more than 43 years of service - mainly as a volunteer but also at times as an employee - in the Church Historian's Office and later the Historical Department, she typed such materials as letterbooks of Brigham Young, of the Church Historian's Office and of the Swiss-Italian-German Mission; numerous minutebooks; and diaries of such early Church leaders as Joseph Smith, Heber C. Kimball, Willard Richards, Franklin D. Richards, Joseph F. Smith and Joseph Fielding Smith.

In May 1986, she was honored with a special citation from the Mormon History Association for typing more than 75,000 pages of historical manuscript material.

For her service, members of the Historical Department and the Museum of Church History and Art honored her this past March with a reception at the Church Office Building. During the event, Elder Loren C. Dunn of the Seventy and executive director of the Historical Department told the Church News: "Sister Romney has been one of the mainstays of the department for years. She's been an inspiration to everyone. She's made a singular contribution to the Historical Department."

Richard E. Turley, managing director of the department, said: "She has typed about 80,000 pages of manuscripts from documents and other sources that are difficult for the average reader to read fluently. As a result of her work, researchers can work with material much more quickly, and she's done it all cheerfully and quietly."

Glen M. Leonard, director of the museum, added: "Those of us who worked with Sister Romney not only treasure the contribution she's made through volunteer efforts, but we also appreciate her friendship and personality which is always cheerful and positive. She's always been one to go the second mile."

Sister Romney has gone the second mile in many other capacities as well. For 27 years, she was a volunteer at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, and in recent years she has been a volunteer at the Museum of Church History and Art, ushered for the Utah Symphony, been an election judge and read for the blind.

In Church service, she was a visiting teacher until her release in 1992. She has been a Relief Society president, organist, secretary and spiritual living teacher. She has also taught the gospel doctrine class in Sunday School.

"I want to give service," she explained. "It's the best thing in life and brings the greatest satisfaction. Service has blessed me in many ways. Working in the Church and trying to serve has helped me keep my mind off my own problems.

"Volunteer work is the best kind of work," she continued. "You're being blessed all the time. I love volunteer work and wish I could do more."

Sister Romney attributed her desire to serve to the example that her parents, William and Lena Weber Jenkins, set for her while she was growing up in Freedom, Wyo. "My parents served and taught Church all their lives," she recalled. "Mother was ward Relief Society president for 26 years. I saw a lot of examples of service."

And she followed this example early in her life. A 1927 graduate of Utah State Agricultural College - now Utah State University - with a bachelor's degree in English and public speaking, she taught school until 1930. Then from 1930-33, she served in the Canadian Mission. After returning, she married Hans Eli Hansen in 1938 in the Manti Temple and continued to teach school until 1938. He died in 1945.

From 1945-47, she served in the Central States Mission under Pres. Thomas C. Romney, whose wife had died while in the mission field. After her release, she married Pres. Romney in the Salt Lake Temple. Pres. Romney had seven living children at the time.

It was through her husband's work that Sister Romney first began her association with the historian's office. Brother Romney worked for the office and wrote the well-known book, The Life of Lorenzo Snow. Sister Romney began helping him as a volunteer in 1949 with typing and research.

Upon Brother Romney's death in 1962, Sister Romney was employed by the historian's office until her retirement in the early 1970s. But she continued serving in the office as a volunteer. Later, she was employed by the history division for a short time until the division became the Joseph Fielding Smith Institute in the early 1980s and was moved to BYU.

Sister Romney continued serving the Church Historical Department as a volunteer until the mid-1980s. Then until the end of 1992, she was a part-time volunteer.

Sister Romney related that working with Church history was interesting. "I learned a lot about the early history of the Church by reading diaries and letters. It's important to know what our people went through to establish the Church. I read about the struggles and trials of the saints, and this has helped me appreciate the gospel more. Our trials are a different kind, but they are just as bad and just as hard."

She added, "The gospel means life. If it wasn't for the gospel, life would be nothing."

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