Temple work, spreading happiness focus for 91-year-old 'popular lady'

At 91, Anna Gasser still has much of the wit and a good deal of the vitality she had when she joined the Tabernacle Choir at the age of 13.

At a Salt Lake City rehabilitation center, where she learned to walk again after receiving a total hip replacement earlier this year, her room was always filled with visitors."Anna was a popular lady around here," said one of her therapists, JoAnne Wright. "We would have liked to have kept her just to inspire the 70-year-olds who think they can't do anything. Patients loved to go in Anna's room and visit with her. She spread happiness and good humor wherever she went."

Sister Gasser's life of happiness has also been a life of service. She enjoyed 47 years with the Tabernacle Choir, singing with the group until she was 60. And though she never married, Sister Gasser learned about being a mother when she reared three nephews whose mother died of cancer.

During her 47-year professional career with the Federal Reserve Bank, she was a master at spotting counterfeit bills.

Her zest for life was demonstrated during her stay at the rehabilitation hospital. When she arrived, she couldn't move the shoulder that was fractured in the same fall that ruined her hip. But she was determined to regain the use of her arm and legs and return to the temple work that has been her love for more than half a century.

"I've done a lot of temple work," said Sister Gasser, a member of the East Riverside Ward in Salt Lake City. "But there's always more to do. Wouldn't it be the dumbest thing to stand in front of the Savior and say your neighbor should have done that work for you?"

The strength of Sister Gasser's conviction inspires many. Asked to speak at a stake conference at age 90, she encouraged the elderly and those on fixed incomes never to neglect their tithing. "Even if you live on $300 a month, put a dollar in a cup each day and don't spend it," she explained. "By the end of the month, you'll have enough and the Lord will bless you. There are so many different kinds of blessings."

When it was time for her to be released from the hospital, the other patients hated to see her leave. "When you came here, you couldn't do anything," said a fellow patient. "Now you can walk. You can because you never stopped trying. What an inspiration."

Sister Gasser returns her blessing of renewed health by blessing the lives of others. With the aid of a walker, she now hurries from room to room visiting and encouraging friends at the nursing home where she moved after leaving the hospital. "I always hurried when I was young. Now I can nearly fly with my walker," she exclaimed.

Asked what her secret is for a long and happy life, Sister Gasser smiled and said simply: "Don't start finding fault. Pay attention to the prophet. He speaks for the Healer. He'll take good care of you."

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