A choir of former madrigal students of Sister Ruth Hardy Funk greeted people as they filled an LDS chapel during a funeral held in her honor on Feb. 18. Only six days shy of her 94th birthday, Sister Funk, who served as Young Women general president from 1974-78, died on Feb. 5, at her home in Salt Lake City.
“A crowning jewel in Ruth Funk’s life was her testimony of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ,” President Thomas S. Monson said during her funeral. “She was a noble leader filled with faith, inspired by God.”
Remembered for her love of music and her service in many capacities in the Church, Sister Funk left a great legacy of pursuing excellence in all areas of life while loving every detail along the way.
“I’ve known Ruth for so long it’s difficult to remember when I first met her, …” President Monson said. “Ruth was a beautiful woman and kept her beauty all of her life. It can be said of her, there was no chink in her armor; there was no guile in her soul; there was no flaw in her character.”
Sister Funk’s Church service began as a young mother at the age of 29 with a call to serve on the Young Women Mutual Improvement Association Board (predecessor to the Young Women General Board) only a few days after her second child was born. She continued to serve in various capacities in the Church for decades of her life.
Accompanied by his wife, Sister Frances Monson, and daughter Sister Ann Dibb of the Young Women general presidency, President Monson spoke of memories he had of his association with Sister Funk. Remembering a time when he was chairman of the Adult Correlation Committee for the Church and Sister Funk and her husband, Marcus, were on that committee, President Monson said, “Ruth and Marc Funk became dear friends. She always had his full support, in her individual assignments in the Church, and he always had her full support. They were an equal team.”
It was during Sister Funk’s service as president of the Young Women's Mutual Improvement Association that the organization name was changed to Young Women, as well as the development of the Personal Progress program.
Family members remembered Sister Funk as someone who was able to juggle a busy life, sleeping only 4-6 hours a night, and managed to accomplish much and still find time to cherish those she loved most. Many times during Sister Funk’s life she was given opportunities for public recognition for her musical abilities on the piano, but she chose to decline invitations for her hope of a family. Instead, she used her music abilities at home and through her Church service.
One grandchild said that Sister Funk “loved people more than things.” It was her great example of unwavering confidence in herself, in other people and in the Lord that she will be remembered for.
In her last few years Sister Funk lost much of her vision, but despite her limitations, her family said, she helped them to see what is most important.
“Even when she lost her sight she could see as she always saw, way beyond all of us,” said Judd Funk, a son. “She could see the beauty and potential we could not see.”
Services honoring Sister Funk were held in the Parley’s 3rd Ward Chapel in Salt Lake City. Children and grandchildren participating in the program all mentioned Sister Funk’s love of things of beauty. Included in her loves were her family, travel, youth and her favorite — music. A combined choir of former students in Sister Funk’s madrigal groups at East High School sang the prelude and postlude music.
During the funeral President Monson read a letter signed by him and his counselors in the First Presidency, sharing their condolences to the family of Sister Funk. Sister Julie B. Beck, Relief Society general president, and Sister Mary N. Cook, first counselor in the Young Women presidency were also in attendance.
Sister Funk was born in Chicago on Nov. 9, 1917, to Thomas Frederick and Polly Reynolds Hardy. She married Marcus C. Funk in the Salt Lake Temple in 1938, and together they had four children and 19 grandchildren. Their 40th grandchild was born a few days after Sister Funk’s death on what would have been her 94th birthday. Her husband, parents, three brothers and a grandson preceded Sister Funk in death.