Even before she joined the Church, Neill Foote Marriott grew up knowing there was a God and that He loved her, due in large part to the example of her parents, George and Antonia Foote.
“My father was a pattern of our Heavenly Father,” said the new second counselor in the Young Women general presidency. “His love and acceptance for others was unbounded. It was a simple and natural transfer of the love and trust I had for my earthly father to trust and love my Heavenly Father. It came naturally as I grew.”
As a 12-year-old girl, following a tender experience during the singing of a hymn, she made the determination to read the Bible every day and to kneel down when she said her daily prayers. That steady commitment set a course for her teen years. “The cumulative effect was that my love for Father in Heaven grew and I trusted that the Savior would take care of me,” she said.
She was 22 years old when she met a “Mormon” for the first time. Born and raised in Alexandria, La., she had moved north after graduating from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, with a degree in English literature and worked as a secretary at Harvard University. There she met David Cannon Marriott who told her and her roommates, “I have some friends I want you to meet.” These friends showed up in black suits and ties, carrying suitcases full of books, pamphlets and a felt board.
“[The missionaries] were wonderful young men,” Sister Marriott recalled. “I was touched by their earnest interest in the gospel because there were not a lot of young men that I knew that were truly interested in religion.”
Despite a favorable impression of the missionaries and the Church, she remembers having many questions and thinking: ‘This is a good church but I can still stay a Methodist and believe some of the things they believe.’ ”
The missionaries taught her and her roommates often for seven months. During that time she was blessed with many “sweet experiences” involving reading the Book of Mormon, meeting the mission president and learning more about Church doctrine.
As she listened to the missionaries teach about the plan of salvation, she said, “The lesson filled in the missing pieces of my gospel understanding. … I knew that what they were saying was true. I really was a daughter of my Heavenly Father. He was my Father. I recognized the truth in the teaching that I did live with Him before I came here. That really opened my heart to the truth.”
Then, as she and some of her roommates were preparing to leave for the summer, David asked them, “How do you feel about the Book of Mormon?”
She had planned to say something different but found herself saying “Well, I think it’s true,” to which David responded, “So what are you going to do about it?”
She promised to honestly and sincerely pray about it. And she did. She relates that through this honest prayer she learned clearly that, indeed, this was the Savior’s true church on the earth. The next day she called the mission president and told him she needed to be baptized.
After her baptism, she and David remained friends and eventually began dating. They were married in June 1971 in the Salt Lake Temple and after living in four different states they made their home in Salt Lake City. Sister Marriott stayed home with their 11 children while her husband pursued a career in business.
Sister Marriott has served in many Church callings. Her first calling as a new convert was to be a member of the ward genealogy committee. One day, organizing her family history into information on separate family lines, she “felt like these deceased ancestors were very close and very interested.”
Sister Marriott said she has developed a love for the temple, and with help, has found and prepared close to 1,000 ancestral names for temple work. Since then she has served as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple, as stake and ward Relief Society president, ward Young Women president, Cub Scout leader, gospel doctrine teacher and food storage specialist. She also served with her husband as he presided over the Brazil S? Paulo Interlagos Mission from 2002 to 2005.
Three months after beginning their service in Brazil, the Marriott’s daughter Georgia, who was studying violin performance at Indiana University, was struck by a truck and killed while riding her bike near the university campus. Though devastated, Sister Marriott said she was fortified by her knowledge of the gospel and Georgia’s Christlike example.
Georgia had a goal to share the gospel with someone new every day. At her memorial service in Indiana, many of her friends from the university attended. Her family made available copies of the Book of Mormon with Georgia’s testimony pasted in the front cover. All 250 copies were taken.
“[Georgia] was a real inspiration to me on the mission to always stand forth and share my faith,” Sister Marriott recounted.
For example, in a small town in Brazil, Sister Marriott felt prompted to share information about the Church with a man at a counter in a market. “I felt Georgia there urging me on. I talked with him and he gave me his name and address and said he’d like to have the missionaries come.”
She isn’t afraid to testify, her husband said. “As she’s had different callings, in all the various assignments we’ve shared, the thing that is key and everybody knows is that her faith in Jesus Christ is the most singular and most important part of her life.”
“The Savior is my anchor,” she agreed.
In her new assignment, Sister Marriott hopes to share the same testimony she received as a young woman. She wants young women to know that “they are loved by their Heavenly Father with the deepest, most glorious love.”
Family: Born in Alexandria, La., to George Messenger and Antonia Voelker Foote. Married David Cannon Marriott on June 28, 1971 in the Salt Lake Temple. Parents of 11 children: Caroline; Paige (John) Storheim; Daniel (Marian); Cannon (Emily); Kate (Christian) Mitchell; Georgia; Adam (Laura); David (Abby); Will; Wesley and Trace. 26 grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in English literature and secondary education from Southern Methodist University.
Church service: Served as an ordinance worker in the Salt Lake Temple, a stake and a ward Relief Society president, a ward Young Women president, a gospel doctrine teacher and a food storage specialist. She accompanied her husband as he presided over the Sao Paulo Interlagos Mission from 2002-2005.