What former Young Women General President Ardeth G. Kapp told well wishers on her 90th birthday

Looking at hundreds of faces gathered for her virtual 90th birthday celebration on Sunday, March 21, former Young Women General President Ardeth Greene Kapp shared an important lesson she has learned after nine decades of service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

“We don’t have to be perfect,” she said. “We just have to do the very best we can, and that’s enough.” 

Sister Kapp served as the ninth Young Women general president from 1984 to 1992 and became a mentor to hundreds of thousands of young women of the Church during that time. Her presidency was highlighted by the introduction of the Young Women values and the strong growth of the Personal Progress program that concluded in 2019. 

Moroni was touted by Mormon as having been strong, mighty, of perfect understanding, a lover of freedom, thankful, hardworking and faithful to the Lord. According to those who have served with her and been served by her, Sister Kapp’s life is one characterized by service, patience, faith in the Savior, steadiness, bravery and love. 

This month, Sister Kapp celebrated her 90th birthday by gathering virtually with many of those who have been blessed by her selfless service. Attendees shared the traits that made her stand out as a faithful disciple of the Savior Jesus Christ over the past nine decades. 

People participate in a Zoom call to celebrate Ardeth Kapp's 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family.
People participate in a Zoom call to celebrate Ardeth Kapp’s 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family. Credit: Annie Barker, Deseret News

Sister Patricia Holland, wife of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, served as first counselor in the Young Women general presidency with Sister Kapp. Sister Holland thanked Sister Kapp for sharing her gift for teaching and said, “she taught faith, hope and charity.” 

Sister Janette Hales Beckham, who served as a counselor to Sister Kapp prior to being called as the 10th Young Women general president, said she remembers many occasions when something unexpected happened. Each time, she said, Sister Kapp “would bow her head in prayer and then raise it and say to us, ‘this will turn to our good.’” 

Former first counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, Sister Kathleen Hughes, said, “I always appreciated her kindness and graciousness.” 

Irene Ericksen served on the Young Women general board (now known as the Young Women general advisory council). “You are one of the most influential women of the Church,” she said, speaking directly to Sister Kapp. “One of your greatest qualities is always lifting others.” 

While Sister Kapp was working on her master’s degree in the 1970s, Sister Kapp worked in the Church with a group of young women — including Susan Casper. She remembered that some of the young women would complain they didn’t have time to study their scriptures for their Sunday classes. Because Sister Kapp was attending school as well, she didn’t let the young women off the hook. “Sister Kapp would say, ‘If I can get my lessons done, you can get your lessons done,’ and that inspired us all to get ours done each week,” said Casper.  

Carolyn Rasmus, left, sits with Ardeth Kapp, right, during a Zoom call to celebrate Kapp’s 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family.
Carolyn Rasmus, left, sits with Ardeth Kapp, right, during a Zoom call to celebrate Kapp’s 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family. Credit: Annie Barker, Deseret News

Chaunntel Pettit, a neighbor of Sister Kapp and her late husband Heber Kapp, recalled her experience of moving in next to the Kapps. She said Sister Kapp had been unsure of what kind of gift to take to her new neighbors. Heber suggested taking over a gallon of milk and a box of corn flakes. Pettit recalled being grateful for the gift of breakfast because her family didn’t have any food in their new home at that point. 

Sister Kapp’s influence isn’t left in the past. She continues to serve in her ward, and the young women she has served with love her just as much as those she served 40 years ago. 

One of those young women, Audrey Frasier, said, “You give me a spiritual recharge every week. You’re an example of true charity.” 

Madison Ardeth Zollinger, whose middle name is a testament to Sister Kapp’s influence on the Zollinger family, joined from her mission to share her thanks. Speaking to Sister Kapp she said, “The most precious nugget of truth you taught us is that we’re all children of God.” 

Sister Kapp didn’t miss out on the opportunity to continue sharing her testimony of the gospel as she shared time with those who joined the virtual celebration. 

“Heavenly Father knows us by name,” she said. “He’ll magnify our righteous influence.” 

Attendees listen during a Zoom call to celebrate Ardeth Kapp’s 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family.
Attendees listen during a Zoom call to celebrate Ardeth Kapp’s 90th birthday at Thanksgiving Point on Sunday, March 21, 2021. There where four rounds of calls to allow adequate talking time for friends and family. Credit: Annie Barker, Deseret News