Ila Jean Kofford’s vibrant testimony brought her future General Authority husband back to Church. She lived to be 88

Sister Ila Jean Macdonald Kofford, the wife of Elder Cree-L Kofford, who served as a General Authority Seventy from 1991 to 2003, died on Wednesday, Aug. 25, in Bountiful, Utah, at the age of 88.

Sister Kofford, whose vibrant testimony first led a teenage Cree-L Kofford to be active in the Church, dedicated her life to serving her family and the Church. She and her husband served as leaders of the New York New York Mission from 1989 to 1991, and she served faithfully in locations throughout the world during her husband’s 12 years as a general authority.

Ila Jean Macdonald was born in Kanab, Utah, and moved to Orem, Utah, where she met Cree-L, whose family was less active in the Church, at her high school. On a winter evening in 1951, the two sat at the table in Ila’s kitchen and discussed the meaning of life. Ila, the only active member of the Church in her family, bore testimony to her young friend.

“My conversion to the gospel literally started at Ila’s kitchen table,” Elder Kofford recalled in an article printed in the May 1991 Ensign. “She taught me about righteousness, and then gently led me to thirst for it in my life. My testimony grew gradually. One day, years later, I remember waking up and saying, ‘This is the most important thing in my life.’”

The two were married in 1953 in the Manti Utah Temple. After Elder Kofford graduated from the University of Utah, the couple moved their growing family to California, where Elder Kofford taught junior high and high school history classes during the day and then attended the University of Southern California Law School at night.

Elder Kofford began his law practice and the family eventually moved to Arcadia, where they lived for more than 30 years. 

In a Church News article written after Elder Kofford was called as a general authority, Sister Kofford spoke of how the two worked hard through the years to make their marriage one of the most important things in their lives.

“We enjoy each other so much,” she said. “There isn’t anyone else I’d rather be with. He has a fun personality and a tremendous sense of humor. He also has the patience of Job. He always makes me feel like I am the most important thing in the world. Even when we had little children, he could walk in the room and I knew everything would be all right.”

Of her, Elder Kofford said, “She is the heartbeat of my life. She led me to activity in the Church and has been the reason for all the joy and happiness I have experienced over these years.”

Sister Kofford enjoyed many hobbies, including “grandma hours” with her grandchildren, riding horses with her husband and collecting antique clocks, which the two gave each other as anniversary gifts.

Through the years, the Koffords’ family motto has been, “I love you more than yesterday, but less than tomorrow.”

At the time of Elder Kofford’s call, Sister Kofford remarked, “We are willing to pay any price to have an eternal family. I can’t imagine heaven being any better than this, but if it is, I want to be a part of it with the entire family.”

The Koffords are parents of five children and have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Funeral services are pending.