Sister Nola C. Lybbert, wife of the late Elder Merlin R. Lybbert, dies at age 94

Sister Nola Cahoon Lybbert — mother, grandmother and wife of the late Elder Merlin R. Lybbert, a General Authority Seventy  — died Nov. 18, 2021, in Salt Lake City. She was 94.

A descendant of Latter-day Saint pioneers, Sister Lybbert was raised in a small community outside of Cardston, Alberta. She was born in Tonga, where her parents were serving as missionaries, according to a Church News profile published shortly after Elder Lybbert was called to the Seventy in 1989.

“I grew up with a real love for the [Tongan] people because my parents loved them so deeply. They also loved the gospel. I learned early how important the gospel is,” she said.

Sister Lybbert met her future husband at a Halloween party in 1943. The two eventually started dating and their courtship lasted five years. During that time, young Merlin Lybbert served in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He then went on a mission to the United States’ Eastern States. 

When he returned from his mission, Nola was a year away from graduating as a registered nurse. The pair married on May 26, 1949, in the Cardston Alberta Temple.

“We wrote hundreds of letters,” Elder Lybbert said of their extended courtship, with trademark humor. “There were certainly no tears shed at our wedding — everyone was just thrilled to see us together after five years of courtship.”

Over several decades of marriage, Sister Lybbert worked as a nurse and served in a variety of Church callings, as well as music chairman and editor of ward bulletins. She also devoted many hours to service in community and civic organizations.

After the Lybberts married, they moved to Utah, where the future Elder Lybbert worked as a lawyer and served in a variety of Church callings. He was generous in his praise of his ever-supportive wife and friend, Nola.

“I know whatever success we’ve had in life is due largely to my wife,”  Elder Lybbert told the Church News. “She is a wise counselor, and she has a gentle firmness about her that is admirable. She is a student of the scriptures. Probably one of the most uncanny abilities that she possesses is a practical sense of applying gospel principles in life.”

Sister Lybbert served as temple matron of the Cardston Alberta Temple from 1994 to 1997, laboring alongside her husband, who presided over the temple.

The Lybberts are the parents of six children — including Sister Ruth Lybbert Renlund, wife of Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — and several grandchildren.

Elder Lybbert died in 2001.

A viewing will be Sunday, Nov. 21, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Larkin Sunset Lawn, 2350 E. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, and an hour prior the funeral on Monday, Nov. 22, at 11 a.m. at the Valley View 10th Ward building, 1985 E. 3900 South, Salt Lake City. See larkinmortuary.com for information on streaming options for the funeral service.