Young People Gravitate to Nevada Mother

  By Ryan McDonald, Church News staff writer

  • 30 July 2013

Zan Peterson Hyer has strived to ensure that her home is a place where her five children and their friends enjoy spending time. Her husband says, “She doesn't have a selfish bone in her body.”  Photo by Jen Sanders.

Article Highlights

  • For the first few years of her marriage, Sister Hyer and her husband had difficulty having children, which taught her to rely on the Lord.
  • Having empathy for others and the importance of being obedient are values Sister Hyer has placed a premium on.
  • The gospel has been Sister Hyer’s guide to raising her children.

“Young women, both inside the Church and outside the Church, have always gravitated to her because they feel unconditional love from her.” —Brother Dodd Hyer, husband 

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA

Upon getting married in 1980, Zan Peterson Hyer assumed she would become a mother and help raise a family. For the first few years of her marriage, however, it seemed she would not be able to conceive. Seeing women with children at places such as church and the grocery store was difficult.

“Anytime, I think, when you want something good and you don’t get it, I think you have to figure out what the message is you’re supposed to get,” she said. “Sometimes we don’t get those answers in this life, but those are times that just bring you to your knees.”

After exhausting all options from a medical standpoint, only a miracle allowed Sister Hyer to conceive. She and her husband, Dodd, now have five children, one daughter and four sons.

Sister Hyer feels that the struggles she endured during that time caused her to be more appreciative of her children than she otherwise might have been, and she expressed that in her actions. Her daughter, Annalise Castor, recalls that her mother always made the effort to be involved in her children’s activities and would often volunteer at their schools. Furthermore, Sister Hyer became known for her delicious scones and her home was a place where as many as 150 people would gather together to enjoy them.

While her husband said that Sister Hyer “doesn’t have a selfish bone in her body,” he added she has a particular gift for being able to relate to teenage girls. 

“Young women, both inside the Church and outside the Church, have always gravitated to her because they feel unconditional love from her,” Brother Hyer said. “That makes her exceptional and to me is one of the great gifts that she has—she’s a sort of surrogate mother to a lot of nonmember girls because they are just drawn to her. She is what they have a longing desire to be. To me, it’s because she is a woman of God.”

Having empathy for others and the importance of being obedient are values Sister Castor said her mother placed a premium on while raising her children.

“She was always consistent with family prayer and family scripture study and family home evening. She just gave us the desire to do what is right,” Sister Castor said. “I really think the thing that made her the best as a mom is she never gave us an excuse to disobey the commandments. She bought in 100 percent [to the gospel], and that was really, I think, what made her such a great mom.”

For Sister Hyer, the gospel was her guide to raising her children.

“We had those family home evenings like everybody else that were just disastrous, but I think the secret is you just keep trying to do the right thing,” she said. “I think the blessings of the gospel are what give you the structure to help you raise your family and the fact that you can just go and pray to the Lord and He knows that child. That’s His child.”