When Elaine Jack found out that a nonmember acquaintance was struggling through a divorce and an addiction to alcohol, she couldn’t sit back and do nothing. The woman had declined to leave home for several weeks, so Sister Jack spent countless hours sitting with her and calling often to reassure her that someone cared. Later, Sister Jack was her moral support as she went through an alcohol rehabilitation program and returned to work.
“I used to wonder why Elaine spent so much time on a person who seemed to be beyond help,” recalls Sister Jack’s husband, Joe. “But her persistence paid off. She helped turn that woman’s life around.”
People who know Elaine Jack well say that such selflessness is common for her—and that she doesn’t feel her actions are out of the ordinary. “I just love people,” says Sister Jack. “And every day I’m grateful for the influence of good people around me.”
That strength will serve her well as Relief Society general president, to which position she was sustained March 31.
For the past three years, President Jack has served as second counselor in the Young Women General Presidency. “That was wonderful,” she says. “It taught me so much. And because I understand the Young Women program, I can see the opportunity we will have to help both organizations become more effective.”
Elaine was born on 22 March 1928 in Cardston, Alberta, to Sterling O. and Lovina Anderson Low. Her Grandfather Anderson, a patriarch and “spiritual giant,” lived just two doors away. “He was a student of the scriptures,” President Jack remembers, “and he was always eager to tell me about them. I wasn’t nearly as eager to listen back then—but I realized what an influence they were in his life.”
Now, she says, “the gospel is the greatest guiding force in my life. That’s partly because of the environment I was raised in. But I’ve also come to know that this is the best way to live. When I say that this is a joyous gospel, I mean it.”
After graduating from high school, Elaine attended the University of Utah, where she studied for two years. During her first year there, she met Joseph E. Jack, who was in his last year of medical school. When Joe moved to New York City for his internship, he wrote Elaine daily. They were married on 16 September 1948 in the Alberta Temple.
The Jacks have four sons—David, Bill, Eric, and Gordon—and six grandchildren. The Jacks have lived in Staten Island, New York; Boston, Massachusetts; Mt. Edgecumbe, Alaska; and, for the past thirty-two years, in Salt Lake City. The family enjoys participating in outdoor sports, particularly backpacking (her sons joke that their mother wears army boots), skiing, and golfing. “We love to get together to play,” reports President Jack.
Of her new assignment, President Jack says, “I just keep remembering President Harold B. Lee’s statement: ‘If it’s a job, it can be tedious; but if it’s a calling, it’s a glorious thing.’”
President Jack’s first counselor is Chieko Nishimura Okazaki, a native of Kohala, Hawaii. She was born on 21 October 1926 and joined the Church at age fifteen. As strong Buddhists, her parents, Kanenori and Hatsuko Nishimura, “were disappointed when I was baptized,” Sister Okazaki recalls. “But as they saw the good things the Church did for me, they accepted my membership.”
Sister Okazaki met her husband, Edward Yukio Okazaki, when both were students at the University of Hawaii. They were married on 18 June 1949 on Maui; Brother Okazaki was baptized ten months later. “I didn’t know many LDS boys,” says Sister Okazaki. “And even though I worried a little that Edward wouldn’t join the Church, I thought there was a good chance he would—he was a good man and a strong Christian.” The Okazakis were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple in 1951. They have two sons, Kenneth and Robert.
Sister Okazaki holds a bachelor’s degree and a fifth-year degree in education from the University of Hawaii, a master’s degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado, and a degree in educational administration from Colorado State University. She taught elementary school in Hawaii, Salt Lake City, and Denver. While in Denver, she also spent ten years as an elementary school principal.
When Sister Okazaki received her new calling, she was serving on the Primary General Board. She has taught in all the Church auxiliaries, has served in a stake Young Women presidency, as a ward Relief Society president, and as a member of the Young Women General Board. She also served with her husband when he was called to open the Japan-Okinawa Mission from 1968 to 1971.
“The Lord has been good to me,” Sister Okazaki says. “He has given me a lot of direction and guidance in my life. Now I want to do whatever I can to return my thanks to him.”
Sister Jack’s second counselor, Aileen Hales Clyde, was born 18 May 1926 in Springville, Utah, the daughter of G. Ray and Lesley Grooms Hales. She met her husband, Hal M. Clyde, at Springville High School. They were married 2 September 1947 in the Salt Lake Temple. After Sister Clyde graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in English, she and Brother Clyde moved to Salt Lake City, where he attended the University of Utah and majored in civil engineering. Brother and Sister Clyde have three sons—Michael, Kevin, and Jon Courtney.
“My parents taught me the gospel well and lovingly,” says Sister Clyde. “And my husband and I have a true partnership marriage. Having those things as a foundation in my life has given me more time and energy to be of help to others.”
Sister Clyde has been a ward Relief Society president, a member of a stake Relief Society board, and a member of the Young Women General Board. She has also worked on ad hoc projects on volunteerism and depression for the Relief Society General Presidency.
Her community service has involved working on the nomination committee for Utah’s appellate courts; chairing the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice; serving on the Board of Regents for the Utah System of Higher Education; and chairing a task force that studied gender bias in Utah courts. “My fundamental interest has become trying to help people believe in their divine uniqueness and feel good about the Lord’s effect in their lives,” she says.