Through 91 years, Mary Lou lived a life that could best be described as full of grace and Christ-like charity. She passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones on January 11, 2022 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

See 2 Photos

Born on August 20, 1930 in Salt Lake City to Elmer and Mildred Jenkins, she lived for many years in Salt Lake and moved during World War 2 to the Kahala area of Honolulu, territory of Hawaii.

She graduated from Punahou, attended the University of Utah for two years, and graduated from Stanford University with a degree in English.

She married Dick Wright Thurston on September 1, 1951 in the Salt Lake Temple. They lived in FL, TX, HI, CA, VA, ME, MD, London, England, Provo,UT and La Jolla, CA. She loved to teach, raise her children, play tennis and serve others. She was President of the US Naval Academy’s Officers Wives Club. She also served as President of BYU Women. She was Captain of the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers.

As a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints she served in many callings including President of the Relief Society, Primary and Young Women’s. She served with Dick when he was Bishop of a BYU Married Ward. They served as temple workers in San Diego. They also served a Church Mission to the Hmong/Laotian refugees in San Diego. “Service truly was her middle name.”

Following Dick’s passing she had a wonderful 6 year marriage to Steve Smoot; which brought her four bonus children, Shauna/Jim, Steve/Jill, Sherm/Sherri, and Allison/Colby and numerous bonus grandchildren and great-grandchildren. What a blessing they were in her life. Mary Lou and Steve served 6 years as missionaries in the Salt Lake Inner-City Mission.

Survived by her son, Wright Jenkins Thurston (Janett), of Sandy; daughter, Elizabeth Malia Merrell (Wayne), of Story City, IA; son, Rob J. Thurston (Loni), of Provo; 15 grandchildren, and 41 great-grandchildren.

She requested in lieu of flowers, donations be made to her favorite charity:

TS Alliance, 8737 Colesville Road, Suite 400 Silver Spring, Maryland 20910-4487 USA 800.225.6872 (Toll-Free) 301.562.9890


A viewing at 1:00 pm and funeral at 2:00 pm will be held in Salt Lake City on Saturday, January 15, 2022 at the Larkin Sunset Lawn Cemetery (2350 E. 1300 S.) with interment immediately after.

Special thanks to her beloved Tamie Rice, "Angels Crossing" Hospice and the lovely Pacific Island ladies of “Love at Home” who cared for Mary Lou.



Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 1:00 PM - 1:45 PM
Larkin Sunset Lawn Mortuary
2350 East 1300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Funeral Service

Saturday, Jan. 15, 2022 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Larkin Sunset Lawn Chapel
2350 East 1300 South
Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Services Handled By

Larkin Sunset Lawn
2350 E 1300 S
Salt Lake City, UT

Life Story Info

Post Date

Jan 13, 2022


Personal Info


Concerned about this Life Story? Please let us know.
NEXT Ramon Rivera Ramon Rivera


Dear Thurston Family:

In reading the KSL website I happened upon your mother and grandmother's obituary and immediately regretted not having seen it earlier so that I could have attended her funeral and expressed my feelings to all of you directly. Being a good friend of Wright's and Rob's, I became well acquainted with this lovely, lovely lady who absolutely personified grace in all meanings of the word. Please accept my deep-felt condolences for your temporary separation from this wonderful mother and grandmother. The mark of Mary Lou's greatness is best expressed in her children and grandchildren who reflect her values and represent an ongoing, living legacy.

--Scott Calder

Scott and Jean Calder , Salt Lake City, UT, US Jan 18, 2022

What a great lady. I admired every word of her obituary.

Raymond AARON , Rockwood, ON, CA Jan 15, 2022