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BYU's first female student body president shares insights from teaching career

Lora Hilton Whiting spent her childhood in Hinckley, Utah, and attended Delta High School. As a BYU student, she was an enthusiastic cougar fan who became involved in student government. She was the university’s first female student body president and remained the only female to hold this position until the mid-90s.

In 1944, Whiting graduated with a bachelor’s degree in clothing and textiles. Shortly after graduation, she married Ray Whiting in the Manti Utah Temple. Whiting taught home economics at Farrer Junior High in Provo for one year while her husband finished school.

Whiting later certified as an elementary teacher and taught for 26 years at Mapleton Elementary. The lessons she learned at the McKay School guided her teaching and continue to guide her life. “Plan well for what you need to do. Always be well prepared for your assignments,” she counsels. “Never stop learning, and be a lifetime reader.”

The Whitings raised their four children (Ann, Gayle, Mikel, and Steven) in Mapleton. Their family has grown to include 22 grandchildren and 38 great-grandchildren.

Whiting, who loves to quilt, makes sure each of her grandchildren is welcomed into the world with a handmade blanket. She also makes quilts for Primary Children’s Medical Center and other humanitarian causes. She has volunteered at the Utah Valley Hospital for the last 20 years. Besides quilting and volunteering, Whiting also enjoys church service. She has served in nearly every one of the auxiliaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Whiting remains an active part of the Mapleton community. In 2011 she was selected as the grand marshal of the Mapleton Pioneer Day celebration. “It was quite an honor,” Whiting says, but also “quite a surprise” as “Mapleton is full of great people that could also have been chosen.”

Whiting’s advice to McKay School students and alumni is to “keep actively involved in good things—the Church, your family, and friends.” Of course, that includes BYU athletics. “Enjoy sports!” she urges. “I have liked to watch football and basketball since high school. BYU now keeps me watching and cheering. Go cougars!”

March 30, 2012