President and Sister Faust Awarded University’s Highest Honor

President James E. Faust, former 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Ruth Wright, Sunday were honored posthumously with Southern Virginia University’s Leader-Servant Award—the highest honor given by the university.

Each of the Faust’s five children attended and spoke briefly to an audience of more than 500 at the Sunday evening fireside on Southern Virginia’s campus, where 97 percent of the student body is LDS.

“This evening has great meaning for me, particularly, because I served previously as a member of the board of trustees of this university,” said the Fausts’ middle child, Marcus, who is currently serving in his seventh year as bishop of his ward in Oakton, Va. “The fact that my brothers and sisters are here is a demonstration of how much we love our parents.”

The fireside also included pre-recorded video tributes from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland and President Faust’s lifelong friend Newell Stevenson. Written tributes submitted by friends of the family were read, including one from Elder W. Grant Bangerter, who served as a mission companion to Elder Faust in Brazil. The Southern Virginia University chamber choir performed favorite hymns of the Fausts, including “This is the Christ,” the words of which were written by President Faust.

Jana Faust Coombs praised her father for always honoring women, and for making his daughters feel love and respect even when they were young. “Every day I think of my parents and I hear their voices in my head repeating the lessons that they tried to teach me,” she said.

This is the sixth time the Leader-Servant Award has been given. Previous recipients include Elder Neal A. Maxwell, Elder Marion D. Hanks, Chieko N. Okazaki, Glade M. and Kathleen N. Knight, and Richard E. and Nancy P. Marriott.

President Faust, who died at the age of 87, served as a general authority for 35 years, including 12 years as a member of the First Presidency. He and Sister Faust were married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 21, 1943, and raised five children together. He passed away on Aug. 10, 2007, at the age of 87; Sister Faust passed away exactly six months later.

“President and Sister Faust had humble hearts that mirror the attitude of our Savior,” said Southern Virginia President Rodney K. Smith. “It is a great honor for us to share this award with their family.”