Sheri L. Dew was born in Ulysses, Kansas in 1954, to Charles and JoAnn Peterson Dew, growing up on a large farm. She received a bachelor of arts degree from Brigham Young University and attended BYU Graduate School. She is a former Relief Society general board member, Stake Relief Society president, counselor in stake Relief Society presidency, ward Relief Society president; vice president of publishing, Deseret Book Company, previously director of publishing and associate publisher, This People magazine, and assistant editor for Bookcraft. 13 March 2002 she became president and chief executive officer of Deseret Book Company. (Deseret News 2001-2002 Church Almanac, 115)
She wanted to be a college basketball player. Perhaps there was no place, besides a chapel, that she was more comfortable or confident than on a basketball court. There, the girl who longed to be petite and pretty discovered her 5 foot 10 size was no longer a curse, but a blessing. She was a star player in basketball-crazy Kansas at a tiny high school in Ulysses (population 4,000), averaging 23 points and 17 rebounds a game. She had a hook shot, a post-up move, a jump shot, and she could move under the basket to get free for shots. .
She served as second counselor in the General Relief Society from 1997 to 2002, the first non-married woman ever to achieve such a high position in the Mormon Church. After a 1999 trip to Ghana, Dew began to spearhead a humanitarian program to send children's books to impoverished areas of the world. The first shipment of 6,500 books was sent to Ghana and Fiji in July 2005. In March 2003 the White House appointed her a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, and she advocated abstinence and monogamy to combat AIDS and other global ills.
She is also the author of the biographies of President Gordon B. Hinckley and President Ezra Taft Benson and the inspirational book No Doubt About It. Dew wrote the biography of President Gordon B. Hinckley mostly between the hours of 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. “People ask me, 'Is it hard to write a biography?' I say, 'No, I did it in my sleep,' ” she says, smiling at her joke.
Dew might be better known more for what she doesn't have — a husband — than by what she does have — a dual career, brains, surpassing talent as a pianist, writer and speaker (and, umm, Game Boy player). This is a woman who has accomplished great things while waiting for love to come along, but she is still famous for her marital status, largely because she helped lead a church that is centered on marriage and family. Nevertheless, she is a staunch defender of the family:
“Before this era is over, every living human being will have chosen. Every living human being will have lined up in support of the family or against it. Every living human being will have either opposed the onslaught against the family or supported it, for if he tries to make no choice that in itself will be a choice. If we do not act in behalf of the family, that is itself an act of opposition to the family.” (Sheri L. Dew, Defenders of the Faith, Interfaith Conference on Defending Marriage and the Family: By Faith and by Reason, Washington DC, 28 February 2004.)
There have been worse ideas than turning such a keen, sensitive heart and mind loose in the world to meet diverse people, to connect with them, to learn and observe, to extract life's truths and pass along to a church at large. In her trips to Africa, for instance, she observed poverty, abuse, disease, starvation — but not the depression that's so prevalent in the United States. The people told her they were happy because of their belief in their religion. “And we have everything here except sometimes happiness,” says Dew. “I wonder who the Lord is really worried about — us or them? I have never heard people pray or sing as the people did in Africa. When it was time to fly home, I didn't want to leave. I was wiping tears all the way home.”
For all the disappointments, Dew is living a rich life and she knows it. “I love my life,” she says. “I'm happy about my life.”
- Sharlene Wells, Miss America. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1985
- Ezra Taft Benson: A Biography. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1987
- Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1996.
- No Doubt About It. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2001.
- God Wants a Powerful People (Compact Disc). Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004.
- No One Can Take Your Place. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2004.
- If Life Were Easy, It Wouldn't Be Hard: And Other Reassuring Truths. Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2005.