Lois Smart, the mother of Elizabeth Smart, has been a steadfast presence at the side of the young Utah woman who was abducted from her bedroom as a teenager and then sensationally rescued.
The Smart family is back in the news after Elizabeth’s dad, Ed Smart, announced on Facebook that he is gay and leaving the Mormon church. Smart, then 14, was kidnapped from her bedroom in Salt Lake City and held for 9 months by Brian David Mitchell and his wife, Wanda Barzee.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ed Smart Announced In a Facebook Post That He Is Divorcing His Wife, Calling Her a ‘Loyal Wife’
Although it’s not visible on his public Facebook page, Ed Smart confirmed to Deseret News that he announced he was gay in a message posted there. The newspaper reviewed the message and shared it with readers.
Ed Smart called the message “one of the hardest letters I have ever written,” and wrote that “I have recently acknowledged to myself and my family that I am gay.”
“The decision to be honest and truthful about my orientation comes with its own set of challenges, but at the same time it is a huge relief,” he wrote. “Living with the pain and guilt I have for so many years, not willing to accept the truth about my orientation has at times brought me to the point where I questioned whether life was still worth living.”
In the message, Ed Smart praised his wife, Lois.
“Lois has been a loyal wife, and extraordinary mother, who has had to endure an impossible part of this journey. I deeply regret the excruciating pain this has caused her. Hurting her was never my intent. While our marriage will end, my love for Lois and everyone in my family is eternal,” he wrote, according to Deseret News.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Ed Smart also wrote that he no longer feels comfortable in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
2. Elizabeth Smart Has Called Her Mother Her ‘Hero’
According to People Magazine, Elizabeth Smart has praised her mother as her “hero.”
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my mom,” she said to the magazine. “My mom is a hero and has influenced my life more than any other person, and I’d like to have that same influence on my children.”
Lois Smart filed for divorce from her husband on July 5, 2019.
3. Lois Smart Wrote a Book With Her Husband That Describes the Aftermath of Their Daughter’s Abduction
Lois Smart penned a book with her husband in 2003. It was called, Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope. According to People Magazine, the book describes how their 9-year-old daughter told them, “She’s gone. Elizabeth is gone. A man came and took her. He had a gun.”
“Lois’s eyes fell on the cut screen in the kitchen window, and she screamed in utter disbelief and shock,” the couple wrote in the book. “That’s when we both realized that Mary Katherine’s words had quickly become our worst nightmare. Our daughter Elizabeth was gone.”
Mitchell, described by People as a “homeless preacher,” took Elizabeth to a campsite and then to California.
4. Elizabeth Smart Says Her Parents Taught Her Unconditional Love
The Salt Lake Tribune asked Elizabeth Smart for comment on her father’s letter. She responded with a statement praising both of her parents.
“My parents taught me as a young child that they would love me unconditionally no matter what happened,” she said, according to the newspaper.
“While I am deeply saddened by their separation, nothing could change my love and admiration for them both. Their decisions are very personal. As such, I will not pass judgment and rather am focusing on loving and supporting them and the other members of my family.”
5. Lois Smart, Who Was Born in Utah, Was Married to Ed Smart for Decades
According to her IMDB profile, Lois Smart “was born on May 31, 1957 in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA as Lois Francom. She has been married to Ed Smart since 1986.”
She had six children with Ed Smart. Their names are Charles, Elizabeth, Andrew, Mary Katherine, Edward, and William, per her author’s biography.
She was once quoted as saying of her daughter, “You be happy, Elizabeth. Just be happy. If you go and feel sorry for yourself, or if you dwell on what has happened, if you hold on to your pain, that is allowing him to steal more of your life away. So don’t you do that! Don’t you let him! There is no way that he deserves that. Not one more second of your life. You keep every second for yourself. You keep them and be happy. God will take care of the rest.”
READ NEXT: Ed Smart’s Bio and Letter.