Shirley Smith grew up with seven siblings in Provo, Utah, where her father was a member of the faculty and then an administrator at Brigham Young University (and, eventually, a president of the Provo Utah Temple).
After serving a mission in southern Germany and marrying my last senior companion, Stephen D. Ricks—who has now been my colleague in Brigham Young University’s Department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages for several decades—she completed bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at BYU in home economics and family studies and raised six children.
Besides being an author in her own right, she worked for many years at Brigham Young University as an editor at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) and its successor, the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. In that capacity, she played a fundamental role in producing many volumes of the Collected Works of Hugh Nibley and served as the indispensable first production editor for both the FARMS Review and the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Thereafter, she worked as a senior editor at BYU’s Religious Studies Center.