For Steve and Marilyn Rizley, Brigham Young University has been like a magnet: it drew them together, and it keeps drawing them back.
Steve (whose friends call him “Riz”) and Marilyn were recently asked to chair the Jesse and Amanda Knight Society at BYU. The society is for people who make a legacy gift to BYU, such as naming BYU as a beneficiary in a will or trust.
“I like that membership in the society is not based on dollar amounts,” says Steve. “It’s just people who want to help students.”
Sprechen Sie Deutsch?
As a BYU student, Marilyn was taking German, and her roommate mentioned that her brother was serving a mission in Germany. “I wrote him a letter for practice,” says Marilyn. The letter came back. “It had been corrected for grammar—marked all over in red,” she says.
Steve was that missionary with the red pencil, and it was a less-than-impressive first interaction. Months later, however, when Marilyn met Steve in person, “he was much nicer than his written communication suggested,” Marilyn remembers.
Both say they knew quickly that they were right for each other, and three weeks later they were engaged. They waited until Marilyn graduated to be married, and then they went to the Manti Temple for a quiet, simple wedding that didn’t cost a lot of money.
“When we’re asked to help build the kingdom, I think that means to build people.”
The Rizleys relate to getting by on a student budget. “Getting married is about eternal covenants more than the flowers,” Marilyn says. On their wedding day, they stopped someone and asked him to take their photo. “That was our wedding photo shoot,” Steve says.
Theirs has been a happy, hard-working, faith-filled journey. They both earned degrees from BYU and then from other universities. They raised their four children, living first in Provo and then in the New York City area before settling in Arizona. Steve was general manager of one of the first cable systems outside of Utah to broadcast the newly created BYUtv.
Steve and Marilyn Rizley, who have been deeply involved with BYU for many years, chair the Jesse and Amanda Knight Society. The group is made up of donors who make planned gifts to the university. Find out more here.
Returning Again and Again
The Rizleys came back to BYU as volunteers on the Marriott School of Business National Advisory Council, and they have enjoyed that service for more than 20 years. They are also members of the BYU President’s Leadership Council and appreciate the relationships they’ve formed there.
To date, Steve and Marilyn have served two missions as a couple for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In 2015 they were called to preside over the Ukraine L’viv Mission.
“There is not a day that goes by that we are not mentally and spiritually in Ukraine,” says Steve. The reality of war was recently brought home when one of their former missionaries, a native Ukrainian, was injured in a blast that occurred just a couple of car lengths away from his vehicle.
In January 2020, just prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rizleys began serving in Nauvoo, presiding over Illinois Historic Sites.
Now they are back reconnecting with friends at BYU as chairs of the Knight Society. “When we’re asked to help build the kingdom, I think that means to build people,” says Marilyn. Steve adds, “Right now, we are investing in the future by helping students at BYU.”
To learn more about the Knight Society and how you can join, visit the society’s website.