President Monson Leads Life Focused on Serving Others


    By Kedrik Hamblin

    President Thomas S. Monson was officially introduced Monday, Feb. 4, 2008 as the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

    Like a true shepherd caring for his flock, he has traveled to hospital rooms, care centers, houses of the sick and the widowed. His memory for each one of the friends he visits is ever sharp. Many remember President Thomas S. Monson for his compassion to those in need.

    “I think he has gathered many more people into his fold,” said Jim Wall, president and publisher of the Deseret Morning News. “President Monson always seems to be so aware of people”s needs.”

    Wall remembers an employee who was struggling with an extremely difficult physical condition. Even though he had many duties, President Monson would visit the man often.

    “President Monson was constantly aware of him,” Wall said. Wall also commented that President Monson still calls the man to check up on him.

    Thomas Spencer Monson was born to G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson in Salt Lake City on Aug. 21, 1927. His family lived on the west side of the tracks in Salt Lake, which meant they were of poorer means than others. However, the Monson family was known for their generosity. President Monson has continued that legacy in his service and compassion toward others.

    Called to be a bishop at age 22, he learned to take care of the 1,000 plus members, 86 of which were widows. He made sure the widows were taken care of and visited them personally at Christmas, giving poultry he had raised to each one. He continued to visit these widows at Christmas, decades afterward and also spoke at many of their funerals.

    One event in President Monson”s life, recounted in the Ensign, became crucial in his following the guidance of the Spirit and in his service to others. At age 23, while still a bishop, he was attending a stake conference. He felt an impression to leave immediately and visit a man who had only earlier that day been admitted to the hospital. He waited until the meeting was over and rushed to the hospital. Upon arriving, a nurse stopped him and asked if he was Bishop Monson.

    “I”m sorry,” the nurse said. “The patient was calling your name just before he passed away.”

    From that moment President Monson made a promise that he would never fail again to respond to an impression from the Spirit.

    President Monson joined the Navy in 1945 at age 17 and served for the last few months of World War II. When he returned home, he started school at the University of Utah and graduated in business administration. Later he graduated with an MBA from BYU.

    His career in printing began as a boy when he was a paperboy for the Deseret News. In his adult years, he worked in the advertising department of the Deseret News and as a manager for the classified advertising department of the Newspaper Agency Corporation. He eventually became general manager of the Deseret Press News Publishing Co.

    John Hughes, a professor in the Communications department, has known and worked with President Monson for the last 13 years.

    “He has a great love for the paper,” Hughes said.

    Hughes, who was editor of the Deseret Morning News, knows that President Monson has always been enthusiastic about the paper and very serious about errors. While at a staff dinner, President Monson rose to speak. He pointed out an error on page 17 of that day”s newspaper.

    “He was death on typos,” Hughes said.

    President Monson has many unique traits that distinguish him. He has one specific trait that many members are familiar with.

    “He was and is a masterful storyteller,” Hughes said.

    Hughes has heard many stories from President Monson and is often amazed at his memory. President Monson, Hughes said, can walk up to someone and begin telling him or her all kinds of stories – funny stories, or moving stories. Members may remember stories from conferences of widows, of the pigeons his Deacon”s Quorum adviser used, or of serving in the church.

    “He”ll talk as long as you want and he never has a note,” Hughes said.

    President Monson has also been heavily involved in many civic organizations, including the Boy Scouts of America. He is a recipient of the highest award given by the Boy Scouts-the Silver Buffalo Award, which has been given to fewer than 700 people, including 13 U.S. Presidents.

    President Monson Timeline

    Born Aug. 21, 1927

    Serves as Bishop,1950-55

    Member of Stake Presidency,1955-59

    President of Canadian Mission,1959-1962

    Called as an apostle, Oct. 4,1963

    Called as second counselor to the President, Nov. 10, 1985

    Called as first counselor, March 12, 1995

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