President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Jan. 2, 2018 as a result of old age. He was 90 years old.
Funeral services for President Monson will be held Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, at noon in the Conference Center on Temple Square. Services are open to the public ages 8 and older. All ages are welcome to attend the public viewing held Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018, from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center.
Following President Monson’s death, the church’s First Presidency released the following statement:
“President Thomas S. Monson was a mighty Prophet of God and we are honored to have served by his side these past 10 years. His far-reaching and multi-faceted ministry touched the lives of people from all walks of life in remarkable ways. As a result, President Monson’s legacy will continue to be an influence for good in the lives of countless individuals and families for generations to come. To his family, we extend our most sincere condolences and love.”
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles later released a statement as well:
“We, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, unitedly express our sincere sense of loss at the passing of President Thomas Spencer Monson. He was our prophet, our leader, our brother, and our dear friend.
President Monson lived an exceptional life of service. He served as an apostle for more than 54 years, the last ten years of which were as the President of the church. From his earliest days of church service to the very end of his faithful ministry, he never failed to bear witness, in word and deed, of the truth of the restored gospel and of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We will miss his wisdom, his leadership, his meaningful example, and his loving kindness. However, we rejoice in his reunion with his beloved Frances, with other family members who have gone before, and with the prophets of God who preceded him in death, with whom he now stands. As his fellow servants, we echo the words of the Master, ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord’ (Matthew 25:21).”
Thomas S. Monson was born August 21, 1927 in Salt Lake City to G. Spencer and Gladys Condie Monson.
His history of ministering started early in life. President Monson said in the talk “Anxiously Engaged,” he raised pigeons as a boy. A church leader gave him a pigeon, but the pigeon always returned to the leader. Each time it did, the leader would sit down with President Monson and discuss members of the teachers quorum who could use some fellowshipping. This was an example to President Monson of the responsibility and care a priesthood leader should exhibit for their fellow members.
President Monson served in the Navy during the close of World War II, then returned to school. He graduated cum laude from the University of Utah in 1948, with a degree in business management. On Oct. 7, 1948 he married Frances Beverly Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple; they had three children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Part of the counsel given to President Monson and Frances by Benjamin Bowring, the man who performed their wedding ceremony, stayed with the Monsons throughout their marriage. The advice was to pray every night as a couple, alternating who prayed each night.
President Monson recounted Bowring’s words in an October 1988 General Conference talk. “I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray,” Bowring is quoted. “You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another.”
Frances Monson died May 17, 2013.
President Monson recognized the importance of the family unit in society.
“It is in the home that we form our attitudes, our deeply held beliefs. It is in the home that hope is fostered or destroyed,” President Monson said in the April 2006 First Presidency message. “Our homes are to be more than sanctuaries; they should also be places where God’s Spirit can dwell, where the storm stops at the door, where love reigns and peace dwells.”
After graduating from the University of Utah, President Monson earned an MBA from BYU. He has received several honorary degrees, including a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, from BYU in 1981.
President Monson worked as a sales manager, then general manager, of Deseret News Press and as an executive in Deseret News advertising and the Newspaper Agency Corporation. He chaired the board of Deseret News Publishing Co. and was president of the Printing Industry of Utah. He was also a member of Printing Industries of America’s board of directors. The LDS Public Relations Society awarded him the Joseph and Hyrum Smith Award for “Communicator of the Year” in 2000.
He also held positions with the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America, the Utah State Board of Regents (with higher education) and President Reagan’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. He also served as chair of the church Board of Education.
His church callings, prior to his position as a general authority, were likewise varied. He was called when he was 22 to be a bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in Salt Lake City. He later served in a Salt Lake stake presidency and moved his family to Canada from 1959 to 1962 to serve as president of the Canadian Mission (Toronto). Upon returning from Canada, he was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in 1963. As a general authority he gained permission to build a temple behind the Iron Curtain and also facilitated the freedom of German members of the church to move to and from East Germany before the curtain fell.
President Monson served as counselor to Presidents Ezra Taft Benson, Howard W. Hunter and Gordon B. Hinckley. Upon President Hinckley’s death in 2008, President Monson was sustained as the church’s 16th president.
With the tremendous responsibility of presiding over a church 15 million strong, President Monson relied on his relationship with the Lord to help him administer. As a reminder, he has a picture of the Savior hanging in his office.
“When facing difficult situations, I often look at it and ask myself, ‘What would He do?’ Then I have tried to respond accordingly,” President Monson said in the video “On the Lord’s Errand: The Life of Thomas S. Monson.”
President Monson advocated spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world, as he had helped to do in Germany.
Milestones for the church during President Monson’s presidency include reaching a membership of 15 million, the changing of missionary ages from 19 to 18 for elders and 21 to 19 for sisters and the announcement, or dedication, of 58 temples.
“As we touch the temple and love the temple, our lives will reflect our faith,” President Monson said in the talk “Blessings of the Temple.” “As we go to the holy house, as we remember the covenants we make therein, we will be able to bear every trial and overcome each temptation.”
His presidency further saw the change in the church’s annual Christmas concert to include not solely members of the First Presidency, but other general authority speakers as well. President Monson was the first church president to open social media accounts, and he and fellow general authorities were involved in LGBT legislation procedures in 2015. Under his leadership the church has taken a stance for traditional marriage in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling to legalize gay marriage.
His connections to BYU are not limited to his graduate work. He has received BYU’s Exemplary Manhood Award and the Distinguished Utahn Award from the BYU Management Society, has spoken at CES firesides and BYU Devotionals and has dedicated or broken ground for several of the buildings on the campus, including the addition to the Tanner Building (2008), the McKay Building (2003), the Joseph F. Smith Building (2002) and the Carl F. Eyring Science Center (1998). In 2016, a new Boy Scout lodge in Utah’s Uinta Mountains as well as a University of Utah building were named after him.
At President Monson’s 2011 BYU devotional, “Be a Light to the World,” he urged students to stand as a light and be faithful to the truth they know. “Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights aflame and burning brightly, that they might shine for others to see and follow,” he said.
Known for his keen memory enhanced by prolific journal writing, President Monson often quoted poems, plays and stories over the pulpit. He was also known for couplets, such as the one in his talk “The Call of Duty.”
“Do your duty; that is best. Leave unto the Lord the rest,” President Monson said in the talk.
President Monson encouraged church members to stand for moral standards, even when it is not popular to do so.
“Let us have the courage to defy the consensus, the courage to stand for principle,” President Monson said in the talk “Call for Courage.” “Courage, not compromise, brings the smile of God’s approval.”
President Monson lived his life to do what the Lord asked. Many in the church look to him as an example of service.
“There are those who are discouraged, those who are beset by poor health and challenges of life which leave them in despair,” President Monson said in the talk “Priesthood Power.” “Let us have ready hands, clean hands, and willing hands, that we may participate in providing what our Heavenly Father would have others receive from Him.”
President Monson tried to live by this counsel; many accounts of his good deeds and selfless service have been given over the pulpit, in print and in multimedia sources.