Thomas S. Monson, 16th president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away at his home on Tuesday night. He died at age 90 from causes incident to age, according to LDS church officials.
Church members will remember Monson for his compassion, said Steve Pruden, director of the LDS church’s Tooele Institute of Religion.
“I was in a meeting where President Monson counseled bishops and stake presidents that if they ever erred, they should err on the side of mercy,” Pruden said. “He also taught us to go after the one, to leave the 90 and nine in search of the one.”
Transcript Bulletin Publisher Emeritus Joel Dunn had several opportunities to meet President Monson.
“My dad and President Monson served as stake presidents at the same time,” Dunn said. “President Monson used to come out to parties and other events that my dad put on.”
Dunn said every time he would see President Monson, he would ask Dunn to show him his hands.
“President Monson would look ay my hands and say ‘Aha! You have printer’s ink on your hands,” Dunn said. “President Monson was the general manager of Deseret News Press. He knew that you could never get rid of printer’s ink from your hands.”
Dunn said kindness is what he and many other church members will remember about President Monson.
“He was a special person,” Dunn said. “Sometimes on his way home, he would ask his driver to stop at the hospital. He would go in and visit people. Sometimes it was people he knew. Sometimes it was people he didn’t know.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who served as a counselor to Monson, said Monson lived what he taught: serving the one.
“He’s really the one who’s concerned about the rescue of the one,” said Uchtdorf. “He is one who walked through the world looking for opportunities where he could serve individuals.”
Pruden said he never personally met Monson, but he did spend some time in Monson’s office.
“President Monson had two favorite hobbies,” Pruden said. “On his bookshelf he had a big collection of books about World War II. He was a big World War II buff. He also had a lot of books on fishing. President Monson had a summer house on the Provo River where he would go fishing.”
Monson served in the United States Navy toward the end of World War II.
On occasion Monson would include stories about raising pigeons in his youth as part of his teachings during the LDS church’s semi-annual general conferences.
President Monson’s interest in raising fowl continued into his adult life. As he got older, Monson raised chickens instead of pigeons, according to Pruden.
“He kept chickens at his house in Salt Lake,” Pruden said. “After he moved into his apartment, he kept the house and would go back to feed the chickens.”
Monson was ordained an apostle of the LDS church in 1963. In 1985 Monson was sustained as a counselor in the church’s first presidency, the highest ranking governing body in the LDS church. He served as a counselor to three church presidents until he became president of the LDS church in 2008, following the death of Gordon B. Hinckley.
During his tenure as president, LDS church membership grew from 13 million to more than 16 million members worldwide, and dozens of new temples were announced and dedicated throughout the world.
Monson’s leadership was not confined to the LDS church.
Prior to serving as an apostle in the LDS church, Monson had a career in publishing and printing. He became associated with the Deseret News in 1948, where he served as an executive in the advertising division of that newspaper and the Newspaper Agency Corporation. Later, he was named sales manager of the Deseret News Press, one of the West’s largest commercial printing firms, rising to the position of general manager, which position he held at the time of his appointment to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1963. He served for many years as chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co. Monson was president of Printing Industry of Utah and a former member of the board of directors of Printing Industries of America.
At the time of his death, Monson was the longest serving member of the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, having served since 1969. He received Scouting’s highest awards given for extraordinary leadership and service.
For many years, Monson served as a member of the Utah State Board of Regents. He also served as an officer in the Alumni Association of the University of Utah.
In December 1981, President Monson was appointed by President Ronald Reagan to serve on the President’s Task Force for Private Sector Initiatives. He served in this capacity until December 1982, when the work of the task force was completed.
Funeral services for Monson will be held on Jan. 12 at noon at the LDS Conference Center. The services will be open to members of the public ages 8 and older. People attending the funeral will need to be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. Seating will be open on a first-come, first-served basis, according to church officials.