Funeral Service Honors Frances J. Monson’s Legacy of Service
Gerry Avant, Church News editor
Sister Frances Beverly Johnson Monson, who died May 17, was remembered in her funeral service May 23 as a remarkable woman who dedicated her life to serving the Lord.
President Henry B. Eyring, First Counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the service honoring the life of Sister Monson, wife of President Thomas S. Monson, mother of three, grandmother of eight, and great-grandmother of eight.
Joining President Eyring in paying tribute to Sister Monson were President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, and Ann Monson Dibb, President and Sister Monson’s daughter.
Sister Monson’s family is grateful for her legacy—a legacy of humility, service, faithfulness, and love, said Sister Dibb.
“It is our hope and prayer that we may live so that someday we too will be welcomed home, our journey completed, encircled into our Lord and Savior’s rest,” she said.
Representing the family, Sister Dibb said her mother was deeply motivated to perform good works because of her deep and abiding love for others. “In her honor today,” she said, “I would like to share with you four ways she showed that love during her lifetime.”
First, Sister Dibb said her mother deeply loved her parents, Franz E. Johnson and Hildur Booth Johnson. “Throughout her life, she was true to the commandment to ‘honor thy father and thy mother.’ … I never knew my grandfather, but through my mother’s stories and memories, I know that she loved and cherished him. All my life, I watched as my mother served and took care of her own mother, my mormor, which is ‘mother’s mother’ in Swedish.”
Second, Sister Monson deeply loved her family, said Sister Dibb.
“After my parents married, my mother’s greatest hope was to have children. Tom, Clark, and I are blessed to be their children, my mother’s treasures,” she said. “Each of us grew up knowing we were deeply loved, and we have many cherished memories.”
She said as a grandmother, Sister Monson delighted in serving her family. “She and Grandpa created many wonderful family memories. Some were as simple as Sunday evening visits. … Through her service, every member of her family knows of her deep and abiding love for them.”
Third, Sister Monson deeply loved the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We never doubted her testimony because she lived the gospel in every thought and deed,” Sister Dibb said. “She cheerfully and willingly made many sacrifices in her life because of her faith in and love of the gospel.”
Fourth, Sister Monson showed her love by being loyal, true, and absolutely devoted to her eternal companion—President Thomas S. Monson. “She enabled my father’s fulfillment of his multiple callings through the years with never a complaint,” she said.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf remembered Sister Monson as an elect lady. “We will miss her and her beautiful personality of compassion that lifted our spirits and brought sunshine to the cloudiest day,” he said. “We will miss her friendship, her gorgeous smile, and her kind spirit.”
Family members, Church members, friends, and all who were privileged to know her are saddened by her passing but can find joy in remembering “a great lady and a true woman of Zion,” President Uchtdorf said.
“Millions of Church members around the globe may never have met Sister Monson in person,” he said. “But they saw President and Sister Monson’s photos in newspapers and Church magazines, they read about them, they observed them when they entered or left Church conference meetings. And across the greatest of distances, they saw the love President and Sister Monson felt for each other and the love they had for all the people around the world.”
The life of Sister Frances Johnson Monson was grounded in faith, dignity, hard work, and gratitude, President Henry B. Eyring said as he spoke at the conclusion of the funeral.
“While this is a time of sorrow, it is also a time of gladness, for Sister Monson had a rich and rewarding life,” said President Eyring.
“The highest tribute to those who have passed through the veil is not grief but gratitude,” President Eyring said. “Her talents were many, her love abundant, her character above reproach, and her faith unshakable. President Monson has said of her, ‘There was no chink in her armor; there was no guile in her soul; there was no flaw in her character.’ She was an elect daughter of God, a choice spirit, the devoted wife of President Thomas S. Monson—64 years they have been sweethearts.”
President Eyring spoke of the reunion that awaited Sister Monson on the other side of the veil with her parents, Franz and Hildur Johnson, and many others.
“Frances knows something about welcoming people home,” President Eyring said. “In mortality she was at home to greet the children when they returned from school or activities and when President Monson returned from journeys overseas. What a reunion it will be when each of her loved ones here is reunited with her there in the home of our Father in Heaven.”
President Eyring said, “She was Swedish, as is President Monson. By all ancestral accounts, Tom and Frances were meant to be together.” President Eyring related the account of how young Tom Monson went to the Johnson home on his first date with Frances and learned that one of his great-uncles had brought the gospel to Frances’s grandparents in Sweden.
The service, held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, was attended by members of the Quorum of the Twelve, other General Authorities, and general auxiliary leaders.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir performed “How Great Thou Art,” “Each Life That Touches Ours for Good,” and “Consider the Lilies.” A special musical number featured a great-granddaughter, Emily Steel, singing “My Heavenly Father Loves Me.” She was accompanied by Sarah D. Steele, one of Sister Monson’s granddaughters, and friends of the family Sarah Abbot, violinist, and Carolyn Duede, harpist.
The invocation was offered by Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve gave the benediction.
After the service ended, the Tabernacle Choir sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again” as the family left the Tabernacle.
Prior to the funeral, a son, Clark S. Monson, offered the family prayer. Another son, Thomas L. Monson, dedicated the grave in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.