Utah Catholic Community Services Honors Elder L. Tom Perry

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 11 November 2014

Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles receives a humanitarian award from Bishop John C. Wester of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, November 6, 2014.  Photo by Brian Nicholson.

Article Highlights

  • Utah Catholic Community Services honored Elder L. Tom Perry and his wife, Sister Barbara Perry, as humanitarians on November 6.

“We’ll continue to work with the Catholics and others of our friends here representing other religious organizations for the betterment of mankind, an increase of faith, an increase of love of family, and for religious freedom.” —Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve

Catholic Community Services of Utah, a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, has honored Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Barbara Perry, as humanitarians.

The honor was bestowed November 6 during the ministry’s 2014 Humanitarian Awards Dinner held at the Little America Hotel in downtown Salt Lake City.

Also honored as Humanitarians of the Year were Jon Huntsman Jr. and his wife, Mary Kaye Huntsman, former governor and first lady of Utah; the ALSAM Foundation as Partner of the Year; and Jan Luger, who operates a food pantry in Ogden, Utah, for the homeless and needy, as Unsung Hero.

In an introductory video prior to the Perrys receiving their awards, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “The first time I met Elder Perry would have been about 1975 in New York City at a mission presidents' seminar for our church in the city of New York. And from that time on, we have been very dear friends. Rising up in the Church, he served people in many different ways. He served our country. And he’s supported marvelously well by his dear wife, Barbara. They make a great team. They love Utah, and they serve wherever they can in a marvelous way.”

Elder L. Tom Perry and his wife, Barbara, stand at the podium with Bishop John C. Wester looking on at the Humanitarian Awards Dinner, November 6, 2014. Photo by Brian Nicholson.

Elder L. Tom Perry, left, shares a laugh with Rabbi Benny Zippel at the Little America Hotel for a Utah Catholic Community Services Awards event on November 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Photo by Hugh Carey, Deseret News.

Elder L. Tom Perry, center, visits with friends at the Little America Hotel for a Utah Catholic Community Services Awards event on November 6, 2014, in Salt Lake City. Photo by Hugh Carey, Deseret News.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recalled in the video, “Years ago, at the end of the Second World War, he was in Japan as a Marine. Tom Perry and his associates were building a church that had been destroyed in Nagasaki, Japan. When it came time for him to leave, those people all came to the train station to say good-bye to him.”

Regarding Sister Perry, Elder Nelson said that long before his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, he was a surgeon at LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, where Barbra Dayton, long before her marriage to Elder Perry, was one of the head nurses. He recalled that if one of the patients was in distress, she would cry.

“She was just that empathetic; she’s still that way,” he said.

Rick Foster, manager for Church Humanitarian Services in North America, said in the video that the Perrys are among individuals in the community who make up its fabric by providing leadership and have done so for decades.

“We honor them tonight and are grateful for all that they provide in terms of leadership, and not just telling us what to do but actually doing the work of our Savior Jesus Christ,” Brother Foster said.

In accepting the award, Elder Perry gave credit to his wife.

“She really deserves an award like this,” he said. “She has more compassion than anyone I’ve ever had the opportunity to be around. She’s continually serving others in a most loving and warm way.”

He added, “In fact, right now is about the only time in our marriage we haven’t had someone in one of our bedrooms that Barbara was taking care of and bringing back to health.”

Referring to his relationship with the Most Rev. John C. Wester, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Elder Perry said, “Now I know why I’m here. It’s because of my dear, dear friendship with Bishop Wester. We’ve developed a great relationship together, a wonderful relationship.”

He added, “Even though the Catholics and the Mormons have different fundamental beliefs, different doctrine, we’ve found out that we can find ways to serve together in a most effective way, because most of the commonality between the two of us is serving others.

“I just love and appreciate Bishop Wester and all that he does. We’re very close friends. In fact, that has just expanded now into other opportunities to meet with many of the Catholic leaders throughout this great country, with which we’re dearly all friends.”

Elder Perry said the need to reach out and serve others is a common vow that unites all humanity. “The compassion of religious belief extends itself more than any other type of belief that comes along with our brothers. And tonight we’re honored to accept this gift with a firm pledge that we’ll continue to work with the Catholics and others of our friends here representing other religious organizations for the betterment of mankind, an increase of faith, an increase of love of family, and for religious freedom.”

At the beginning of his remarks, Elder Perry said he was honored to have been profiled in the dinner’s printed program next to Sam Skaggs, a prominent retailer in Utah and founder of one of the evening’s other honorees, the ALSAM Foundation.

“I served on his board of directors for 20 years,” he said. “Then the time came when the Church asked us to give up that board. Sam insisted on doing something for me and had a library named after me.”

Founded in 1945, Catholic Community Services of Utah identifies as its mission “to practice gospel values of love, compassion, and hope through service, support, and collaboration.”