Thomas S. Monson, the 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died on January 2, 2018, after a lifetime of loving and serving others. He was 90 years old.
President Monson was born on August 21, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Growing up, he liked to carve and race toy boats and go fishing with his dog, Duke. He raised pigeons, chickens, and rabbits. During the Great Depression, many people didn’t have much money. But the Monson family shared what they had. It was young Tommy’s job each Sunday to bring a plate of food to an elderly neighbor. He learned to always look out for those in need.
When he was only 22 years old, President Monson was called to be a bishop. There were 84 widows (women whose husbands had died) in his ward. President Monson took good care of them. He brought gifts of food, sometimes even a chicken from his own flock. He kept visiting these women each year even after he became a busy Apostle.
President Monson and his wife, Frances, had three children. While serving as a mission president in Canada, he was busy helping missionaries, but he still took time each night to play with his children. He and his oldest son liked playing checkers every night.
In 1963, President Monson was called to be an Apostle. He got permission for a temple to be built in East Germany, when that country did not have many religious freedoms. He served as an Apostle for 45 years! He became the President of the Church in 2008. While he was prophet, 35 temples were dedicated and 45 were announced.
President Monson loved the scriptures. In his last general conference talk, he said, “Prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.”
President Monson spent his life helping people. On his 81st birthday, someone asked what he wanted for a birthday gift. He said, “Find someone who is having a hard time or is ill or lonely, and do something for him or her.” Many children sent letters and cards telling how they had helped others. President Monson said, “My heart has seldom been as touched and grateful as it was when Sister Monson and I literally spent hours reading of these gifts.” He believed that we are the Lord’s hands as we serve others.
As you follow President Monson’s example, you will feel the happiness that comes from serving our Heavenly Father and others.