Surrounded by the family who loved her, Frances Beverly Johnson Monson, the devoted and dedicated wife of Thomas S. Monson, President and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away at 6:35 AM on Friday morning, 17 May 2013, in a Salt Lake City, Utah hospital. She was 85 years young. An LDS Church news release stated, “She had been hospitalized for several weeks and passed away peacefully of causes incident to age.” 
Sister Monson Was Endeared by Her Family
President and Sister Monson were married for 64 years. In October 2013 they would have celebrated 65 years of marriage. They have three children – Thomas Lee, Ann Frances, and Clark Spencer. Making mention of her in his biography titled To the Rescue, President Monson stated, “If there was ever a heroine in my life, it would have to be Frances.”  The LDS Church news release stated that President Monson recognized his companion as the family’s “beacon of love, compassion and encouragement.”  Again in his biography, President Monson further commented, “I am so grateful for my mother-in-law. She brought into the world a lovely daughter who is my wife and companion, who I can assure you is her husband’s keeper, and the keeper of her children as well — a noble daughter of our Heavenly Father.”  Read the rest of this entry »
When I met him, although I was only ten or eleven, I knew that he was special. I was performing in a musical and at intermission President Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, came back to the green room and shook my hand.
I stood awkwardly behind a large black plastic garbage can, suddenly embarrassed that I hadn’t put on my shoes yet. He didn’t care. He smiled with warmth and kindness and I knew. I knew. This man was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
As an adult I still hold that memory as a treasure because now President Thomas S. Monson is the prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes inadvertently called the Mormon Church.
To understand the significance of prophets, imagine you’re getting ready to go out on a date with your spouse and you hear a knock on the front door. There stands a very pleasant looking woman, “Hello. I’m here to watch your children for you,” she smiles.
“I didn’t hire you,” you reply, puzzled.
“Well, I’m highly qualified. I have a Ph.D. in early childhood development, I’m certified in CPR, and of course, I love children,” she explains. Read the rest of this entry »
In the scriptures we have many examples of prophets following the promptings of the Holy Spirit, often not knowing why they are being prompted. Servants of God learn to recognize and follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and those with experience do so instantly. The Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is one. Prophet Thomas Monson related this experience:
One day a few years ago, after taking care of matters at the office, I felt a strong impression to visit an aged widow who was a patient at a senior care center in Salt Lake City. I drove there directly.
When I went to her room, I found it empty. I asked an attendant concerning her whereabouts and was directed to a lounge area. There I found this sweet widow visiting with her sister and another friend. We had a pleasant conversation together.
As we were talking, a man came to the door of the room to obtain a can of soda from the vending machine. He glanced at me and said, “Why, you are Tom Monson.”
“Yes,” I replied. “And you look like a Hemingway.”
He acknowledged that he was Stephen Hemingway, the son of Alfred Eugene Hemingway, who had served as my counselor when I was a bishop many years ago and whom I called Gene. Stephen told me that his father was there in the same facility and was near death. Gene had been calling my name, and the family had wanted to contact me but had been unable to find a telephone number for me.
I excused myself immediately and went with Stephen up to the room of my former counselor, where others of his children were also gathered, his wife having passed away some years previous. The family members regarded my meeting Stephen in the lounge area as a response by our Heavenly Father to their great desire that I would see their father before he died and answer his call. I also felt that this was the case, for if Stephen had not entered the room in which I was visiting at precisely the time he did, I would not have known that Gene was even in that facility.
We gave a blessing to him. A spirit of peace prevailed. We had a lovely visit, after which I left.
The following morning a phone call revealed that Gene Hemingway had passed away—just 20 minutes after he had received the blessing from his son and me. 
Following the promptings of the Holy Spirit has enabled Prophet Thomas S. Monson to offer a lifetime of service to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The article in which this experience was recounted is called “Peace, Be Still,” and it is meant to demonstrate that the Lord is mindful of us every minute of our lives. He knows us—every thought and molecule. He usually blesses us through His servants, whom He prompts to bring us comfort through the Holy Ghost. In this case, He sent a message through the Holy Ghost to President Monson, in order to bless the life of his old friend as he passed from mortality.
The Holy Ghost is sometimes called the Comforter, and he can offer us peace in the most trying of circumstances—Gene Hemingway’s family was blessed with peace at their loved one’s passing through this experience. They were assured and comforted by God’s tender mercies specific to their trial and at the moment they needed them.
In some cases, instead of prompting one of God’s servants to minister to our needs, the Savior, through the Holy Ghost, does it Himself. In the same article is a story of a girl who lost her brother to death. On the anniversary of his passing, she nearly suffocated with grief. She called upon the Savior in mighty prayer. She longed for comfort.
I asked my Father in Heaven to please heal my heart. The pain was too much for me to deal with alone. Then a feeling of peace, comfort, and love swept over my entire body. I felt as though God had wrapped His arms around me and was protecting me from the intense pain I had felt. I still missed my brother, but I was able to see with different eyes. There was so much for me to learn from this experience. I know the Lord’s love and peace are available. We need only to partake. 
When we consider how many people live on the earth today, it might be hard to imagine that God has time for each individual person and every prayer. However, He has promised us that if we come to Him in prayer, He will hear us and listen to us—and answer. He doesn’t always promise to give us what we ask for because sometimes what we want isn’t what is best for us. Sometimes our request impacts others and their needs must also be considered. Sometimes it just isn’t the right time. There is always an answer, but it can be yes, no, or not yet.
In a recent talk to Mormons, Thomas S. Monson, the Mormon prophet, spoke about how God answers both large and small prayer requests. Mormon is a nickname for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He told of three thousand teenagers, gathered to present the traditional cultural festival program before the Mormon temple in Kansas was to be dedicated to the Lord. This is an important event at each temple. The teenagers from all over the area served by the temple meet in their own congregations to practice their portion of the program. Only on the day of the performance do they all get to have a rehearsal all together in the place where they will perform.
Unfortunately, there were technical issues at the theater that day. The jumbotron was not working. It was a large video screen that tied each performance together and also introduced the next act. The teenagers could not rehearse while it was being repaired. The work went on and on and the technicians could not find the problem. Not only did they miss their rehearsal, but it began to look as though they might not get to perform, either. They informed the teenagers of the problem and the 3000 youth knelt on the hard floor and began to pray for the technicians. They also prayed that they would be able to perform properly even though they had been unable to do a run-through. They had done all they could, but they needed God to make up the difference. Very soon after the prayer ended, the technicians announced the problem had been solved.
President Monson was in attendance—one of the reasons the teenagers were so excited to perform—and by the time he entered, there was no evidence of the trial that had gone on. The performance ran perfectly, with each teenager somehow knowing how to properly enter and exit and how to interact with the other groups, despite never having done so in practice.
An amateur show by a group of enthusiastic teenagers might not seem that important in the eternal scheme of things, but God took time to take care of the problem anyway. He understood that while it might not change the world, it mattered to the world of these young people.
President Monson said:
“I never cease to be amazed by how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom and yet have time to provide inspiration concerning one individual—or one cultural celebration or one Jumbotron. The fact that He can, that He does, is a testimony to me.
My brothers and sisters, the Lord is in all of our lives. He loves us. He wants to bless us. He wants us to seek His help. As He guides us and directs us and as He hears and answers our prayers, we will find the happiness here and now that He desires for us.”
Happy, cohesive families are of central importance in the gospel of Jesus Christ and are the focus of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sometimes mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” The LDS Church provides much inspiration, guidance and support in order to create and sustain Mormon families.
Of primary importance is to get off to a good start. Mormon prophets have counseled that the most important decision members of the LDS Church will make in this life is to marry the right person at the right time in the right place. We expect to find the “right person” through inspiration from God, delivered to us by the Holy Ghost, who is our constant companion once we are baptized and continue to live worthy of his presence. This person might not be a “soul mate,” and there may not be one chosen person who is right for someone to marry, but we can expect guidance from above in making this important decision.
Mormons believe that families can be together forever. That is, the vows we take on earth can be binding in eternity. We believe in eternal marriage, and the eternal marriage ceremony is performed in Mormon temples. Getting to the temple is the goal of every active Latter-day Saint child and youth, and this goal encourages children to grow up with strong morals. To qualify to enter a House of God, one must be pure. The Mormon law of chastity is based on biblical law. Simply stated, it is abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage, and total fidelity inside of marriage, which is defined as the legal union of a man and a woman. A Mormon temple wedding is a beautiful, sacred event in one of the most transcendent places on earth, but it is only a beginning. Once entering into the sacred eternal marriage covenant, both spouses must continue to live worthily for the covenant to be binding in the eternities. Thus, Mormon couples work hard on their marriages (with a divorce rate of about 6.5%) and their personal worthiness.
The essence of happy Mormon marriages is charity and forgiveness extended over time. Mormons also like to have fun. Courting doesn’t end at marriage, and dating and wholesome recreation, time away from the kids are encouraged. Mormon families tend to be larger than those in most modern societies, wherein birth rates are plummeting. Our belief that we have always existed and that we come to earth from the presence of our Heavenly Father attunes us to the possibility that there are spirits waiting to take upon themselves physical bodies and come into our care. Mormons do use birth control—when to have children and how many is a personal choice between husband, wife, and the Lord—but abortion is considered a very serious sin. Even in cases of rape or incest, or endangerment to the mother, women should seek the counsel of the higher authorities in the LDS Church before making a decision to abort a child.
Once children come into a Mormon home, there are patterns and programs in place to help them to have their own spiritual experiences in order for them to develop a testimony (or witness) that Jesus is the Christ and to help them develop a closeness to Him. One is family prayer morning and night (in addition to individual prayers). Another is family scripture reading. Another is Family Home Evening. Family Home Evenings are usually held on Monday nights, and no other church activities are scheduled on Mondays. In communities with a high percentage of Mormons, there are community events planned especially for families. Although outside activities can be engaged in as a Family Home Evening, the typical event consists of an opening and closing prayer, singing of hymns, a lesson, an activity, and a snack. Family members rotate taking charge of these aspects of the night, and a five year old may give the lesson, and the whole family participate in making the snack. No interruptions are tolerated. If the phone rings, we don’t answer it.
Talent nights have always been a favorite format for our Family Home Evenings. Chaos sometimes reigns, so a sense of humor is mandatory.
On a more serious note, earthly trials can present opportunities for families to fast and pray together, to have productive emergency councils or even just planning nights. Mormons are expected to find their own spiritual anchors for their faith, and these can be discovered and nurtured within the four walls of the Mormon home.
The Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge presented Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, with a special award during the Constitution Day Concert in Salt Lake City, Utah. The concert featured the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
The Freedoms Foundation was founded in 1949 to teach people the principles of democracy. Although centered at Valley Forge, PA, they have chapters around the nation. Thomas S. Monson was a member of their board of directors from 1974-1978 and then served several years as a member of their National Council of Trustees.
William O. Perry, chairman of their national Board of Directors noted that President Monson continues to support the mission of the organization. He also recognized President Monson’s status as a veteran at the conclusion of World War II, where he served in the Navy at age eighteen. In addition, Perry drew attention to President Monson’s extensive history of service to those who are poor and in need, and particularly his concern for widows.
During a Christmas devotional in 2000, President Monson offered these thoughts on freedom:
How thankful I feel for political freedom enjoyed by most of our people throughout the world. As we look across the vast expanse of human history, how thankful we feel for the right to worship as we please, to assemble together without fear of oppression, to lift our voices in prayer to the God of the universe, to worship Him in spirit and in truth.
The precious boon of human liberty is really the product of the Savior’s teaching of the dignity of man. He declared the precious nature of every individual soul. We say with the Psalmist, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Ps. 33:12).
I believe that human freedom and human liberty are the marvelous fruits of the doctrine of the Christ. Said Paul to the Corinthians, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17). (See First Presidency Christmas Devotional: “My Redeemer Lives,” Thomas S. Monson, December 2000.)
Several of the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have at one time in their life answered the call to honorably serve their country in the Armed Forces. Of the current First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS Church, 10 have served on active duty or in a reserve duty status. Among those who have served is President Thomas S. Monson, whom Latter-day Saints (commonly referred to as Mormons) love and revere as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator.
President Monson served in the United States Navy during World War II. Of that experience he recalls:
I believe my first experience in having the courage of my convictions took place when I served in the United States Navy near the end of World War II.
Navy boot camp was not an easy experience for me, nor for anyone who endured it. For the first three weeks I was convinced my life was in jeopardy. The navy wasn’t trying to train me; it was trying to kill me. 
President Monson also recalls some of the important life lessons that he learned while serving in the Navy. One of those lessons was the courage to stand alone. In a Mormon Message video appropriately titled “Dare to Stand Alone” he recounts an incident that really helped him to fully understand the importance of this principle.
Of that incident President Monson has said:
Since that day there have been times when there was no one standing behind me and so I did stand alone. How grateful I am that I made the decision long ago to remain strong and true, always prepared and ready to defend my religion, should the need arise. 
He was ordained an elder in The LDS Church one week prior to leaving for active duty. He would soon learn another important life lesson that would involve using the Priesthood authority which he now had. That lesson was to always be willing to help to heal. He recalls:
The night preceding our Christmas leave, the barracks were quiet. Suddenly I became aware that my buddy in the adjoining bunk—a member of the Church, Leland Merrill—was moaning in pain. I asked, “What’s the matter, Merrill?”
He replied, “I’m sick. I’m really sick.”
The hours lengthened; his groans grew louder. Then, in desperation, he whispered, “Monson, aren’t you an elder?” I acknowledged this to be so, whereupon he pleaded, “Give me a blessing.”
I became very much aware that I had never given a blessing. My prayer to God was a plea for help. The answer came: “Look in the bottom of the seabag.” Thus, at 2:00 a.m. I emptied the bag. I then took to the night-light The Missionary’s Hand Book and read how one blesses the sick. With about 120 curious sailors looking on, I proceeded with the blessing. Before I could again stow my gear, Leland Merrill was sleeping. 
Of the experience President Monson commented, “If we are on the Lord’s errand, we are entitled to the Lord’s help. His help has come to me on countless occasions throughout my life.” 
Another important life lesson that he learned while serving in the Navy was the importance of being honest.He tells of a particular day where an officer had made the announcement that everyone who knew how to swim would be put on a bus and taken to San Diego for the day. Those who did not know how to swim were to stay behind for a full day of swimming lessons. He had learned how to swim as a boy and could do so quite well, so he got in line to go on the bus to San Diego. Instead of going to their destination they were taken to a gym and were ordered to jump in the deep end of the pool. He and most of his fellow shipmates did as ordered, but there were about 10 who did not know how to swim that were pushed into the water and allowed to go under twice before being pulled out. President Monson remarked, “I tell you, I was glad I hadn’t tried that! The experience taught me the value of being honest and true to yourself at all times.” 
Over 20,000 people stood in absolute silence, waiting. And then, after about five minutes, the familiar figure of the honored guest appeared. But it wasn’t until Thomas S. Monson, prophet and president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints greeted, smiled, and shook hands with those standing close-by that he sat down and the respectful audience was seated.
That was the first tribute of an evening of beautiful music, narration and birthday wishes for President Monson’s 85th birthday celebration. Golden Days: a Celebration of Life, held at the Salt Lake City LDS Conference Center on Friday, August 17, 2012, centered on President Monson’s dedicated service to the world.
“We are here tonight to honor his service,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency. “We can do it tonight, tomorrow and as long as we live by serving others in the way he serves others.”
Hosts for the evening were Steve Young, NFL football Hall of Fame quarterback and founder of the Forever Young Foundation, and Jane Clayson Johnson, Emmy award-winning national news correspondent and former co-host of The Early Show on CBS.
Dallyn Vail Bayles, professional actor, singer and recording artist, Metropolitan Opera tenor Stanford Olsen and singer and actress Rebecca Luker were the guest performers. Music and commentary highlighted President Monson’s life and included some of his favorite songs, including Broadway tunes “Seventy Six Trombones” from the Music Man; “Tomorrow” from Annie; “All I ask of You” from Phantom of the Opera; “There But For You” from Brigadoon; and “Memory” from Cats. A deeply moving rendition of “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables performed by Bayles brought the audience to its feet.
An impressive procession of nearly 200 Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts singing the Trail builder’s hymn marched on to the stage and filled the aisles of the lower level of the center as a tribute to President Monson’s four decades on the National Executive Board of Boy Scouts of America. He is the recipient of the Silver Beaver and Silver Buffalo awards, the Bronze Wolf (the highest international scouting award), and the Silver Fox Award from Canada. In a prerecorded message Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive for the Boy Scouts of America, not only wished a happy birthday but also praised President Monson for his contribution to scouting.
About half way through the program, the audience joined the hosts, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Orchestra at Temple Square in singing a heartfelt “Happy Birthday” to the beloved prophet.
A documentary of President Monson’s life detailed significant events, including his romance and courtship of Frances Johnson, a coed at the University of Utah, and his service in the Navy during World War II which strengthened his commitment to live the gospel.
President Monson became a bishop when he was 22 years old and hung a picture of Christ in his office. Faced with difficult situations, he asked himself what Christ would do. That same picture has hung in every office–from bishop to president of the Canadian Mission and then as an apostle at age 36, and today as prophet.
The documentary explained that in 1968, President Monson promised the Latter-day Saints behind the Iron Curtain that they would one day have their own temple if they were faithful. At that time there were no buildings, no wards, stakes or mission. To them it seemed impossible but twenty years later, a temple was built in East Germany.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, recounted his experiences.
As a German I recollect the grand act of faith when during the Cold War you blessed our people and country behind the Iron Curtain with prophetic promises which seemed impossible at the time. The grandness of this historic moment was difficult for us to comprehend. Your faith stretched ours. That faith was rewarded, and we witnessed the literal fulfillment of your blessing. An Apostle of the Lord had been among us. We understood that President Thomas S. Monson was not only our friend, but that God was his friend.
President Uchtdorf said that he had travelled to a regional conference in North Germany with President Monson. It had been several years, but he remembered the names of many members and wanted to visit, a former stake president and patriarch, Michael Panitsch. President Uchtdorf explained that brother Panitsch was bedridden, very ill, and unable to attend the conference.
“So President Monson said, ‘Then we will go to him.’
I knew that President Monson had foot surgery shortly before the trip to Germany and could not walk without pain. When I shared with President Monson that Brother Panitsch lived on the fifth floor of an older building with no elevators but very high and long staircases, he only said, ‘Dieter, don’t you worry.’ And off we went.
Every few steps he had to pause to get over the pain. He never uttered a complaint. He would not give up. He gave Brother Panitsch a beautiful blessing, cheered him up, and thanked him for his lifelong service.
Helen Keller said, ‘I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.’ President Monson, you are a friend who brings light to the dark, and you are the prophet of God for our time. We love and sustain you. We pray for you.”
President Eyring said that he had witnessed a tribute to President Monson in the desert of Arizona when they travelled toward the airport after the dedication of the Gila Temple. He recalled:
The prophet asked his driver to let him shake the hands of a couple and their small children who were standing in the sand at the edge of the road. There was not a house in sight, but as soon as President Monson began to shake hands with the children, more families began to appear. He greeted them all with a sunny smile and each smiled back in obvious delight. He bathed them in the warmth of the pure love of Christ, without concern for his own comfort and safety and oblivious to the reactions of anyone except those he loved and greeted.
The road and the barren hills reminded me of the land above the Sea of Galilee where crowds had gathered to feel the love of the mortal Lord.
Now, these Saints of the latter days were drawn to the Savior’s prophet, an ordained servant of their day. And he blessed them by his loving, patient, undivided attention as they paid him tribute. Not only were those he greeted given a golden moment, but so were those of us who saw it happen. I am not the same, nor is any of the participants, because having felt that love, we are changed.
More than once I have remembered his example and gone out of my way and out of my zone of comfort to someone in need of attention, encouragement, and help.
President Monson has done so much of this, spoken and written, so movingly and even asked us to go as he has in the Lord’s behalf to others. The Church has been changed across the earth for generations to come.”
Reverend Monsignor Joseph Fitzgerald of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City addressed President Monson in a prerecorded video tribute:
I have known you and Frances [and] some of your family for many years and have always been struck by the tremendous devotion all of you have for the betterment of other people, to the enrichment of our community, and of the greater world. . . . So many times I’ve heard you say, ‘We can’t let the hungry stay hungry, the homeless, homeless, or those without clothing, naked. We have to do everything we can together to help those people.’ And you have.
In October 2011, Thomas Monson, the prophet for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about the times when we stand alone for our beliefs. Members of this church are sometimes nicknamed Mormons.
President Monson told of a study done in which teens were asked to describe a time when they faced a moral dilemma. Most of them could not remember such a time or they talked about situations that didn’t involve morality at all. It appeared to the researchers no one had ever bothered to teach these teens how to make moral decisions—or even that some situations involve morality. If this is the case, it also appears no one has bothered to give the teens moral values from which to draw.
When we fail to teach our teens to have values and to recognize moral dilemmas, we fail to prepare them for adulthood. It is essential that teenagers go into the world with a firm set of standards they will not violate. They might choose to raise their standards, but they should never be willing to lower them.
While some teach that children should be free to set their own standards, we know that is impossible. They need a foundation for their moral decisions and children and teens do not often have the skills to evaluate the morality of the world around them, particularly in a time of moral relativism. Too many people preach that anything is okay as long as it makes us “happy” without bothering to explain the disastrous consequences of being so “me” centered.
When we don’t give children moral values, we also deprive them of the opportunity to stand up for what is right. Standing alone requires courage and when teens learn at a young age to stand for what is right even if they are the only one, it gives them confidence and self-assurance that will benefit them all their lives. This centers them and helps them know more than ever who they really are. It allows them to reach beyond their own small world into the larger one that encompasses not just their own needs, but the needs and well-being of others.
President Monson related a story found in the Book of Mormon, which Mormons use in addition to the Bible. A Book of Mormon prophet who lived in ancient times had a vision in which he saw a wonderful tree with rich fruit. It represented the love of God.
There was a path that took people to the tree and many people followed it. However, some got distracted by a large and spacious building off to the side. It was filled with people in fancy clothing mocking those who were trying to do the right thing. Some people had the courage to ignore the mockers, but others became embarrassed at doing the right thing. They felt that pleasing the well-dressed crowd was more important than making eternally significant choices. They left the path and joined the mocking crowd, anxious to fit in with the “in-crowd.” In the process they traded eternity and true joy for a few years of popularity.
President Monson shared several stories of times when he had to make a choice about blending in or standing up for his faith. In the military, his commanding officer instructed everyone to meet together by religion for services. He called the Catholics, the Jewish people, and the Protestants, one group at a time, to come forward and sent them off to meet. President Monson wondered what he should do. Mormons do not consider themselves part of any of these religious groups. He decided to stand firm and not go with them, regardless of whatever the consequences might be. A moment later he was surprised to discover there were several other Mormons behind him, all of whom had made the same choice. It was certainly easier when there were also others, but he had been prepared to stand alone if he’d needed to.
In today’s world, there are many opportunities to decide whether to hide our faith or to stand for it. The best time to decide what you will do is before you have to do it. Your choice will demonstrate just who you really are.
Thomas Spencer Monson is the 16th and current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He became the President of the Church of Jesus Christ on 3 February 2008, at the age of 80. The members of the Church revere him as Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. He was sustained as an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ at the age of 36, being sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on 4 October 1963. He was one of the youngest men to be called to that position. For almost 23 years he served as a counselor in the First Presidency of the Church, serving with President Ezra Taft Benson, President Howard W. Hunter, and President Gordon B. Hinckley.
President Monson was born on 21 August 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has lived a fulfilling life. He served his country in the military for a short stint, having enlisted in the United States Navy near the conclusion of World War II, at the age of 18. After the Navy, he attended the University of Utah and graduated Cum Laude in business in 1948. Soon thereafter he began working for the Deseret News daily newspaper in Salt Lake City as an advertising executive. At the young age of 22, after his marriage to Frances Beverly Johnson, he was called to serve as the Bishop of the Sixth-Seventh Ward in Salt Lake City and faithfully attended to the temporal and spiritual needs of each of 85 widows in the ward. It was also here that he began his lifelong involvement with the Boy Scouts of America.
In 1955, he was called to serve as a counselor in the Stake Presidency of the Temple View Stake in Salt Lake City. And from 1959 to 1962, he served as President of the LDS Church’s Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. After returning from Canada, he resumed work at the Deseret News, eventually becoming general manager of the Deseret News Press. He was working there at the time of his call to serve as an Apostle, in 1963. 
This year marks President Monson’s 85th birthday, and the Church is planning to celebrate his special day with “Golden Days: A Celebration of a Life,” a gala musical event which is scheduled for Friday, 17 August 2012, at 8 p.m. in the Church’s Conference Center located in downtown Salt lake City, Utah. The gala will feature the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Orchestra at Temple Square, and other guest performers. The duties of master of ceremonies for the event will be shared by former BYU and NFL football legend Steve Young and former news anchor and author Jane Clayson Johnson.
According to the press release by the Church of Jesus Christ on Friday, 8 June 2012, the evening will “take a nostalgic look back at President Monson’s illustrious life from his childhood, marriage and stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II to his decades of service (in the church).” 
Of this event, Steve Young said:
It is a privilege to play a small part in (this) recognition. President Monson has served other people all his life. I know he’s more comfortable in that role than having any accolades focused on him. This celebration is a great way to let him know how much he is loved and appreciated. 
Free tickets for this event are required and will be distributed through a random selection process due to an expected high level of demand. Beginning Saturday, 16 June 2012 at 12:01 MDT, those interested in obtaining tickets will be able to register online at www.lds.org/events or via telephone at 801-570-0080 (local callers) or 1-866-537-8457 (long distance or out of state callers.) Registration for tickets will remain open until 11:59 PM MDT on Monday, 25 June 2012. Those who are selected to receive tickets will be notified by email on Thursday, 5 July 2012. Only one registration per household is permitted, and the maximum number of tickets that can be requested is four. Standby tickets will be made available the day of the event.
The program will also be shown over the LDS church satellite system on Saturday, Aug. 18, with subsequent rebroadcasts to many areas of the world. It will be rebroadcast in its entirety on BYU TV on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Aug. 19, at 10 a.m.; and Monday Aug. 20, at 3 a.m. All times are MDT. 
Concerning this gala event, Jane Johnson added:
So many around the world have been influenced by President Monson’s warmth, compassion and genuine love of people. We celebrate and honor his extraordinary life of service and leadership. 
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