Several generations ago, a young missionary named Elias Monson taught the gospel in Sweden. One family he converted was that of the Johnson family. Later, members of that family would immigrate to Utah.
The great nephew of Elias Monson grew up in Utah, as did the granddaughter of the Johnsons. One day, the great nephew, Thomas S. Monson, arrived at a Utah home to pick up his date and meet her family. Frances’ father asked the young man if he was related to Elias Monson, and Thomas assured him he was. The man explained that Elias had converted him to the gospel, along with his family and embraced the young man with gratitude and tears. Thomas Monson later married Frances, and it is a marriage that has survived a lifetime of challenges with love and devotion.
With such an important connection between their families, it would seem there were divine plans behind the joining of these two families.
President Monson first saw Frances at a dance, but each was with another date. As he danced past her, he felt a strong desire to meet her, but he didn’t see her again for three months. The next time he saw her, he was waiting for a street car and she was with friends, including a man he had known in grade school. While this gave him a perfect excuse to join them, he discovered he’d forgotten the name of the old friend. He gathered his courage and sidestepped the problem by saying, “Hello, my old friend from grade school days.” This left it to the old friend to confess he couldn’t remember Thomas’ name. Introductions were made and Thomas finally met the girl he had wanted to meet for three months.
President Monson and his wife were married and have been together over sixty years. The years have been challenging for Frances Monson. Her husband has been in high level church work from the start, including being a bishop at only twenty-two years of age. (Most bishops are much older.) People in higher leadership positions, such as bishop, often sit on the stand, with the leaders and speakers, not in the congregation. This meant Sister Monson (a title given adult women in the church) had to take care of their three children alone in the congregation. President Monson traveled often, sometimes five weeks at a time when he became a General Authority (a high ranking church leader.) During these long trips, Frances managed both her work and his in managing the children and the home.
Her daughter, Ann Monson Dibb, said, “Mother conveyed to us that he was doing his duty and that we would be watched over and protected whenever he was away. She communicated this message to us not only with words but by her quiet manner of making sure everything which needed to be done was always accomplished.
“My mother is unlike many of the women of today’s generation. Instead of looking for the recognition of the world, she has always received her acknowledgment of worth from such things as the happy smile of a son or the outstretched hand of a grandchild.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Thomas S. Monson: Finishing the Course, Keeping the Faith,” Tambuli, Oct 1994, 16)
In 1959 President Monson and his wife were called to lead the Canadian Mission. Although it was hard for Sister Monson to leave her home for several years, she went willingly and worked hard being mother to450 young men and women besides her own children. One day she took a telephone call from a man who had learned a little about the church in Holland, where he was from. He and his family had now moved to Canada and wanted to learn more. She enthusiastically promised to make the arrangements and assigned some missionaries to the task. They procrastinated, but, in true leadership form, Frances kept after them, reminding them to get out to see the family. They continued to say they were busy but would get to it. Finally, she told them that if they didn’t go see the family that very day, she and her husband would visit them themselves. Not wanting this to happen, the missionaries discovered they had the time after all. The man they went to see not only joined the church, but would eventually become a high level church leader and his membership can be directly traced to Frances’ determination to see to it the Lord’s work got done.
Frances Monson is an example to church members worldwide. Her husband describes her as “a woman of quiet and profoundly powerful faith.”