SALT LAKE CITY -- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced Saturday that Elder L. Tom Perry, who served in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, has died at the age of 92.
According to Mormonnewsroom.org, Perry died Saturday around 3 p.m. while at his home. His death comes one day after LDS Church officials announced Perry's thyroid cancer was spreading aggressively, and Friday they stated they expected hospice care to begin soon.
Perry was ordained an apostle in the LDS Church in April of 1974 after he served as an assistant to the Twelve since 1972, according to the press release from the LDS Church. The release says Perry was known for a commanding physical presence and an enthusiasm and optimistic style that made him a forceful as well as popular figure in the LDS Church.
“That warmth, that graciousness, the fact that he really did like people and he liked all the members of the Church and appreciated them — I think that's how he'll be remembered,” stated Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the press release.
The press release states Perry frequently spoke about the importance of religion in society, the value of families, and preserving religious freedom. His son, Lee Perry, stated in the press release that his father got along with most people--no matter their standing or station in life.
"He had this common touch and he was as comfortable with the common man as presidents and rulers and treated them all pretty much the same and had a way of relating to them and connecting with them that's just profound,” Lee Perry stated.
Perry's son added: “I think he’ll be remembered as a champion of the family."
The press release from the LDS Church states Perry was born on August 5, 1922 in Logan Utah. He served with the Marines for two years in the Pacific after World War II and served an LDS mission in the Northern States in 1942. He earned a bachelor of science degree in finance from Utah State University in 1949 and did graduate work there as well. Click here for more details on Perry's life and service from the LDS Church.
The release states Perry was preceded in death by his first wife, Virginia Lee--with whom he has two daughters and a son. Virginia Perry died in December of 1974. Perry is survived by his second wife, Barbara Taylor Dayton, whom he married in 1976.
According to the LDS Church, "The Church will announce details regarding funeral arrangements as they become available. It is undetermined as to when the vacancy in the Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be filled."
Prominent figures in Utah sent out statements following Elder Perry's passing, see below for those statements.
Gov. Gary R. Herbert:
“Elder Perry was a great man, a friend and a tremendous leader. His friendly smile and optimism always encouraged everyone he met, including me, to try a little harder, to stand a little taller and to be a little better. He loved God and he loved all of God’s children. We need more people like him.
“The First Lady and I extend our deepest condolences to Barbara and members of the Perry family, his brethren in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and First Presidency, as well as the members of the LDS Church across the world Elder Perry served and loved.”
Lane Beattie, president and CEO of Salt Lake Chamber:
“Elder Perry was a uniquely talented individual. Not only has he strengthened the spirituality of many within our community, but he has also provided a major example of a successful businessman.
“What a great example he was for his wonderful ability to teach and live measured principles.
“The Salt Lake Chamber and Utah’s business community extend our heartfelt condolences and support to the Perry family at this difficult time. We’ve lost a great leader. He will be deeply missed.”
Troy Williams, executive director for Equality Utah:
“Equality Utah extends our condolences to the entire Perry family. We are grateful for the opportunity to work with Elder Perry to advance pro-LGBT legislation. Although we had areas of disagreement, we appreciate the historic step forward that we took together.”
Senator Orrin Hatch:
"I was saddened to hear about the death of Elder L. Tom Perry. He was a man large in stature that was matched by his giant heart. His happy countenance and compassionate nature inspired not only members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but all he met and ministered to throughout the world. I knew him well and loved him dearly. Elaine and I extend our love and prayers to his wife Barbara and his family. He will be deeply missed."
Senator Mike Lee:
"Elder L. Tom Perry was a giant of a man with an even bigger soul. His enthusiasm for life energized and inspired all who came under his powerful influence. It has been said that ideas go booming through the world like cannons. Elder Perry’s booming voice carried his words far and wide, but it was his spiritual strength and positive perspective that sent his cherished ideas on faith, family and freedom booming to the four corners of world and into the hearts of millions."
Utah Democratic Party:
“Elder L. Tom Perry was a man who cared deeply about his community, his family, and about making a better place for those around him. A former Marine, he was a true patriot. He loved his country and fought for its freedom and for the freedoms of others. While he never wavered in his beliefs, Elder Perry was deeply committed to making Utah a welcoming home for all. His optimism, his dedication to the causes about which he was passionate, and his unwavering spirit will be remembered. We offer our sincerest condolences to Elder Perry’s family and loved ones. "
"On behalf of the Utah Republican Party, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Elder L. Tom Perry," said Chairman James Evans. "Elder Perry's unfailing optimism and strong commitment to family values will have a lasting impact here in Utah and throughout the world. For generations to come, Elder Perry's life will be reflected on as a shining example of service and the important role that faith plays in our lives."
FOX 13 News' Matt McDonald spoke with Utahns about their memories of Perry Friday after the announcement about his declining health. See the video below for their comments.