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LDS church President Thomas S. Monson dies at age 90

Posted at 11:57 PM, Jan 02, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-03 11:40:10-05

SALT LAKE CITY — President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas S. Monson, has died. He was 90.

LDS Church Director of Media Relations, Eric Hawkins, said Monson died at 10 p.m. Tuesday while surrounded by family at his home in Salt Lake City.

Hawkins said Monson died from "causes incident to age."

Monson was born in Salt Lake City on August 21, 1927.

His biographer, LDS author and historian Heidi Swinton, said "They didn't go in the delivery room in those days, but when his father went in to see the baby and the mom, she said to him, 'I have a young bishop for you.' And he likes to tell how that was just premonition, because 22 years later he was the bishop of the ward in which he grew up."

As a young man, he was known for offering charity and assistance to those around him.

"He had that ability to reach out and rescue somebody; to help somebody; to say, "I have something that will make a difference for you". It has become a moniker of his life," Swinton said.

President Monson attended West High School in Salt Lake City where he excelled in English and history, served as President of the Spanish Club and as a sergeant in the R.O.T.C.

In 1944, young Tom Monson's college plans were put on hold as he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve and then attended basic training in San Diego in 1945.

After the end of World War II, he resumed his studies at the University of Utah and earned a degree in business.

Tom Monson’s first professional job was as an Assistant Classified Ad Manager for the Deseret News, where a young lady named Frances Beverly Johnson also worked. On October 7th of 1948, she and Tom married in the Salt Lake L.D.S. Temple.

As a bishop, Monson was known for his personal relationships with each member of his congregation. At Christmas each year, he would deliver a chicken to all 86 widows. He continued the tradition until the last one passed away.

Frances gave birth to their son, Tom, in 1951, and daughter Ann, in 1954.

More church callings followed. While serving in a Stake Presidency, his professional career grew as well. He became the Assistant General Manager of the Deseret News Press.

In 1959, Thomas S. Monson was called to preside over the Canada Toronto Mission. His son Clark was born that year, in Canada.

On October 3rd, 1963, then-Church President David O. McKay called President Monson to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.

During his years as an apostle, Elder Monson helped shape missionary programs of the church around the world.

In 1968, he became the first LDS church official to visit Latter-day Saints in East Germany.

"Tensions were high. Trust and understanding did not exist," Elder Monson once reflected, adding "the spirit of the Lord came over me, and I spoke words that came not from my lips. I said to the people that evening, "I promise you, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that if you are true and faithful, every blessing that any member of the church enjoys in any other land, will be yours."

Dedicated in 1985 in what was then the German Democratic Republic, the Freiberg Germany Temple, was the first LDS temple in a communist state.

On November 10, 1985, Elder Monson was called to serve as Second Counselor to President Ezra Taft Benson. In 1994, he served in the same position for President Howard W. Hunter, and in 1995, served as First Counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley.

Following President Hinckley's death in 2008, President Monson was called as the 16th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

During his time as President, Thomas S. Monson announced the construction of more than 40 new LDS temples around the world.

When President Monson was born, there were fewer than 650,000 church members around the world. When he became Church President, there were more than 13 million members worldwide.

President Monson and his Counselors met with U.S. President George W. Bush on May 29, 2008, in Salt Lake City. He also met with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office at the White House on July 20, 2009, where he presented President Obama with five volumes of his personal family history.

President Monson did not meet with President Obama during his visit to Utah in April 2015. A church spokesperson indicated President Monson needed to preserve his strength for General Conference the following weekend.

In recent years, a decline in President Monson's health became noticeable. Two years ago, Church spokesperson Eric Hawkins released this statement:

"He comes to the office every day, attends all First Presidency and committee meetings, leads the discussion and makes decisions. The workload of the First Presidency is up to date. President Monson has always been private about his health, but appreciates the prayers and sustaining support of church members, as do all of the First Presidency and the Twelve."

But his conference talks became shorter, and he was absent for two of the sessions of the General Conference in October 2017.

President Monson's wife Francis preceded him in death, in May of 2013.

Funeral arrangments have not yet been announced.