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Frances Monson, wife of LDS prophet, passes away

Published: Friday, May 17 2013 8:05 a.m. MDT

Her daughter, Dibb, once said, “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. President Wilford Woodruff once said that the mother has greater influence over her posterity than any other person can have, and her influence is felt through time and eternity. I am grateful to my mother, thankful for her influence and pray that I might always be worthy of her love. As I reflect upon the many blessings which I have received as the daughter of an apostle of the Lord, the one which means the most to me is the gift and blessing of the woman he married, my mother.”

Sister Monson dedicated herself to her own church service — she served in the Primary, Sunday School, Relief Society and Young Women organizations — and to her husband's, as well as helping others outside the church.

“Both my husband and I believe that service to others provides the blessings to the givers as well as the receiver,” Frances Monson said while accepting a humanitarian award in 1998. “I perhaps would have been content to perform my service in life by raising my children, participating in the women's service organizations of my church and helping others as my time and energy permitted.

“But because of the church callings my husband has had throughout our married life, I have with him witnessed more pain and suffering, more need among God's children than otherwise would have been the case. If I have been able to in some small way help alleviate such suffering, such need, I am most grateful.”

The Monsons married Oct. 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple.

“I was soon to learn,” President Monson once said, “Frances was an ideal bishop’s wife. Within a year of our marriage, I was called to the bishopric, later bishop, and subsequently stake and mission responsibilities. In each calling I have constantly discovered new abilities and talents in my wife. She is at my side to help in every way.”

President Monson was an LDS bishop at age 22, a counselor in a stake presidency at 27 and president of the Canadian Mission at age 31, precipitating a family move to Toronto for a pregnant Frances Monson. At age 36, he was ordained an apostle.

"Sister Monson is quiet and unassuming, but without Frances Monson we surely would not have the Thomas Monson the Church knows and admires," wrote Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church's Quorum of the Twelve in 1994. "Because of President Monson’s callings, beginning very early in their marriage — from that first ward clerk’s position to his present calling in the First Presidency — Sister Monson has almost never been seated next to her husband in 45 years of church meetings."

The number of those years had expand to 64.

“But never once has she complained,” President Monson told Elder Holland, who also described Sister Monson as a "modern contemporary heroine in the church." “Never once. Not in our entire married life has she done anything to keep me from any aspect of my service. I have never received anything but support and encouragement from Frances.”

President Monson caught his first glimpse of Sister Monson as she danced with another boy at a University of Utah “Hello Day” dance. Watching from a distance, he determined to find a way to meet her. A month later, he saw her waiting for a streetcar with some friends, and caught the car with them to ride. He called her later that night and arranged their first date.

Sister and President Monson’s first date was a dance at the Pioneer Stake building, when they double-dated with friends.

As he picked up Frances Johnson for that first date, Tom Monson also learned, from Frances' father, who cried when he made the connection, that his father's uncle, Elias Monson, had helped bring the Johnson family into the church in Sweden while serving a mission there.

President Monson wrote of his date with Frances on New Year’s Eve 1944, remembering she had to be home early because she had to go to work on New Year’s Day. When he wondered what kind of job required work on New Year's, he learned she worked in the copy room at the Deseret News. “Little did I know at that time I would have a career working at the same company,” he noted.

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