L. Tom Perry, 'An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation, 1922-1976'

Published: Thursday, March 7 2013 5:00 a.m. MST

"L. TOM PERRY, AN UNCOMMON LIFE: Years of Preparation, 1922-1976," by Lee Tom Perry, Deseret Book, $34.99, 354 pages (nf)

Those who associate with Elder L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the LDS Church's Quorum of the Twelve, have occasionally heard him describe himself as being "as common as dirt."

Yet readers of Elder Perry's new biography, "An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation, 1922-1976," will soon learn otherwise.

"Truth be told, there is nothing common or ordinary about this distinctive and distinguished man who has now served for 40 years in the presiding councils of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 38 of those as a member of the Quorum the Twelve Apostles," wrote Sheri Dew, President and CEO of Deseret Book, in the book's foreword.

"An Uncommon Life," written by Elder Perry's son, Lee Tom Perry, is the first of a two-volume biography. This first volume extends from his birth in 1922, through his marriage to Virginia Clare Lee, the births of their children, and his career in the world of retailing to the time of his call to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1974 and the passing of his first wife, Virginia.

After spending most of his early years in his hometown of Logan, Utah, and additional years on a mission and in the military, young Tom Perry embarked on a 26-year professional career that took him from his first job as an internal auditor in Boise, Idaho, to executive positions in retailing on the West and East coasts of the United States.

Soon after his 50th birthday, Elder Perry was called as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. Shortly thereafter, President Spencer W. Kimball extended to Elder Perry the call to join the Quorum of the Twelve.

In the book's preface, Lee Tom Perry describes the challenge he faced in finding the right voice for the biography. Another challenge was how to present the influence of his mother, Virginia, and Elder Perry's second wife, Barbara Dayton, in a fair and balanced way. This struggle led to the decision for a two-volume biography.

"Both women have played significant and extraordinary roles in my father's life, but their roles were and have been very different," Lee Tom Perry wrote. "It felt like inspiration when it occurred to me that I could divide my father's life story into two volumes to highlight the influences of each of his two exceedingly influential eternal companions."

Lee Tom Perry is an associate dean at BYU's Marriott School of Management and the Sorensen Family Professor of Organizational Leadership and Strategy. He presently serves as a member of the LDS Church's Sunday School general board.

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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