SALT LAKE CITY — The life and legacy of Frances J. Monson — "a legacy of humility, service, faithfulness and love," according to her daughter, Ann M. Dibb — was celebrated during funeral services Thursday in the Salt Lake Tabernacle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sister Monson's husband, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, was seated with his family on red chairs that formed the Tabernacle's front row, just a few feet from his beloved wife's flower-bedecked casket and close to Dibb, her brothers Thomas and Clark and their respective spouses.
"Frances's life was grounded in faith, dignity, hard work and gratitude," said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the church's First Presidency, who conducted the funeral. "She was an example of strength and purpose, a witness of God's love, a teacher of truth, a disciple of our Savior, Jesus Christ."
President Eyring quoted President Monson, who said of his wife: "There was no chink in her armor; there was no guile in her soul; there was no flaw in her character."
"The highest tribute to those who have passed through the veil is not grief but gratitude," President Eyring continued. "(Sister Monson's) talents were many, her love abundant, her character above reproach and her faith unshakable."
He noted how "Frances held steady" as each new church calling came to young Thomas S. Monson, sharing Sister Monson's explanation to a reporter that she "learned quite early to stand on my own feet."
"President Monson will say that she was quiet by nature but when she talked, she had something to say," President Eyring said. "She was forthright and determined. She loved life, had many friends and served in unheralded ways. She needed no accolades and purposely shied away from the limelight. Her path was marked by goodness."
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency, hailed Sister Monson as "a great lady and a true woman of Zion."
Although she was primarily known by church members as one who complemented and supported her husband in every way, President Uchtdorf said "we also know of her depth of spirit and character."
"She was indeed a wonderful woman in her own sphere," he said. "We have enjoyed listening to her as she candidly shared her opinions and experiences. The sweetest compliment President Monson could give to (my wife) Harriet was when he said, 'Frances and you are so much alike.'"
President Uchtdorf also noted Sister Monson's personal desire to stay out of the spotlight.
"I don't think that we have ever heard Sister Monson give lengthy talks," he said. "But her compassionate, kind and gentle life is full of sermons by which we and the membership of this church are richly blessed and which will never be forgotten."
Representing the family, Dibb shared four ways that her mother showed love during the course of her life — her love for her parents, her deep love for her family, her love for the gospel of Jesus Christ and her love for her husband, President Monson.
She told of a time about 12 years ago when her mother was recovering from double knee-replacement surgery and her father was scheduled to travel.
"The night before Dad was scheduled to travel he said, 'I guess I'd better pack my bag. Where is my bag?'" Dibb said. "Sensing he might need some help, I took the shirts he had laid out and began to fold them and place them in the suitcase. My mother, in bed and in pain, said, 'Ann, bring the bag to me and put it by my side. Give me the socks and Dad's shirts. I know how to fold them just the way he likes them. That is my job. I've been packing his bag for 40 years.'11 comments on this story
"My father and I watched and assisted, as directed, while my mother lovingly packed each item, 'just the way he likes them.'
"As a girl," Dibb continued, "I loved to read my mother's beautiful and poetic patriarchal blessing, which concludes: 'By the force of a noble and pure life (you will) be able to influence the lives of many with whom you will come in contact, for out of you will come forth an influence radiating hope and cheer and holiness.' That night was my mother packed my father's bags, I was blessed to witness once again the force of her 'noble and pure life.'"
Music for the session was provided by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and featured some of Sister Monson's favorite hymns, including "How Great Thou Art" (with soloist Dallyn Vail Baylis), "Each Life That Touches Ours for Good" and "Consider the Lillies." A special musical number, "My Heavenly Father Loves Me," featuring several Monson descendants, was also movingly presented.
Prayers for the funeral were offered by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve and Elder William R. Walker of the First Quorum of the Seventy. Clark Monson offered the family prayer before the funeral, and Sister Monson's grave in the Salt Lake City Cemetery was dedicated by Thomas L. Monson.