Friday morning, Sister Frances Beverly Johnson Monson died in a Salt Lake City hospital at the age of 85. She was surrounded by family.
Sister Monson was known for her love, compassion, understanding and encouragement. The support she gave to her husband, Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, during his many church callings has been unfailing and sincere.
In President Monson’s biography, “To the Rescue,” he expresses his feelings for his wife and the sacrifices she has made.
“If there was ever a heroine in my life, it would have to be Frances.”
Daughter and former General Young Women Counselor Ann Dibb spoke of the support her mother gave.
"My mother is the other part of my father’s success story because she has been supportive of him in everything he’s done,” Sister Dibb said.
Sister Monson was born on Oct. 27, 1927, to Franz E. Johnson and Hildur Booth Johnson and was the only daughter of their five children.
“I am so grateful for my mother-in-law,” President Monson said in his biography. “She brought into the world a lovely daughter who is my wife and companion, who I can assure you is her husband’s keeper, and the keeper of her children as well — a noble daughter of our Heavenly Father.”
Sister Monson spent many hours serving in the Relief Society and Primary. She also served with her husband in the LDS Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario.
A sense of humor was another of Sister Monson's attributes. The LDS Church Newsroom quoted President Monson describing a humorous experience with his wife.
“Several years ago my dear wife went to the hospital. She left a note behind for the children: ‘Dear children, do not let Daddy touch the microwave’ — followed by a comma ‘or the stove, or the dishwasher, or the dryer.’ I’m embarrassed to add any more to that list.”
Sister Dibb said her mother was never one to look for recognition.
“My mother is unlike many of the women of today’s generation,” Sister Dibb said in an Ensign article titled “President Thomas S. Monson: Finishing the Course, Keeping the Faith.” “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.”
Sister Monson graduated from East High School in Salt Lake City and then attended and graduated from the University of Utah where she studied many science and math courses.
When asked why she enjoyed these topics, Sister Monson replied, "Because that is where all the cute boys were."
It was at a University of Utah dance where President Thomas S. Monson first saw his future wife.
"I caught a glimpse of her, but I didn't see her again that evening," President Monson was quoted as saying in the video "On the Lord's Errand: The Life of Thomas S. Monson."
It was one month later when President Monson saw Sister Monson again. In fact, he even remembered the exact spot as being on the corner of 13th east and 2nd south.
There Sister Monson was with one of his grade-school acquaintances. President Monson took advantage of the situation and joined the conversation.
After saying goodbye, he took out his school directory and underlined one name: Frances Beverly Johnson.
He called Sister Monson and set up their first date, where they would attend a dance at the Pioneer Stake Gym.
When she began to consider the question, "Is this really the man that I want to marry?" Sister Monson consulted her mother.
Sister Monson was reassured by her mother that any man who takes care of his grandfather as President Monson had taken care of his would be a good husband.
On the night President Monson planned to propose to Sister Monson, he hid the diamond ring and brought her back to his house.
As they entered the home, President Monson's youngest brother Scott yelled, "Tommy has a ring for you, Frances!"
On Oct. 7, 1948, they were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
"Since the first day of our marriage, it has just been a wonderful experience," Sister Monson said.
Just after their marriage, President Monson was called to serve as an LDS bishop for the sixth-seventh ward in Salt Lake City.
The ward consisted of 85 widows, whom President Monson visited regularly.
"The wife of a bishopric or a stake presidency has a little different life than others," President Monson said in the video. "You're away from them a lot to meetings, and some social events have to be forgone because of a meeting here, or a blessing to be given there. But I have never in our entire marriage, heard her complain. Anything I had to do in the church, she always sustained me."
In 1957 the couple built a new home for their family, which then included two children, Tom and Ann.
On Feb. 21, 1959, President Thomas S. Monson was called to serve as president of the Canadian Mission.
He was advised to take a leave of absence from his employment and be prepared to leave in three weeks.
During this time, Sister Monson was pregnant with their third child. When President Monson came home from meeting with the First Presidency of the LDS Church, he found her ill.
"When I told her, there was no question as of what she would accept," President Monson said.
"I can still remember the cold, snow-filled day that I rented a truck and we took the furniture from our dream home, prepared to leave Salt Lake City. It was an emotional day for Frances, and for all of us. I noted that she stroked the door jam, and there were tears in her eyes."
On Oct. 1, 1959, Sister Monson gave birth to Clark Spencer Monson while her husband continued to serve as the mission president.
"It was nice for the missionaries to have a new baby in the mission home," President Monson said. "It seemed to bring a touch of their own families closer to them."
In the biography "To the Rescue," President Monson describes how caring and nurturing Sister Monson was to the missionaries.
"(Frances) loved those missionaries and they knew it," President Monsen said. "I think she did more good than she realizes."
On Oct. 3, 1963, President Thomas S. Monson received a phone call from the secretary to President David O. McKay, the president of the LDS Church at the time.
President Monson was asked to come visit with President McKay right away. During the meeting President Monson was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
After accepting the position, President Monson was told he would be sustained the next day and he should tell no one but his wife until then.
Sister Dibb shared an example that exemplifies the dedicated support her mother showed to her father.
"As a newly called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the then-Elder Monson was assigned to speak in general priesthood meeting," the LDS Church Newsroom reported.
"Frances tried to stand in the doorway of the Salt Lake Tabernacle to listen to her husband speak, but the ushers wouldn’t allow it, so she stood as near to the window as possible to hear the talk."
Sister Monson raised three children on a strict budget. She had been raised during the Great Depression and learned much from her mother.
LDS Church Newsroom reported that Sister Monson was a wonderful example in following the church's provident living advice.
"Up until recently she continued to read both Salt Lake newspapers looking for coupons and bargains," the Newsroom reported.
Sister Dibb spoke on "Mormon Times TV" expressing her mother's love for finding a good deal.
"You would always know what discount she received or what the regular price was and then what she was able to get it for," Sister Dibb said.
"One time she said, 'When I pass away, I want you to remember that I bought everything in this house on sale.'"
Sister Monson was often found accompanying her husband on his many visits to those in need.
She was a recipient of the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award by the Friends of St. Joseph Villa (along with President Monson) in 1998.
President Monson remembered one Christmas when he and his wife visited a nursing home in Salt Lake City. In his talk "The Fatherless and the Widowed — Beloved of God," he explained how they had come to visit Nell, a 95-year-old widow who could no longer speak, and whose memory was fading.
As they entered the room, President Monson expressed that he reached for her hand, yet she withdrew it, holding tightly to a Christmas card.
"The attendant smiled and said, 'I don't know who sent that card, but she will not lay it aside. She doesn't speak, but pats the card and holds it to her lips and kisses it.' I recognized the card," President Monson said.
"It was one my wife, Frances, had sent to Nell the week before."
Sister Monson expressed the blessings that come from serving others, after she accepted her award from Friends of St. Joseph Villa.
"Both my husband and I believe that service to others provides the blessings to the givers as well as the receiver," Sister Monson said.
"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."
Pictured are President Monson and Sister Monson as they celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.
In a general conference address, President Monson told of the advice he and his bride received on their wedding day.
"Our marriage took place just to the east of us in the holy temple," President Monson said in his address "Hallmarks of a Happy Home." "He who performed the ceremony, Benjamin Bowring, counseled us: 'May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day?
"Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray.'"
In 2008, President Monson and Sister Monson celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
During the April 2008 general conference, President Monson discussed the love he had for his wife in his address, "Looking Back and Moving Forward."
"I thank my Father in Heaven for my sweet companion, Frances," President Monson said. "Although my church service began at an early age, she has never once complained when I've left home to attend meetings or to fulfill an assignment. ...Beginning when I was called as bishop at the age of 22, we have seldom had the luxury of sitting together during a church service. I could not have asked for a more loyal, loving and understanding companion."
President Monson was called to be the 16th President of the LDS Church on Feb. 3, 2008.
Several apostles have made statements in the past regarding the important role she has played in the life of President Monson as she has stood by his side, always rendering her support.
‘She’s given her whole life to this church,’ Elder Jeffrey R, Holland said when reviewing President Monson's 49 years of service in Ghana. "I suppose that if there is a modern contemporary heroine in the church, it’s Frances Monson."
President Boyd K. Packer, president of the Quorum of the Twelve, made several remarks in President Monson's biography about Sister Monson's dedication and the service she has provided to the LDS church.
"You can’t talk about Pres. Monson without talking about Frances," President Packer said. "She’s a wonderful woman. She has supported him through all the patterns of their life.”
President Monson's biography also contains a remark from Elder Richard G. Scott regarding Sister Monson.
"She is so loyal; she would do anything for him and for the work he has been called to do. They certainly have deep love for each other.”
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