The Atlantic screenshot
The Atlantic published McKay Coppins' tribute to President Thomas S. Monson on Friday.

In the days since President Thomas S. Monson’s passing on Tuesday, the late LDS prophet has been honored by politicians, authors, musicians, universities, athletes and sports teams.

Immediately after President Monson’s passing, many national news outlets, including CNN, Time, Newsweek and The Washington Times, published stories about his death, but some of the most touching stories have since emerged from other places, including several local television stations throughout the United States.

In Richland, Washington, KEPR-TV’s Alex Burch told of how one local family forged a friendship with President Monson through letters that began 20 years ago. Kimberly Heath recalled that her daughter Jessica was just 4 years old when she sent President Monson a birthday card after realizing they shared the same birthday. A couple of weeks later, Jessica received a response, and in the 20 years since, she sent him a graduation announcement and a wedding invitation. She always received a response.

“He was a big light in this world,” Kimberly Heath said. “And now that he's passed, the light hasn't gone out, it's just spread more.”

Watch the KEPR story here.

Another tribute to President Monson was published in The Atlantic by writer McKay Coppins, a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who paid a personal tribute to the prophet. Coppins addressed the view of Monson from outside sources and the newsworthy aspects of his leadership but then wrote, “But ask the average Mormon to paint a picture of their prophet, and what you’ll hear first are stories that stress his commitment to personal ministry: those of the perennial widow-visitor; the bear-hugging bedside minister; the man who was known to drop everything on a busy day so he could sit in the hospital room of an ailing friend who needed someone to talk to.”

Coppins pointed out that the prophet's most-lasting legacy perhaps lives in the hearts of its members for the way he encouraged people to be with each other, to care for one another, to be a friend. He recalled a 2012 essay written by Walter Kirn for the New Republic: “Kirn wrote entertainingly about falling in with a group of LDS friends in Los Angeles decades after he’d left the church. 'I’d forgotten that social life could be so easy,' he observed. 'I’d forgotten that things most Americans do alone, ordinary things, like watching television or listening to music or sweeping a floor, could be done in numbers, pleasantly … At Beverly Zion, that’s how it worked: pitch in, help out, cooperate, cooperate. Divide the labor, pool the fruits.'

“In a country plagued by atomization — where ever more isolated people are growing ever more suspicious of their fellow citizens — (President) Monson's was, in its own way, a radically countercultural message,” Coppins wrote.

Read Coppins' entire piece here.

LDS Church members in the Upper Valley of Rexburg, Idaho, recalled President Monson as a fisherman who often went fly-fishing on the Teton River. John Pehrson, who owned the Teton Valley Lodge for 30 years and often served as President Monson’s fishing guide, spoke of his experiences fishing with the prophet.

“He recalled driving through the gate at Huntsman Springs when he stopped to introduce (President) Monson to the guard, who also happened to be a member of the LDS Church. The startled guard asked (President) Monson to pray for a friend of hers,” the Rexburg Standard Journal reported.

“‘President Monson asked her to write down the name and told her he would do better than that: He would take the name into the Thursday weekly meeting of the Quorum of the Twelve in the Salt Lake Temple, and the entire Twelve and First Presidency would pray for the person,’ Pehrson recalled. ... (President) Monson then suggested that the gate guard pay it forward."

Read more about Pehrson’s memories and the experiences of others who knew President Monson personally here.

A Missoula, Montana, news station interviewed the local stake president, Christopher Price, about his memories of the prophet, a man he never met personally but sustained and admired.

"I personally will mourn a bit because I enjoyed hearing him speak and hearing him teach,” Price said. “And so I will miss that, but we certainly believe that there's an afterlife and that this isn't the end of Thomas S. Monson and so we are rejoicing that in his life and what he has done here."

Watch the clip from Missoula’s KPAX here.

The Catholic News Agency also shared the sympathies of U.S. bishops.

“President Monson was an advocate of unity and believed in the goodness of each person. He embraced people regardless of faith, seeing in them the image of Jesus,” Bishop Oscar Solis of Salt Lake City said. “He was a ‘human’ touch of kindness and dignity that will long be treasured. We join in prayer with the LDS faithful at this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, Cardinal Daniel NiNardo of Galveston-Houston said of President Monson in the CNA article, “During his tenure as president, understanding and friendship developed between our two communities on national and local levels. As we engage important questions on family and the dignity of the human person, Catholics and Mormons work together and support each other. Today, Catholics join their Latter-day Saints brothers and sisters in commending his soul to the mercy and love of God.”

Read the entire piece from The Catholic News Agency here.

Finally, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs honored President Monson by naming him its #VeteranOfTheDay. President Monson enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserves in 1945 and often “used his Navy experiences to teach,” according to the post, which goes on to provide an example of one such story.

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Thomas S. Monson. As he approached his 18th birthday in 1945, Tom enlisted in the U.S. Naval...

Posted by U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs on Thursday, January 4, 2018

Email: mjones@deseretdigital.com