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Tom Smart, Deseret News
President Thomas S. Monson talks at the Crandall Historical Printing Museum after being inducted into the Utah Printers Hall of Fame on Tuesday, April 21, 2009, in Provo, Utah.

As a new University of Utah honors graduate in 1948, Tom Monson had three options for employment.

The future president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had received offers from Standard Oil in California and Procter and Gamble. A third offer came from the Deseret News Publishing Co.

He ultimately selected the Deseret News, which may have been the "least exciting" of the three, according to his biography, "To the Rescue," by Heidi S. Swinton.

But President Monson never regretted the decision. It allowed him to stay close to home, family and his favorite hunting and fishing locations. He also enjoyed the profession and loved the people with whom he worked.

"New friends are silver, but old friends are gold," he often said at Deseret News gatherings.

President Monson first worked at age 12 at a print shop where his father was employed and in time became an apprentice.

When President Monson was dating his future wife during his college years, he was introduced to the Deseret News in an interesting way. On New Year's Eve 1944, Tom and Frances were celebrating together when Tom learned his date had to work the next morning and needed to be home by 2 a.m., Swinton wrote in his biography.

"What kind of a company would expect you to work on New Year’s Day?" Tom asked.

"The Deseret News," she replied.

President Monson came to know this company well when he accepted a position as classified advertising manager a few years later.

Over the years he advanced to assistant classified advertising manager of the Newspaper Agency Corp. (now Utah Media Group) when it came into existence as part of the joint operating agreement between the Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune.

Next President Monson was promoted to sales manager at the Deseret News Press, assistant manager, general manager, and ultimately chairman of the board of Deseret News Publishing Co. He also served as a board member of Deseret Book and president of the Utah Printers Association.

President Monson's time as general manager of Deseret Press came during a period of dramatic change for printers across the country — the shift from letterpress printing to offset printing or lithography. At that time, Deseret Press was the largest printing plant west of the Mississippi River, and he gained a national reputation in the printing industry, according to his biography.

His career was put on hold from 1959 to 1962 when he was called to be a mission president in Toronto, Canada.

President Monson left that career behind when he was called to be an apostle in 1963, although his experience would serve him well as chairman of the Scriptures Publications Committee and in overseeing other important church printing projects in the years that followed.

Wm. James Mortimer, former publisher of the Deseret News and longtime friend, was quoted in a 1986 church magazine article saying he greatly admired President Monson and his work at the Deseret News.

"I have served in business, church and personal capacities with President Monson for 25 years. He is one of a kind. His strength is evident, but it is always blended with humility. His intellect is keen but always tempered with wisdom. The power he holds is always exercised with sound judgment," Mortimer said. "Through service and loyalty he has earned the love others have for him."

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Although busy with his duties as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, President Monson continued to work or serve in a number of capacities at the Deseret News, including 31 years as a board member and 19 years as board chairman. He attended many company functions and celebrations over the years.

"Tom’s actions toward all of the employees were consistent with his philosophy: 'You can live with yourself if you treat people the way you would like to be treated,' " Swinton wrote in his biography. "He encourages: 'Cherish associations with others. I have learned everyone can teach me something. I love to learn something from each person with whom I associate.' "