Memories and a salute to LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson

My one opportunity to shake hands with President Thomas S. Monson came on Jan. 14, 2001.

President Monson, then a counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley, had just spoken to a packed Hart Auditorium crowd of Ricks College students in a CES fireside. I was a student and worked in the school’s public relations office at the time. Before the fireside, my boss gave me a copy of President Monson’s talk, “Three Gates to Open,” so I could follow along and afterwards write a summary news release.

President Thomas S. Monson with the First Presidency in 2008. (Deseret News photo)

Of course, President Monson delivered his inspirational message in a powerful way. He had a talent for weaving personal experiences into his talks to teach gospel principles. After the closing prayer, with his talk in my hand, I walked out of the building and ran right into the tall church leader as he made his way toward a waiting vehicle. He kindly stopped and extended his hand to a few of us students. I will always remember how he smiled and encouraged us to “go tell your mother that you love her.” That was a sweet experience for me.

President Monson died of natural causes on Tuesday, Jan. 2, at age 90. (Extra, extra, read all about it on Since then we’ve seen an outpouring of tributes celebrating his life of leadership and service. He lived a remarkable life and blessed millions with his words and deeds.

President Monson delivers a talk in general conference. (Deseret News photo)

I looked forward to President Monson’s talks in general conference before my mission. My excitement only increased after I had a missionary companion who could do a pretty good impression of him at the pulpit. I developed a little impression of my own for a while before the fear of getting struck by lightning set in and I gave it up.

President Monson reads his scriptures in his office. (Deseret News photo)

One of my favorite general conference moments of all-time came in the April 2008 priesthood session. My brother Darin and I were sitting on the plaza level in the Conference Center when President Monson related a personal experience and wiggled his ears, sparking a roar of laughter from more than 20,000 in attendance. I think President Monson was a great example of showing that you can have a fun personality and a sense of humor while serving in the church.

One final salute. I have admired President Monson’s determination to follow spiritual promptings and come “to the rescue” of so many. (“To the Rescue” is the title of his biography.) Learning to do that is a lifelong pursuit, but I’ve appreciated his example and I feel like I’m making progress. Thanks, President Monson.

I feel his life’s work is captured in this quote, said at the end of the 2008 DVD, “On the Lord’s Errand.”

“The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”

President Monson visits a friend in the hospital. (Deseret News photo)

I also liked these five lessons we can take from President Monson’s life, shared on by Heidi Swinton, the author of his biography.

There is so much to learn from President Monson. His example will tutor me the rest of my life.

I also like how Swinton said it in this Deseret News article.

“His legacy lives on in the goodness in each one of us because of what he taught us from the pulpit and in his life. … I saw him as a prophet and as a man we could learn from as we live our own lives.”

President Monson waves to someone after general conference. (Deseret News photo)


Trent Toone

My name is Trent Toone and I’m a journalist for the Deseret News, where I write for a variety of feature sections. I was raised in Northern Utah and graduated from the University of Utah in 2003. Since then I have worked for several newspapers and received various awards over my journalism career. I am the author of “No Excuses, No Regrets: The Eric Weddle Story,” the sports biography of San Diego Chargers safety Eric Weddle. I served an LDS mission to Santiago, Chile, and spent a year teaching seminary. Like my father before me, I am a proud Eagle Scout. My wife Lisa and I have four children and live in Northern Utah. Feel free to contact me by emailing to trent.b.toone (at) gmail (dot) com.

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