6 Favorite Stories From President Monson’s Biography

screen-shot-2017-01-01-at-7-04-24-pmBesides these six quotes, two things really jumped out at me from To The Rescue: The Biography of Thomas S. Monson:

One is that he has known and worked closely with fully half the church presidents of this dispensation. Think about that. Obviously, it will never be true of anyone else ever again. (He is also the last living Apostle to have been part of the 1978 revelation on the priesthood.)

The other is that the tale of his decades of ministry in East Germany is truly astounding. Seriously, someone should make a movie out of this. It’s one of the most harrowing stories I’ve ever heard out of the Cold War.

Here are the six stories in the book I liked the most–they really give a well-wounded view of who he is as a man:

  • Elder Monson’s sense of humor was manifest during one particular visit to Australia in the midst of a sever drought, where he noted with some amusement the names of the stake presidents–President Percy Rivers and President William Waters. He called this to the attention of his traveling companions, one of whom reminded Elder Monson that his name was Harry Brooks. The missionaries who met him at the airport were Elder Rainey and his companion, and when he registered at the hotel, the clerk could not find the reservation until, in searching the cards, he found Thomas S. Monsoon. (page 274)
  • At another mission presidents’ seminar, he set forth a seven-step plan for productive proselyting:
  1. Reports That Reveal
  2. Handbooks That Help
  3. Meetings That Motivate
  4. Schedules That Strengthen
  5. Procedures That Produce
  6. Love That Lifts
  7. Interviews That Inspire (page 356)

  • Frances recalls that when her husband was called as a bishop, “he felt very strongly that if he were to lead the members of his ward, he would need to have a better knowledge of the scriptures.” He set a goal that by the end of the year he would read all of the standard works of the Church. It was May 1950, and by December 31 of that year he had completed reading every word, including all the footnotes and ready references. “He always reads with a red pencil,” Frances has said, “underlining the passages that he feels are important for him.” (page 386)
  • President Monson spoke at the Catholic services in St. Ambrose Chapel for both of Don’s sons, whose untimely deaths, several years apart, devastated their parents. President Monson was one of the first to the Holbrook home when he heard the news. His objective was simply “to help them.”

On another occasion, when one of Don’s law partners was being set apart as a mission president, President Monson motioned to his friend and said, “Don, you’re an elder, aren’t you?” Don, who was raised a Mormon but had married a catholic and subsequently had not been active in the LDS Church, responded, “Yes, sir.”

President Monson beckoned, “Come and join us in setting apart your associate.” (page 403)

  • With his foot in a cast, he spent New Year’s Day [1994] at home watching football….

If Michigan is playing, there is no question which team he favors. He has long been a Michigan fan. That reaches back to the days of Bo Schembechler, who coached at Michigan from 1969 to 1989 and made some favorable comments to BYU coach LaVell Edwards about the LDS Church. When he watches Michigan play, President Monson dons the maize and blue as a true fan. His journal records the football wins and losses on New Year’s Day, especially when Michigan is playing.

It is a rite of passage to be invited to join Grandpa in the basement on game day. He presents each grandchild a Michigan cap in a special ceremony with the Michigan fight song playing in the background. (page 452)

  • This is a man who loved Birmingham roller pigeons, Vivian Park and the Provo River, fishing, duck hunting, and cream soups for lunch–especially tomato, which he orders at the Little America Hotel coffee shop owned by his friend Earl Holding. If he starts a book, he will finish it. He likes to eat Wheaties in the morning, a habit stemming clear back to his childhood. He favors orange juice and lime-flavored yogurt, and he likes to drink milk with his meals. He loves elderly people, dogs, chickens, and mentors such as J. Reuben Clark, Jr., and Mark E. Petersen. He likes lines from Broadway musicals, like King Arthur’s statement in Camelot: “Violence is not strength, and compassion is not weakness.” He is simple in his faith, firm in his resolve to do things “right,” and possessed of a half-century-long work ethic difficult to match. (page 527)



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