SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Thomas S. Monson,
the 16th president of the Mormon church, has died after overseeing the
religion for nearly a decade. He was 90.
Monson died Tuesday night at his home in Salt Lake City, according to
church spokesman Eric Hawkins.
Monson spent more than five decades serving in top church leadership
councils — making him a well-known face and personality to multiple
generations of Mormons.
A church bishop at the age of 22, the Salt Lake City native became the
youngest church apostle ever in 1963 at the age of 36. He served as a
counselor for three church presidents before assuming the role of the
top leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in
As president of the nearly 16-million member religion, Monson was
considered a prophet who led the church through revelation from God in
collaboration with two top counselors and members of the Quorum of the
The next president was not immediately named, but the job is expected to
go to next longest-tenured member of the church's governing Quorum of
the Twelve Apostles, Russell M. Nelson, per church protocol.
Monson's presidency was marked by his noticeably low profile during a
time of intense publicity for the church, including the 2008 and 2012
presidential campaigns of Mormon Mitt Romney. Monson's most public acts
were appearances at church conferences and devotionals as well as
dedications of church temples.
Monson will also be remembered for his emphasis on humanitarian work;
leading the faith's involvement in the passage of gay marriage ban in
California in 2008; continuing the religion's push to be more
transparent about its past; and lowering the minimum age for
Mormons considered Monson a warm, caring, endearing and approachable
leader, said Patrick Mason, associate professor of religion at Claremont
Graduate University in California. He was known for dropping everything
to make hospital visits to people in need. His speeches at the faith's
twice-yearly conferences often focused on parables of human struggles
resolved through faith.
He put an emphasis on the humanitarian ethic of Mormons, evidenced by
his expansion of the church's disaster relief programs around the world,
said Armand Mauss, a retired professor of sociology and religious
studies at Washington State University.
"President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our
religion rather than in what we believe," Mauss said.
Well-known Mormons mourned Monson's death Wednesday and remembered his
life of service. Romney, entertainer Marie Osmond and conservative
talk-show host Glenn Beck were among those tweeting memories and
Romney said in a statement that he'll remember Monson's compassion for
the downtrodden. Osmond tweeted a picture of her embracing Monson,
saying he was always there for her family. Beck recalled Monson's
kindness and humility.
Condolences also came in from Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and Utah Sen.
Orrin Hatch, who said of Monson, "Service was his motto and humility his
A World War II veteran, Monson served in the Navy and spent a year
overseas before returning to get a business degree at the University of
Utah and a master's degree in business administration from the
church-owned Brigham Young University.
Before being chosen to join the faith's governing Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles, Monson worked for the church's secular businesses, primarily
in advertising, printing and publishing including the Deseret Morning