Sanpete residents share memories,
impressions of President Monson
By Lloyd Call
Jan. 11, 2018
President Thomas S. Monson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who was known for his charity and kind nature, left a deep impression on church members, including Sanpete County residents who heard him speak and some who knew him personally.
Monson died on Tuesday, Jan. 2. A public viewing is being held today from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. His funeral, open to everyone 8 years and older, will be Friday at noon, also in the Conference Center, with overflow seating in the Conference Center Theater, Tabernacle and Assembly Hall.
Seating in the Conference Center will be on a first-come, first-served basis, the church said. Attendees should be in their seats by 11:30 a.m. The services will also be broadcast on KSL radio, KBYU-TV and BYU-TV.
Monson was called to the Quorum of the Twelve at age 36 and spent 54 years as a general authority, including 32 years in the First Presidency and the almost 10 years as president of the church.
He served as counselor to three church presidents: second counselor to both President Ezra Taft Benson and President Howard W. Hunter, and nearly 13 years as first counselor to President Gordon B. Hinckley, who died Feb. 3, 2008. Monson succeeded Hinckley as church president.
Vern Buchanan, the stake patriarch in the Manti LDS Stake, once lived in an adjacent stake to the Monsons in Salt Lake County.
“President Monson’s (son) Tommy lived just down the street from us, and many times President Monson would visit our stake on Sundays. He would always tell us the most interesting stories, such as when he visited East Germany or other countries,” Buchanan remembered.
“He would also spend lots of time visiting elderly people, to comfort them and give them encouragement,” Buchanan said. One of Buchanan’s brothers-in-law was in a convalescent home. Monson visited the home frequently. The elderly people there called him “our personal elder.” “It was definitely a pattern, his love of and care for the elderly,” Buchanan said.
Janice Cluff of Manti got to know President Monson while working as a secretary in church headquarters. Monson had only been an apostle for six months when she got the job. “I remember that he was very thorough and had a great memory. He was always very busy. He was marvelous, friendly, kind and very thoughtful.
“I always felt his sincerity whenever he bore his testimony,” she adds. “I know he was a prophet of God. I really cherish the time I had in that office where I got to work with the leaders of the church.”
President Gene Peckham of the Moroni LDS Stake related an experience from his youth. “When I was 10 or 11, I went to the Promised Valley Playhouse. Elder Monson sat right behind me. At one point, I turned around, and he smiled and shook my hand. I have never forgotten how I felt. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a more kind, gentler man than President Monson. He was just so concerned about individual people.”
“He was the ultimate example of a Christ-like individual,” President Greg Rosenvall of the Gunnison LDS Stake said. “He served others and was always looking for people to help. That’s what I’ll always remember him for.”
“We believe that President Thomas S. Monson was a man called of God,” said President Troy Birch of the Ephraim LDS Stake. James 1:27 describes his service to others. He visited the ‘fatherless and widows,’ he served the poor and he always followed impressions of the spirit to visit someone in need. We are grateful for his life and teachings. He will be missed.”
Clinton Buttars of Moroni served under Monson when Monson was president of the Eastern Canadian Mission. Since President Monson died, Buttars has been asked many times what kind of mission president he was.
When he received his mission call, “I remember thinking that President Monson’s letter was probably a form letter and that every missionary received the same letter, he said. “I later found out that each letter was unique, based on what President Monson knew about the elder from their application.
“I recall saying on my application that I wanted to go to a place with a lot of trees and water. When I met President Monson I remember how young he looked. He was actually just 13 years older than me. He greeted each of us new arrivals by name, and said to me, “Elder Buttars, welcome to the land of water and trees.”
President Monson visited Buttars’ parents at their home twice during his mission. Monson would also go out on splits with his missionaries.
Buttars learned President Monson liked to fish. He once asked if President Monson would let him and his companion go fishing with an investigator. President Monson said, “Definitely, but no boats, and talk to him about the gospel while you fish.”
“He amazed me with his ability to remember names,” Buttars said. “He knew my full name, the names of my parents, brothers and sister. He asked about them by name whenever we visited. He sent condolences when my parents died years later.”
He spent time with all his missionaries one-on-one, Buttars said. At the end of his mission, Buttars visited with him and got the distinct impression that the Lord was not through with him yet. Buttars told Monson about the impression, to which Monson replied, “I don’t know about that, Elder!”
“I said that I would call him when it happened, and I did. He laughed when he heard my voice and said, “I just knew you would call.” As busy as he was he still made time to talk to me that day.”
Buttars went to mission reunions for years, and enjoyed the stories President Monson would shared with his missionaries. “He would laugh and giggle as he would recall events. He once told us that it was so good to be able to laugh with us because he didn’t get a lot of chance to laugh with all his responsibilities.
“It truly was a great opportunity to serve with him and to feel of his spirit,” Buttars adds. “My wife and I have truly been blessed having to known him so closely.”