Frances Monson, wife of LDS Church president Thomas S. Monson, passes away

President and Sister Monson wave to the congregation following a session of general conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Salt Lake City – Frances B. Monson, wife of Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, passed away at 6:35 a.m. this morning in a Salt Lake City hospital surrounded by family. She had been hospitalized for several weeks and passed away peacefully of causes incident to age. Francis Monson was 85 years old. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Growing up

Born on Oct. 27, 1927, Frances Beverly Johnson was the youngest and only daughter of Franz E. Johnson and Hildur Booth Johnson’s five children. Her parents were delighted to have a little girl in the family, whom they promptly named Frances, after her father Franz.

She grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, as a child of the Great Depression and learned the value of hard work and thrift, which served her well throughout her life. She graduated from East High School and the University of Utah, where she excelled in math and science. When asked why she enrolled in these difficult classes, she replied with a twinkle in her eye, “Because that is where all the cute boys were.” Frances was also an accomplished pianist and was often seen playing tennis in Liberty Park during her teenage years. Later, she worked in the accounting department of a large department store to help pay for her college education.

President Monson with his wife, Frances, on their wedding day, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 7, 1948 | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President Monson with his wife, Frances, on their wedding day, Salt Lake City, Utah, Oct. 7, 1948 | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

It was also during her university days she met a handsome, Thomas Spencer Monson, known as Tommy at the time.

“The first time I met Frances, I knew I’d found the right one,” Thomas S. Monson later said about their courtship. They met in 1944 and were married on Oct. 7, 1948 in the Salt Lake Temple.

Family life

The couple had children: Thomas Lee, Ann Frances and Clark Spencer. The children soon learned that they had a very special mother. She helped her sons learn about, buy and raise Birmingham Roller pigeons, at one point helping her son to travel to England to meet a Birmingham Roller expert. She allowed one son to keep a pet snake in the bathtub. Most mothers would shudder at the word snake, let alone have one in the tub. The herd, gaggle and flock of family pets eventually included chickens, more pigeons, a dog, geese and other animals.

Daughter Ann Dibb said her mother was always good at bookkeeping, budgeting and “being mindful of where the best bargains could be found.” Ann’s mother followed the Church’s provident living advice of thrift and self-reliance, making her grocery money go further by researching and buying items on sale and then storing them at home. Up until recently she continued to read both Salt Lake newspapers looking for coupons and bargains.

She was known as the family assembler and fix-it person. Early every Christmas morning found Frances assembling bikes, toys and doll houses and on other occasions fixing an electrical switch or plumbing leak. Ann said this was something her father readily admitted was her mother’s talent, not his.

She served in the Relief Society and Primary and spent many hours preparing lessons for those callings. She also served alongside her husband when he was called to preside over the Church’s Canadian Mission, headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, from 1959 to 1962. Both concur that the mission was a beautiful experience that gave them many opportunities to learn and grow both spiritually and intellectually.

Frances was blessed with an endearing sense of humor, a part of which President Monson shared in a general conference talk: “Several years ago my dear wife went to the hospital. She left a note behind for the children: ‘Dear children, do not let Daddy touch the microwave’ — followed by a comma ‘or the stove, or the dishwasher, or the dryer.’ I’m embarrassed to add any more to that list.” Her recipe for life included plenty of encouragement, kindness and hard work, with a dose of humor thrown in for good measure.

A support

President and Sister Monson greet the crowd following the cornerstone ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple, Draper, Utah, March 20, 2009 | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President and Sister Monson greet the crowd following the cornerstone ceremony at the Draper Utah Temple, Draper, Utah, March 20, 2009 | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Most importantly, Frances will be best remembered for the love and support she showed to her husband and family and the service she rendered to others. Ann said, “She dearly loved my father and recognized his talents and the gifts that he’d been given and took pleasure in supporting him and helping him magnify the talents that were his.” She completely supported her husband in all of his church duties. She also delighted in being a mother, continually teaching her children the importance of sacrifice and serving the Lord.

Ann shared a tender example of her mother supporting her father in his church callings. As a newly called member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the then Elder Monson was assigned to speak in general priesthood meeting. Frances tried to stand in the doorway of the Salt Lake Tabernacle to listen to her husband speak, but the ushers wouldn’t allow it, so she stood as near to the window as possible to hear the talk. She loved to listen and show her support and accompanied him many times on his visits to the elderly and those with poor health.

Frances radiated patience and compassion when serving others. She tenderly cared for her mother, who suffered from cancer for more than six years. In April of 1988, the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph’s Villa, an elder-care facility, presented Frances and her husband with the Continuum of Caring Humanitarian Award, honoring both of them for their dedicated and untiring service to the senior citizens of Utah.

Never purposely in the spotlight, Frances Beverly Johnson Monson was always gracious, kind and supportive in everything she said and did. Her quiet influence felt around the world will be missed.

Condolences from Sen. Orrin Hatch

Sen. Orrin Hatch, a well known member of the LDS Church, released the following statement today on the passing of Frances Johnson Monson.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our beloved prophet’s wife, Frances Monson.  Frances was a sincerely delightful and Christ-like woman who has been a true partner to President Thomas S. Monson for many years while raising a family and performing church and humanitarian service world-wide.  She had a great capacity to love and showed compassion to all with whom she came into contact, and had a quiet strength you could feel in her presence.  She has supported and stood by the side of President Monson while they have touched and inspired many; and oversaw many facets of a growing global Church.  Elaine and I send our deepest sympathies to President Monson and their three as they mourn the passing of this truly remarkable woman.”

President and Sister Monson wave to the congregation following a session of general conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President and Sister Monson wave to the congregation following a session of general conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Submitted by: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, offices of Sen. Orrin Hatch

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President and Sister Monson wave to the congregation following a session of general conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President and Sister Monson wave to the congregation following a session of general conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, date unknown | Photo courtesy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

 

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1 Comment

  • Huh? May 17, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    Hatch was able to say something nice about someone else? Oh, he said this to members of a religion he claims as his own. Maybe he is jockeying for a 7th term.

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