On Tuesday, January 2, Church spokesman Eric Hawkins announced:
"With tender feelings we announce that Thomas S. Monson, president and prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died this evening at 10:01 pm in his home in Salt Lake City. He was with family at the time of his passing. He died at age 90 from causes incident to age."
We will miss our beloved prophet.
The Deseret News recently published President Monson's obituary, sharing his lifetime spent going "to the rescue":
More than half a century before he became the 16th president of the LDS Church, Thomas S. Monson, who died Tuesday at 10:01 p.m. at age 90, was an inexperienced, 23-year-old Mormon bishop with a distressing problem that would define his life.
He had the distinct spiritual prompting to leave a priesthood leadership meeting as his stake president was speaking and visit an elderly member of his congregation in the hospital. It seemed rude to stand, shuffle over 20 people and exit as his presiding leader spoke. Instead, he sat uncomfortably until the talk ended, then bolted for the door before the closing prayer.
At the hospital, he ran down the corridor. He stopped when he saw commotion outside the room of the man he was to visit. A nurse told him the man had died, calling Bishop Monson's name as he passed away. Shattered, the fledgling bishop went outside and wept, sobbing. He vowed then, in the parking lot of the old Veterans Hospital in Salt Lake City's Avenues, that he would never turn a deaf ear to another prompting.
"It's the most impressive story I know from him about his ministry to the one," said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. "As far as I know he kept that promise ever since. It became fundamentally characteristic of his life and what sets him apart from others, that he committed to this idea of following a prompting, and the focus almost always was a single person."
President Monson's death, after nearly ten years as prophet-leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, closes a distinctive era in church leadership. During his time as one of the longest-serving apostles in Mormon history, church membership expanded from 2.1 million members to 15.9 million. The number of temples grew from 12 to 157.
Still, he will be most remembered for his individual ministry, a relentless drive to go to the rescue. President Monson's biographer described his lifelong, tender ministry to widows, the lost, the obscure, the dying and the downtrodden as a portable pool of Bethesda, the New Testament place of mercy and grace where waters made the lame whole and Jesus Christ healed a paralyzed man. President Monson carried what he himself termed "Bethesda’s blessing" of heartfelt ministry to a grease pit, countless hospitals and behind the Iron Curtain.
Place in history
Elder Holland believes that President Monson, born on Aug. 21, 1927, in Salt Lake City, had a special gift for personal, one-on-one ministration that he honed throughout his life.
"I think," Elder Holland said, "that is probably the single-most startling and admirable characteristic in a very admirable life."