Latter-day Saint Life

3 adorable proposal stories from the lives of prophets

President Gordon B. Hinckley and Sister Marjorie Pay Hinckley.
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

How did some of our modern-day prophets propose to their wives? From the humorous to the sweet, you'll love these incredible stories that show a brief glimpse into the early lives of three prophets.

Gordon B. Hinckley and Marjorie Pay

Before marrying Marjorie Pay, President Gordon B. Hinckley had some concerns about his personal financial situation. We can all take comfort from his and his wife’s faith to move forward and to trust that the Lord would provide, no matter the circumstance. The following is a brief excerpt from the book Courtships of the Prophets: From Childhood Sweethearts to Love at First Sight, by Mary Jane Woodger and Paulette Preston Yates:

Gordon and Marjorie began talking of marriage and even set a date. However, shortly before the day of their wedding, Gordon called Marjorie, explained he had some concerns, and suggested they go to lunch.

Over lunch, he expressed his apprehension about his financial situation. He wanted Marjorie to know that he had only one hundred and fifty dollars to bring to their marriage. Undoubtedly, Marjorie was relieved that money was his main concern.

She countered his admission in her customary, optimistic style: “Oh that will work out fine,” she bubbled; “if you’ve got $150, we’re set.” Over the years, Sister Hinckley often shared this memorable lunch exchange that she had with her beau. In her unique, quick-witted manner, she would quip: “Well, $150 sounded like a small fortune to me. I had hoped for a husband and now I was getting $150 too.”

With his financial concerns laid to rest, Gordon Bitner Hinckley took Marjorie Pay to the Salt Lake Temple, and she became his bride on April 29, 1937. They were sealed for time and eternity in a ceremony performed by Elder Stephen L Richards.

When reminiscing of their wedding day, President Hinckley often said: “Marjorie had grown into a wonderful young woman, and I had the good sense to marry her. ... She was beautiful, and I was bewitched.”

Thomas S. Monson and Frances Johnson

President Thomas S. Monson with his wife, Frances Beverly Johnson, on their wedding day.
Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

President Thomas S. Monson first glimpsed his future wife, Frances Johnson, at the University of Utah "Hello Day" dance in 1944.

She happened to be dancing with another boy, but that didn't deter President Monson, and he was determined to see her again.

About a month later, he got his chance when he saw Frances with three of her friends waiting for a streetcar.

According to his biography, To the Rescue, President Monson recognized one of the friends Frances was with as a schoolmate from his former elementary school, though he couldn't remember his name.

To solve this awkward dilemma, President Monson greeted his grade-school classmate with, "Hello, old friend," and his friend introduced him to the group. After he rode the streetcar with them, President Monson circled "Frances Beverly Johnson" in the student directory and called her that very night. 

For their first date, President Monson took Frances to a dance at the Pioneer Stake building where this time he was the boy who was dancing with her. 

After meeting her parents for the first time, Frances's father, Franz, asked President Monson if his last name was Swedish. He replied that it was, and Franz showed him a picture of two missionaries. President Monson recognized one as his father's uncle, Elias Monson.

Immediately, Franz began to weep as he told President Monson that Elias had visited his family while he lived in Sweden. Soon, Thomas Monson was embraced by both Frances's mother and father.

According to his biography, he knew he had “halfway won the hand of the Johnsons’s daughter” by the end of the visit. 

In the spring of 1947, President Monson proposed to Frances, though it wasn't as much of a surprise as he wanted it to be. With the ring in his pocket as they stopped by his home, President Monson's four-year-old brother, Scott, announced, "Tommy has a ring for you, Frances," according to President Monson's biography.

Regardless, President Monson and his wife, Frances, were married on October 7, 1948, in the Salt Lake Temple. 

► You'll also like: Love lessons from the prophets and their wives

Russell M. Nelson and Dantzel White

The following is an excerpt from Russell M. Nelson: Father, Surgeon, Apostle, by Spencer J. Condie about when the prophet met his wife Dantzel White, who passed away in 2005:

One day in 1942, Gail Plummer, of the University of Utah theater staff, approached Russell, urging him to participate in the play Hayfoot, Strawfoot. Because of the demands of his premedical courses, Russell courteously declined the invitation. Later, for some reason, Mr. Plummer returned with a persistent plea for Russell's help in the production. "So with great reluctance, I finally agreed," Russell said.

As he and Mr. Plummer entered Kingsbury Hall on April 16, 1942, Russell was suddenly overwhelmed by the soprano voice of a beautiful brunette on stage. Russell asked Mr. Plummer, "Who is that beautiful girl singing up there?" Mr. Plummer replied, "That's Dantzel White. She's the one with whom you will be performing in this play."

At that moment, Russell sensed that this extraordinarily beautiful young woman might someday become his wife. He had dated several girls, but at age 17, he was much more concerned about pursuing a medical career than getting married. But after meeting obligations for dates he had already arranged, Russell never dated anyone but Dantzel. She had won his heart! ...

By the summer of 1944, Russell and Dantzel's relationship had become more serious, and Russell felt uneasy unless he could be with her on a daily basis during the summer months. Located about 50 miles north of Salt Lake City, Perry was considered to be a substantial distance from the capital, but Russell rode the Bamberger train to see Dantzel as often as he could.

Russell recalled that special summer of 1944: "As I would frequently ride the Bamberger train from Salt Lake City to Perry, my feeling of deep love and affection became more firmly entrenched, and the warm acceptance that I received from her wonderful parents, brothers, and sisters made me feel a love for the White family that reinforced the impression that this union would be a highly desirable one."

One day, while Russell was visiting the White family home, Dantzel's mother asked her and Russell to harvest a few fresh peas for dinner. Many poets have written of romantic settings like lavender fields and meadows punctuated with clover in bloom, but for Russell and Dantzel, love blossomed in a pea patch.

As they walked through the pea patch on a beautiful new summer's day, there seemed to Russell to be no better spot to pop the question. As he and the young woman whom he considered to be the most beautiful in the world began picking peas, he slowly reached over and held her hand, looked deeply into her dark, radiant eyes, and asked, "Dantzel, will you please marry me?" The question was not much of a surprise to her, but the unromantic setting of the pea patch was a little unexpected. Nevertheless, she accepted his proposal on the spot. Russell recalled, "It didn't seem to be a very official proposal, certainly not in a very romantic setting, but it was a verbalization of an unspoken agreement that we would marry when we could."

Inasmuch as both of them were students with no visible means of support, Dantzel received no engagement ring. ... On August 31, 1945, Russell and Dantzel were sealed to each other in the Salt Lake Temple by Nicholas G. Smith.

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