"Anyone who has spent much time with Elder L. Tom Perry has likely heard him say that he is 'as common as dirt.'" says Sheri Dew in the forward of Elder Perry's new biography, L. Tom Perry, An Uncommon Life.
She continues, "But truth be told, there is nothing common or ordinary about this distinctive and distinguished man who has now served for forty years in the presiding councils of the [Church]. Elder Perry is, in a phrase, larger than life."
Today, we celebrate Elder Perry's extraordinary life by bringing you seven things you probably never knew about this wonderful man.
1. A strange traveler visited and read unknown scriptures to Elder Perry's ancestors
Elder Perry's ancestors received a visit from an "stranger" who read from a unique new book years before the translation of the Book of Mormon. Sometime later, when missionaries knocked on their door, the Perry family immediately recognized passages from the Book of Mormon as the same passages the stranger had read to them. They embraced the restored gospel and joined the Church in 1832.
2. Elder Perry's dad was a bishop for 18+ years
Elder Perry's Dad, Leslie Tom Perry, was bishop when Elder Perry was born and wasn't released until Elder Perry was 18 years old! His dad was then called as a counselor in a stake presidency and eventually as stake president.
3. Elder Perry is a huge Boston Red Sox fan and threw the first pitch at a Red Sox game in 2004. And at age 81 if you can believe it.
4. Perry, Utah (with about 4,500 residents) was named after Elder Perry's great-great-grandfather.
When the United States became involved in World War II, the Church temporarily suspended mission calls to young men of enlistment age. The group of missionaries that included Elder Perry were the last to enter the Mission Home (what has now become the MTC) before the suspension took place.
6. Elder Perry went to great lengths to maintain a "perfect church attendance record"
As a young boy, Elder Perry had a perfect church attendance record. One week, when he was sick with tonsillitis, the entire family left Elder Perry and his mother at home and went to church. They were all shocked to see young L. Tom Perry walking through the chapel doors only a few minutes after the services had begun. He refused to ruin his perfect record.
7. Elder Perry and fellow servicemen built the first chapel in Saipan, a tiny island in the Pacific Ocean.