What the Prophet and Apostles Have Said About Fatherhood

L. Tom Perry


New parent L. Tom Perry. Photo from Elder Perry's biography, An Uncommon Life.

Elder Perry described his family's 1952 Christmas in a letter he wrote to his father on January 11, 1953:

"We hada very enjoyable Christmas this year. The kids are becoming more fun each year. I got out of bed, first, Christmas morning and situated myself behind the tree in order to catch the first appearance of the children as they came from the bedroom. I sent Virginia in to send them out together. The plan didn't work the best. Lee had an idea that something was up, and as soon as Virginia set him on the floor he raced for the living room. The first thing that came into his reach was Barbara's doll. He picked it up and ran into the bedroom, gave it to Barbara and was back at the tree before Barbara and her mother made an appearance. I don't beliee that I managed to get both of them in the same picture all morning."

Some family traditions did not work out as well as others. For examples, Tom, following the example of his father, decided to purchase part interest in a dairy cow with a neighbor. When Lee was three, Elder Perry tried to teach him how to milk the cow. Lee caught on quickly to the hand action of a fine milker, but his aim was not very good. Whenever Lee was left alone to milk the cow, the bucket did not get very full, and there was usually a large white puddle of milk around it. Lee, of course, was just as proud of the big white puddle he'd created as he was of the milk in the bucket.

Elder Perry also tried to turn Lee into a gardener. He assumed three-year-old Lee had a height advantage for pulling weeds. Unfortunately, Lee was more interested in pulling young garden plants than weeds. Instead of a neat row of carrots, the result of Lee's weeding was a neat row of weeds. The carrot plants, after all, had more interesting orange roots. 

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Read more about Elder Perry's family, faith, and journey in An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation.

More about the book:

Elder L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fond of describing himself as being "as common as dirt."

Yet his life is uncommon by any standard. After spending most of his early years in his hometown of Logan, Utah, and additional years on a mission and in the military, young Tom Perry launched a twenty-year professional career that took him from his first job as an internal auditor in Boise, Idaho, to executive positions in retailing on the west and east coasts of the United States. Soon after his fiftieth birthday, he was surprised to be called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. Not long afterward, President Spencer W. Kimball extended to Elder Perry the call to join the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Perry has now served for forty years as a General Authority.

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