Mourners remember Mormon Church president’s wife

Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back center, follows the casket of his wife, Frances Monson, out of the Salt Lake Tabernacle following funeral services in Salt Lake City, Thursday, May 23, 2013. She died Friday while surrounded by family at a hospital, officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. Monson was 85. DESERET NEWS OUT. LOCAL TV OUT. MAGS OUT. Photo: The Salt Lake Tribune, Steve Griffin

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – Hundreds of mourners gathered in Salt Lake City on Thursday to remember the quiet, steadfast wife of the Mormon Church’s president.

Frances Monson, 85, died Friday while surrounded by family at a Salt Lake City hospital, officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said. Her husband, Thomas S. Monson, has led the church since February 2008.

Church leaders and friends spoke at a public funeral service at the Salt Lake Tabernacle on Thursday afternoon, describing her as a devoted wife who left behind a “legacy of humility, service, faithfulness and love.”

“President Monson will say she was quiet by nature, but when she talked, she had something to say,” said President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the church’s governing First Presidency. “She needed no accolades and purposely shied away from the limelight.”

The couple married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1948 and had three children: Thomas Lee, Ann Frances and Clark Spencer.

Her daughter, now Ann Dibb, described her mother as a woman who was proud of her Swedish heritage, who never sugarcoated the truth and was “loyal, true and absolutely devoted” to her husband.

Thomas Monson did not speak at the service, but in a statement announcing her death, he said his wife was the family’s beacon of love, compassion and encouragement.

During the service Thursday, Frances Monson’s casket, covered in red, yellow and purple flowers, sat front and center of the tabernacle. Behind it, members of church leadership and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sat in tiers of seats. Gov. Gary Herbert also attended.

The famous choir performed an opening hymn and two other songs during the service. Monson’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter sang and played piano on a fourth musical tribute.

Monson herself was a lover of the arts and a proficient pianist, but dreaded performing for others, Dibb said during the service.

Monson was frequently described as someone who never sought attention.

She was “Sister Anonymous,” someone who stood by her husband’s side without complaint and supported him as he served in church leadership, Dibb said.

She appeared at the church’s biannual general conferences, but did not give speeches of her own, instead working behind the scenes in one of the faith’s most prominent families.

Dibb said her mother loved to be at home more than anywhere else, but supported her husband “with a willing heart,” sometimes accompanying him on his travels, packing his bags or reheating meals for him.

“She lived the gospel in every thought and deed,” Dibb said. “She cheerfully and willingly made many sacrifices in her life because of her faith in and love of the gospel.”

She never gave lengthy speeches, but her life was “full of sermons” and she served as an example for others, said Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the church’s governing First Presidency.

“We will miss her and her beautiful personality of compassion that lifted our spirits and brought sunshine to the cloudiest day,” Uchtdorf said.

Eyring, the presidency’s first counselor, said that while her death is “a time of sorrow, it is also a time of gladness, for sister Monson had a rich and rewarding life.”

Following the hour-long service, family members and church leaders attended a graveside service that was closed to the public.

In addition to her husband and three children, Monson is survived by eight grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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