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Mormons bid farewell to Frances Monson, a 'true woman of Zion'

Published May 26, 2013 9:34 am

Religion • Wife of LDS president Thomas S. Monson is lauded, laid to rest.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Throughout her 85 years, Frances J. Monson mastered the art of reheating food and packing a bag for a husband who was often out late on church business or jetting off to yet another religious assignment.

Once, when she was laid up and he was going away again, Frances directed her husband, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson, and daughter to drag the suitcase near her bed so she, the "expert," could tell them where to put the items "the way he liked them."

"She was his bulwark," daughter Ann M. Dibb recalled at Frances Monson's funeral Thursday in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. "She enabled him to serve in his callings."

Frances, who died Friday, was remembered as the matriarch of the Monson family who had a "deep, abiding love for others."

For many, the highlight of the hourlong funeral was a lilting rendition of the children's hymn "My Heavenly Father Loves Me," sung by the Monsons' great-granddaughter Emily Steele.

The 85-year-old man considered a "prophet, seer and revelator" gently dabbed his eyes as the young girl sang of divine love.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the faith's governing First Presidency, called Frances "a true woman of Zion … with her gorgeous smile and kind spirit."

Uchtdorf recalled one occasion when the Monsons visited the grave of an LDS missionary in Dresden, Germany. The day was dark and grim, with pouring rain and bone-chilling wind, but Frances did not offer a single complaint, instead "brightening up the day with her smile."

She had "a depth of character in her own right and sphere," Uchtdorf said, leading a life "full of service."

Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, added that Frances was "grounded in faith, dignity, hard work and gratitude."

Eyring described what he called "Frances' convert."

The family was uprooted early on when Tom Monson, at age 31, was asked to oversee the Mormon mission in Toronto.

One day, Frances got a call from an eager young Dutchman, who said he was not interested in Mormonism but his wife was. She took down his information and gave it to the young missionaries. When they hadn't followed up on it, she repeatedly pushed them, saying if they didn't teach the couple, she would.

Eventually, the whole clan — even the husband, Jacob de Jager — was baptized. De Jager later became an LDS general authority, actively serving in the Seventy for 17 years, so some of the credit, Eyring said, belongs to Frances' persistence.

She "served her whole life without acknowledgment and without accolades," said Elder Anthony Perkins, of the Seventy, who was at the funeral.

"In both her home and in the community," added his wife, Christine Perkins.

Shardee Myers, who came from Orem for the service, said, "She was a good lady and always there for the prophet."

Burial was in the Salt Lake City Cemetery.

pstack@sltrib.com