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'There will never be another like him': Mormons, family say goodbye to President Monson

SALT LAKE CITY — President Thomas S. Monson was "a prophet for our time" and left a legacy of love and service, LDS Church leaders and a daughter said during funeral services on Friday.

"In a world saturated with 'selfies,' he modeled selflessness," said President Russell M. Nelson, president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and now the senior living apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"President Monson lived a remarkable life. There will never be another like him. We will really miss him."

President Monson died Jan. 2 of causes incident to old age. He was 90.

"President Monson's death ends a chapter in church history spanning 67 years of church service, beginning with his service as a bishop" at age 22, said President Henry B. Eyring, who served as first counselor to President Monson in the First Presidency for the past decade and conducted Friday's funeral service.

President Thomas S. Monson was "a prophet for our time" and left a legacy of love and service, LDS Church leaders and a daughter said during funeral services on Friday. by Jeffrey D. Allred and Deseret News photo staff

He served 54 years as an apostle and a month shy of 10 years as church president.

His daughter, Sister Ann Monson Dibb, thanked 16 million church members for praying for the man they revered as a prophet of God.

"Your 54 years of daily prayers offered as my father served as an apostle and then as president of the church have made a difference," she said.

President Nelson said the condolences and admiration expressed for President Monson around the world are natural.

"This is to be expected in behalf of a man who influenced the lives and shaped the destiny of millions of people around the world. We are all better because of him. And the church is better because of him."

More than 31,000 mourners attended President Monson's viewing on Thursday. Thousands more attended the funeral, which began after blue skies and sunshine chased away a gray morning of dark rain clouds before the funeral began on an unseasonably warm January day.

Happiness, heartache

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf called his time as a second counselor to President Monson in the First Presidency the "most satisfying and spiritually rewarding experience."

But he also appeared to reference the death of Frances Monson, President Monson's wife of 64 years, in 2013, and President Monson's own failing health at the end of his life.

"It has included happiness and heartache, laughter and sorrow, deep conversations and many inspired prophetic moments," President Uchtdorf said.

President Monson continued to find joy in service even as his memory waned recently, Sister Dibb told the Deseret News last week.

Although he was revered as a prophet by 16 million Mormons, she said during the funeral that he knew he was not perfect.

"With all his heart, he humbly relied on and tried to be like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. About a year ago, he was working in his office and a copy of the Ensign magazine was open, and there displayed was his picture. My father pointed to the picture and said, 'I know that guy. He tried his best.'"

Compassionate apostle

As President Monson frequently did, his daughter quoted Shakespeare: "They do not love who do not show their love."

She said her father left "a legacy of love and service."

"Through his devoted service, he had learned that joy comes from loving the Lord and serving your neighbor," she said. "This joy is available to all of us. There is no better way to honor my father, the prophet, and our Savior Jesus Christ, than to live every day so that at its close we can truly say, 'I feel I’ve done some good today.'"

Several speakers said President Monson continued to make frequent visits to hospitals and senior centers, even in his waning years.

President Eyring said President Monson acted on promptings to help others.

"The number of individuals who loved him through his personal kindnesses is known only to the God who sent him to care for them," he said.

President Uchtdorf said that example made him a man for all seasons.

"President Monson was truly a prophet for our time," he added, saying he will miss the former leader and friend. "All that we know and love about President Thomas S. Monson will continue. His spirit has gone home to God, our Father in Heaven, who gave him life. Wherever I go in this beautiful world, a part of this cherished friend will always go with me."

Spiritual giant

President Monson's imprint on the LDS Church is indelible, President Nelson said.

"Since his ordination as an apostle in 1963, church membership has risen from 2.1 million to 16 million. The number of missionaries has grown from 5,700 to more than 70,000. And temples — then only 12 in number — now number 159, and more are coming."

He permanently altered the face of the church in October 2012 when he announced that leaders had lowered the age at which young Mormon men and women could begin to serve missions.

But he was more than his decade-long administration as church president, which began on Feb. 3, 2008.

"Thomas S. Monson is truly a spiritual giant," President Uchtdorf said. "He abounded in knowledge, faith, love, vision, testimony, courage and compassion, leading and serving — never from a pedestal, but always eye to eye. He has a special place in his heart for the poor and the needy."

He called him a cherished friend and said he would miss him.

"We will miss his voice, his steadiness, his confidence in the Lord, his smile, his wit, his enthusiasm, his optimism and his stories, which I consider parables of a modern prophet of God."

He shared memories ranging from his own call as a general authority by President Monson 24 years ago to accompanying him in Germany as he eschewed the constant pain from foot surgery in order to visit an old, bedridden church leader and friend who lived five floors up in an elevator-less building.

Optimistic, courageous

President Monson believed the scriptural promise that God will be with those who receive him and provide faithful service, President Eyring said.

"Because he knew that promise was a reality, President Monson was optimistic. It also made him courageous. When he had to make difficult and important choices, he expected the Lord would answer his prayer and show him the way to go.

"When he was called to go into what appeared to be dangerous or perilous situations, others were afraid, yet he felt no fear. He believed that the Lord went before him and that angels were placed around him to bear him up. That proved to be true."

President Eyring visited him in the hours before his death.

"I was blessed to be there. As I looked on his face, I thought that the Lord’s promise was being fulfilled. He had been surrounded and borne up by human angels — and perhaps more."

President Nelson listed a number of the late church president’s teachings about personal compassion:

• "Send a note to the friend you’ve been neglecting."

• "Give your child a hug."

• "Say 'I love you' more often."

• "Always express your thanks."

• "Never let a problem to be solved become more important than a person to be loved."

A cherished gift

The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang four hymns — "Consider the Lilies," "O Divine Redeemer," "Dear to the Heart of the Redeemer" and "If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not."

Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles each thanked God in the funeral's opening and closing prayers for President Monson's example and teachings and called him "a cherished gift" and "our beloved friend, our prophet, our president of the church."

Two sons offered prayers — Clark S. Monson giving the family prayer and Thomas L. Monson dedicating his father's grave.

Pallbearers were Thomas P. Monson, Corey S. Kunz, Roger A. Dibb, Alan T. Dibb, Mark S. Dibb, Jeffrey M. Dibb, James W. Steele and Paul S. Monson.

President Nelson closed the services by saying President Monson had been unwearying in his service.

"I solemnly proclaim that President Thomas S. Monson was a prophet of God," President Nelson said. "He taught as a prophet and testified as a prophet. He had the courage of a prophet and the kindness of a prophet. He received revelation as a prophet and responded as a prophet.

"He lived as a prophet and died as a prophet, sealing with his life his testimony that God lives, that Jesus is the Christ, that his church has been restored to earth, and that this sacred work is true."

President Eyring continued the theme of President Monson’s continued compassion and charitable service, as the longtime Mormon leader acted on promptings to care for others.

"The number of individuals who loved him through his personal kindnesses is known only to the God who sent him to care for them," he said.

He acknowledged a common refrain cited by the late president — that the Lord would be with those who receive him and give faithful service to him.