|Image courtesy of Mormonnewsroom.org|
SALT LAKE CITY —
Elder L. Tom Perry of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints died today at about 3:00 p.m. at his home. He was 92 years old.
Elder Perry was ordained an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in April 1974, after serving as an assistant to the Twelve since 1972. Elder Perry’s commanding physical presence combined with his enthusiasm and optimistic style made him a forceful as well as a popular figure among Church members across the world.
I realize there is more than these two-paragraph in the news release does that tells more about about this beloved man. There are many stories with more information about him all over the news. These stories are easy to find. However, today I wanted to share my encounter with him....when he was newly called and I was quite a bit younger.
Although I currently live along the Wasatch Front, that has not always been the case. During my teenage years, I lived in the Midwest. At that time, my local ward/congregation was young and small. Everyone on our ward had one or more callings (assignments) including me.
Once a month, our Stake (larger congregation of several wards) would hold "Super Saturdays" for the youth 14 years and older. These were Saturdays filled with all kinds of things from gospel instruction, sports, meals, and always a dance to cumulate the end of the action-packed day. On one particular "Super-Saturday", a new face came into our Seminary group. I'll be honest, I had no idea who this was, but the adults were certainly very polite and welcoming to him.
He was introduced as our new Apostle, "Elder L Tom Perry". We were invited to shake his hand as we left the class and went on to the next 'event'. I did take the opportunity to shake his hand. He looked at me and was very genuine. He asked me how I was doing and told me that it was a pleasure to meet me. I remember thinking at the time "a pleasure to meet me?", what on earth for? I was just an awkward teenager trying to push my 'cool quotient' just like everyone else.
Since that time, Elder Perry has had a soft spot in my heart. I have heard him at General Conference (Semi-annual meeting world wide) and also when I was a student at Brigham Young University. He has always struck me as being as genuine as he was when I shook his hand those many years ago.
His death is sad, but also an opportunity for him and his family to celebrate. We believe that there is a life after death and that if you live as the Savior has taught, you can be reunited with those who has passed away. Elder Perry's first wife and his daughter finished their earthly missions before he did. I am sure there is a huge homecoming occurring right now with the Perry family.
I also have lost another loved one this week. He was an uncle who was a genuine as Elder Perry and certainly very fun. Yesterday at his funeral, my cousins, my sister, and I reminisced about many things. Events as children, events with our Grandparents and certainly events with my Aunt and Uncle. As I looked at my cousins, whose parents both had passed away at this point, I felt a pain of sadness for them...and for me. Although we understand that there is a plan and that all the Savior has he is offering to us, it still hurts to lose loved ones. I will miss having a reason to go to that small western town that is not on the way to anything. No one who I am related to lives there any longer, it is just a serious of robust memories for me there.
So as we say goodbye to this beloved family member and Apostle, we rejoice in the knowledge that this life is but a short time in the eternal scheme of things. I am grateful to know that we have a loving Heavenly Father and Savior who have made the way know and possible for us to return to live with them...and to live with our loved ones. Life is all about choices. May we all choose to learn, live, and love as the Savior has taught.