L. Tom Perry

L. Tom Perry of the twelve is now in advanced stages of terminal cancer. He will be receiving hospice care and is expected to pass in a few days.

He was the first General Authority of the LDS Church I met. After baptism on September 10, 1973 I traveled to Salt Lake City for General Conference the following month. I was told by ward members in New Hampshire that Elder Perry had been the stake president over the New England area before it was divided, and therefore many of them remembered him as their stake president. I was urged to try to see him and pass along their regards. Accordingly, I went to the Church Administration Building (without any appointment) and asked the guard if I could visit with L. Tom Perry. The guard was unfriendly, discouraging me from making the attempt, but reluctantly contacted Elder Perry about my request. To his surprise, Elder Perry came down quickly to the front door and escorted me inside for a visit.

He was gregarious, with a big-smile and warm, welcoming demeanor. He may seem a bit stiff on TV, but in person he was kindly, even disarming. For a less-than-a-month convert I was taken by how welcoming this high-up church leader was. He may have been “up” atop the organization, but he wasn’t at all uppity. I passed along the regards of those in New Hampshire and he seemed to genuinely appreciate them remembering him.

Within two months of that visit with him in October 1973, President Harold B. Lee died, and the following April L. Tom Perry was added to the twelve. His passing will mark another milestone in the loss of leaders who were there when I first joined the LDS Church. The only ones remaining now in leadership who were there at the beginning are Thomas S. Monson, Boyd K. Packer and L. Tom Perry.

I wish him and his family well. It saddens me to see him depart.