Several momentous dates and occasions have marked President Thomas S. Monson’s life. Nov. 5, 1985, could surely be listed near the top of such life-altering days.
On that date Thomas S. Monson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, learned that the Church’s 12th president, President Spencer W. Kimball, had died at his apartment at the Westin Hotel Utah in Salt Lake City.
President Kimball’s passing triggered a series of events that would have a deep impact on Elder Monson, who would ultimately be counted among President Kimball’s presidential successors.
On Nov. 10, 1985, in the Salt Lake Temple, Ezra Taft Benson was ordained and set apart as the President of the Church. The new prophet selected President Gordon B. Hinckley as his first counselor. His second counselor would be Thomas S. Monson, a veteran apostle who was still two years short of his 60th birthday. He became the youngest counselor called to the First Presidency in more than a century.
From that day on, President Monson became one of the most visible priesthood leaders in the history of the Church. Elder Francis M. Gibbons, a former Seventy and former secretary to the First Presidency, had kind words for President Monson following his calling to the First Presidency:
“The mantle of the First Presidency fit very well indeed,” he wrote in a letter. “Your openness, your enthusiasm, and your spirituality are sources of inspiration to us all.”
On Jan. 5, 1986, President Monson performed one of his first pivotal assignments since his calling to the First Presidency when he dedicated the Buenos Aires Argentina Temple. It would be the first of many temples the beloved leader would dedicate.
First Presidency duties kept President Monson busy in the day-to-day administration of the Church in Salt Lake City. But he remained a “world citizen,” traveling to perform various duties across the globe.
A lifelong champion of Scouting, President Monson continued to serve the storied program for boys during his years in the First Presidency. A recipient of the Silver Buffalo Award, Scouting’s highest honor, President Monson continued with his duties as a member of the organization’s National Executive Board.
His long-term tenure as a counselor in the Church’s governing presidency would prove invaluable when he, too, accepted the prophetic mantle worn by the President of the Church.
As a member of the First Presidency, he would serve under three presidents — President Benson, President Howard W. Hunter and President Hinckley.