15th Man to Succeed Joseph Smith Has Died

Thomas Monson was LDS leader for almost a decade
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 3, 2018 3:45 AM CST
President of Mormon Church Dies
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints President Thomas Monson waves as he leaves the morning session of a two-day Mormon church conference on Oct. 1, 2016, in Salt Lake City.   (AP Photo/George Frey)

The 15th man to succeed Joseph Smith as chief of the Mormon church has died. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints says 90-year-old church president Thomas Monson died at his Salt Lake City home Tuesday evening, the AP reports. Monson—who was ordained as a bishop at the age of 22 and became one of the church's apostles at 36—had led the church for almost a decade and largely remained behind the scenes during a tumultuous 10 years for the church, though he was well-known for helping the needy and often turned up unannounced at funerals or at the bedsides of the ill, reports the Salt Lake Tribune, which describes him as an "affable leader" and a "folksy preacher."

Monson, who was born in Salt Lake City and served in the Navy during World War II, was president of the church's Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for 13 years before becoming church leader. The AP reports that he's likely to be remembered for his humanitarian work, for lowering the minimum age for missionaries to 18 for men and 19 for women—and for leading his church's support of California's same-sex marriage ban in 2008. The Deseret News notes that Monson also, as chairman of the Missionary Executive Committee, assigned the first black Mormon missionary. No successor has been named yet, but under church protocol, the next president will be 93-year-old Russell Nelson, who is now the longest-serving member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (More Thomas Monson stories.)

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