Almost 33 years ago, Marty Nowling attended the public viewing of the Church’s 12th president, President Spencer W. Kimball, who died Nov. 5, 1985.
Now a father of four, Nowling wanted to ensure Thursday, Jan. 11, that his own young children shared similar memories of their “first prophet,” President Thomas S. Monson.
The Nowlings were part of a steady crowd that arrived early at the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City to pay respects to President Monson, who died Jan. 2, 2018, at age 90. By day’s end, more than 31,500 people had participated in the public viewing.
Folks of all ages and backgrounds braved chilly but clear conditions. Ushers quickly filed the visitors into the warmth of the stately building where they quietly passed by the casket of the Church’s 16th president.
“I’m here this morning because I wanted President Monson to know how much I love him,” said Leslie Jensen, who bundled up her four children and drove to Salt Lake City from their home in West Haven, Utah.
She fought back tears after being asked how President Monson had impacted her life. “He’s just been a great example for me.”
Ali Jensen, 15, said she is grateful for the opportunities President Monson offered young women who desired to serve full-time missions at a younger age. She’s considering serving a mission after she finishes high school.
“President Monson has helped me want to make my own life better,” said Ali.
The Jensens’ sister and aunt, Ashli Zeigler of Farmington, joined them Thursday morning at the Conference Center.
“I wanted to pay tribute to our prophet; it’s wonderful to be here,” she said.
Read and Sharon Howard from Holladay didn’t allow the mid-January cold to keep them from the viewing.
“President Monson is our prophet,” said Read Howard. “We love him and we’re here to show our appreciation.”
“For my entire life, [President Monson] was serving as an Apostle for the Church,” said Bill Mounga, who stood with his son and hundreds of others in a line that snaked from the Conference Center auditorium on the first level to the Hall of the Prophets on the building’s third floor.
“He’s been a pillar in my life, an example of consistently serving. I took my son out of school and brought him here today so we could show our respects.”