High Energy for 92 Years – Happy Birthday Elder Perry

Elder Pery Punch

In honor of Elder L. Tom Perry’s 92nd birthday, I decided to share a few stories about him that I love, and a great quote. (I used to do a list of birthday trivia, but others are doing that now, so I don’t want to be redundant, or repetitive.)

—And if you have a favorite Elder Perry experience, quote or story, please share it in the comments!

Story One:

Shortly before his death in 1966, L. Tom Perry Sr., (the Apostle’s father) wrote a life story that ends with some interesting reflections about his children.

He calls his eldest daughter, Zada, a brilliant child; his next daughter, Gay, a sweet child; and his youngest daughter, Mignon, a highly successful woman in her life’s work.

He calls his second oldest son, Theodore, “our genius.” He notes with pride that his youngest son, Robert, is steadily advancing professionally.

Of his eldest son, Tom, he merely states: “Tom has surprised us.”

I guess!


Story Two:

My daughter was working in the Church Office Building right out of college. One day she was standing in the lobby and in walked Elder Perry.  She immediately recognized him, and did double take – She was amazed at how big he was. (Reports are that he is a giant of a man with massive hands.)

They made eye contact, but she figured it would be polite to leave the man alone. Instead he walked over to her and shook her hand, with his famous smile on display.

“Well hello there. How are you doing?  You have such a big purse. You women carry such big purses.”

My daughter made small talk with him until her elevator came, and off she went – happy, and carrying a very large purse.


Story Three: (As told by his son – link here)

“As a financial executive in the retail business, Tom worked long, hard hours. At Christmas time, he literally worked day and night. In addition, he held positions of leadership in the Church and tried to do his part in the communities in which we lived. He made a real effort to make his limited time with the family count in quality. Nevertheless, the children may have felt a little cheated at times.

“After living in California for several years, Tom received an employment offer from a firm in New York City. After asking for inspiration and direction from the Lord and discussing the pros and cons of this venture, we decided it would be right to accept this opportunity. Upon receiving confirmation from our Heavenly Father, we traveled across the country with our family to the east coast. We started looking for a home in New Jersey, and kept looking all the way through the state of New York and into Connecticut. Finally, in the beautiful state of Connecticut, we found our dream home on a little, secluded, winding country lane, tucked back in the woods. We all fell in love with it. Tom said, ‘Well, now the thing to do is to test the commuting time.’ So, early the next morning, he caught the New Haven train for New York City.

    “He returned later in the afternoon with a disappointed look on his face. It had taken one and a half hours to commute to his office. He told the children: ‘Well, I guess you’ll have to choose between this home and me. If we live here, it will take all my extra time to commute back and forth.’

    “The children dejectedly looked at one another and then, with only a moment’s hesitation, one piped up and said, ‘We’ll take the home, Dad. We probably won’t see you, anyway.’

    “Even though the statement was made partly in jest, Tom got the message and took it seriously. We moved to Scarsdale, where the commuting time was 35 minutes. Tom made sure he had every Saturday off, and we tried to make this a family day. I think Tom realized the great importance of having a balance in life and not letting his professional work monopolize too much of his time.

    “Later, when he was stake president in Boston, he counseled the men of the priesthood to fill out a calendar each month, and the first item to be placed on that calendar should be a date with their wives each Friday evening—then family home evening every Monday, then priesthood meeting, sacrament meeting, home teaching, etc.”

Great counsel for fathers and husbands. As many of you know, “Date Night” is a priority for me and my EC. This story reinforces my belief in that, and the importance of prioritizing our lives and being available for God.

And a Quote:

“Those of us who have been around a while have recognized certain patterns in life’s test. There are cycles of good and bad times, ups and downs, periods of joy and sadness, and times of plenty as well as scarcity. When our lives turn in an unanticipated and undesirable direction, sometimes we experience stress and anxiety. One of the challenges of this mortal experience is to not allow the stresses and strains of life to get the better of us — to endure the varied seasons of life while remaining positive, even optimistic. Perhaps when difficulties and challenges strike, we should have these hopeful words of Robert Browning etched in our minds: ‘The best is yet to be.’ ”  (“Let Him Do It With Simplicity,” October, 2008)

And Another Quote:

And who can forget when P. Diddy, (Puff Daddy, Sean Combs) quoted Elder Perry on Twitter. That is reach.

Diddy quote

I love Elder Perry, and testify that he is, indeed, an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.

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About the author


  1. I’m lucky enough to be related to Elder Perry and cherish the interactions I get with him. He is always asking how we are doing— but also how are we progressing.”Have you been promoted yet?” “How are your grades?” “What’s going on with that business of yours?” He wants to know and he wants us to be our best. Not to mention his amazing wife who is half his size and just as energetic. She remembers everyone they’ve ever met and is a constant support to him. And, and 82, still has never dyed her naturally black hair!

  2. When my parents moved across the country to SLC they became part of the same ward as Elder and Sister Perry, so when he saw unfamiliar faces (us, visiting) he came to be introduced. He notices people. My father took a bad spill last year that could have been much worse, but he had a big goose egg on his forehead which turned such interesting colors and his arm was in a sling. Elder Perry spots him at church in this condition, and cracks, “Lawrence, you have to give up that skateboard!” (My father was 87 himself.) He is indeed tall, cheerful, genuine, and funny. A delight.

  3. Years ago my mom and I went to a wedding reception at the groom’s parents’ home, and there was a line of people waiting to get in to the house and the receiving line. Soon it started to rain. Out of the house comes Elder Perry, and he walked up to my mom and me and gave us his umbrella. I hope we said thank you; I think we just stood there with our mouths open. As he cheerfully walked away, he called out, ‘Pass it on to someone else when you’re done!” I wonder how many umbrellas he has bought (and given away) in his lifetime?

  4. While I was serving in the Australia Sydney North mission, Elder Perry took a couple hours to speak to us before catching a flight. I learned quite a few things from the visit: he really is a large man. He towered over everyone in that room. He grin is infectious. It’s hard not to smile back when he smiles at you. And he loves the Articles of Faith. They formed the substance of that talk and, I’ve noticed since, many of his General Conference talks.

  5. quotes from L Tom Perry April 2004 conference talk on Fathers:

    Those no account grandpas think they have more rights than great grandpas

    It’s fun to watch sons mellow out as they become grandpas

    (I’ve kept this through three generations of Palm PDA)

  6. Elder Perry is special to me because he is the only general authority I’ve ever personally met. I was a teenager. I remember his smile, his height, and his big hands. It meant a lot to me. Just sayin’

  7. One of my favorite statements by Elder Perry is from April 1976 conference: “The Lord has clearly charted a course for us to obtain his blessings. He is bound by his divine law to bless us for our righteousness. The overwhelming question in each age is why each generation must test his law, when the Lord’s performance from generation to generation has been absolutely consistent.”
    Unfortunately we seem to be slow learners.

  8. A couple of years ago Elder Perry came to our stake conference. I was impressed that at 90 years old he was comfortably using an iPhone to read scriptures and sing hymns. His Cache Valley accent always makes me smile.

  9. He came to Lincoln Nebraska for a special stake conference two years ago and of course I immediately signed up to be in the choir. I got to sit two seats away from him for two hours, and yes, he is incredibly tall. He also has a lot of patience and kindness, as I think he shook hands and actually spoke to just about every single person in my stake.

  10. I got to attend the Las Vegas temple dedication with my family when I was just 8 years old. As we were walking through the temple, Elder Perry was coming out of a door as we passed and he stopped and shook my hand and asked how I was. He has been my favorite ever since.

  11. My only interaction with Elder Perry was almost (literally) running into him after a BYU football game. At my full enormous height of 5 foot 1 something or other, he was quite intimidating. I had to check with Tom (my husband) to make sure it was really him.

  12. I’ve never met L.Tom Perry but we knew his brother, Robert. My husband and I taught seminary at different times, in Lake Stevens, WA and Bro. Robert Perry and his wife had something to do with the seminaries in the area. He lived in Everett and whenever we would go there for Know Your Religion, we would see him. He always remembered us and asked after our family. Sweetness must have run in the family.

  13. He’s HOW old? Holy toledo, Batman! I hope I’m that healthy and energetic when I’m 92. I’m loving all these stories commenters are posting. Might have to have an L. Tom “Get-to-know-you” for FHE next week…

  14. I love Elder Perry’s booming voice and smile.

    “When we have the Spirit to direct us, we are capable of teaching with great power.”

    “Have you ever thought of yourself as a junior angel crowned with glory and honor? Every one of our Father in Heaven’s children is great in His sight. If the Lord sees greatness in you, how then should you see yourself?” (I’m trying)

    Happy Birthday Elder Perry <3

  15. I got to shake his hand once after an institute fireside and my impression was that he was very tall and had a firm handshake and also, a really neat man.

  16. My daughter worked for BYU catering when she was assigned to work at a small luncheon after graduation. The guest of the small party were L Tom Perry and some of his family.

    My daughter was able to interact with him. He asked of her plans after the luncheon and she told him she was going to go her apartment to pack to go home since she was leaving on her mission a few weeks later. Elder Perry then asked the other gal working if she was going on a mission too. (She guiltily said she was not.) My main memory of my daughter’s telling of the adventure was that it was very positive.

    If my daughter weren’t still on her mission, I could give you more and better detail. Ask again next year!

  17. My mother-in-law grew up with L. Tom Perry, and I guess used to pull her hair on the playground when they were little kids. It caused enough trauma, that every time I ever heard her speak of him, it was with a frustrated, “L. (pause and with a big sigh) Tooooom.” Hahaha.

  18. I love him too. He attended a stake conference as a fairly new apostle when we lived in Oregon and I remember that conference better than many since. He told a wonderful story about how his wife gave away the brand new appliances they had just received to someone in need because they could still use the old ones, and the family she gave the new ones to would have a harder time replacing the old ones when the time came. I loved that he was ok with that too. I have savored every talk he’s given since. 3 or 4 years ago I was sitting in the first row, aisle seat of coach class on a flight from SLC to LA. I wasn’t paying attention when he boarded and was seated in the last row, aisle seat of 1st class with his wife in the window seat next to him. I was unable to see his profile or else I’m sure I would have recognized him. There were more than a few people who stopped to greet him as they boarded, and he was so friendly & kind to each of them but I was still clueless. It wasn’t until close to our descent when the flight attendant brought him a small tray with what appeared to be a journal on it and asked him to sign it that I decided to pay a little more attention. Because he was wearing a sweater vest I just didn’t think “Apostle”, but I finally figured it out! As we stood to deplane he was having a little bit of difficulty getting his arm into the sleeve of his jacket. I was the obvious one to help, and did so gladly. When he turned around to thank the person who had helped him he was so very kind, but because the person opposite me had moved in to shake his hand he thought it was her. It was a fun and sweet experience. He stayed plane side to talk to people he knew; I headed out through the construction mess and found his wife waiting for him in the terminal. They were starting a tour of Asia, and he was being so generous and gracious with his time to all.
    Amazing the thoughts and memories you post on Elder Perry has stirred in me. I am so grateful for living prophets and apostles, and today am especially so for Elder L. Tom Perry! Thanks, MMM.

  19. Oh, here’s a memory of Elder Perry– in college, at the Y, in my less reverent days, I just called him L. Tom. As in, “give me your best L.Tom cheesy grin,” to my best friend, who to this day has the most brilliant, friendly, open smile I know… well, other that Elder Perry, that is. It’s not a story about him, but rather about how he had enough of an effect on a 17 year old college kid that I actually knew who he was.

  20. Gonna steal you L. Tom quote for my wall for today. I think that there are a bajillion people who really could use it, hard times seem to be going around for a lot of my circle of loved ones and friends right now. Thanks 🙂

  21. The following Elder Perry quotes/experiences come from a Temple District meeting at which he presided and I was fortunate enough to attend. It was held at the Baton Rouge Stake Center in Feb 2013. In attendance were the Stake Presidencies and Bishops and Branch Presidents of all 9 stakes in the Baton Rouge Temple District.

    1) Prior to the start of the meeting after Elder Perry and the other visiting authorities (Elder Soares, our Area Seventy and the two Mission Presidents) had taken their places on the stand, the room was hushed and still as we sat listening to the quiet prelude music. Elder Perry pipes up from the stand in his booming voice, “Smile Brethren – This isn’t a funeral!”

    2) During the Q&A portion of the meeting, someone asked the standard, “How are the Brethren doing?”, his immediate quip was, “Well, they’re all younger than me so they should be doing fine!” Then after the laughter died down he said, “The Brethren are the biggest bunch of liars!” He then went on to describe, in somewhat surprising detail, the various ailments and issues facing several of the other Apostles and First Presidency but then he added, “But those last 5 – Those young kids are just great and full of life!”

    3) Not a quote but rather an observation: Everyone on the stand was seated unless they were speaking, of course, and during the Q&A session, whomever was responding to the question would rise and come to the podium to answer it – except Elder Perry. He’d literally leap out of his chair (and as your daughter noted, he’s rather tall – so it is somewhat surprising to see such a tall man rise out of his chair so quickly) and just respond where he stood. His voice easily carried throughout the chapel. The meeting included a lunch break and when he was moving down the hall of the Stake Center, you had to work to keep up with him. There was no dilly-dally in his movement. He hurried us right along. I half-expected him to lead us in push-ups. A very fit and energetic Apostle – especially considering the fact that he’s the oldest of them all.

    I too love Elder Perry! There is no doubt in my mind that he is indeed an Apostle of Jesus Christ.

    1. Cary and Emily: These are great additions. I’m going to edit the post and ask for more!

  22. About 10 years ago, I worked at the Provo MTC as a Referral Center Teacher. We had the opportunity to volunteer during the mission president’s seminar in June every year. That year I had been assigned as an usher in the main hallway of the main building. My entire job was to stand there and be helpful if someone needed something. We weren’t allowed to approach anyone, but they could come over to us.

    The shift I had went over the lunch period, so at one point the hallway was packed with people chatting away and getting ready to go in and eat. Directly across from me stood the MTC security guys. Elder Perry went over and stood chatting with them for a long time. They were all cracking jokes and enjoying each other. Then after a awhile, Sister Perry came up to him, after having waited in line for the women’s restroom. His response, still makes me smile. Not a direct quote, but something along the lines of, “Well, it’s about time! I’m starving!” 🙂

    It was later that same day that my favorite story of Elder Scott occurred. 🙂

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