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