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SALT LAKE CITY — The music, thoughtful tributes and tender accounts of one-on-one service were among what stood out most to those attending Friday’s funeral of LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson at the Conference Center.
“It was a wonderful tribute to his life, of his Christlike attributes which reminded us again and again that even though he was the president of a worldwide church, he focused on the individual,” said Ellen Gertsch Lunt, a Farmington resident who attended the services. “His heart was continually thinking of others, and he reflected that in his acts and deeds all throughout his life.”
Lunt was one of more than 11,000 who attended the funeral on a clear January afternoon with blue skies. She, along with others interviewed as they left the Conference Center, said the services demonstrated the love that people had for President Monson as a church leader, mentor, friend and family man.
After the funeral, Boy Scouts from the Salt Lake area, along with business people and City Creek shoppers, stepped out of their downtown offices along South Temple to salute the motorcade as it passed on the way to the Salt Lake cemetery. The Scouts removed their coats in spite of the cold in order to display their tan uniforms. Their happy chatter went quiet as the procession passed by.
Mike Brady, one of the leaders of Troop 747, teared up at the scene.
“We love President Monson,” Barbara Langford said. “He was a lifelong scouter.”
Matthew Carney, an assistant district commissioner for the Boy Scouts, stood by Troop 747 with his three sons.
“President Monson’s love of scouting was exemplified by the way he lived out its principles,” Carney said. “He was caring, loving, trustworthy and loyal.”
Peter Challis, an 11-year-old Scout in uniform, was joined by his mother, his 4-month-old brother and his 9-year-old brother, Aaron, a Cub Scout, on the corner of N Street and South Temple.
“This is an extra special way to honor him,” Challis said. “I know he really loved the Boy Scouts.”
Samuel Alstrom, a troop leader watched the procession outside The Cathedral of the Madeleine as its bells started ringing after the funeral.
“I wanted to honor the legacy of a great man,” Alstrom said.
Like his passion for Scouting, those who attended the funeral said the music and messages shared epitomized President Monson’s life of love and service.
Griffin and Sarah Cook, a young married couple attending Brigham Young University, loved the musical selections. During his closing prayer, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve, confirmed that the hymns “Consider the Lilies of the Field,” “O Divine Redeemer,” “Dear to the Heart of the Shepherd,” and “If the Way Be Full of Trial, Weary Not,” were selected by President Monson.
“The musical numbers were perfect and went along with the messages,” Griffin Cook said. “The funeral was the epitome of everything that President Monson lived for. It wasn’t anything too fancy, but it was everything I know he loved.”
“It was really touching,” Sarah Cook said. “I immediately started crying just thinking about the amazing life President Monson lived. It was great to hear his daughter (Ann Dibb) speak. You could tell everyone really loved President Monson, and we’ll miss him for sure.”
Kimberly Arana, a student at LDS Business College from Peru, never had the chance to meet President Monson but said his example and teachings blessed her life, including inspiring her to serve an LDS mission.
“(Attending the funeral) was a wonderful experience. I was able to feel all the love from the people for the prophet and remember many experiences and teachings that he gave us when he was alive,” Arana said. “I feel blessed for the opportunity we have to have prophets. Even in a world that is changing every day, I feel blessed to have people like him who dedicate their life to serve others and bless and care for others.”
Cindy Remke, of the Salt Lake City area, checked her children Maeve, Jude and Roman out of school early to attend the funeral.
“I was surprised at how sad I was, the tears that were shed … thinking about his life and the service that he offered, but also the sacrifice of his family for all that service. I was touched by that, and by the stories that were shared,” Remke said. “I was touched by his example of one-on-one service to people. … It does leave you inspired to want to go and help your neighbor, to be more giving of your time and less selfish.”
Lucia Morales sat with her two-month old baby in the adjoining Little Theater while her husband and daughters were in the main Conference Center. The family from Mexico attended the funeral while on vacation in Utah. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she talked about the funeral service.
“It was very moving, but also painful,” Morales said in Spanish. “I’m happy that President Monson is reunited with his sweet wife, who he missed so much.”
Don Harwell, the recently released president of the Genesis Group, attended the funeral with his wife, Jerri, who thought the music was fantastic.
“I enjoyed it,” Jerri Harwell said. “It was a great send-off to a great man, a great prophet, and his family did an excellent job. … It was an honor; I’m glad we came.”
Lunt and her friend Amy Gates serve together in the Bountiful Temple. They bumped into each other as the funeral ended. Lunt named her son after President Monson and feels a connection through her aunt, Lucy Gertsch, who was his Sunday School teacher.
“We all feel like his friends,” Lunt said.
Gates said she was doing well until Elder Holland’s closing prayer when he asked for a blessing on the widows and fatherless as a tribute to President Monson.
“I lost it,” Gates said. “”It was so much the legacy of President Monson’s life. And if we can continue to carry that on, that would be a wonderful tribute to him.”
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