Elder L. Tom Perry lived a life of service to his fellow men as a builder of churches and souls.
On May 30, 2015, L. Tom Perry—a man with a big smile and an even bigger heart—passed away. Elder Perry (1922–2015) lived a long life of service. As a young man, he learned how to build as he helped his father renovate their home. This knowledge served him greatly when he was sent to Japan as a US Marine. After observing the destruction World War II left behind, he knew he had to do something to help the Japanese people.
And help he did; Elder Perry is remembered by some Japanese Christians as a builder, not a soldier. He obtained permission and set about rebuilding Christian chapels amid the post-war rubble. He claimed that he brought more people to Christ while in Japan than he did on his LDS mission in the Northern States Mission, USA.
The service he gave did not end in Japan. After returning home, Elder Perry served in bishoprics and stake presidencies, on high councils, and as a mission president. In every opportunity, he strengthened those around him.
His service culminated with his calling as an Apostle (1974–2015). Elder Perry is remembered for his powerful spirit. As stated in his short biography, he “preached and lived with deep spiritual power and enthusiasm. His booming voice would echo in the hearts of listeners long after he stepped down from the pulpit.”
A mere eight months after he received the calling to serve as an Apostle, he lost his first wife, Virginia Lee, to cancer. After Virginia’s death, his outlook never dimmed. He said of his wife’s passing, “Now she is whole again, and I am certain paradise is a much more joyful place because she is there.” In 1976, Elder Perry married Barbara Dayton in the Salt Lake Temple, and they served together for the rest of his life.
Now we too can suppose that “paradise is a much more joyful place” because Elder Perry is there.
Watch a short memorial video and read Elder Perry’s biography.
Source: LDS Church
—Daniel Braithwaite, Mormon Insights
Find more insights
Read an additional short bio of Elder Perry and find links to many of his talks.
Watch Elder Perry’s testimony as a special witness of Christ.
In the few experiences I have had with Elder Perry, he really was a “builder of souls.” It was nice to read a little bit more about his background and the experiences that made him into the jovial Apostle that I knew.