“Getting to Know the First Presidency of the Church,” Friend, May 2008, 2–3
President Monson was born in 1927 in Salt Lake City, Utah. As a boy, he participated in sports activities. He also decided, without having been asked, to cut the lawn of a widow and leave the yard looking much better. As president of his teachers quorum, he was successful in encouraging each member to attend priesthood meetings. He never gave up on any member of that quorum until each one became active in the Church.
He served in the Navy toward the end of World War II. After returning home, he married Frances Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple. They have three children, eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
When he was 22, President Monson was called to be the bishop of his ward with 1,080 members, including 84 widows. Each Christmas, he took a week of his vacation time to visit every widow and give each one a gift. While each of them lived, he visited them long after he was released from being their bishop.
All his life, President Monson has been a faithful and humble servant of the Lord. He has a tender heart and a compassionate nature, which make him always aware of the less fortunate around him. President Monson learned early in his life to follow the promptings of the Spirit, and he has made it his goal to always follow the Spirit, no matter what. President Monson is also a friend to everyone he meets. He genuinely loves people and rarely forgets them once he has met them.
President Monson is a man of faith and a man of God, who can always be found serving and loving those around him. “I believe that love is shown by how you live, how you serve, and how you bless others,” he said. “When we serve others, we are showing them that we love them, and we are also showing Jesus Christ that we love Him and follow His example. … Jesus said, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments. … He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me’ ” (John 14:15, 21).
President Henry B. Eyring was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey. His father was an internationally known scientist, so his basement was filled with blackboards instead of ping-pong tables. Growing up in New Jersey, young Hal (as he was called) and his two brothers were the only youth in their small branch. They met in the Eyrings’ home, using the dining room table for the sacrament and the pulpit. But his parents taught him well the gospel and the sciences, and Hal became well grounded in both.
During the Korean War missionary service was restricted, so President Eyring served in the U.S. Air Force instead of serving a full-time mission. While in the Air Force, he was called to be a district missionary. He spent his nights and weekends for the next two years serving the Lord and preaching the gospel. After he was released from the Air Force, he went back to school and met his wife, Kathleen. They have six children and twenty-five grandchildren. His family is a most important part of his life.
Throughout President Eyring’s life, education and learning have been a great influence. It is certain that his passion for teaching and learning will continue to influence him as he helps spread the gospel. “Life is more than a career; life is a mission,” he once said. “Life has a purpose, and its purpose requires learning across a wide spectrum. We should be learners throughout our lives.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf was born in Czechoslovakia and raised in Germany. When he was six years old, his family was converted to the Church.
President Uchtdorf learned the value of working hard at a young age. The Uchtdorfs owned a laundry, and Dieter rode a heavy-duty bicycle, pulling a heavy laundry cart before and after school. Years later, when he joined the air force, he learned that he had had a lung disease when he was younger. Because he had worked hard through his childhood, his body had healed itself and built up a resistance to the disease.
The scriptures became important to Dieter when he was young. Romans 8:31 reads “If God be for us, who can be against us?” This scripture impressed upon him the desire to follow the Lord’s teachings: “That teaching has stayed with me throughout my life. It taught me that I need to be on the Lord’s side. I cannot afford not to be on the Lord’s side.”
President Uchtdorf worked for 30 years as an airline pilot. He married Harriet Reich in the Bern Switzerland Temple. They are the parents of two children and have six grandchildren. On October 7, 2004, he was ordained as an Apostle—the first Apostle called in more than 50 years who was born outside the United States.