Mormonism, Thomas S. Monson was born on August 21, 1927, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The second oldest of six children, he grew up in a "tight-knit" family; many of his mother's relatives living on the same street and the extended family frequently going on trips together.
From 1940 to 1944, Monson attended West High School in Salt Lake City. In the fall of 1944, he enrolled at the University of Utah.
In 1945, at age 17, Monson joined the U.S Navy Reserves, and anticipated participating in World War 2 in the Pacific. He was sent to San Diego, but was not moved overseas before the end of the war. His tour of duty lasted six months beyond the end of the war, and after it was completed he returned to the University of Utah. Monson graduated in 1948 with a bachelor's degree in business management. Monson did not serve a full-time mission as a youth. At age 21, on October 7, 1948, he married Frances Beverly Johnson in the Salt Lake Temple. The couple eventually had three children.
After college he rejoined the Naval Reserve with the aim of becoming an officer. Shortly after receiving his commission acceptance letter, he was asked to serve as a counselor in the bishopric. Time conflicts with bishopric meetings would have made serving in the Navy impossible. Monson declined the commission and applied for a discharge. The Navy granted his discharge in the last group processed before the Korean War. Harold B. Lee set him apart six months later as a bishop—mentioning in the blessing that he likely would not have been called if he had accepted the commission.
Following the death of the LDS Church President, Spencer W. Kimball in 1985, newly selected president Ezra Taft Benson asked Gordon B. Hinkley and Monson to serve as his first and second counselors. In the early 1990s, Benson developed health problems that largely removed him from public view, leaving Hinckley and Monson to carry out many of the duties of the First Presidency until Benson died in 1994. Monson and Hinckley also served as counselors to Benson's successor Howard W. Hunter. When Hinckley succeeded Hunter in 1995, Monson became his first counselor. He served until Hinckley's death on January 27, 2008. As the second in seniority among the apostles behind Hinckley, Monson simultaneously served as President of the Quorum of the Twelve Aposles. Boyd K. Packer, (then third in seniority behind Hinckley and Monson) served as acting president of the twelve aposles.
Monson became the 16th president of the LDS Church on February 3, 2008, succeeding Gordon B. Hinckley, who had died seven days earlier. Monson selected Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf as his first and second counselors, respectively. When Monson was born, there were fewer than 650,000 members of the church in the world, with most of them being based in the western United States. When he became president, there were over 13 million members worldwide, with the majority of the membership living outside the United States and Canada. As of November 2011, 28 LDS Temples announced by Monson are either under construction or in planning.
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