A Minute with Mark: Remembering President Thomas S. Monson

by | Jan 8, 2018

On Tuesday, January 2nd 2018, President Thomas S. Monson, our beloved Prophet, passed away. The next morning the Boy Scouts of America released the following statement through Chief Scout Executive Mike Surbaugh:

The Boy Scouts of America is deeply saddened to learn of the death of Thomas S. Monson, the 16th president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

 President Monson was a selfless volunteer with a life-long commitment to the values of Scouting. As the longest-serving member of the BSA National Executive Board, Monson was a cornerstone of the Scouting program. He was the recipient of the organization’s Silver Beaver Award, the prestigious Silver Buffalo Award, the Bronze Wolf – international Scouting’s highest honor, and the Silver Fox Award from Scouts Canada.

 We are proud to honor his legacy and ensure that President Monson’s positive impact on our organization will endure for generations through the lessons in leadership that will be passed on to future generations at the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex at the Summit Bechtel Reserve.

 The Boy Scouts of America extends its sincerest condolences to President Monson’s family and the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It has been a privilege for me as a BSA employee to work and serve in an organization with a Prophet of the Lord on its National Executive Board. President Monson began his National Scouting service in 1969 and faithfully attended and supported National Board Meetings, National Annual Meetings, national and world jamborees and a myriad of local Scouting events through 2011.

In 2013, the centennial of LDS Scouting, President Monson was present in the Conference Center at the “A Century of Honor” production. National President Wayne Perry made the surprise announcement that there would be a leadership complex built in President Monson’s name. President Monson was visibly moved at the announcement, and thousands of Scouts in attendance and watching via broadcast cheered. I believe that was the last Scouting event President Monson appeared at. He was granted lifetime status on the National Executive Board and in 2015 Elder Jeffrey R. Holland became an active attendee on that Board.

In June 2016 ground was broken for the Thomas S. Monson Leadership Excellence Complex at the Summit Bechtel Reserve in West Virginia. Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson were there to represent the Church. Even though President Monson was unable to attend this event, a beautiful video recorded message from him was played during the ceremony. It was a day I will never forget, and all of us in attendance could not doubt that his leadership legacy would continue. 

I have been impressed by the outpouring of love and support over this last week as I have received numerous phone calls and emails from Scouters all across the nation expressing their condolences and respect for our beloved prophet. President Monson was beloved by many. Frequently over the last several years as I have served in this position these Scouters–mostly members of other faiths–would come up to me and tell me stories about their Scouting experiences with President Monson and they would often refer to him as “Tommy” since that was the Scouting name he preferred to be called by. I have also observed that many of the public tributes to him on both radio, television, and internet have referred to his Scouting service. It was well known that he supported Scouting and the Church’s involvement not because of his concern for LDS boys, but because he cared about “all boys.” To President Monson, Scouting was indeed a bridge in our communities, our nation, and our world. President Monson’s Scouting legacy will live on as it stretches for generations and across the continents.

I am grateful for the many quotes and stories about Scouting that he shared in his numerous conference talks and Scouting addresses. We have been and will continue to share these quotes and stories on Facebook and through this blog. One of my favorite quotes from President Monson is,

“Walk the Scouting trail. It’s a good trail. It’s uphill, but you never can regret following the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.”

Thank you President Monson for your example of one who was always striving to do his best to serve others as you strived to fulfill your Duty to God.

~Mark R. Francis has served as LDS-BSA Relationships director since 2012