Thomas S. Monson, president of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, passed away on Jan. 2 at the age of 90. He is said to have passed peacefully of old age.
Thomas was exposed to charitable deeds from young age. A former editor of the Deseret News -- where Thomas once worked -- said the faith leader grew up in a poor neighborhood of Salt Lake City where he watched his mother give food and aid to transients during the Great Depression, KSL reports.
Experiences with the less able-bodied also stayed him throughout the rest of his lifetime. He once recalled how he and his father would go on drives with their Uncle Elias, whose rheumatoid arthritis left him unable to walk.
"The drive was brief and the conversation limited, but oh, what a legacy of love!" Thomas preached. "Father never read to me from the Bible about the good Samaritan. Rather, he took me with him and Uncle Elias in that old 1928 Oldsmobile along the road to Jericho."
Church members knew him as a man who would give the clothes off of his back. In some instances, he literally did so.
"The image of him I will cherish until I die is of him flying home from then-economically devastated East Germany in his house slippers because he had given away not only his second suit and his extra shirts but the very shoes from off his feet," once said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, fellow church leader and longtime friend of Thomas.
Thomas earned his degree in Business Management at the University of Utah in 1948 and also served in the U.S. Navy Reserve. At the recommendation of then-Elder Harold B. Lee, an LDS apostle and later a prophet, Thomas declined a promotion as junior commissioned officer to join the church.
According to The Salt Lake Tribune, Thomas became a bishop at a Salt Lake City congregation with over 80 widows at age 22. The BBC reports that he became the 16th president of the LDS Church in 2008. Like all Mormon presidents, he is also considered a prophet.
Thomas implemented new policies to the church throughout his presidency, but in large part remained out of the public eye with his wife, Frances. He lowered the qualifying age of missionaries for both men and women, sparking an increase in the number of missionary members.
Some of the more controversial moves that happened under his presidency was the LDS Church's vigorous campaign to pass the gay marriage ban in California in 2008. The church has also backed political candidates, such as Mitt Romney in the 2012 election.
A new president has yet to be announced, but it will most likely fall to the longest-serving member of the church's leadership, 93-year-old Russell Nelson.