Lowell Tom Perrywas born to goodly parents on August 5, 1922, in Logan, Utah. His parents were Leslie Thomas and Nora Sonne Perry, and they were parents of six children. They were both members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and loved the gospel of Jesus Christ; they provided a righteous example and atmosphere to their children.
Elder Perry described his life at home with these words, “We were dressed in our home each morning, not only with hats and raincoats and boots to protect us from physical storm, but even more carefully our parents dressed us each day in the armor of God. As we would kneel in family prayer and listen to our father, a bearer of the priesthood, pour out his soul to the Lord for the protection of his family against the fiery darts of the wicked, one more layer was added to our shield of faith. While our shield was being made strong, theirs was always available, for they were available and we knew it.”
Elder Perry’s parents taught him to work hard by giving him chores. As a young man Elder Perry served a mission in the Northwestern States Mission and joined the military a month after his return home. He was in the first wave of marines to go ashore in Japan after the peace treaty ending World War II was signed. He was saddened by the conditions he saw and wanted to do everything he could to help. He was in a group of soldiers that went to their division chaplain to ask permission to rebuild the Christian churches in the area and said they would work for free. They received permission and went to work. The Japanese Christians were very grateful to be back in their churches.
Elder Perry was a patriot for his entire life and spoke of the need for God in our government: “I will teach my firm conviction that the foundation of any righteous government is the law that has been received from the Lord to guide and direct man’s efforts. Righteous government receives direction from the Lord.”
Elder Perry married Virginia Lee while attending Utah State Agricultural College (now Utah State University. The couple became parents of three children. Sister Lee passed away on December 14, 1974, eight months after he was called to be an Apostle. He married Barbara Taylor Dayton on April 28, 1976, and they have traveled the world together on assignments to preach and teach the gospel.
Elder Perry served in many positions of leadership, including bishoprics, stake high council, stake presidency, stake mission president, and stake president. In 1972 he was called to be an Assistant to the Twelve, and in 1974 he was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He testified of Jesus Christ and spoke with a booming voice.
Family was always very important to Elder Perry, and he spoke of the importance of traditional marriage and family in his final General Conference address. He shared his experience of attending a colloquium on marriage and family at the Vatican in Rome, Italy, in November 2014. Religious representatives were in attendance from 14 different faiths and six continents. There were three days of presentations and discussion on the subject of marriage between a man and a woman. “As I listened to the widest imaginable variety of worldwide religious leaders, I heard them agree completely with each other and express support for one another’s beliefs on the sanctity of the institution of marriage and of the importance of families as the basic unit of society. I felt a powerful sense of commonality and unity with them.”
Elder Perry answered his own question about how The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distinguishes and differentiates itself from the rest of the world. “Here is the answer: while it was wonderful to see and feel that we have so much in common with the rest of the world in regard to our families, only we have the eternal perspective of the restored gospel.
“What the restored gospel brings to the discussion on marriage and family is so large and so relevant that it cannot be overstated: we make the subject eternal! We take the commitment and the sanctity of marriage to a greater level because of our belief and understanding that families go back to before this earth was and that they can go forward into eternity….
“The entire theology of our restored gospel centers on families and on the new and everlasting covenant of marriage. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe in a premortal life where we all lived as literal spirit children of God our Heavenly Father. We believe that we were, and still are, members of His family.
“We believe that marriage and family ties can continue beyond the grave – that marriages performed by those who have the proper authority in His temples will continue to be valid in the world to come. Our marriage ceremonies eliminate the words `till death do us part’ and instead say, `for time and for all eternity.’
“We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values – but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God.
“We believe that the organization and government of heaven will be built around families and extended families….”
Elder Perry will be greatly missed!