Frances Monson, wife of Mormon leader, dies

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SALT LAKE CITY -- The wife of the president of the Mormon church has died.

Frances B. Monson, 85, died early yesterday at a hospital in Salt Lake City, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has announced.

Church president Thomas S. Monson said his wife was the family's beacon of love, compassion and encouragement. The couple's three children say their mother had a knack for budgeting, bookkeeping and finding deals. She excelled at math and science and was the one in the house who fixed electrical switches or plumbing leaks.

She once left a note reading, "Dear children, do not let Daddy touch the microwave, or the stove, or the dishwasher or the dryer."

She shied away from the spotlight during her husband's time as head of the church. She made occasional appearances at the church's biannual general conferences, but opted not to give any speeches of her own, said Matthew Bowman, assistant professor of religion at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia.

"She was fairly quiet," said Bowman, who wrote a book about the Mormon church in 2012. "She didn't want to be viewed as figurehead or public figure."

The cause of death was not immediately disclosed. The church said she had been hospitalized for several weeks.

Frances Monson grew up in Salt Lake City during the Great Depression. She was the youngest of five children and her parents' only daughter.

It was during her days at the University of Utah that she met her husband, who like her, was of Swedish descent. The couple was married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1948.

She was known as a supportive wife. In an often-repeated story, Frances Monson once stood next to a window to hear her husband give a speech even after ushers told her women were not allowed to stand in the doorway to listen.

"She pressed gender roles of the church in very subtle, but interesting ways," Bowman said.

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