L. Tom Perry, An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation, 1922-1976

by Lee Tom Perry

L. Tom Perry, An Uncommon Life: Years of Preparation, 1922-1976
  • An uncommon life
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Elder L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is fond of describing himself as being "as common as dirt."

Yet his life is uncommon by any standard. After spending most of his early years in his hometown of Logan, Utah, and additional years on a mission and in the military, young Tom Perry launched a twenty-year professional career that took him from his first job as an internal auditor in Boise, Idaho, to executive positions in retailing on the west and east coasts of the United States. Soon after his fiftieth birthday, he was surprised to be called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve. Not long afterward, President Spencer W. Kimball extended to Elder Perry the call to join the Quorum of the Twelve. Elder Perry has now served for forty years as a General Authority.

For Elder Perry, the value of life's experiences is determined primarily by the lessons they teach. As the story of his life shows, his positive attitude has created positive lessons that we can learn from. He has lived a life of faithfulness to God, family, and country, and he continues to be blessed with faith-promoting experiences.

This first volume of Elder L. Tom Perry's biography extends from his birth on August 5, 1922, through his marriage to Virginia Clare Lee, the births of their children, and his career in the world of retailing to the time of his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the passing of his beloved Virginia.

Uplifting and inspirational, this story of a remarkable man of faith encourages us to live better lives by drawing closer to God, selflessly serving others, and leading our families along the path of righteousness.

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  • SKU: 5104180


  • SKU: 5103970

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Average rating

based upon 8 reviews
Candid life accounts that are spiritually edifying.
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I met him on my mission back in 2006 when He accompanied President Hinckley at the rededication if the Sanitago Chile Temple. He spoke to the Chile Rancagua mission then and also right before my two years were up. I shook his hand and was able to talk to him but this book gave me a greater opportunity to get to know him and his example he has set all throughout his life. My emotions were stirred and my spirit was uplifted throughout this book. Great perspective on his life from his son. I even went to youtube to watch his conference address from 1972 when he was called as an assistant to the twelve and then in 1974 as an apostle. I even was able to watch his address in 1975 after his wife Virginia, had passed away. It really tugged at my heart and made me realize how he really is a A Special Witness of Christ.

A compelling story of the Lord's preparation of one of his called and chosen apostles.
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

I could not put Elder Perry's biography down. It stirred me deeply to learn about a humble man who the Lord took by the hand and led. This is a man who claims to be "as common as dirt" who is extraordinary in every way. The book begins by telling the incredible story of Elder Perry's ancestors and parents, moves to his boyhood, tells about his mission and military service. It provides deep insight into his professional career and years of church service in Idaho, California, New York, and Massachusetts. The book also provides revealing glimpses into Elder Perry's family life, and especially poignant stories about his first eternal companion, Virginia Clare Lee Perry. The span of the book covers Elder Perry's life through Virginia's tragic death, and practically up until the moment he meets his second eternal companion. Many of the stories told in the book are riveting and inspirational. This is a must read for all devoted members of the Church.

I couldn't put it down
By , Submitted on 2015-02-25

Written by his son, Lee Tom Perry, An Uncommon Life begins with a brief history of a handful of his ancestors. I was amazed as I read about his ancestors. Even though we live in a very different time and place than those who lived so long ago, human nature and the struggles of raising a family transcend generational barriers. After leaving her family behind to build a life in the uncharted woods of Idaho, I couldn’t help but empathize with Elder Perry’s grandmother as she sobbed in her husbands arms, begging, “take me back where there’s singing and music and dancing; take me back to where there’s books and learning!” I’ve been there. I’ve felt that same loneliness.
After his family history we begin to read about L. Tom Perry himself. Born in 1922, he was raised by goodly parents who taught him the value of hard work and education.
Given the emphasis his parents placed on education and the example of his two brilliant siblings, you can imagine why Elder Perry felt “as common as dirt”. In his own eyes he was not naturally gifted and had to work hard to achieve his desired results. While this might have been kind of a downer for most of us, Elder Perry was quite glad of it. He felt that his situation of being “common” was an “opportunity for self-expression and initiative”. Of his father the author said, “he was grateful he was not as naturally gifted as others. He felt fortunate that things didn’t come easily for him and that he was given only enough natural ability when he was conscientious and applied himself.” Not being naturally gifted in anything, my successes are almost always are preceded by epic failures so I can’t tell you how inspiring that concept is to me.
Elder Perry left to serve a mission just as the US was entering World War II. After his two years were up he touched ground in his native Utah for just a few months before heading off to war. My laughter carried throughout the house when I read that L. Tom Perry chose the Marines over the Navy because of the uniforms, and Matt grinned when I read him the passage. (Matt has mentioned more than once that his only regret in joining the Air Force is that the uniforms aren’t as sharp as the Navy’s.) Elder Perry later finished school, married, started a family, moved to several different states during his successful career, and eventually ended up in New England near my old (and current) stomping grounds. His service in the church and the experiences he had with following the spirit allowed him to have a very successful career, and his enthusiasm and love for life helped him gain lasting and meaningful friendships with those around him.
For a more thorough review go to http://ordinaryhappilyeverafter.com/blog/2013/04/l-tom-perry-an-uncommon-life-review/

About the Author

Lee Tom Perry

Lee Tom Perry, son of Elder L. Tom Perry, holds a PhD from Yale University. An associate dean at the Brigham Young University Marriott School of Management, Dr. Perry is the Sorensen Family Professor of Organizational Leadership and Strategy. He served from 1998 to 2005 as associate dean over both graduate and undergraduate programs at the Marriott School.

Brother Perry has served in the Church as a bishop, as a stake president, and from June 2005 to July 2008, as mission president of the California Roseville Mission. He presently serves as a member of the Sunday School General Board. The author of Righteous Influence: What Every Leader Should Know about Drawing on the Powers of Heaven, he also wrote the lyrics of the Latter-day Saint hymn "As Now We Take the Sacrament."

Brother Perry and his wife, Carolyn Bench Perry, live in Orem, Utah. They are the parents of six children.

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