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Mormon Leader L. Tom Perry Dies From Cancer at 92

L. Tom Perry died of thyroid cancer while surrounded by family at his Salt Lake City home, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said.
Elder L. Tom Perry.
Elder L. Tom Perry.Corporation of the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Mormon leader L. Tom Perry, a senior member of the governing body of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, died Saturday at his home in Utah, the church said. He was 92.

Perry died of thyroid cancer at around 3 p.m. while surrounded by family at his Salt Lake City home, according to a statement from Mormon church. Perry was the second most senior and oldest living apostle among a group of 15 who hold the highest priesthood offices in the church, according to the website.

The church announced that Perry had been hospitalized with breathing trouble in late April and on April 24 announced that he had been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

On Friday, church spokesman Eric Hawkins said that the cancer had spread to Perry's lungs. "Elder Perry has asked that we share his thanks for the prayers and kindness extended to him by Church members and friends," Hawkins said Friday.

Perry served two years with the Marines following World War II, and started serving in the church in 1942. He attended undergraduate school and graduate school at Utah State University, and went on to become the president and treasurer of various retail companies, according to the church.

He began serving as an assistant to the apostles in 1972, and began service as an apostle in 1974, according to his biography on the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints website.

Perry was well-known for being friendly unpretentious, Matthew Bowman, a history professor at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, told The Associated Press.

"That warmth, that graciousness, the fact that he really did like people and he liked all the members of the Church and appreciated them — I think that's how he'll be remembered," said fellow apostle Elder Quentin L. Cook.

Perry's first wife, with whom he had three children, died in 1974. He is survived by his second wife Barbara Taylor Dayton, whom he married in 1976.

"He had this common touch and he was as comfortable with the common man as presidents and rulers and treated them all pretty much the same and had a way of relating to them and connecting with them that's just profound," said Lee Perry, Elder Perry’s son, said in the church's statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.