Church of the Latter-day Saints president Thomas Monson dies at age 90

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FILE PHOTO: President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Thomas Monson gives a talk at the fourth session of the 181st Semiannual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah October 2, 2011. REUTERS/George Frey/File Photo

Thomas Monson, the president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormon Church, has passed away Tuesday at the age of 90 at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. Monson was the 16th president of the Mormon church, which he led since 2008.

According to Eric Hawkins, Latter Day Saints (LDS) Church Director of Media Relations, Monson died from “causes incident to age” while he was surrounded by his family.

As the president of the church, Monson was the leader of the nearly 16 million members of the church worldwide, who considered him a prophet who received divine revelations.

For multiple generations, Monson was a familiar face in the church’s top circle, having served over 50 years in its leadership councils. Before he was named the president in 2008, Monson was the second counselor to church presidents Ezra Taft Benson and Howard W. Hunter, as well as the first counselor for Gordon B. Hinckley.

Monson took on church leadership roles at an early age, becoming a church bishop at the age of 22. He also became the youngest church apostle ever in 1963 at the age of 36.

Mormons will remember Monson as a caring and approachable leader. During his tenure as president, he focused on humanitarian work and expanded the church’s disaster relief programs globally.

Monson was also known to drop everything in order to go to hospitals to visit people in need. “President Monson always seemed more interested in what we do with our religion rather than in what we believe,” said Armand Mauss, retired professor of sociology and religious studies at Washington State University.

Monson noticeably kept a low profile during times of strong publicity of the Mormon Church, including the presidential bids of church member Mitt Romney in 2008 and 2012.

Although the next Church of the Latter-day Saints president has not been formally named, it is expected that Russell M. Nelson, the longest-tenured member of the church’s leadership council, will succeed Monson.