This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
At his core, Mormon apostle L. Tom Perry was a listener and a learner, even on divisive issues such as gay rights.
Though the 92-year-old Perry, who died Saturday, was by nature a traditionalist, his fundamental attitude was one of openness, his son Lee Perry said Sunday, "and finding common ground."
Perry relished legislation that would balance gay rights with religious freedoms as Utah did earlier this year with the passage of a groundbreaking measure protecting LGBT individuals from discrimination in housing and employment while also providing religious-liberty safeguards: SB296.
He was on hand when the governor signed the measure backed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and exchanged handshakes and hugs with the activists and policymakers who brought it about.
Even so, in his last LDS General Conference address, Perry, a Mormon apostle for more than four decades, defended "traditional families" and warned against the dangers of "counterfeit and alternative lifestyles."
Some in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community felt attacked by Perry's language and then questioned his support of the legislation.
The use of the term "counterfeit" may have "taken on more meaning than he intended," Lee Perry said in the interview, but critics shouldn't question his father's motives or intentions.
"There is a lifetime of evidence," the son said, "that he had this profound respect for people."
The elder Perry, the son remarked, "was never close-minded about anything."
That included women's issues.
"I don't think my father stumbled over gender issues very often," Lee Perry said. "He believed that wonderful ideas could come from both men and women, so he listened to everyone."
A cheery disposition was his "unique gift," Lee Perry said. "Whether by nature or nurture, he came by it naturally."
Patience, on the other hand, had to be learned, the son said.
The elder Perry, with his business background, hated waiting in lines or any inefficient process, but through the years, the apostle developed the patience to stay around after Mormon meetings to shake members' hands and offer words of greeting.
The gesture was, Lee Perry said, "a way to honor his religious calling."
Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced.