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Remembering Elder L. Tom Perry: Speeches at BYU

We are paying tribute to Elder L. Tom Perry, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who died Saturday from the effects of cancer. During the nearly 43 years he served as an apostle, Elder Perry visited and spoke at BYU many times.

He often talked of the great responsibility we have for making BYU the best it can be, to be careful with the widow's mite and to never stop learning. Here are some excerpts of many of the speeches he gave at BYU:


I'm delighted to have this opportunity. Every time I come on this great campus a thrill runs through my soul as I mingle with you great young people. 

--To What Purpose Is This Waste?, BYU Devotional, July 10, 1973


I will never lose the feeling of awe that comes over me when I enter this great building and gaze upon this vast sea of faces, the students of Brigham Young University. To me it is overwhelming to see all of you gathered here together and realize the great responsibility we both have-you, to your committed course of study and everything else that goes with being on your own in a college setting, and me, to help provide useful guidance and counsel to you. I hope you know of my love for each of you. I hope you feel of my concern for your welfare. I do care about you and want the best out of life for each of you.

--On Staying Power, BYU Devotional, March 17, 1987


You are young, and I am old. There are many years which separate you and me. When I was your age, I used a slide rule to make calculations in my accounting class. I'll give you a demonstration of how this works. I speak at the rate of 140 words per minute when I'm giving a talk. If I move the slide rule over to the number of words I'm speaking, I notice how long the talk will be. For me this is much faster than a modern calculating device. But in order to keep up with your modern bright minds, for almost all calculations I have had to stay abreast of the modern tools of this day.

In order to keep pace with you, I have been required to make many changes to be close to the latest technology. I have learned how to use a comptometer, a 1401 punch card and a 360 disk storage computer, a laptop, a PalmPilot, a Blackberry, an iPod, an iPhone, and now I have an iPad. Add to those Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube. Think of what it is like for an 88-year-old man to try to keep up with you!

--We Were the Greatest Generation, Fireside, March 6, 2011


To both parents and graduates, I encourage you to stay on top of technology so that you can keep up with one another and understand one another throughout your lives. No one should go into technological retirement when the last child leaves the nest. Instead, that is when you should be alert and more mentally active-learning new things and preparing yourself for future opportunities to have input in the lives of your posterity.

I have in my briefcase an iPhone and an iPad. I try to spend time each day learning new ways to use these devices. They are modern miracles! They allow me to access information from nearly everywhere around the world. I can communicate with my son or granddaughter by phone, text, email, FaceTime, Twitter, instant messaging, and a hundred other ways that only a few years ago we had never heard of!

--A World Full of Opportunities and Challenges, BYU Commencement Address, April 25, 2013


I realize the power of the great body I?m before today. It is the best-trained, the best-equipped generation the world has ever known. Adding to this the tremendous investment the Church is making in your education, I suddenly realize the power of you in the world in which you live.

I've had the privilege, as President Oaks knows all too well, of sitting on the budget committee for the last little while. I am rapidly becoming aware of the great pressures the Church has on its resources. The demand is always a hundredfold more than the supply. I suppose this condition will never change in a growing and expanding church. Even with all of the great pressures of buildings, travel, supplies, translation, education, programs, communication, and others, the Church in its priorities has agreed to invest its sacred tithing funds fifteen times greater in you than it does for the average member of the Church.

The sacrifice of these members of the Church to pay their tithes and offerings has become more meaningful to me in the last few weeks. I was assigned to divide a stake just a couple of weeks ago in a country south of here. In the process of issuing a call to a stake president, the man the Lord had selected to serve, I saw him almost break into tears when the call was extended to him. He explained that he knew the call was coming. He said with a sad heart, as he assumed this heavy burden, that he knew the sacrifice he and his family would have to make. Then he went on to explain that right now one day's salary in every month is required just to transport his children, his family, back and forth to church as they pay their fare on the bus. Now with this additional assignment, added bus fare would be needed to attend more meetings. Then he continued to say that he would gladly and willingly accept the call, for he was anxious to build the kingdom and to make whatever sacrifice the Lord would require of him. He knew his family would sustain him in this sacrifice.

My eyes glanced down, then, at this point, to the tithing record that was before me, and I found his contributions marked "paid in full." Suddenly I realized that this great and devoted, humble servant was making enormous sacrifices through the payment of his tithes to help my children have an education at this great institution.

Literally the widow's mite is being supplied you to give you an education at this school. The members of the Church have a right to expect high performance out of you. This institution must be the best in all the land; for the tithing funds, the Lord's funds, are sustaining and supporting it. Throughout the Church there is great love and high expectation for your performance as your education continues and as you go forward, leaving the institution to go out into the world and make your contribution.

--The Church and the American Bicentennial, BYU Devotional, February 24, 1976


I am encouraged with what I see in beginnings around this school. New discoveries are being made and worked on in energy sources. In this city new discoveries are being made to use the computer to increase our learning capacity and our learning capability. This University is wrestling with the problem of language differences, with some exciting results. These are beginnings, but I know the Lord is expecting more. What will your contribution be to make the return on the investment he is making in you, so that the Church can continue to expand as it grows worldwide? May God grant you the vision to see the potential there is within you, that you may become part of a team that will build and sustain the growth of his kingdom here on earth.

--He Hath Given a Law Unto All Things, BYU Devotional, November 29, 1977


I weep a little inside once in a while when I see some of you fight against the gospel standards which each of you had solemnly pledged on your honor to uphold at this institution. Let me give you an example. Some time ago I was on Brigham Young University campus on a Sunday evening near one of the apartment complexes where car after car was pulling in. All of the students were dressed in grubby jeans. It was evident that they had been to the canyons or some other place for a Sunday afternoon activity. Now at any other university in the world, no one would think much of this; it is commonplace. But here it was not the atmosphere for the Sabbath day. You are different; you have accepted the responsibility of setting a standard for the world, a standard different from that of any other university. We expect that from you. If the widow's mite is putting you through school, surely you should do your part.

The Lord is expecting from you a return on the investment he is making in you. If you put forth the effort, he will reward you openly and abundantly. If you rob him of that which you have been asked to do and fail to give him that return of academic excellence, of high moral standards, of preparation for service in his Kingdom, and of the integrity required of you at this institution, you will pay the price. His judgments are just and absolute.

This experience that you are having at Brigham Young University also gives you an opportunity to prepare for the life ahead of you, a life that could give you one of the greatest roles our Father in Heaven had designated for his children here: that of husband, wife, father, mother.

--Prophecies, Visions, and Dreams, CES Fireside, January 7, 1979


We're delighted to be with you at this important time in BYU's history. I always enjoy the summer, and this summer is significant here at this university. The summer of 1980 marks the end of another great era of administration at BYU. I want the students and the staff to know of my admiration for President Dallin Oaks. He is a man of tremendous talent and ability. His talents are so wide and varied that they must be given opportunity to be expressed in other settings, for he will make contributions in many areas during his life. He has lifted this university to new and important heights; now he will render the same kind of service in his other professional pursuits. I will miss him at the functions here at the school, especially at the ball games. As long as President Oaks was in attendance, I felt uninhibited in my enthusiasm. He always displayed such a spirit and interest in the game that I could follow along without feeling out of place as long as he was by my side.

I was delighted when the name of Jeffrey Holland was presented to the Council to replace President Oaks. I have admired him for a great many years. He served as a counselor in the Hartford, Connecticut stake when I was a counselor in the Boston stake. Of course, we were in the same region, so I had an opportunity to become acquainted with him in those early days. I have watched with great interest his many accomplishments since that time. He has a special spirit about him. He touches and penetrates lives like few men I have ever been around. How blessed you are to have this new president. It's a difficult challenge to follow President Oaks, but I know of no one on earth I would rather see succeed him than President Holland. How blessed this university is to be touched with the lives of these two great men. Enjoy President Holland. I'm sure you will as this inspired leader assumes his position and takes BYU to even greater heights under his administration.

--The Heritage of Our Summer Holidays, CES Fireside, August 3, 1980

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